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Gray v. Zurich Insurance Company

Supreme Court of California
419 P.2d 168 (1966)


Dr. Vernon Gray (plaintiff) had a personal-liability insurance policy with Zurich Insurance Company (Zurich) (defendant). Under this policy, Zurich agreed to pay all the damages Gray was liable for resulting from actions against him for bodily injury or property damage, and to defend any lawsuits against Gray alleging bodily injury or property damage. The policy excluded coverage for “bodily injury or property damages caused intentionally by or at the direction of the insured.” Gray was involved in an altercation with John Jones. Jones filed a complaint against Gray, alleging that Gray “wilfully, maliciously, brutally and intentionally assaulted” him. Jones sought actual and punitive damages against Gray. Gray notified Zurich of the suit and claimed that he had acted in self-defense. Zurich refused to defend Gray because, it claimed, Jones’s complaint alleged an intentional tort, which was excluded under the policy. Gray raised the self-defense defense at trial. Jones was awarded actual damages but not punitive damages. Gray sued Zurich alleging that Zurich breached its duty to defend. In its answer, Zurich denied that it had a duty to defend Gray. The trial court found in favor of Zurich.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

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