Insurer must defend ankle monitor injury suit

An Illinois appeals court Wednesday reversed a ruling that an ankle monitor maker’s professional services liability insurer is not obligated to defend against an injury suit.

The First District Appellate Court panel said in Admiral Insurance Co. v. Track Group Inc. et al., that Jeffrey Mohammed Abed’s personal injury suit potentially fell within Admiral’s professional liability policy because the ankle monitor processes and transmits information.

“Because the ankle monitor is potentially computer hardware, we hold that it is potentially covered by Admiral’s policy. Again, potential coverage is all that is required to trigger an insurer’s duty to defend its insured,” the opinion said.

The panel concluded that Admiral and Track Group’s general liability insurer, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, must share in the defense against Mr. Abed’s suit.

Mr. Abed sued Naperville, Illinois-based Track Group in California state court, claiming his leg was torn from his body when an ankle monitor he was wearing became lodged between the gas and brake pedals of the vehicle he was driving.

Lloyd’s underwriters agreed to defend Track against the suit, but Admiral refused, saying the ankle monitor did not fall within coverage of its professional services liability policy.

Admiral sued Track, Mr. Abed and Lloyd’s underwriters, seeking a court order saying it was not obligated to provide a defense. The insurers filed competing motions for summary judgment, and the trial judge agreed with Admiral that the suit did not fall within its policy.

Lloyd’s underwriters appealed, arguing that the trial judge’s interpretation of Admiral’s policy was too narrow.

Representatives for the parties did not respond to requests for comment.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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