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Archdiocese of Hartford Sues Insurer over Payments in Sex-abuse Cases

By Dave Altimari
Hartford Courant
November 26, 2012

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-priest-abuse-payments1127-20121126,0,4196529.story

The Archdiocese of Hartford is suing one of its longtime insurers, claiming the company owes it more than $1 million to offset payments the church has made to plaintiffs in priest sex-abuses cases.

In a federal lawsuit, the archdiocese is claiming that over the past two years Interstate Fire & Casualty Co. Inc. of Chicago failed or refused to make payments to cover four lawsuits settled by the church.

Two of the lawsuits involved abuse allegations against Ivan Ferguson, a Hartford-area priest who died in 2002. The others involved settlements in cases involving charges against former priests Stephen Crowley and Robert Ladamus.

The Archdiocese of Hartford is suing one of its longtime insurers, claiming the company owes it more than $1 million to offset payments the church has made to plaintiffs in priest sex-abuses cases.

In a federal lawsuit, the archdiocese is claiming that over the past two years Interstate Fire & Casualty Co. Inc. of Chicago failed or refused to make payments to cover four lawsuits settled by the church.

Two of the lawsuits involved abuse allegations against Ivan Ferguson, a Hartford-area priest who died in 2002. The others involved settlements in cases involving charges against former priests Stephen Crowley and Robert Ladamus.

The diocese is self-insured, but has insurance policies that kick in if settlements exceed $200,000. The archdiocese had policies with Interstate from 1979 to 1985, which covers the period in which it was alleged that the abuse took place.

Stewart said the company paid claims submitted by the archdiocese up until two years ago. The lawsuit claims that other archdioceses in Seattle, Washington D.C., and Springfield are having similar repayment issues with Interstate.

The lawsuit accuses the company of either ignoring or delaying responses to reimbursement claims, improperly seeking additional documentation such as transcripts of every deposition from a case and asking for personnel files of the priest.

Interstate does not have a local attorney to handle the claim. The company has until Dec. 12 to file an initial response to the lawsuit in federal court in New Haven. Spokeswoman Suzanne S. Meraz said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Ferguson was accused of molesting at least four boys in the late 1970s and 1980s. Several lawsuits against the archdiocese alleged that church officials moved him to other churches when allegations surfaced. Ferguson taught at Catholic schools in Derby, Simsbury and West Hartford.

The archdiocese settled most of the claims against Ferguson except for one that went to trial in Waterbury last February. In that case, a former altar boy from a Derby church claimed Ferguson molested him and won a $1 million judgment from a jury. That case is not one of those involved in the lawsuit against Interstate.

Ferguson and Crowley were among the priests involved in a $22 million federally mediated settlement in 2005 involving 43 accusers.

Contact: daltimar@courant.com

 

 

 

 

 




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