Judge dismisses Kayla Giles’ claims against insurance company over self-defense policy money

Kayla Giles
Kayla Giles(Source: Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office)
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:20 AM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Federal Judge Dee Drell has dismissed claims filed by Kayla Giles in Sept. 2019 to force an insurance company to pay out on a self-defense insurance policy she purchased when she bought the gun she used to murder her estranged husband, Thomas Coutee, Jr.

Giles was convicted on Jan. 29, 2022 of the Sept. 8, 2018 shooting death of Coutee, Jr. in an Alexandria Walmart parking lot during a custody exchange. Giles claimed she shot him in self-defense. A Rapides Parish jury convicted her of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. She’s set to be sentenced on March 28. A conviction on second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana.

Twelve days before she killed Coutee, Jr., Giles bought the gun and a “platinum member” status self-defense policy through United Specialty Insurance Company and a partnering company called Delta Defense, LLC. She was initially paid out $50,000 when she filed her claim mere minutes after Coutee, Jr. was killed, but the money stopped when the insurance company found out she was charged in Rapides Parish.

Giles filed a federal complaint in the Western District of Louisiana a year after the shooting to get the money, which would be $1 million in coverage and criminal defense limits up to $150,000. Although she was convicted, her attorney, Thomas “Rocky” Willson, believed the phrase “imminent threat of death or great bodily injury” is “subjective” and said Giles believed she was in danger when she killed Coutee, Jr.

United Specialty Insurance Company and Delta Defense, LLC wanted the claims against them dropped given the criminal conviction. On Tuesday, Judge Drell made his decision. He dismissed with prejudice the claims against Delta Defense, LLC based on the fact that they had no role in denying the insurance claim that Giles filed and are “merely an intermediary to the United policy providing coverage to USCCA members.”

Judge Drell also dismissed without prejudice the claim against United Specialty Insurance Company. That means that Giles may reassert her claim against United in the event her conviction is reversed on self-defense grounds.

In a civil case, if a case is dismissed without prejudice, it means the plaintiff can try to bring the case forward again in the future, possibly correcting their argument. If a case is dismissed with prejudice it means that the plaintiff can’t refile the same claim again in that court.

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