Duke University Sues Insurer Over Lacrosse Controversy Claims

December 2, 2008

Duke University has filed a lawsuit against its insurer, demanding that the company cover the costs of its settlement with three former lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape.

The North Carolina school filed a lawsuit against National Union Fire Insurance Co., seeking compensation for the undisclosed settlement and other costs incurred in the fallout of the case. The lawsuit said the insurer has paid nothing toward the case.

“Because National Union has not paid, Duke has been forced to bear the full financial impact of its own defense,” Duke attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

Along with the settlement provided to the three players — Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans — more than 40 unindicted players from the 2006 lacrosse team have since sued the university. The former lacrosse coach, Mike Pressler, has also sued the school.

“Duke believes that our insurance companies should meet their obligations and we will pursue all options available to us,” said Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld in a release. “While Duke sought to address this without resorting to a lawsuit, we were not able to reach a satisfactory outcome and thus turn to the courts.”

The Duke lawsuit said National Union breached its contract, arguing that the insurance policies protect the school from any losses arising from legal claims. The school said it repeatedly notified the insurance company about the details of the investigation and that National Union, an affiliate of AIG, repeatedly acknowledged that its policies potentially covered the claims.

Peter Tulupman, a spokesman for AIG, said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

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