South-Western Legal Studies in Business

No Duty to Defend Insured Accused of Intentional Sexual Molestation
Description Rhode Island high court held that a medical malpractice insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify a physician accused of sexual molestation of a child-patient who later committed suicide.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Duty to Defend; Medical Malpractice; Intentional Sexual Assaults
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts From 1979 to 1987, from age 14 to 22, Rebecca Caldarone was a patient of Dr. Shetty. In 1999, Caldarone committed suicide. Her husband sued Shetty for wrongful death, claiming that he had sexually abused Caldarone while she was his patient, and that the abuse was a cause of her suicide. Shetty contacted his professional liability insurer, JUA, for defense and indemnification coverage. JUA denied coverage, contending that Shetty was not entitled to defense or indemnity for intentional torts. Shetty sued JUA. The trial court held for JUA. Shetty appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The inferred-intent rule provides that because injury always ensues from sexual molestation of children, an offender is deemed to intend any injury resulting from the act as a matter of law. That rule relieves JUA, the medical malpractice insurer, from its duty to defend or indemnify Dr. Shetty for injuries arising out of the alleged intentional sexual assaults of his patient.

Citation Sanzi v. Shetty, 864 A.2d 614 (Sup. Ct., R.I., 2005)

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