The Texas Supreme Court recently reinstated a jury verdict, and reversed the appeals court’s affirmance of a trial court’s judgment notwithstanding the verdict, finding that a collision caused by a driver who was leading police on a high-speed chase was not excluded under the insurance policy’s “intentional injury” exclusion.  Tanner v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company, No. 07-0760 (Tex. Apr. 17, 2009).

The policy at issue excluded “[p]roperty damage or bodily injury caused intentionally by or at the direction of an insured, including willful acts the result of which the insured knows or ought to know will follow from the insured’s conduct.”  The Texas Supreme Court stated that “coverage can still exist when the injury was unintended, even if the act which gave rise to the injury was intentional,” and that a contrary reading “would render insurance coverage illusory for many of the things for which insureds commonly purchase insurance.”

The court further held, with one dissenter, that it could not “say a reasonable jury in this case would necessarily find that [the driver] ought to have known that injury would result from his conduct, as indisputably reckless as it was.”  In so holding, the court emphasized that the policy’s exclusion read “ought to know will follow,” as opposed to “might follow” or “will likely follow.”

For a copy of the decision, please click here.