September 2018

Eighth Circuit Enforces St. Paul Coverage Exclusion, Reversing District Court

United States - Minnesota

Representing St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul), Faegre Baker Daniels’ appellate advocacy team successfully appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, earning reversal of the district court’s decision and securing an order enforcing an exclusion in an insurance policy that limited St. Paul’s duty to indemnify.

St. Paul had issued a law enforcement liability policy to Douglas County, Nebraska. The policy expressly excluded coverage for criminal acts, with an exception for coverage for claims of malicious prosecution. In the district court, St. Paul was ordered to pay out its policy limits in a garnishment action brought by two plaintiffs who had been arrested for a murder they did not commit, and against whom an investigator employed by Douglas County had planted false blood evidence. The district court held that the investigator’s actions were covered by the policy. But on appeal St. Paul retained FaegreBD, and after briefing and argument, the Eighth Circuit reversed the decision below. It held that the investigator’s conduct fell within the criminal-acts exclusion in the policy, that it did not fall within the malicious-prosecution exception, and that therefore St. Paul had no obligation to pay under the policy, delivering a complete victory to St. Paul.

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