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Insurer Contends Coverage in Carjacking/Assault Case Involving Cab Company

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Insurer Contends Coverage in Carjacking/Assault Case Involving Cab Company

A Pennsylvania insurance company declared before an Illinois federal court that it is not required to defend a cab company in a lawsuit brought by victims of a stolen taxi incident that led to a fatal crash. The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company (PMA) contended that its policy doesn’t cover anything resulting from a carjacking that led to said crash.

PMA pursued a declaration from an Illinois federal court regarding the duties, obligations, liabilities, and rights of the defendant parties — City Service Taxi Association, Inc., Mohamed Ismail, Lesly Martinez, and Khani, Corp — under the Commercial Business Auto Policy.

PMA issued the policy to City Service from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019. Through the court declaration, PMA said it does not hold any obligation or duty to indemnify or defend Ismail, Khani, and City Service in the suit filed by Martinez, citing policy coverage terms that exclude assault and battery.

PMA is also requesting the court to declare Ismail not “insured” according to its policy, thereby forfeiting his defense or indemnification entitlement by the policy. The company also seeks reimbursement of judiciary fees and expenses incurred in the process of defending Ismail and City Service against the suit filed by Martinez.

The carjacking and accident occurred on February 13, 2018. After finishing his dinner at the Bismilahi Restaurant, Ismail returned to the parking lot. When he arrived at his cab, he observed an individual – Michael Jorgensen – accompanied by his dog, engaging in suspicious activities. Ismail entered his cab after reporting the situation to the restaurant staff. Jorgensen subsequently approached him, opened the cab door, and commanded his dog to assault Ismail. The dog attacked Ismail, causing injuries to his chest and neck

“Jorgensen approached Ismail and the taxi, opened the taxi door, and let his dog into the taxi, and, in response to Jorgensen’s command, the dog attacked Ismail, biting him in the neck and chest, after which Jorgensen opened the driver’s door of the taxi, began punching Ismail, and then forcibly removed Ismail from the taxi by dragging him out,” the complaint said.

Jorgensen then commandeered the car. However, in less than half a mile, when attempting to speed through a red light, he crashed into Martinez’s cab.

The crash caused the death of Martinez’s passenger, Perla Carandang. Jorgensen was charged with crimes involving murder and vehicular hijacking. The car that Jorgensen hijacked was under the operative protocols of Khani, which was not insured during the incident.

Martinez alleges negligence on the part of Ismail through her suit. The suit claims that Ismail failed to inspect the parking lot before getting into his car, locking it, and calling the police.

PMA claimed that the coverage ended when the violent crime occurred. “Ismail was dining at the Bismilahi Restaurant just prior to the carjacking incident, and, as such, was engaged in purely personal activities and endeavors. Thus, Mr. Ismail is not an ‘insured’ under the express terms of the policy.”