How a date gone wrong turned into a costly lawsuit with … GEICO?
Wearing sunscreen, not talking to strangers, looking both ways before you cross the street — taking precautions is always the way to go. Using the proper precautions is especially true when it comes to sex. But what if your partner tells you they’re STD-free, but then infects you? And moreover, what if this unprotected sex occurs in a GEICO-insured vehicle, specifically a 2014 Hyundai Genesis? Is the car insurance company responsible for the insured’s negligence?
According to the court system in Jackson County, Missouri, the answer is yes. In May 2021, it awarded M.O., a pseudonym for a Missouri woman, a whopping $5.2 million in damages, who sued GEICO for her “past and future medical expenses … mental and physical pain and suffering.” But GEICO is appealing the verdict through the Missouri Court of Appeals and countersuing both the infected woman and the insured. The case goes to trial this month.
But let’s take a look back at how it all started.
You may have first heard of human papillomavirus, or HPV, from the Gardasil commercials for the HPV vaccine. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Although 90 percent of the time it goes away on its own and causes no health problems, it can cause genital warts or even cancer.1
Sounds like something you’d want to avoid, right? Well, the plaintiff in the GEICO case felt the same way, which is why she asked the insured if he was infected.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t honest and didn’t disclose his HPV diagnosis even though he was aware of it. From November to early December 2017, M.O. and the insured had sex multiple times in his GEICO-insured car under these false pretenses.
M.O. wanted GEICO to cover her injuries and losses stemming from her HPV diagnosis. However, in April 2021, GEICO denied this coverage and rejected her $9.9 million settlement offer. The case was arbitrated in May 2021, and the arbitrator found that the insured negligently infected M.O. with HPV, granting her an arbitration award of $5.2 million from GEICO. Once M.O. filed this action in the trial court, the judge ruled in her favor in the Jackson County Circuit Court.
Naturally, GEICO was not happy about this court ruling. After all, how is a woman having consensual (albeit ill-informed) sex with a partner and contracting a sexually transmitted disease the fault of a car insurance company?
In June 2022, GEICO filed an appeal against the Jackson County Court, saying it wasn’t given a “meaningful opportunity” to defend its interests2. Additionally, GEICO has sued both the insured and M.O., claiming that it isn’t liable for the woman’s HPV, or the man who gave it to her. The jury trial will occur this month (October)3. We’re not sure about you, but we’re at the edge of our seats waiting to see how this plays out.
Genital HPV Infection – Basic Fact Sheet. CDC. (2022, Apr).
IN THE MISSOURI COURT OF APPEALS WESTERN DISTRICT. Missouri Courts. (2022, Apr).
GEICO may have to pay $5.2 million to a woman who got an STD in an insured car. NPR. (2022, Jun).