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Travelers had duty to defend hospital in sexual abuse case

Travelers had duty to defend hospital in sexual abuse case

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling concerning a Travelers Cos. Inc. unit’s duty to defend a hospital in connection with a now-deceased endocrinologist who had sexually abused numerous children.

The complex, long-running litigation involved Dr. George Reardon, an endocrinologist at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut, who had sexually abused many of the children who were in his care from 1963 to 1993, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in Pacific Employers Insurance Co. v. Sant Francis Care Inc. et. al.

“His crimes came to light when, after his death, a large number of pornographic images of children were found hidden behind a false wall in his home,” according to the ruling.

About 160 of Dr. Reardon’s victims filed lawsuits in Connecticut state court against the hospital, which were consolidated into a uniform complaint that included claims of corporate negligence, breach of fiduciary or confidential relationship, breach of the special duty of care owed to children, and other state law torts, according to the appealed court ruling.

According to a news report, St. Francis and its insurers had reached settlements with virtually all remaining victims in April 2012.

The hospital’s insurers included Chubb Ltd. unit Pacific Employers Insurance Co., based in Philadelphia; Travelers Cos. unit Travelers Casualty & Surety Co., based in Hartford, Connecticut; and Deerfield, Illinois-based Evanston Insurance Co., a Markel Corp. unit.

Monday’s ruling, which affirmed lower court rulings in the case, was in response to motions and cross motions filed in the litigation.

Travelers filed a cross appeal in response to an August 2012 memorandum in the case that found the insurer had a dual duty to defend the hospital under both general lability and hospital professional liability coverage parts of its policies.

As “the uniform complaint implicated the (general lability) duty to defend, the relief sought … was promptly granted, regardless of whether there was also (hospital professional liability) duty to defend,” said the ruling.





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