CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a Harrison County court order denying a man coverage under two State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. insurance policies for medical bills and damages he suffered when he was allegedly shot by his wife.
The Harrison Circuit Court ruled in favor of State Farm on Aug. 18, 2016, on one of the counts in a lawsuit filed by Robert Nelson Rector against his wife, Kimberly Kay Rector, and the insurance company.
Robert Rector claimed that he was entitled to coverage under a homeowner’s insurance policy and professional liability umbrella policy, both of which were issued by State Farm.
According to the Supreme Court decision, the Rectors took out the homeowner’s policy for the home they lived in when they were married. Robert Rector allegedly moved out of the covered house on July 17, 2015. Kimberly Rector continued to live in the house after her husband moved out.
Kimberly Rector allegedly shot Robert Rector in the stomach when he was leaving a tavern on Aug. 4, 2015, less than a month after he moved.
In addition to the count in Robert Rector’s lawsuit seeking coverage of the medical expenses and other damages, the lawsuit sought payment of damages by Kimberly Rector “for her negligence with regard to the shooting,” the decision said.
In response to the count related to insurance coverage, State Farm claimed that the policies in question did not cover “bodily injury or personal injury to any insured.”
Since he allegedly no longer lived in the house covered by the policies, Robert Rector said the bodily injury exclusion “did not preclude him from recovering his damages from State Farm,” the Supreme Court decision said.
In fact, the court said Robert Rector planned to question his wife as part of his case, with the expectation that she would claim to be the policyholder because she was the only person living in the house at the time of the shooting.
The circuit court disagreed with Robert Rector’s argument, ruling that “both policies contained a clear and unambiguous exclusion of coverage” and that Robert Rector was the insured party under the policies.
In its decision affirming the circuit court ruling, the Supreme Court said “In his brief before this court, petitioner never explains how the language in the severability clause provides a mechanism by which a named insured loses that status or another insured gains that status.”