May 25, 2018
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Court rules that road rage is not covered in insurance policy

By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Thursday that an insurance provider isn’t obligated to pay for damages caused by a company driver getting out of his vehicle and attacking another driver.

In its seven-page decision, the state’s high court affirmed the lower court ruling that The Travelers Indemnity Co. is not on the hook to cover the Sept. 3, 2007, actions of Michael Bryant, who got out of his truck at an intersection and began repeatedly striking the head and chest of Francis Latanowich, who was driving the car ahead of him.

According to court documents, Bryant was traveling with his son on Route 85 near Raymond when, at an intersection, he approached Latanowich’s car and attacked him “to set him straight.”

“Bryant struck Latanowich … because he ‘wanted [him] to know’ that his driving had put other drivers, including Bryant, at risk,” wrote Chief Justice Leigh Saufley in the court’s decision.

But the road rage was not covered in the insurance policy.

According to the decision, Travelers provided insurance to Prime Cut Meat Market, the Raymond-based company of which Bryant was co-owner. Although there were Prime Cut decals on the truck, it was owned and registered by Bryant individually, and the court ruled that beating on another driver is not part of his job responsibilities with Prime Cut, thus taking the activity outside of the purview of the company policy.

In the aftermath of the incident, Latanowich and his wife sued Bryant, Prime Cut and their own auto insurance company for, among other things, assault and battery and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Prime Cut was awarded a summary judgment, the Latanowiches agreed to a partial dismissal with Commerce Insurance Co. and reached a settlement with Bryant, including an agreement by Bryant to turn over his insurance rights to the couple.

With the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling Thursday, those rights are moot.

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