Former Olympian sues insurance company after acquittal in Long Valley murder

Michael Barrison was previously found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of his intern at a farm in Long Valley.

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LONG VALLEY, NJ — A former Olympic equestrian who was recently found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of his intern at a Long Valley farm is suing his insurance companies, alleging they breached their contracts by refusing to cover him .

The suit, filed Monday, claims they were obligated to protect him and/or his business because of the insurance policies he purchased for his Long Valley horse farm, Sweetgrass Farm, and dressage business.


Michael Barrison shot and killed college student Lauren Kanarek and tried to shoot her fiancee at his upscale Long Valley restaurant in August 2019 after what he described as months of psychological torture by Kanarek.

According to the lawsuit, he received the gun from Ruth Cox, a customer who owned it legally but brought it illegally into New Jersey.

The years-long conflict between Barrison and Kanarak came to a head on Aug. 7, 2019, according to a probable cause affidavit, when Barrison went to the home that Kanarak and her fiancee were renting on Barrison’s Hawthorne Farms property.

At about 2:13 p.m., Barrison shot Kanarak twice in the chest at close range, according to court documents. He is also accused of trying to shoot her fiancee but missing and hitting the house instead.

After the attack on Kanarek, Barrison was charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon. His lawyer argued during the trial that Kanarek’s harassing attacks temporarily drove Barrison insane before he snapped.

A jury in Morris County Superior Court ultimately found Barrison not guilty by reason of insanity. He was also found not guilty of attempted murder of Karanek’s fiancee, as well as weapons and aggravated assault charges.

According to the lawsuit, Barisone had policies with Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, American National Insurance Company and Great American Insurance Company of New York.

Barrison claims that these acts of material misconduct forced him to hire lawyers and fund his own defense with hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to his legal team, rather than those costs being covered by the insurance companies that were required to defend him for own account.

The former Olympian is seeking monetary damages for the money he spent on legal fees.

According to the lawsuit, Barisone had policies with millions of dollars in coverage from several insurance companies, including bodily injury, property damage and personal injury.

From Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, Barisone claimed he had an insurance policy that the company characterized as a “Farm Family Casualty 10-Pack Policy” that provided a total aggregate limit of $2 million, which included $1 million per occurrence

From Great American, Barisone had an “ArgiPak Farm and Ranch Policy” that had a total aggregate limit of $2 million, including $1 million in personal injury coverage. He also had a separate policy called the AriGuard Farm Casualty Liability Policy, which provided an additional $1 million.

“The respective failures and refusals of the named insurance companies to defend and indemnify Barisone are acts in bad faith and are in material breach of their respective duties and obligations under the identified insurance policies,” the suit states.

Barrison is currently being treated at Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County. On April 25, he will have a separate hearing to determine whether he should remain at Greystone.

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