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Intention involves the intersection of two ideas: bodily motion and operation of the will. Specifically, "intent" or "intention" denotes a design or desire to cause the consequences of one's acts and a belief that given consequences are substantially certain to result from the acts.
The insured shot and killed his wife, another person, and himself. The claimants, their estate representatives, sought damages from his homeowner's policy. The insurer refused, citing an express exclusion for coverage of casualties that arose as a result of the intentional acts of the insured which was contained in the policy. The district court granted summary judgment to the insurer, declaring that, under the undisputed facts of the case, the insurer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The claimants appealed, arguing that the insured lacked the mental capacity to commit the acts.
Under the circumstances, could the claimants seek damages from the insured’s homeowner’s policy, notwithstanding the fact that the insured shot and killed his wife, another person, and himself?
On review, the court found that the arguments that the insured lacked the mental capacity to commit the acts were immaterial in the civil action. The court framed the issue as whether the insured intended to commit the acts, that is, whether he had the design and desire to cause the consequences of his acts and a belief that the given consequences were substantially certain to result from his acts. The court observed that the claimants' psychological witness stated that the insured intended to kill his victims. The court concluded the deaths were the result of the intentional acts of the insured. Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment for the insurer.