Markel Must Pay $5M Settlement in Fatal Biking Accident

A $5 million settlement reached between a policyholder's employee and the estate of a woman fatally struck by a motor vehicle must be covered by Markel Insurance.

Traffic accident between bicycle and a car

ByErin O'Brien

|

Published on February 1, 2024

Traffic accident between bicycle and a car

Case Summary

On Feb. 11, 2022, Christopher Eitel, an employee of Eitel Enterprises, was negligently operating his car when he collided with Lisa Enfield, who was on her bike, filings show. In its filing, the estate of the deceased told the court that Eitel Enterprises was vicariously liable for the accident since Eitel was driving in the course of his employment.

When Evanston was notified of the incident, Eitel Enterprises denied coverage in March 2022. The following month, in a letter to Evanston, Mr. Enfield offered to settle the claim within the policy limits. Evanston wrote back in May 2022, acknowledging that the driver, Eitel, owned the vehicle, not the company, and disclaimed coverage stating the insurance exclusion precludes coverage for bodily injury stemming from the ownership, use, or entrustment to others of any auto owned or operated by any insured.

On Sept. 2, 2022, Enfield sued Eitel and Eitel Enterprises in state court. In the complaint, Eitel Enterprises defended itself, while USAA/Garrison defended Eitel under his personal automobile policy.

Enfield, Eitel, and Eitel Enterprises entered into an agreement in August 2023. Markel argued liability stating their company vehicle policy did not cover Eitel for his reckless act.

According to Enfield, the policy also contained a separate insurers provision, which provides that the insurance applies to each named insured as if he or she were the only insured.

The Florida courts declared the settlement valid and stated that Evanston incorrectly disclaimed coverage for the underlying action and eventual settlement when it claimed that the "aircraft, auto or watercraft" exclusion in Eitel Enterprises' policy was triggered. Eitel must cover the settlement according to the court stating that the insurer must honor the $5 million consent judgment reached with Evanston's policyholder, Eitel Enterprises Inc.

Representatives of Enfield and Evanston did not immediately respond to comment requests.

The case is Enfield et al. vs. Evanston Insurance Co., case number 9:24-cv-80008, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Enfield is represented by Stephen A. Marino Jr., Michal Meiler and Lindsay R. Abbondandolo of Ver Ploeg & Marino PA. Counsel information for Evanston was not available.

Expert involvement

Experts in bicycle accidents and commercial insurance liability and coverage automobiles were required to resolve this case.

About the author

Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien is a senior medico-legal writer and editor, with 25 years of experience authoring healthcare deliverables. Previously, Erin authored an award-winning column in the health and wellness sector, guest hosted a wellness radio show, and received an FMA Charlie Award for Excellence in Writing.

Erin has reviewed and completed case studies for thousands of medical malpractice cases, both plaintiff and defense nationwide, and was presented the US Chamber of Commerce Best Small Business Blue Ribbon designation.  Erin is an experienced Medical Risk Consultant and device start-up project manager. She has consulted for numerous successful healthcare and bio-tech start-ups. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University Of Wisconsin, Erin pursued an educational background in Healthcare Risk Management at the University of South Florida. Erin crafts her work with attention to detail, readability, healthcare marketing regulations, and medical standard of care.