Assault and Battery Exclusion in Sports

Employees and volunteers vulnerable


Some sports General Liability policies have an endorsement entitled Assault and Battery Exclusion that modifies the terms of the original policy language.


The standard policy form (without the Assault And Battery Exclusion) contains an intentional injury exclusion that includes an exception for the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property.


The Assault and Battery Exclusion takes away coverage for any assault and battery incident committed by your employees, volunteers, or any other person.  In addition, coverage is excluded for failure to suppress or prevent an incident as well as for negligent hiring, supervision, or training.


Based on some of the claims filed against our team and league clients over the years, the Assault and Battery Exclusion would have had unacceptable coverage consequences had it been in existence.


We have seen several lawsuits alleging assault and battery resulting from a coach attempting to break up a fight.  In one incident, a coach broke up a fight by pulling one 8-year-old boy off of another.  The lawsuit alleging assault and battery claimed that the coach injured the boy that he pulled off the top of the other boy.


We have also seen a number of other lawsuits against leagues, volunteers, and administrators arising out of fights between coaches, umpires, and spectators.  In many cases, the coaches and umpires are actually the physical aggressors against spectators.In some of these cases, the plaintiff’s attorney ran a background check and found that the defendant had a criminal background involving a crime of physical violence.  As a result, the sports organization and its board were shot gunned into the lawsuit under the theory of negligent hiring.


The above common examples would likely trigger the Assault And Battery exclusion resulting in no insurance coverage and the possible taking of both assets of the sports organization as well as personal assets of the individual defendants to satisfy the judgment.


In my opinion, the Assault and Battery Exclusion should be removed from a sports or recreation General Liability policy.


Source:  John Sadler

Photo credit: Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise