Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America has filed federal court documents in Florida arguing that it does not have an obligation to defend the homeowners’ association where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.
Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, has filed a claim for more than $75,000 in damages against The Retreat at Twin Lakes—where 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on Feb. 26.
According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, about a month after the shooting Travelers issued a claims-made, non-profit management and organization liability insurance policy to Twin Lakes, with a limit of liability of $1 million.
With the court filing, Travelers seeks a “declaration of its rights and obligations” and the company states it believes one of a dozen exclusions within the policy removes its duty to defend or indemnify.
The exclusion says losses will not be paid to any insured if a claim is the result of “bodily injury, sickness, mental anguish, emotional distress, disease or death of any person.”
Travelers could not be reached for additional comment.
David Thamann, managing editor of FC&S Bulletins, a member of Summit Business Media, which also owns National Underwriter, said in April that liability of the homeowners’ association was not clear cut. “They did not give him the gun or condone his actions,” says Thamann.
However, if the association is sued under the commercial-property and commercial-liability policy the association should have, the insurer would have a duty to defend against the claim.
“The duty to defend is greater than to indemnify,” Thamann explains.
Zimmerman, the association’s neighborhood watch coordinator, says he shot at Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled and pursued the teen after being instructed by a 911 operator to stop following the teen, who was coming home from a convenience store.
Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder and is free on $1 million bail while awaiting trial.
The Orlando Sentinel reports an attorney for the teen’s family said they are investigating possible claims with “all the insurance companies that might be applicable” and was seeking to determine “whatever the insurance limits were.”