Heslop v Bear River Mutual Insurance Company

Heslop appealed summary judgment for Company in her claim for personal injury and her husband’s claim property damage arguing her mental illness prevented her suicide attempt from being intentional. The Court affirmed. It held that the district court incorrectly relied on Michigan case which adopted a per se rule that mental illness cannot defeat intent holding Utah law looks at the totality of the circumstances and mental illness can defeat a claim of intentional action if the person is either subjectively unaware that his actions will result in injury or if the person is unable to control himself from doing the act which l3eads to injury. Applying here, the Court held that no genuine issue of fact about Heslop’s ability to form intent was raised by her evidence because the doctors only stated that it was highly likely she could not fully appreciate the results of her decision to drive off the road which only provides a speculative basis that she did not understand that death or injury naturally result from driving off a road down an embankment and that her medication may have affected some of her actions which did not specify which actions or how they were affected. The Court held Heslop’s admissions that she tried to kill herself demonstrated capacity to form intent and thus both the personal injury and the property damage claims failed under Utah statute and the policy here which both exclude intentional conduct resulting in injury to oneself and husband’s argument that he should be considered a victim was inadequately briefed as it mentioned one case and made no attempt at reasoned analysis. It finally held that there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of Heslop’s motion for a continuance as the motion failed to identify what evidence she intended to seek in discovery and how that evidence would support her opposition to Company’s summary judgment motion.