Am. Family Mut. Ins. v. Williams, No. 15-3400 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 2012, Williams visited the Van de Venters in Monroe County, Indiana. They told Williams that their labrador retriever, Emma, would ring a bell by the door if she needed to go out and he should let her out. Williams chose to walk Emma on a leash. When a neighborhood dog barked, Emma lurched toward the sound, pulling Williams to the ground and seriously injuring his shoulder. Williams sued the Van de Venters. Their AmFam home-insurance policy included personal liability coverage indemnifying them for damages for bodily injury and guaranteeing a defense against such suits. The policy contained a provision stating: “Intra-Insured Suits. We will not cover bodily injury to any ‘insured’,” defined as “any person ... legally responsible for a[n] ... animal owned by [a named insured or resident relative of a named insured] to which [the policy’s personal-liability coverages] apply.” The district court rejected AmFam’s position that these provisions relieved it of the duty to defend or indemnify. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. It would make no sense to treat Williams as if he were “legally responsible” for his own injuries resulting from the dog’s actions; he was not an insured for purposes of this incident.