Court: Nesquehoning insurer doesn't have to cover Homanko in suit
A state appeals court has upheld a ruling that Nesquehoning’s insurance policy is not obligated to cover a former police officer who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide following a 2014 high-speed chase that claimed the life of an area woman.
The ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court came down Tuesday and affirmed that because former officer Steven Homanko pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in 2016, the Pennsylvania Integrated Risk Management Association does not need to defend him in a federal lawsuit filed by Michael Sauers, the husband of the late Carola Sauers.
The three-judge panel, in their opinion, affirmed a March 2019 lower court ruling that the association “had no duty to defend or indemnify police officer Steven Homanko in an underlying civil action in which Sauers is the plaintiff and Homanko is a defendant.”
Michael Sauers had argued that the Pennsylvania Integrated Risk Management Association should still have to cover Homanko because the policy excludes intentional criminal acts, which Sauers said the crash was not.
Carola Sauers was killed as a result of Homanko’s decision while on patrol as a Nesquehoning police officer to speed down Route 209 at 113 mph as he chased another driver. Homanko lost control of his cruiser and crashed into the Sauers’ vehicle. Carola died as a result of her injuries in the crash.
Homanko, in 2016, was sentenced by Bucks County Judge John Rufe, who oversaw the case, to serve three to 23 months in a county prison, followed by two years of probation for his involvement in the case.
He pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and recklessly endangering another person, plus two summary motor vehicle code violations with the other charges he faced being dropped as part of a plea bargain.