Sowing the Seeds of Intent

Parker v. Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Co. (D. Kan., November 16, 2015)

The federal district court in Kansas denied an insurer’s motion to dismiss a suit brought by a policyholder for breach of its insurance policy. The policyholder advertised for sale a variety of wheat seed blend that, unbeknownst to the policyholder, was federally protected, granting another organization the exclusive license to make, use, and sell this variety of wheat seed. After the policyholder was served with a complaint from that organization, the policyholder tendered defense of the claims to the insurer, whose policy included coverage for “personal injury/advertising injury.” The insurer denied the claim based on an exclusion that denies coverage for any expected or intended act by the policyholder to cause injury a person or damage to property. The court held that for the exclusion to apply, the policyholder must have intentionally intended for the act to cause injury or damage. The court held that the policyholder’s actions could not reasonably be characterized as causing an expected or intended injury, and therefore denied the insurer’s motion to dismiss.