A hunt club member who allegedly shot at a deer and hit a driver on a nearby public road cannot look to his hunt club’s insurance policy for coverage; the member was not acting on behalf of the hunt club or engaging in hunt club activity, and the 4th Circuit upholds judgment for the carrier.
The policy endorsement at issue insures any of the hunt club’s members, but only with respect to member liability for the club’s activities or activities members perform on the club’s behalf. We agree with the magistrate judge and the other federal courts that have considered identical policy provisions: The clause covering club members with respect to member liability for the club’s activities unambiguously restricts coverage to situations involving a member’s alleged vicarious liability for the activities of the club as an entity.
“Member liability for the Club’s activities” is the language of vicarious liability, and it is most plainly read to apply when a member is held vicariously liable for some activity undertaken by the club as a corporate entity. Members are covered with respect to their liability for the club’s own corporate activities, not with respect to anything they may do during or in connection with club activities.
Appellant’s argument rests almost exclusively on dictionary definitions of “activity,” which includes “hunting.” The problem for appellant is not the word “activity,” but the words right around it in the policy actually before us, extending coverage to club members “only with respect to [member] liability for [the Club’s] activities.”
It is clear based on the plaintiff’s complaint that the carrier would not be liable under the policy for any judgment based on the allegations. Plaintiff alleges only that a member of the club was on land leased by the club and regularly used by club members when he negligently fired his gun.
The carrier has no duty to defend the club member and no duty to indemnify him.
Marks v. Scottsdale Ins. Co. (Harris) No. 14-1823, June 29, 2015; USDC at Richmond, Va. (Novak) John J. Rasmussen for appellant; John B. Mumford Jr. for appellee. VLW 015-2-112, 14 pp.