A Jackson County woman says she caught an STD while driving. Auto insurance will pay $5.2 million [The Kansas City Star] – InsuranceNewsNet

The Missouri Court of Appeals asserted that an insurance company must pay a $5.2 million settlement granted to Jackson County woman who claimed she unwittingly caught a sexually transmitted disease from her former romantic partner in his car.

In an opinion delivered on Tuesday, a panel of three judges considered that the judgment rendered against GEICO General Insurance Company through prior arbitration proceedings was valid. The insurance companies sought to overturn the action, saying mistakes had been made in Jackson County Circuit Court and the settlement agreement was not made in accordance with Missouri right.

According to court documents, the woman, identified in court records only as MO, informed GEICO in February 2021 of her intention to seek pecuniary damages, alleging that she contracted HPV, the human papilloma virus, from an insured in her automobile. She maintained that the man infected her with the STD when she was aware of his condition and the risks of unprotected sex.

The insurance company refused the settlement, sending the case to arbitration.

In May 2021, the arbitrator found that the man and woman had sex inside his vehicle that “directly caused or directly contributed to causing” the HPV infection. The man was found guilty of not disclosing his HIV status and the woman was rewarded $5.2 million for damages and injuries to be paid by GEICO.

The insurance company filed motions seeking a rehearing of evidence and the setting aside of the award, saying the judgment violated the company’s due process rights and that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable. The company appealed after those claims were denied.

The three-judge panel hearing the case found the lower court did not err in denying the company’s motions, saying GEICO had no right to “challenge these issues “once the damages had been determined and a judgment had been entered.

Judge Tom Chapman however, subscribed to a separate opinion, saying he believed GEICO had been offered “no meaningful opportunity to participate” in the lawsuit and that the existing law “relegates the insurer to bystander status.”

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