Former S.D. Teacher and Coach Wants School’s Coverage for Legal Bills

July 28, 2008

Former South Dakota teacher and coach Andy Tate wants the Mitchell School District’s insurance to cover the $25,000 in legal bills he spent to defend himself in a lawsuit brought by a former student.

Brittany Plamp said in her lawsuit that Tate inappropriately touched her while they were alone in a high school classroom. She sought to hold the district liable.

The school district brought Tate into the lawsuit as a third-party defendant so that he could be forced to share in the payment of any damages awarded by a jury.

A federal jury ruled early this month that she was the victim of battery by Tate, but it said the school district was not responsible.

Tate has asked the Associated School Boards of South Dakota Protective Trust to pay his legal bills, according to his attorney, Russ Janklow, of Sioux Falls. The Trust is a joint insurance pool entered into by school districts and administered by the ASBSD.

Brian Aust, ASBSD’s director of communications, said a decision on Tate’s request is not expected until after a 30-day deadline passes to file appeals in the court case.

“I can tell you there is a question of whether Mr. Tate is covered under the district’s insurance policy,” Aust said, “and the situation will be handled either between the parties or through the legal system.”

Tate sued the ASBSD Protective Trust earlier this year in state circuit court to seek coverage for legal costs he was incurring.

Tate’s lawyer during the Plamp lawsuit, Michael Tobin, of Sioux Falls, said he could be called as a witness if the Tate lawsuit against the Trust continues and advised Tate to find another attorney. Tate has since retained Janklow.

The Mitchell School District’s legal costs from defending the Plamp lawsuit are being covered by its ASBSD policy.

Tate, a former wrestling coach, testified during the trial that his touching of Plamp was not sexual in nature but was meant to show how thin she was because of an eating disorder. Tate said he was trying to persuade Plamp to eat better and that an ensuing conversation about sex was wrong.

In September 2006, Tate was sentenced to two years probation after pleading no contest to one count of stalking. He had been accused of stalking four high school girls. As part of a plea agreement, three counts were dismissed.

Information from: The Daily Republic,

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