ILNews

Court rules against Bobby Knight's appeal

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
The Court of Appeals ruled today in favor of the insurance company in a case involving former Indiana University men's basketball head coach Bobby Knight in Robert M. Knight v. Indiana Insurance Company and Indiana University http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08080701lmb.pdf. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Indiana Insurance Co. on Knight's breach of contract, bad faith, negligence, and punitive damage claims. Knight appealed, arguing the court erred in granting summary judgment on Knight's claims the company wrongfully denied his homeowners policy coverage and breached its duty to investigate and defend a lawsuit that arose in Knight's workplace.

In December 1999, while Knight was employed at Indiana University, he overheard assistant basketball coach Ronald Felling on the phone criticizing Knight's coaching abilities and referring to Knight in a derogatory manner. Knight advised Felling to find another job and later verbally confronted Felling in an office at Assembly Hall at IU with other assistant coaches present. Knight made physical contact with Felling as he tried to leave, contact Knight and his assistant coach and son Pat Knight described as a "bump." As a result of the contact, Felling was pushed backwards into a television set and later filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in April 2001. The lawsuit presented a wrongful termination claim against IU and alleged Knight's physical conduct against Felling violated 42 U.S.C. 1983.

In October 2001, Knight informed his insurer, Indiana Insurance Co. - with which he had a homeowner's policy - about the Felling lawsuit. In late October, the insurance company issued a reservation of rights letter to Knight that outlined liability coverages and exclusions.

In July 2002, the insurer took a recorded statement from Knight during which he said he "bumped into Felling," they "collided as (Knight) jumped up," and "(Felling) couldn't have been hurt." In August of that year, the insurance company sent a letter to Knight denying his coverage for the Felling lawsuit citing the "business exclusion" in his policy. On Aug. 30, 2002, Knight settled the lawsuit by paying $25,000 to Felling and admitting he shoved Felling in anger.

In 2004, Knight filed a complaint seeking indemnification from the insurer and IU. The insurer moved for summary judgment and Knight filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on the insurer's duty to defend. The trial court granted summary judgment for the insurance company.

Knight appealed, claiming the summary judgment was improper because Felling had no bodily injury and the trial court erroneously applied an insurance coverage exclusion involving bodily injury; that there is a genuine issue of material fact whether Knight acted with the intent to cause injury; and that the trial court erroneously concluded as a matter of law the insurance company had not breached its duty to defend.

The Court of Appeals ruled Felling did not sustain bodily harm, sickness, or diseases as a result of the event, which is how bodily injury is defined in Knight's policy. Because there was no bodily injury, there was no event to warrant coverage under the policy.

Also, the incident occurred at Knight's profession or place of business. His homeowner's policy excludes injury or damage "arising out of or in connection with a business engaged in by an insured."

Knight also claimed Indiana Insurance Co. breached its duty to reasonably investigate and defend the lawsuit and is entitled to reimbursement for his costs of legal representation. The Court of Appeals ruled it was a workplace incident that resulted in no bodily injury and a reasonable claims manager would be able to "discern the lack of contractual obligation at that juncture."
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

ADVERTISEMENT