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Elliott McCowan's insurance company wants out of Bach's wrongful death suit

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Elliott McCowan’s homeowner’s insurance company has filed suit in federal court seeking a judge’s determination that it has no obligation to cover either McCowan or his son, Dustin--the convicted murderer of Amanda Bach--for any claims which might arise from the wrongful death suit filed last year by Bach’s parents.

The American Family Mutual Insurance Company filed that suit on Friday. It names Elliott and Dustin McCowan and Bach’s parents, William and Sandra.

According to the suit, at the time of Bach’s death by gunshot wound, on or about Aug. 16, 2011, Elliott McCowan was the holder of a homeowner’s insurance policy with a liability limit of $500,000 per occurrence of bodily injury or properly damage.

However, the suit argues, exclusions from liability coverage include the following:

* When the bodily injury is caused intentionally.

* When the bodily injury arises out of a violation of any criminal law.

Also excluded from coverage: any punitive or exemplary damages.

American Family is thus asking the court to “declare and determine” the following: that its policy does not cover either McCowan for any claims arising out of the murder; and that the company has no obligation to defend or indemnify either McCowan against any claims made in the Bachs’ suit, no obligation to compromise or settle any such claim, and no obligation to pay in any part any judgment rendered against either or both.

McCowan was convicted on Feb. 26, 2012, of Bach’s murder and is serving a 60-year sentence in the Pendleton Correction Facility in Madison County.

Count I of the Bachs’ suit notes that on or about Aug. 16, 2011, Dustin McCowan “negligently, carelessly, recklessly, and/or intentionally shot Amanda Bach”; that she “suffered a horrific, terrible, untimely, wrongful death”; and that her parents, under the Indiana Child Wrongful Death statute, are “entitled to recover for the loss of love, affection, and companionship, attorney fees, costs of this action, burial, and funeral bills.”

Count II names Elliott McCowan and hinges on the enduring mystery of the case: what firearm did Dustin McCowan use to shoot Bach? and what became of that weapon?

Prosecutors suggested at trial that the murder weapon was Elliott McCowan’s Smith & Wesson .38 caliber Airlite revolver, which he testified at trial he kept under a sofa in the living room but which he reported missing shortly after Bach’s body was discovered.

That revolver has never been found.

“Upon information and belief,” the suit alleges, Dustin McCowan “used his father’s firearms to fatally shoot Amanda Bach.”

Those firearms “were not properly secured” and “were accessible to his minor son,” according to the suit, although Elliott McCowan “had a duty to properly secure his firearms when he was not home.”

The suit concludes that a “direct and proximate cause of Amanda Bach’s death and fatal shooting” was Elliott McCowan’s “carelessness and negligence.”

The suit does not specify the amount sought by the Bachs.

 

 

Posted 2/18/2014