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Indy archdiocese can’t collect sex-abuse legal fees from insurer

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An insurance company won’t have to pay the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ legal fees and costs associated with defending claims of sexual abuse.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on Thursday dismissed with prejudice the archdiocese’s claim for $250,000 from Travelers Insurance. A final judgment will be issued accordingly.

The archdiocese sued two insurers in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis v. Travelers Insurance Co. and Gallagher Bassett Insurance Services, 1:12-CV-JMS-DKL. The archdiocese claimed breach of contract because Travelers denied coverage for legal fees associated with the claims of 16 people who said they were molested by a Jeffersonville priest in the 1950s and 1960s. The claims alleged negligence and fraudulent concealment of abuse, among other things.

Travelers moved to dismiss in October on grounds the archdiocese failed to timely notify the insurer of the alleged sex-abuse victims’ claims that arose beginning in 2002 and ultimately were resolved in June 2006, when the claims in Clark Circuit Court were dismissed because they exceeded the statute of limitations.

The archdiocese claimed it was entitled to relief from Travelers “because of the unique circumstances that hindered the Archdiocese from providing immediate notice.”

“It is undisputed that the Archdiocese did not notify Travelers of the Underlying Actions until July 30, 2007, over a year after the actions had been resolved,” Magnus-Stinson wrote. “Because Travelers does not have any obligation to the Archdiocese until it was first notified of the Underlying Actions, and all of the defense fees and costs were incurred prior to the Archdiocese’s tender of notice of Travelers on July 30, 2007, Travelers is not responsible for defense fees and costs incurred prior to that time as a matter of law.”

Eight men and eight women sued the archdiocese between 2002 and 2004, claiming they were abused between 1953 and 1969 by Rev. Albert Deery, pastor of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Jeffersonville. Deery died in 1972.

There has been no ruling to date on the claim against Gallagher Bassett, the archdiocese’s other named liability carrier.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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