Intoxication And The “Intentional Acts” Exclusion Clause

R]egardless of the insured’s intoxicated state, the act of striking another is intentional, that such an act is not a covered occurrence under the policy in question here, and that such incidents are subject to a properly drafted “intentional acts” exclusion clause. Consequently, we hold that the liability insurer in this instance is under no duty to defend or indemnify its insured in connection with an action seeking damages stemming from the insured’s intentional infliction of bodily injury, even when the insured was intoxicated or believed he acted in self-defense.

The insurance agreement in this case obligates State Farm to defend and indemnify Beckwith in connection with actions brought against him for damages caused by an “occurrence.” The policy defines the term “occurrence” as an accident resulting in bodily injury. Although the policy does not define the term “accident,” a common definition of the term is “a happening that is not expected, foreseen, or intended.” In addition, the policy contains exclusionary language precluding coverage for bodily injury or property damage “(1) which is either expected or intended by the insured; or (2) which is the result of willful and malicious acts of the insured.”

This court dealt with a similarly worded insurance policy in Mallin v. Farmers Insurance Exchange [108 Nev. 788, 790, 839 P.2d 105, 106 (1992)]. In Mallin, this court observed that “‘intent’ or ‘intention’ denotes a design or desire to cause the consequences of one’s acts and a belief that given consequences are substantially certain to result from the acts.” Applying this definition of intent, we concluded that a homeowner’s liability insurance policy did not cover the insured’s actions of fatally shooting his wife and two of her friends, despite a claim that the insured did not intend his actions because he acted in a psychotic fit of rage. We also noted that the insured’s “supposed inability to control his acts [was] not the same as an inability to intend his acts.”

We take this opportunity to extend our holding in Mallin and reject appellants’ argument that Beckwith was unable to act intentionally as a result of his voluntary intoxication. Whether Beckwith thought Reccelle was God or his evil master is of no matter because he admittedly struck Reccelle in the eye with the desire of getting away from him. This is a non-accidental intentional act even if Beckwith did not intend to harm Reccelle. Thus, we conclude that Beckwith’s act of striking Reccelle is not an occurrence under the insurance policy and is excluded from coverage under the policy language concerning intentional misconduct. In this, we recognize Beckwith’s claims that the intentional-acts exclusion does not apply because, given his advanced state of intoxication, he did not intend to injure Reccelle and that, because he believed he acted in self-defense, his conduct was not malicious. We reject this line of argument because the exclusion properly dovetails with the reasonable construction of the policy that an occurrence requires an accidental event. Accordingly, State Farm is not obligated to defend or indemnify Beckwith with respect to any judgment obtained against him by Reccelle.

Applying this court’s holding in Mallin, we conclude that . . . notwithstanding the claim that he was too intoxicated to intend the acts and resulting injuries to [the victim], the intentional-act exclusionary clause applies to negate coverage.

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