Court of Appeals dismisses negligence case against landlord of home where woman was raped
Auto-Owners sued Chandra Nyhof and its own insureds, after Nyhof was raped in her home. Nyhof had filed a negligence action against the insureds in Muskegon County, arguing that the rape happened because of her landlords' negligence in maintaining the premises in reasonable condition. Auto-Owners argued that because it is an intentional act by someone, rape does not constitute an "occurrence" and therefore, it was not required to provide insurance coverage for the incident. Auto-Owners also argued that its exclusion applicable to "intentional acts of the insured" was applicable and obviated coverage.
The trial judge granted Auto-Owners summary disposition, finding that a rape cannot be an "accident" or an "occurrence," and therefore its policy did not provide coverage for the landlords' negligence. Under the law as it is currently interpreted by insurance-friendly Republican judges, an insurer's coverage for "negligence" never comes into play--no matter HOW negligent the property owner was---if the insurer can point to an intentional act by a third party that was a cause of injury suffered by a third party.
This is a fairly recent development in Michigan law. We achieved a significant recovery on behalf of an Ann Arbor co-ed in the 1980s, where her ground floor apartment allowed entry to a rapist. In her case, a City ordinance requiring appropriate window locks was not complied with.