Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Sportscaster’s Insurer Not Liable For Defense Costs

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Former major leaguer and sportscaster Stephen Lyons may not recover defense costs under his homeowners' insurance policy for his alleged sexual assault of a woman in a Maui hotel, a California appeals court ruled.

Lyons, a former Fox Sports commentator now working for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was accused of following a woman at the Westin Maui hotel to the elevator, grabbing her by the wrist and asking her to show her breasts, then pawing her when she refused. Lyons maintains that he walked her to the door of her hotel room and returned to the pool area, but had no other physical contact with her other than holding her wrist.

The woman reported the alleged assault to hotel security and local police, who investigated and determined that "the entire episode was nothing more than a scam ... to gain money." Though no criminal charges were filed, the woman sued Lyons for assault, battery and false imprisonment.

Lyons submitted the defense costs to Fire Insurance Exchange, which denied his claim on grounds that the damages were not caused by an accident.

The former athlete settled his claim with the woman, but sued Fire Insurance for breach of contract and bad faith failure to defend him in the lawsuit.

The appellate court held that the allegations did not stem from an accident, as required by the policy. "Because there is no potential for coverage, there is no duty to defend," Justice Boren wrote.

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