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Woman Claims Emotional Injury After Eviction, Appeals Prior Dismissal of Action


A Korean woman owned a business which leased premises from a corporation. When it failed to pay the water and sewage fees on the premises, the corporation filed an eviction complaint against the Korean woman. The court found for the corporation and ordered the eviction of the Korean woman. During the eviction, the Korean woman allegedly sustained injury.

The Korean woman then filed a case for damages due to the mental anguish, emotional damage, false arrest and civil assault. She included the insurer of the landlord corporation in the suit and demanded that the insurer indemnify her.

A New York Injury Lawyer said that the insurer refused to indemnify the Korean woman because the insurance policy it issued to the landlord corporation was for an accident and for mental anguish or personal injury resulting from accident. The insurer claimed that since there was no such accident here, it cannot be made liable to indemnify the landlord corporation or to settle the claim of the Korean woman.

The insurer also claimed that nowhere in the claims of the Korean woman did she alleged that she sustained any bodily injury, property damage or personal injury caused by an accident.

The Korean woman alleged that she was unlawfully arrested, detained and imprisoned. The Korean woman also alleged in her complaint that these occurred on February 23, 2004. The insurer claimed that its policy was effective only for one year, from November 6, 2002 until November 6, 2003. Thus, it cannot be made liable for these.

The insurer also claimed that it cannot be made liable for any injury or damage sustained by the Korean woman from the acts of the police officer who evicted her from the premises. An NYC Personal Injury Lawyer said her claim against the police officer is for assault which she claimed was willful and deliberate on the part of the police officer. Clearly, this willful and deliberate act cannot be considered as an accident and so the insurer cannot be made liable for this either.

The Korean woman also sued the former owner of her business who was the person who signed the lease with the landlord. The Korean woman claimed that the former owner of her business connived with the landlord to eject her from the premises. And the former owner’s actions caused her suffering and injury. Again, the insurer claims that it cannot be made liable because the former owner of the business is not insured. Any actions committed by her are her own and the insurer of the landlord cannot be made to pay for any damage or injury caused by the former owner’s actions. Also, the injury she suffered from the acts of the former owner of the business are not bodily injury but mental and emotional anguish which were not caused by any accident.

The Korean woman insists that since the insurance corporation did not make any disclaimer then it should be made liable.

The trial court dismissed the complaint against the insurer and the dismissal order was appealed by the Korean woman.

The Supreme Court held that even if the insurer is eventually found not liable to indemnify the insured, the duty to defend is still binding on it. Even if the insurer denies any liability, it still needs to defend the insured. But, and NY Personal Injury Lawyer said, this obligation to defend arises only when the allegations in the complaint falls within the scope of the risks undertaken by the insurer. When the acts complained of are excluded, then the insurer must still appear in court and interpose a defense for the insured: that the acts complained of are not risks assumed by it in the insurance policy; and that there is no factual or legal basis to compel it to indemnify the insured.

The Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint against the insurer and declared that it has no duty to reimburse the Korean woman for damages or for legal fees and costs.

Before including the insurer as a defendant in a personal injury case, the person claiming damages must allege that the injury he sustained falls within the scope of the insurance policy. If it is not, then the person claiming damages cannot hope for any settlement from the insurer. Studying the facts of a case to determine the liability of an insurance corporation is the job of a skilled attorney. Whether you have been harmed by another’s negligence, or have suffered an injury due to a car accident, or medical malpractice, we are here to help.

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