Woman contracts STD in car; vehicle insurer to pay $5.2M
A US woman—who allegedly caught a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from her former romantic partner in his GEICO-insured vehicle—has been awarded $5.2 million in a settlement from the insurance company. The woman alleged the man was aware of his condition and "negligently caused or contributed to cause to be infected with HPV [human papillomavirus] by not taking proper precautions," according to court documents.
The Missouri woman claimed that GEICO was obligated to pay her for the damages and injuries citing medical expenses because the car was covered by GEO when the encounter took place in 2017. However, the insurance company argued that the auto insurance coverage in her case didn't apply as the "damages claimed did not arise out of the normal use of the vehicle."
The woman had told the insurance company in 2021 that she wanted $1 million in damages for the sexual encounter with her partner in 2017 in the GEICO-insured car. However, the case was sent to arbitration after GEICO had declined the initial settlement. In May 2021, the arbitrator found that the act in his car "directly caused, or directly contributed to cause" the STD.
The arbitrator then asked GEICO to pay $5.2 million in damages to the woman. The company then appealed against the arbitration, saying that the court didn't give it "a meaningful opportunity to defend its interests," the filing stated. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel declined the company's appeal and upheld the court's settlement decision of $5.2 million despite GEICO's appeal.
Meanwhile, the third judge concurred GEICO hadn't been given a "meaningful opportunity to participate in the suit." In April 2021, GEICO sued both the woman and her former partner in a federal court challenging that it wasn't liable for the woman contracting HPV and also didn't have a duty to defend the man. The federal case is set for a jury trial in October.