(CN) - After a masked and gun-wielding friend tried to rob him, traumatizing an unwitting employee in the process, a Connecticut contractor cannot look to his insurers for coverage, an appeals court ruled.
The bizarre events transpired on May 9, 2006, while Sara Socci was working alone in the Pasiak Construction Services office that business owner Jeffrey Pasiak maintained at his home in Stanford.
That afternoon, a masked man burst into the office with a gun and demanded that Socci open the safe.
Unaware that Pasiak even had a safe at the house, Socci became hysterical when the invader had her bound, gagged and blindfolded, then pointed a gun at her head and threatened to kill her family if she did not give up the combination.
The gunman left Socci tied up in the bedroom when he heard Pasiak return home. His mask came off during a struggle with Pasiak at which time Pasiak realized that the intruder was his friend, Richard Kotulsky.
While freeing the sobbing Socci, Pasiak simply talked things through with Kotulsky, who he ultimately allowed to leave his home without calling the police.
Pasiak refused to let Socci call the police and did not want her out of his sight either, even taking her to Greenwich while he talked things over with a mutual friend.
When Pasiak finally did let Socci go, she called the police.
Kotulsky was arrested and sentenced to prison, and Socci meanwhile sued Pasiak for negligence.
After an 11-day trial in 2010, a jury ordered Pasiak to pay Socci more than $800,000.
In addition to that case, which a Connecticut appeals court affirmed in 2012, Pasiak has also faced a legal battle over his three insurance policies with Nationwide.
In that insurance case, the superior court refused to let Nationwide apply the "business pursuits" exclusion in its policy because it found that Pasiak was acting to protect his friend rather than in pursuit of business.
Though a 2012 bench trial on the insurance case ended with a verdict for Pasiak, the Connecticut Court of Appeals reversed last week.
"We agree with the plaintiffs that Sara Socci's injuries arose out of the defendant's business pursuits," Judge Eliot Prescott wrote for a three-person panel.
"Had Sara Socci not been at the office performing her employees of the defendant's business, there is no reason to believe she would have been assaulted by Kotulsky and, consequently, detained by the defendant," the judge added.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.