Graf v. Hospitality Mut. Ins. Co., No. 13-2167 (1st Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Katie Graf was injured on the premises of Fat Cat Bar & Grill. Graf was awarded $500,000 in damages and $111,124 in prejudgment interest against Torcia & Sons, Inc, the owner of Fat Cat. Torcia was insured by Hospitality Mutual Insurance Company under a liquor liability insurance policy. Hospitality disclaimed liability for the prejudgment interest portion of the award. Consequently, Graf was granted a writ of attachment on Torcia’s liquor license to secure the excess payment. Graf and Torcia sought payment from Hospitality for the cost of a bond to release the attachment. When Hospitality refused, the parties entered into a settlement agreement under which Graf discharged the attachment of the liquor license and Torcia assigned its rights against Hospitality to Graf. Graf sued Hospitality. A federal judge granted Hospitality’s motion to dismiss, concluding (1) the $500,000 damages award represented the full extent of recoverable proceeds under the policy, and (2) to require Hospitality to pay for the cost of the bond would have expanded Hospitality’s liability in contravention of the terms of the policy. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the policy unambiguously obligated Hospitality to pay the cost of bonds only for bond amounts that, together with any other liabilities, fell within the liability cap of $500,000.