A New Hope - You Now May Have Coverage for Punitive Damages in Connecticut

February 15, 2018
Stella Szantova Giordano – SDV Blog

On December 19, 2017, the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Pasiak. The decision is significant for two reasons: 1) it clarifies the amount of proof an insurer needs to determine whether an exclusion to coverage applies; and 2) it found that where an insurance policy expressly provides coverage for an intentional act such as false imprisonment, common-law punitive damages are also covered.

Underlying action

The underlying action proves that real life is often stranger than fiction. Ms. S worked as an office help for a construction company owned by Mr. P, which operated out of his home. Ms. S was working alone in the home office, when an armed, masked intruder entered the office, tied her hands, gagged and blindfolded her and, pointing a gun to her head, threatened to kill her family if she did not give him the combination to a safe in the home. As this was happening, Mr. P entered the office, unmasked the intruder, and discovered it was his lifelong friend. After Ms. S was untied, she asked to leave, but Mr. P told her to stay. She was not allowed to leave for several hours as Mr. P made her accompany him to an errand. Ms. S sued Mr. P for false imprisonment, among other things. The trial court awarded her compensatory and punitive damages. Insurance coverage for the underlying judgment is at the heart of the Pasiak case.

Ms. Szantova Giordano may be contacted at ssg@sdvlaw.com


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