Horace Mann Insurance Co. v. Leeber

In Horace Mann Ins. Co. v. Leeber, 180 W. Va. 375, 376 S.E.2d 581 (1988), a policyholder was accused of sexually abusing a child, and sought coverage from his homeowner's insurance provider. The insurance company argued that it had no duty to defend or provide coverage to the policyholder because of an "intentional injury" exclusion. The Court concluded that when a policyholder wrongfully engages in sexual misconduct, the act is so "inherently injurious, or 'substantially certain' to result in some injury, that the act is considered a criminal offense for which public policy precludes a claim of unintended consequences, that is, a claim that no harm was intended to result from the act." 180 W. Va. at 379, 376 S.E.2d at 585. The Court therefore held that because of the wrongful -- in fact, criminal -- nature of the policyholder's actions, the intent of the policyholder to cause injury would be inferred as a matter of law, and coverage could therefore be denied under the intentional acts exclusion. In Horace Mann Insurance Co. v. Leeber, the question was whether the teacher's homeowner's liability insurance policy would provide coverage for this claim or whether the policy's intentional acts exclusion precluded such coverage. The subject exclusion provided generally that "'this policy does not apply to liability . . . caused intentionally by or at the direction of any insured.'" 180 W. Va. at 377, 376 S.E.2d at 583. Considering the egregious nature of sexual misconduct claims, we held that there is neither a duty to defend an insured in an action for, nor a duty to pay for, damages allegedly caused by the sexual misconduct of an insured, when the liability insurance policy contains a so-called "intentional injury" exclusion. In such a case the intent of an insured to cause some injury will be inferred as a matter of law. (Syl., Leeber, 180 W. Va. 375, 376 S.E.2d 581.)