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Lewis v. Allstate Insurance Co.

December 03, 1998

KATINA LEWIS, NATURAL MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND OF DESTINY BOWIE LEWIS AND DONNETTA NICOLE BOWIE, MINORS
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY



Before Sullivan, P.j., McRAE And Smith, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McRAE, Justice, For The Court.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/06/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES E. GRAVES, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WRONGFUL DEATH

¶1. In this case, Katina Lewis, the natural mother and next friend of Destiny Bowie Lewis and Donnetta Nicole Bowie, minors (Lewis), seeks the reversal of the circuit court determination that Aaron Thompson has no coverage under his parents' homeowner's insurance policy for the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Lewis against Aaron Thompson, Shannon Michael Green and Tyrone Wilson and that Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate) Aaron Thompson, Green and Wilson negligently caused the death of Donnell Bowie by throwing molotov cocktails in a house where Bowie slept.

¶2. Upon careful review, we hold that pursuant to the policy under review in this particular case, Aaron Thompson's intent to cause property damage was sufficient to trigger the intentional acts exclusion within the insurance policy. Because there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the intent of the insured, Aaron Thompson, summary judgment was proper. Accordingly, we affirm the circuit court below.

I. BACKGROUND

¶3. Allstate issued homeowner's policy No. 02007637 to Stanley and Jacqueline Thompson on September 9, 1992. At the time, the Thompsons resided in Chicago, Illinois. Aaron Thompson is the son of Stanley and Jacqueline Thompson, and at the time of the actions that are the basis of the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Lewis, Aaron was a student at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

¶4. On August 28, 1993, Aaron Thompson, Shannon Michael Green and Tyrone Wilson were apparently involved, in some fashion, in an altercation at a local nightclub in Jackson, Mississippi with Maury Richardson and others. Thompson, Green and Wilson went to 1313 Barrett Avenue, the residence ofRichardson. Thompson drove the vehicle, while Green and Wilson assembled "molotov cocktails" or firebombs.

¶5. Thompson, Green and Wilson alleged that they all believed that Richardson would not be at home and that they assumed that no one else was at Richardson's home. Upon arriving at Richardson's residence, Green and Wilson broke a window of the house, threw the "molotov cocktails" into the bedroom they believed belonged to Maury Richardson, and returned to the vehicle where Aaron Thompson waited. The three fled the scene, with Thompson driving.

¶6. The molotov cocktails caused a fire in the residence. However, unknown to Thompson, Green or Wilson, Donnell Bowie was sleeping in another bedroom of the residence at 1313 Barrett Avenue. As a result of the fire, Bowie died of smoke inhalation. Bowie left surviving him a minor daughter, Destiny Bowie Lewis, and and unborn daughter, Donnetta Nicole Bowie, with whom Bowie's girlfriend Katina Lewis was pregnant at the time of Bowie's death.

¶7. Subsequently, Thompson, Green and Wilson were arrested an charged with capital murder. Green pleaded guilty to charges of arson and manslaughter. Wilson was tried and found guilty of manslaughter and arson. Thompson pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of murder. On September 2, 1994, Lewis filed her wrongful death lawsuit against Green, Wilson and Thompson, alleging that the three men were negligent in assuming that the residence in question was unoccupied when the firebombs were thrown.

¶8. Stanley and Jacqueline Thompson made demand upon Allstate to defend and indemnify Aaron Thompson against the wrongful death lawsuit under the terms of the homeowner's policy. Allstate proffered a defense for Aaron Thompson but reserved the right to deny coverage. Allstate then filed its Complaint for Declaratory Judgment.

¶9. After filing the complaint for declaratory judgment, Allstate moved for summary judgment, asserting that three different exclusionary provisions of the homeowner's policy are applicable to Lewis's claim against Aaron Thompson: the criminal acts exclusion; the automobile use exclusion; and the intentional acts exclusion. Granting summary judgment to Allstate, the trial court ruled that the intentional acts exclusion precludes coverage for Thompson and ruled that Allstate does not have a duty to defend Aaron Thompson or indemnify him for any verdict rendered against him in the wrongful death action. It is from this finding that Lewis appeals, asking 1) whether the trial court erred in interpreting the intentional acts exclusion of the policy to apply to the facts of this case and 2) whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to Allstate Insurance Company based upon the intentional acts exclusion of its homeowner's policy.'

ΒΆ10. The intentional acts exclusion is contained on page 23 of the policy, under "Section II-- FAMILY LIABILITY AND GUEST MEDICAL PROTECTION ...


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