No Coverage Exists When a Negligent Supervision Claim Rests Solely on an Employee’s Intentional and Unlawful Act

When a negligent supervision claim is based entirely on an allegation that an employer should have trained an employee not to intentionally punch a customer in the face, no coverage exists, according to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

In Talley v. Mustafa, Talley walked into Mustafa’s convenience store to buy beer. After a verbal altercation inside the store, Talley claims that Mustafa’s security guard punched him in the face twice, resulting in a broken jaw. Talley filed suit, including claims against Mustafa that he failed to train and supervise his employees.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reversed the court of appeals and held that when a negligent supervision claim rests solely on an employee’s intentional act of assault and battery without any separate basis for a negligence claim against the employer, no coverage exists. Here, the policy applied only to bodily injury caused by an “occurrence,” which is defined as an accident. Intentionally punching someone in the face two times is not an accident under any definition. Accordingly, the negligence supervision claim against Mustafa could qualify as an occurrence only if facts existed showing that Mustafa’s own conduct accidentally caused Talley’s injuries. Because there were not any facts alleging any specific separate acts by Mustafa that caused Talley’s injuries, there was no occurrence triggering coverage for the negligent supervision claim.

Please click here to download a copy of the Court’s decision.

If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Harvey at lnh@mccollumlaw.com.

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