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Judge finds no further coverage for family injured in fatal crash

Alan Scher Zagier//May 2, 2023

Judge finds no further coverage for family injured in fatal crash

Alan Scher Zagier//May 2, 2023

A Camden County judge rejected a Missouri family’s equitable garnishment claim for $5 million in insurance payouts involving a fatal 2009 motor vehicle collision in which the Colorado family of four killed in that crash received $4 million from the same policies.

Thomas and Annette Ash, along with their two minor children, sued General Casualty Co. of Wisconsin in 2020, four years after a Howell County judge awarded the plaintiffs a total of $9.5 million in actual and punitive damages in a suit against All-Iowa Contracting Co., which held the general liability and umbrella policies issued by General Casualty.

That judgment came four years after General Casualty paid $1 million from the primary policy and $3 million from the umbrella policy to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit by the survivors of the Colorado family killed in the crash near Mountain View in southern Missouri.

The Colorado family’s SUV went out of control, crashed into the Ash’s pickup truck and then burst into flames on U.S. Highway 60.

The insurance dispute went to trial in November 2022, with Camden County Circuit Judge Kenneth Hayden issuing a Feb. 1 judgment siding with the Wisconsin insurer. The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal in mid-March, seeking a new hearing in federal court.

Attorneys for the Ash family did not respond to requests for comment. Their argument at trial, said defense attorney Katrina Smeltzer of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard in Kansas City, was that the policies’ products-completed operations hazard aggregate limits were available, despite the previous payments involving the same occurrence.

The judge deemed otherwise.

“There is no separate coverage form in the policies for Products-Completed Operations Hazard coverage,” he wrote. “Rather, such coverage can be found within the Commercial General Liability Coverage.”

Including pre- and post-judgment interest, the plaintiffs sought more than $10 million. The Iowa insurer had filed its own cross-claim against General Casualty for bad faith failure to settle and defend; that cross-claim was dismissed on summary judgment at the defendant’s request prior to the trial on the equitable garnishment claim.

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Defense judgment


Venue: Camden County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 20CM-CC00031/Feb. 1, 2023

Judge: Kenneth Hayden

Caption: Thomas, Annette, Andrew and Lucas Ash v. General Casualty Company of Wisconsin

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: John Turner and Chris Sweeny, Turner, Sweeny & Seaton, Kansas City; Andrew Gelbach, Gelbach Law, Warrensburg

Defendant’s Attorneys: Aaron French and Katrina Smeltzer, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, St. Louis and Kansas City; Michael McDorman, McDorman Law Office, Lake Ozark

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