Federal Appeals Court Rules for Archdiocese in Priest Abuse Insurance Case

September 24, 2018

A federal appeals court says an insurance company must reimburse the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford nearly $1 million for payments the archdiocese made to settle sexual misconduct cases involving priests and minors.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling in the archdiocese’s favor.

Two years ago, Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven ruled in July that Chicago-based Interstate Fire & Casualty breached a contract when it refused to reimburse the archdiocese for more than $1 million in payments made in four abuse cases involving minors.

The archdiocese sued Interstate Fire & Casualty Co. in 2012, claiming the Chicago-based insurer breached its policy by refusing to reimburse the archdiocese for payments made in four settlements from 2010 to 2012 after previously reimbursing payments made in other abuse settlements.

Chicago-based Interstate Fire & Casualty refused to reimburse the archdiocese, citing an assault and battery exemption in the insurance policy. A key issue in the Connecticut case and others is whether insurance companies can deny claims under assault and battery exemptions in liability policies. Many policies don’t cover intentional acts, but church officials have argued that they did not know about the alleged assaults.Many policies don’t cover intentional acts, but church officials argued they did not know about the alleged assaults and sued the insurer in 2012.

The settlements, one of many paid by the archdiocese in priest abuse cases, involved four claims of sexual misconduct by priests against minors in the 1970s and 1980s.

Associated Press writer Dave Collins contributed to this report.

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