Insurance company claims it has no duty to defend woman in motor vehicle crash litigation

By Kelly Holleran | May 16, 2011

A Jefferson County woman wants GEICO to defend her in a lawsuit filed against her deceased husband, but the insurance company is rebuffing the woman's demands.

GEICO filed a lawsuit May 4 in Jefferson County District Court against Alicia Marshall and Sheigh Summerlin as administratrix of the estate of Dennis Bressler.

In its complaint, GEICO claims Summerlin wants it to defend her in a lawsuit Marshall filed against her. Marshall submitted the complaint following a collision on Feb. 20, 2008, in which she sustained injuries, according to GEICO's current complaint.

The accident occurred after Bressler, who drove a 2004 Ford 650 owned by his employer, Brand Services, flipped the truck and injured Marshall, who rode as Bressler's passenger, the suit states. Following the accident, Bressler died, the complaint says.

Before the fatal collision, GEICO had provided Bressler with insurance on his 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle, it claims. Under the motorcycle policy, Summerlin asked GEICO to provide her with defense in the suit Marshall filed.

"Although GEICO is defending the lawsuit under a 'reservation of rights,' GEICO denies it has a duty to defend or indemnify Dennis Bressler, the estate of Dennis Bressler, or Sheigh Summerlin as Administratrix of the Estate of Dennis Bressler because the suit is not within the coverage afforded by the policy," the suit states.

In its complaint, GEICO seeks a declaratory judgment that no coverage exists under the Feb. 20, 2008, accident and a declaratory judgment stating that GEICO has no duty to defend Summerlin, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Barbara L. Hachenburg and T. Phillip Brent of Germer Gertz in Houston will be representing her.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B189-939

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