NC Court of Appeals rules in favor of Patterson Harkavy's client in wrongful conviction insurance dispute

The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion in favor of Patterson Harkavy's wrongful conviction client Willie Grimes in an insurance dispute.

Mr. Grimes served 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Patterson Harkavy represented Mr. Grimes in a lawsuit against the City of Hickory and some of its police officers in federal court. In that lawsuit, he alleged that two separate instances of police misconduct, 15 years apart, caused his initial and continued wrongful imprisonment by delaying his access to evidence that would eventually prove his innocence.

The City of Hickory had an insurance policy that provided coverage for the second instance of misconduct through Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company, but Argonaut refused to defend or indemnify the City in the civil rights lawsuit, arguing that the second instance of misconduct was "related" to the first and therefore excluded from its policy coverage.

Mr. Grimes has since settled his federal civil rights case for $3.25 million. In today's ruling, the Court of Appeals sided with Mr. Grimes and the City of Hickory in a separate state court action, holding that the second instance of police misconduct that delayed Mr. Grimes's exoneration were not "related" to the first instance that caused his wrong conviction and incarceration.

Click here to view the opinion.