A former doctor previously convicted of brandishing a firearm outside his one-time office will face a civil trial without insurance coverage.
In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon granted a request for declaration from Travelers Home & Marine that the company did not owe coverage for Christopher Lander in two tort lawsuits filed against him by former coworkers.
As first reported by VA Lawyers Weekly, Lander is being sued in Albemarle County Circuit Court by two former coworkers — Dr. Rasheed Siddiqui, Lander’s former partner, and Sherri Johnson, the practice’s office manager. Lander and Siddiqui were partners at Charlottesville Pain Management Center.
According to his complaint, in 2014, Siddiqui began to suspect Lander was drinking on the job, leading him to file a complaint with the state Board of Medicine and stage an intervention. After reacting poorly to the intervention, Lander quit the practice and sued Siddiqui, the complaint states.
In November 2016, Lander, armed with a 9mm Glock pistol, drove to a convenience store, purchased canned cocktails and accidentally shot out his vehicle’s windshield. Lander then parked outside of his old workplace and allegedly brandished the firearm, causing an unnamed individual to run into the office and inform staff, according to the complaint.
Lander never made it inside the office, injuring himself as he fell from his vehicle with the gun in his hand. He was transported to a hospital, where it was determined he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.235%, according to Siddiqui’s lawsuit. The legal limit for driving is 0.08%.
Lander’s medical license was revoked in January 2017. In August 2017, he pleaded guilty to several gun-related felonies and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
According to the complaints by Siddiqui and Johnson, both subsequently attended a gun safety class, and a bulletproof door and bulletproof windows have been installed at the practice. In August 2018, the two sued Lander for emotional trauma, seeking $2.4 million each in compensatory damages.
“Dr. Lander’s behavior was outrageous and intolerable and offends against the generally accepted standards of decency and morality,” both Siddiqui and Johnson’s complaints read.
Soon after the lawsuits were filed, Lander attempted to argue that Travelers should cover his defense under their homeowners and umbrella policy.
Lander’s attorneys argued their client only injured himself and that there was no evidence he intended to harm Siddiqui or Johnson. However, Moon disagreed, writing in his opinion that the incident does not count as an “occurrence.”
The circuit court complaint states that the federal complaint arises “almost solely” from intentional conduct and though Lander may have injured himself by falling out of his truck, “[a] single unintentional act in a linear series of overt conduct does not trigger a duty to defend,” Moon wrote.
Lander is scheduled for a four-day trial in Albemarle County Circuit Court beginning Feb. 24.