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Travelers Indem. Co. v. PCR Inc.

Supreme Court of Florida

December 9, 2004, Decided

No. SC03-630

Opinion

 [*781]  BELL, J.

In Turner v. PCR, Inc., 754 So. 2d 683 (Fla. 2000), we reaffirmed the existence of an intentional-tort exception to the otherwise exclusive nature of the statutory remedy provided by the Workers' Compensation Law. ] Under the intentional-tort exception, an injured employee can avoid the exclusive-remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Law and sue his employer in tort if his workplace injury was caused by an intentional tort [**2]  committed against him by his employer. We held in Turner that an injured employee could satisfy the intentional-tort exception either by demonstrating that his employer actually intended to injure him or by demonstrating that his employer engaged in conduct that was objectively substantially certain to result in injury. 1 

The question presented in this case, by way of two questions of Florida law certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 2 is whether an employer's liability insurance policy that provides coverage for liability arising from work-related accidental injuries, but excludes from coverage liability arising from injuries intentionally caused by the employer, provides coverage for a tort claim brought under the objectively-substantially-certain prong of the Workers' Compensation Law's intentional-tort exception. We answer this question [**3]  in the affirmative.  [*782]  Furthermore, we hold that such insurance coverage does not offend, and is not prohibited by, public policy.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a 1991 explosion at PCR's chemical plant that killed Paul Turner and seriously injured James Creighton, both of whom were employed by PCR as chemical technicians. See Travelers Indem. Co. v. PCR, Inc., 326 F.3d 1190, 1191 (11th Cir. 2003); Turner v. PCR, Inc., 754 So. 2d 683, 684-86 (Fla. 2000) (describing the facts surrounding the explosion). In Turner, we addressed the propriety of the tort suits brought against PCR by the injured employees and held that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of PCR. 754 So. 2d at 691. The issue in this case, on the other hand, is whether Travelers Indemnity Company, the [**4]  insurer that issued PCR its employer's liability insurance policy (in conjunction with a workers' compensation insurance policy 3 ), is obligated under that policy to defend and indemnify PCR in the underlying tort suits. Travelers Indem. Co., 326 F.3d at 1191-92.

A. The Underlying Tort Suits

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889 So. 2d 779 *; 2004 Fla. LEXIS 2243 **; 29 Fla. L. Weekly S 774

TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY, Appellant, v. PCR INCORPORATED, et al., Appellees.

Subsequent History: Judgment entered by Travelers Indem. Co. v. PCR Inc., 410 F.3d 677, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 9519 (11th Cir. Fla., May 25, 2005)

Prior History:  [**1]  Certified Question of Law from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - Case No. 02-12829.

Travelers Indem. Co. v. PCR Inc., 326 F.3d 1190, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 6566 (11th Cir. Fla., 2003)

Disposition: Two certified questions answered in affirmative.

CORE TERMS

workers' compensation, bodily injury, insured, coverage, insurance policy, employers liability, explosion, exclusion clause, intentional-tort, principles, injured employee, objectively-substantially-certain, tort law, intentionally, damages, intent to injure, coverage clause, exclusive-remedy, employees, injuries, cause injury, substantial-certainty, accidental, provide coverage, interpreting, public policy, insurance contract, deliberate, immunity, argues

Torts, Intentional Torts, General Overview, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Exclusivity, Exceptions, Compensability, Injuries, Coverage, Actions Against Employers, Intentional Misconduct, Exclusivity, Course of Employment, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Materiality of Facts, Defenses, Misconduct of Employee, Insurance Law, Policy Interpretation, Ambiguous Terms, Coverage Favored, Construction Against Insurers, Unambiguous Terms, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Exclusions, Plain Language, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Ambiguities & Contra Proferentem, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Exclusions, Intentional Acts, Labor & Employment Law, Employer Liability, Third Party Insurers