The Expected or Intended Injury Exclusion in Commercial General Liability Policies


Commercial General Liability Insurance Policy or “CGL” is a standard insurance policy issued to business organizations to protect them against liability claims for bodily injury or property damage arising out of premises, operations, products, and completed operations, and advertising and personal injury liability. However, as with most insurance policies there are exclusions for coverage. One of these exclusions is the expected or intended earned injury exclusion. Basically, this exclusion does not cover bodily injury or property damage expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured. In other words, a business CGL policy is not going to cover for injuries or property damage when the act that caused the injury was done with intent to cause harm.

Minnesota courts have upheld the expected or intended injury exclusions in a variety of cases. Minnesota courts have held that the particular injury does not need to be intended for the exclusion to apply and the actual injury could be of a different nature or more severe.

In Woida v. North Star Mutual Insurance Co., 306 N.W.2d 570 (Minn. 1981), the plaintiff brought declaratory action against North Star Mutual Insurance Company seeking a judgment stating that the defendant owed a duty to defend him in a pending lawsuit. The plaintiff brought summary judgment on that issue. The court denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and sua sponte granted summary judgment for the defendant. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the ruling.

In the underlying civil case Allan Crook was shot while working as a security guard. On the day he was shot Crook was on duty with a Pope County sheriff and they were both seated in a Ford Bronco. A vehicle then drove into the construction yard around midnight. After hearing gunshots, Crook opened the car door and several bullets were fired at the bronco, shattering its windshield and causing metal fragments to strike Crooks face and chest. The plaintiff was charged with aggravated criminal damage to property and conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal damage to property. The allegations were that Woida had ridden with others, drove to the construction site to mess up a crane and shoot at the guard’s truck. Following the incident, Crook brought an action against Woida alleging that Woida and the others fired shots intentionally and with willful and wanted indifference for the safety of others. Woida then attempted to tender at the defense of the civil action to its insurance company and ultimately commenced the lawsuit claiming that North Mutual Insurance Company owed a duty to defend him.

In holding that no duty existed due to the intentional nature of the actions of Woida, the court noted,

in this case, intent to cause bodily injury can be inferred as a matter of law. The facts indicate that participants made plans at the Fishers residence to drive to the Villard construction site and shoot up the truck in which the guards were sitting. They armed themselves with high-powered rifles which had been loaded with armor piercing bullets. The men knew that the guard’s truck was occupied at that time the shots were fired, since the dome light and headlights of the truck had gone on. Yet they proceeded to fire through the windshield of the vehicle knowing that someone could be seriously injured. We find that these actions are such a calculated nature that we infer an intention to inflict injury as a matter of law.