Mass. Diocese Seeks Ruling on Insurers’ Share of Sex Abuse Claims

By | June 17, 2005

The Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts is asking a judge to determine how much of a burden the diocese’s insurers should bear in paying for settled sex abuse claims as well as determine their financial responsibility for future claims.

The Roman Catholic diocese is in ongoing negotiations with its insurers to reach an out-of-court agreement, but filed the legal action in Hampden Superior Court this week because one of its former insurers is insolvent.

Home Insurance Co.’s obligations are now the responsibility of the Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund.

“This situation created the need for the court’s involvement to resolve questions that arise as a result of insurer insolvency,” the diocese said in a statement.

The diocese hopes the court action will actually speed up the process by clarifying the insurers’ obligations, spokesman Mark E. Dupont said.

The diocese has already paid out $7 million to settle the abuse claims of 46 people.

The diocese paid out the money rather than waiting for negotiations with insurers to come to a conclusion, and hopes insurers will reimburse some of the money.

It is also important to clarify insurer obligations so the diocese can quickly and fairly resolve about 30 clergy sex abuse claims.

The court action involves seven insurance carriers that covered the archdiocese between 1968 and 1990, the date of the last claim. They include Travelers Property Casualty Co.; North Star Reinsurance Corp.; Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London; Centennial Insurance Co.; Interstate Fire & Casualty Co.; and Colonial Penn Insurance Co.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

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