John S. Keck went to the home of his ex-girlfriend Karen Adams to demand she choose between him and her new boyfriend Andrew Slentz. Adams chose Slentz.

Keck left and returned 30 minutes later with a rifle. He shot at Adams several times from close range, wounding her. Then he chased Slentz and eventually shot him. Keck then killed himself.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Adams and Slentz sued Keck’s estate, along with Continental Insurance Co. with whom Keck had a homeowner’s insurance policy. Keck’s estate settled. Continental then sued for a declaratory judgment, asking the court to decide if the company is liable to Adams and Slentz under Keck’s homeowner’s insurance policy.

Continental submitted its policy, which says the insurer is not liable for intentional acts even if the insured person lacks the mental capacity to govern his or her conduct. The policy also says this exclusion applies whether the insured is charged with or convicted of a crime.

If you were the judge, would you order Continental Insurance Co. to pay damages to Adams and Slentz for their injuries?

The judge said no!

“Here, the evidence as to Keck’s actions was uncontroverted. There was no question of material fact as to whether Keck acted intentionally when he retrieved the rifle, returned to Adam’s home, and shot both Adams and Slentz at close range,” the judge explained.

“A claim that the shooting was somehow unintentional would be unsound,” he continued.

“The insurance policy’s plain language unambiguously precludes coverage for losses incurred through an insured’s intentional act, even if the insured lacks the mental capacity to govern his own conduct,” the judge emphasized.

Homeowner’s insurance policy clauses limiting liability to unintentional acts, irrespective of mental capacity, have long been enforceable, the judge ruled. Therefore, Continental Insurance Co. has no liability to Adams and Slentz for the intentional shootings by Keck, the judge concluded.

Based on the 2006 U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Continental Insurance Co. v. Adams, 438 Fed.3d 538.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription