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Kovach v. Zurich American Ins. Co., No. 08-4512

In plaintiff's ERISA suit against an insurance company for denying his claim for dismemberment benefits arising from a drunk-driving motorcycle accident, summary judgment for defendant-plan administrator is reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiffs where: 1) defendant's decision to deny benefits to the plaintiffs was contrary to the everyday meaning of the word "accidental" as it would be understood by a typical policyholder, and was based almost entirely on a body of largely distinguishable district court cases; 2) plaintiff's injuries were not "highly likely to occur" as a result of his intoxication, in contrast to the injuries that were highly likely to occur under the facts in Lennon; 3) defendant's interpretation of the Plan's provisions amounts to an additional, unwritten exclusion for all drunk-driving injuries, which is not permitted under even the most deferential standard of review; and 4) defendant's denial of coverage based on plaintiff's injuries being non-accidental was unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.     

Read Kovach v. Zurich American Ins. Co., No. 08-4512

Appellate Information

Argued: July 28, 2009

Decided and Filed: November 13, 2009


Opinion by Circuit Judge Gilman


For Appellant:  Matthew D. Greenwell, Charles V. Longo Co., LPA, Beachwood, Ohio

For Appellee:  Rebecca B. Jacobs, Ulmer & Berne LLP, Columbus, Ohio