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Ruling in favor of Munich Re in beach ball injury affirmed

Munich Re

A Munich Re unit is not obligated to defend or indemnify two organizers of a rum and reggae festival that were sued by an attendee who was injured at the event by an extra-large beach ball, said a federal appeals court Monday, in affirming a lower court ruling.

Robert Hunt, who attended Rum Fest 2017 in Orlando, Florida, alleged he sustained severe ligament and tendon injuries when he used his outstretched arms and hands to push the ball away from him to prevent it from hitting him in the head, according to the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Hub City Enterprises Inc., Wall St. Enterprises of Orlando Inc.; Robert Hunt.

Mr. Hunt filed suit against Hub City and Wall Street, who are the owners and operators of a complex of bars restaurants and night clubs in downtown Orlando where the annual event is held. 

The business’ insurer, Munich Re unit Princeton, agreed to defend the businesses subject to a reservation of rights. It then filed suit in U.S.  District Court in Orlando, seeking a declaration it was not obligated to defend or indemnify the businesses because of an “amusement device” exclusion in its policy.

The district court granted the insurer summary judgment dismissing the case, and was upheld by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.

“The district court properly rejected the insureds’ attempt to present extrinsic evidence, that the inflatable beach ball was intended as a decoration only, to bring the underlying complaint within the policy provisions,” said the appellee court panel.

“This evidence is irrelevant because at the time of Hunt’s alleged injury, the inflatable beach ball was not an immobile decoration, but rather, a moving object,” said the decision.

“Furthermore, as the district court correctly determined, the policy exclusion is not ambiguous. The ‘amusement devices’ exclusion provides a non-exhaustive list of devices that require a user to strike, punch, or kick.

“Contrary to the insureds’ assertion, the fact that an extra-large inflatable beach ball was not listed in the exclusion, does not exempt it from qualification,” said the ruling, in upholding the lower court.

Attorneys in the case had no comment or could not be reached.




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