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Court Upholds $5.2 Million Settlement to Passenger Who Caught STD in Car

Geico is still contesting whether the claim is covered in federal court and the outcome will determine whether the company has to pay the settlement.
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court upholds $5.2 million settlement to passenger who caught std in car

The Missouri Court of Appeals has affirmed that Geico must pay a $5.2 million settlement granted to a Jackson County woman who claimed she unwittingly caught a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from her former romantic partner in his car.

However, the coverage question was more complicated than it first appeared and the case caused concern within the insurance industry as doubts remained as to whether there could be coverage. Geico is continuing to challenge the ruling in a federal case that will determine if the claim is covered.

In February 2021, the woman filed the suit to seek monetary damages, alleging she contracted HPV from an insured member in his automobile. She contended the man caused her to be infected with the STD despite being aware of his condition and the risks of unprotected sex. The insurance company declined the settlement, sending the case to arbitration.

In May 2021, the court found that the man “directly caused, or directly contributed to cause" the infection, awarding the woman the settlement. However, Geico filed motions seeking a new hearing of the evidence and for the award to be thrown out, saying the judgment violated the company's rights to due process and the arbitration agreement was unenforceable.

Geico appealed after those requests were denied but the three-judge panel tasked with reviewing the case found that the lower court did not make a mistake by denying the company's motions, saying Geico did not have a right to “relitigate those issues" once damages had been determined and a judgment was entered.

In a related federal court case, Geico is contesting the idea that the claim is covered under its insurance policy. The outcome of that case will determine whether the company has to pay the settlement.

Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.