American car insurance company Geico has been ordered to pay a Missouri woman $5.2 (£4.2) million after she contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the car of her partner.
Woman contracts HPV in a car
The woman, referred to 'M.O.' in court documents, alleges she contracted the human papillomavirus (HPV) from having sex in 2017 with a male partner in his 2014 Hyundai Genesis.
According to Cancer Council:
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection which usually shows no symptoms and goes away by itself, but can sometimes cause serious illness. HPV is responsible for almost all cases of genital warts and cervical cancer.
The woman, who found outshe was infected with HPV in 2018, alleges the man knew he had the disease but did not disclose it to her, causing 'past and future medical expenses' and 'mental and physical pain and suffering,' as reported by CBS News.
Asked for $1m, awarded $5.2m
In February 2021, the woman filed a complaint to Geico directly. She claimed that her sexual partner negligently caused or 'contributed to cause to be infected with HPV by not taking proper precautions and neglecting to inform and/or disclose his diagnosis,' and that his 'insurance policy provided coverage for her injuries and losses.' She asked Geico for $1 million, as reported byCNN.
In April 2021, Geico denied coverage and rejected her claim. The woman and her boyfriend then agreed to arbitrate. The arbitrator found that 'there was sexual activity in (insured's) automobile' that 'directly caused, or directly contributed to cause' the woman to be infected with HPV, and awarded her $5.2m in damages, which were to be paid by Geico.
Geico appealed the judgement, arguing that the court didn't give the insurer 'a meaningful opportunity to defend its interests.' However, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the decision, finding that 'at the time of Geico's intervention, liability and damages had been determined by an arbitrator and confirmed by the trial court. Geico had no right to relitigate those issues.'
In a separate but related case pending in federal court, Geico argues that the policy in question 'only applies to bodily injuries arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use' of the Hyundai Genesis. As reported by The Guardian, Geico's lawyers contend that:
MO’s alleged damages have no nexus to the ownership, maintenance or covered use of the … Genesis. Her injuries arose from … her failure to prevent transmission of [sexually transmitted diseases].