Md. Court Denies Drunk Lawnmower Benefits

August 16, 2004

A Glen Burnie, Maryland man whose hand was amputated in a lawn mower accident does not qualify for insurance benefits because he was drunk, a federal judge in Baltimore has ruled.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz dismissed a claim by the wife of Billie Lamm, which said driving a lawn mower drunk was not the same as driving a car intoxicated.

Motz granted summary judgment in favor of Provident Life & Accident Insurance Co.

In April 2000, Lamm, now deceased, was involved in the accident that led to the amputation of his right hand a month later. Edna Lamm had previously taken out an accidental insurance policy through her employer and filed a $50,000 claim to collect on the policy.

The policy, issued by Provident Life, included a disclaimer for determining eligibility of benefits. An adjusting firm denied Lamm benefits because he was intoxicated during the accident.

Edna Lamm filed a lawsuit against the insurer in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages and $150,000 in punitive damages. The insurance company had the case moved to federal court.

A toxicology test at the hospital showed Lamm had a blood alcohol level of .076 percent.

Motz, citing a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., said while the incident was unintentional, once Lamm drove drunk, it no longer qualified as an accident.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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