from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Georgia D.C. No. 1:14-cv-00112-JRH-BKE
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, ANDERSON, Circuit Judge, and
CHAPPELL, District Judge
appellant was involved in a car accident with an intoxicated
driver who was driving a company vehicle with his
employer's permission. After a jury found the driver
liable and awarded the appellant one million dollars, the
employer's insurance company, the appellee, filed this
suit for a declaration that the driver was not a permissive
user - and thus not covered under the applicable insurance
policies - because he broke internal company policies.
where specifically excluded, the general purpose of an
insurance policy is to provide coverage. The Georgia Supreme
Court has held that inquiries into permissive use should
extend only to whether a vehicle is used for an approved
purpose. See Strickland v. Georgia Cas. & Sur.
Co., 224 Ga. 487, 162 S.E.2d 421 (Ga. 1968). A
subsequent decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, however,
held that a company's internal rules can govern the scope
of permissive use, and that violations thereof can negate an
individual's status as an insured. See Barfield v.
Royal Ins. Co. of Am. 228 Ga.App. 841, 492 S.E.2d 688
(Ga.Ct.App. 1997). Because the district court followed
Barfield, and thereby narrowed the scope of
permissive use beyond what was permitted by
Strickland, we find that it erred. Therefore, we
reverse and remand.
1996, Looper Cabinet Co., Inc. ("LCC"), a Georgia
company, hired Brian Hensley to perform services auxiliary to
cabinet installation. In the years that followed, LCC
permitted Hensley to drive its 2008 Chevrolet Silverado (the
"Looper Vehicle") for both work and personal
purposes. In addition, LCC's owner admitted that under
the general permission granted to Hensley, he was allowed to
drive the Looper Vehicle to and from his father's lake
house. Hensley exercised this privilege in early June of
2012, and stayed there for some time.
10, 2012, Hensley drank four beers before driving the Looper
Vehicle home from the lake house. While driving, he
encountered Appellant-Ulysses Anderson, who approached the
Looper Vehicle from behind on a motorcycle. The parties
dispute the ensuing facts, but they agree that Anderson
attempted to pass Hensley resulting in an accident that left
Anderson severely injured.
Anderson sued Hensley and LCC, alleging that Hensley drove
the Looper Vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and
caused the accident. Although LCC was dropped as a defendant,
a jury found Hensley liable and awarded Anderson
approximately one million dollars in damages.
1. LCC Internal Policies
decades, LLC's internal policies have banned alcoholic
beverages on company property and prohibited employees under
the influence of alcohol from working in the shop on and off
the clock. LLC has also had a substance abuse policy that
states, in pertinent part,
[a]n employee reporting to work visibly impaired will be
deemed unable to properly perform required duties and will
not be allowed to work. If, in the opinion of the supervisor,
the employee is considered impaired, the employee will be
sent home or to a medical facility by taxi or other safe
transportation alternative - depending on the determination
of the observed impairment and accompanied by the supervisor
or another employee if necessary. A drug and/or alcohol test
may be in ...