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Appeals court: Insurer exempt in shooting death (UPDATE)

OCONTO FALLS, Wis. (AP) – A Sheboygan insurance company is exempt from having to pay after a man accidentally killed his friend in Oconto County three years ago, an appeals court has ruled.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals decided last week that Wilson Mutual Insurance Co. doesn’t have to pay because the shooting was a criminal act, not an accident, Press-Gazette Media reported. The decision affirmed a previous ruling by an Oconto County circuit court judge.

The decision came in a lawsuit that stems from a 2010 underage drinking party, where Jordan Walker was playing with his handgun and it went off. The bullet struck and killed 19-year-old Shawn Dobry.

Walker, now 22, was convicted of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Dobry’s family sued Walker, Walker’s family and insurers, but the latest decision means the insurance company is freed from any financial responsibility.

The homeowner’s insurance policy says the insurance company would pay for bodily injury or property damage caused by “an accident.” But because state law defines negligent homicide as a crime, it cannot be construed as an accident, the court ruled.

Wilson Mutual is no longer a party to the case, but the lawsuit otherwise remains open.

Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com

One comment

  1. That was not the court’s ruling. The court applied the policy’s criminal acts exclusion, it did not hold that a criminal act is not or cannot be an occurrence

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