(CN) – Parents of a teenager whom a rapper shot dead inside a Louisiana nightclub cannot seek damages from the club’s insurer, a state appeals court ruled.
Corey Miller, 43, is serving a life sentence for the Jan. 12, 2002, shooting of 16-year-old Steve Thomas at the Platinum Club in Harvey, La. A 10-2 jury convicted the platinum-selling rapper of second-degree murder for that crime in August 2009.
C-Murder, a stage name Miller continues to use in prison, has released four albums from the state penitentiary.
Thomas’ parents sued Miller, the Platinum Club and several of Miller’s record labels, in Jefferson Parish two months after the shooting, alleging that the club was liable for letting their underage son in and letting Miller bring a gun there and fire it.
George and Delores Thomas added Platinum Club’s insurer, Alea London Ltd., as a defendant in 2003.
Judge Glenn Ansardi sided with Alea in 2013, finding the Thomases’ claims were barred by the assault-and-battery exclusion in Alea’s policy.
The Thomases claimed on appeal that the subject exclusion is vague and does not specifically exclude assault and battery committed by a patron.
Those arguments failed Wednesday to sway a three-judge panel with Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeal.
The Gretna-based panel based its decision on the language of the assault-and-battery exclusion in Alea’s policy that reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained to the contrary, it is understood and agreed that this policy excludes claims arising out of: 1) Assault and battery, whether caused by or at the instruction of, or at the direction of, or negligence of the insured, or his employees.”
Contrary to the couple’s claims, there is nothing ambiguous about the exclusion, the court found.
“Under a plain reading of the assault and battery exclusion in the Alea policy, we find that it clearly excludes plaintiffs’ claims asserted against the Platinum Club, as they are all claims that arise out of the battery inflicted upon their son,” Judge Robert Murphy wrote for the court.
“Moreover, the assault and battery exclusion specifically excludes claims arising out of an assault and battery caused by ‘the negligence of the insured,'” Murphy added. “Plaintiffs have clearly alleged that the battery inflicted upon their son was caused by the negligence of Alea’s insured, the Platinum Club.”
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