A Missouri woman is seeking $1 million from GEICO in federal court after she had sex and contracted an STD from a man in the backseat of his vehicle that was covered by the insurance provider.
The insurance company has since filed a counter suit, and has accused the pair – who have elected to remain anonymous during court proceedings – of colluding for a massive payout.
GEICO is now challenging the couple’s court-given right to stay anonymous throughout upcoming federal proceedings.
The woman, referred to as M.O. in court documents, filed a liability suit against the popular agency – whose ads feature a mild-mannered, anthropomorphic British lizard – after having unprotected sex with the man, labeled M.B., in the backseat of his 2014 Hyundai Genesis in 2017, and testing positive for HPV as a result.
The car is covered by an insurance policy in M.B.’s name.
At that point, the woman, without GEICO’s knowledge, entered legal talks with her then-lover, and reached an agreement in state court where she would receive $5.2 million, that she ‘can collect, if at all, only from GEICO,’ court documents concerning the case reveal.
The woman has since pursued a claim for coverage from the company, to the tune of $1 million – which was promptly disputed.
The woman is now threatening to sue for damages relating to her 2018 diagnosis.
The case has since become a federal matter, presided over by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
The couple admits that they did not use protection when engaging in the sex acts – which occurred across state lines in eastern Kansas – but the woman feels that GEICO owes her compensation due to the fact that her then-lover’s car was insured in his name.
GEICO, however, has since filed a counter suit to get the case dismissed, citing that M.O.’s car insurance only covers injuries that happen ‘out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of’ the car.
According to the company, the incident in question does not come close to fitting that category.
The company is accusing the couple of conspiring to capitalize on a sordid situation that they themselves created, and is questioning why the pair refuse to make their identities public.
What’s more, the court has also questioned the pair’s proclivity for privacy – especially since they were having sex in public, in the backseat of a car.
Both M.O. and M.B. contend that the case involves personal and intimate details of their sexual relationship, that have no business being made public.
However, it can be argued that the public’s interest in the prospective proceedings is necessary to making a judgment.
‘While many people would prefer to keep details about their sex lives’ private, the Tenth Circuit has repeatedly made clear that the risk that a party may suffer some embarrassment by being named in the pleadings is not enough to allow them to proceed anonymously,’ the Tenth Circuit reasoned in court documents pertaining to the case.
‘In general, parties who assert damage claims should expect some level of public exposure in employing the courts to resolve their disputes.’
The court also noted that this particular case does ‘not involve minors or extremely sensitive issues such as sexual assault.’
The Tenth Circuit then responded to claims from M.O. that her minor children would be subjected to ‘potential emotional and psychological harm if her identity is disclosed,’ stating that she has not provided any facts that support such a suspicion.
‘M.O.’s argument essentially asserts in conclusory fashion that her children should be protected from psychological harm because her sex life is embarrassing.’
‘But the mere fact that a parent’s sex life might be embarrassing to the minor children does not present an exceptional case that warrants granting leave to proceed anonymously, particularly when that individual is seeking insurance coverage as a result of his or her sex life.’
The court also addressed claims from her lover, who asserts that would ‘subject him to social shame, ridicule, embarrassment, and humiliation that could “devastate his employment, professional relationships, family, life, jeopardize his future political and personal opportunities.’
‘Like M.O., M.B. also provides no facts,’ the court states.
‘Indeed, the court does not know M.O.’s or M.B.’s professions, whether M.B. has realistic future political prospects, what additional investigations would be prompted by disclosure of their identities, what future opportunities would be impacted, or if the nature of their relationship makes it more scandalous.’
‘While courts have recognized that reputational harm or social stigma may exceed embarrassment and present a compelling reason for allowing a party to proceed anonymously, they have done so only when the moving party makes a sufficiently particularized and supported showing of reputational harm or social stigma to justify the request.’
‘Here, the parties have presented no such facts.’
The court also pointed out that any allegedly private details of course became less private when M.O. sent GEICO a demand letter requesting insurance coverage claim.
By doing so, she thrust any arguably private matters into public domain – leaving both GEICO and lawmakers understandably wary.
For instance, the details of the pair’s sex lives could shed light on whether M.O. had other sexual partners that could have infected her with the disease that she alleges was transmitted to her by M.B.
Further background on the duo could also help jurists discern whether the woman knew her lover had HPV prior to having unprotected sex – which would make her the one at fault.
What’s more, both of the defendants admittedly had sex in the man’s home as well as other locations around the time of the questioned copulation – raising the issue of when and where the virus was actually transmitted.
According to GEICO, the woman raised none of these issues at her arbitration with M.B. back in 2017 – which resulted in a a $5.2 million award that a Kansas state court confirmed.
GEICO contends that these proceedings were nothing more than a collusive effort by the pair to score a significant payout.
The federal case is, at bottom, a question of insurance coverage, concerning whether GEICO can be held liable for the consequences of two adults voluntarily having unprotected sex in an insured automobile.
What’s more, the case’s outcome could have persuasive value on a wide range of other insurance coverage disputes.
Nonetheless, the court has allowed the defendants ‘to proceed anonymously until the court rules on M.O.’s motion to dismiss’ for lack of personal jurisdiction; but within seven days of the ruling on personal jurisdiction (presumably if the court doesn’t grant the motion), GEICO would need to file a complaint ‘that names the remaining defendant(s) by their real names.’
The judge has yet to make a ruling in the case.
[via The Daily Mail]