Coverage Analysis
Home      List of Cases
.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The Supreme Court has ruled that a liability insurer must defend a sexual molestation claim to the extent that there are specific allegations or claims or negligence that involve conduct "apart from, and not integral to, the molestation."  Horace Mann Ins. Co. v. Barbara B., 4 Cal. 4th 1076, 846 P.2d 792, 798 (1993).  The court rejected The Court of Appeal's characterization of these other claims as "parasexual" as being inextricably intertwined with intentional acts that are inherently harmful under the J.C. Penney standard.  But see, Fire Ins. Exchange v. Jennifer O., 17 Cal. App.4th 901, 22 Cal. Rptr.2d 299 (1993), appeal dismissed (Cal. 1994) (holding that damages resulting from insured's post-molestation conduct of insured in refusing to abide by restraining order was integral to and "inextricably linked" with the earlier excluded acts. 

On remand, the Court of Appeal ruled in Barbara B. v. Horace Mann Ins. Co., 1998 WL 31793 (Cal. App. January 29, 1998) that the actual facts made clear that the teacher's "parasexual" conduct was so inextricably related to the teacher's actual sexual contact with the plaintiff as to bar coverage, whether on the basis of Section 533 of the Insurance Code or the definition of "occurrence."  Whereas the Supreme Court had found a duty to defend, since the factual record was then inadequate to determine whether there were separate damages and injuries attributable to the "parasexual" allegations, the Fourth District held following a trial of the claims that the actual facts barred any separation between sexual and non-sexual conduct.  Justice Crosby dissented, accusing the majority of reviving the very analysis that had already been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Indeed, such theories of “para-sexual” coverage have been narrowed in subsequent cases such as Northland Insurance Company v. Briones, E02 4437 (Cal. App. June 19, 2000).   In Briones,  the Fourth District ruled  that even such creative theories of liability as “negligent stalking” were not a factual basis for finding a duty to defend in light of the “sexual abuse” exclusion in the policy and the absence of any accident or occurrence within the meaning of the policy or Insurance Code Section 533.  A dissenting judge contended that summary judgment should not have been granted in light of the “para-sexual” claims set forth in the underlying suit. 

The California Supreme Court has ruled that sexual harassment claims against a county sheriff were not covered under a liability policy owing to the fact that such conduct was clearly outside the scope of the insured's employment.  Farmers Ins. Group v. County of Santa Clara, 47 Cal. Rptr.2d 478 (1995). 

Home                               Index of Subject