In Safeco Insurance Company v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, 2013 Ark. App. 696, Dylan was driving Hodges’ car when he had an accident. Dylan was Hodges’ grandson. Hodges was insured by Farm Bureau and Dylan was an additional insured on his parents’ policy with Safeco. Farm Bureau claimed Dylan was not insured under its policy because Dylan did not have implied permission to drive Hodges’ car. Dylan had taken the car while Hodges was asleep. Farm Bureau also argued that Dylan’s conduct was excluded from coverage based on the policy’s intentional-acts exclusion. After summary judgment for Farm Bureau was reversed (Travis v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co., 2010 Ark. App. 848, at 9, 378 S.W.3d 786, 790), the case went to trial. The jury found Dylan had implied permission to drive the car, but that the alleged bodily injury and property damage was caused by the intentional acts of Dylan. There was evidence that Dylan was speeding and that he may have been “hill topping” – e.g., speeding over a hill to try to get airborne.
The policy excluded coverage for “bodily injury or property damage caused by intentional acts committed by or carried out at the direction of you or any other covered person. The expected or unexpected results of these acts or directions are not covered.” It was claimed that the intentional acts exclusion only applied if there was an intent to cause a collision, and not an intent to drive recklessly. But the court found whether the intentional acts exclusion applied was a jury question, and did not violate public policy.
The evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to Farm Bureau, demonstrated that Dylan’s intentional acts caused the accident. He was admittedly speeding on a road he described as “windy and curvy.” One witness said he was traveling 100 miles per hour. There was other evidence that his passengers encouraged him to drive faster, and he did; his passengers insisted that he jump the hill; Dylan admitted driving fast on the road “trying to get some sensation”; Dylan knew what “hill-topping” was and had done it before; “hill-topping” was Dylan’s idea; some of his passengers screamed at him to slow down, and one of his passengers secured his seat belt as Dylan increased his speed and approached the dip/hill. This is substantial evidence on which a jury could find that Dylan’s intentional acts caused the accident.
There was also a claim of juror misconduct. The jury was not given an instruction on intentional conduct, even after they asked the judge for one. So a juror did a google search for term, which was told to the jury. The jurors which voted for Farm Bureau relied upon the internet definition. But prejudice was not shown. Thus, the jury verdict was affirmed.