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Unbeatable coach loses insurance suit

College basketball coach Bobby Knight hates to lose, and he just lost a big case against his insurer.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision to grant summary judgment in a lawsuit Mr. Knight filed against Indiana Insurance Co. for denying coverage and failing to defend him in a claim filed by his former assistant coach at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Mr. Knight, famous for his angry outbursts against players and referees, got into a verbal and physical confrontation in 1999 with Ronald Felling, who then sued him. The Indianapolis-based insurer denied coverage because of exclusions in Mr. Knight's homeowner's policy, namely for acts connected with the policyholder's business.

Mr. Knight--the all-time wins leader among National Collegiate Athletic Assn. men's basketball coaches--settled with Mr. Felling in 2002 by paying him $25,000 and admitting he shoved Mr. Felling.

Mr. Knight, now the head coach at Texas Tech, sued the insurer for breach of contract, bad faith, negligence and punitive damages, but the court of appeals said the encounter with Mr. Felling was a workplace incident and a reasonable claims manager could determine it was outside the policy's coverage.

Judge may lose more than pants

The strange and terrible saga of the District of Columbia administrative court judge who initially sought $65 million from a mom-and-pop dry cleaner for temporarily misplacing a pair of suit pants may be coming to a long-overdue end.

In a first step to removing Judge Roy L. Pearson from the bench, the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges sent the jurist a letter on Aug. 7 formally notifying him that he may not be reappointed to the bench. While the letter is not the last word on the matter--Judge Pearson has 15 days to issue a rebuttal and can make an appearance before the commission next month to argue his case--the missive sounds like a pretty strong vote of no confidence.

Judge Pearson achieved national notoriety when he sued the Chung family, who own a dry cleaning establishment in Washington, for $65 million for allegedly failing to meet their promise of "satisfaction guaranteed" when they allegedly lost his suit pants. The amount sought in the suit was later reduced to $54 million, but D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff recently rejected Judge Pearson's arguments and said that the Chungs owed him nothing.

Meanwhile, sympathy for the Chungs mounted to such a point that even the American Assn. for Justice--the national organization for trial lawyers--set up a fund to help their defense. The American Tort Reform Assn. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a fundraiser last month that netted more than $62,000 for the Chungs.

Mr. Pearson may still have another day in court--he can still appeal Judge Bartnoff's ruling against him. But if he chooses to do so, it's looking increasingly like he'll do so as just another plaintiff rather than one entitled to wear a judge's robe.

Donkey derby risky for kids

A risk management tactic in Wales left children watching from the sidelines as inflatable sheep and a toy orangutan took on jockey duties in an annual donkey derby.

Insurers refused to cover the 39th running of the Llandudno Rugby Club's donkey derby in North Wales last month, forcing organizers to make the jockey swap.

Parents of the participating children had signed disclaimer forms, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. But lawyers for the club warned that parents could not sign away their child's rights with a waiver, leaving the club open to a lawsuit if an injured child decide to sue on his or her own.

Both the club's insurer and the donkey owner's insurer refused to cover the event if children raced atop the animals, despite "hardly any accidents" other than minor bumps in the derby's history, the BBC reported the club chairman as saying.

A broker was unsuccessful in finding an insurer willing to take on the risk.

"We came up with the notion of putting some sort of inflatable objects on the donkeys," the club's chairman told the BBC. "We chatted to the donkey owner, who said the donkeys will run with whatever on their backs."

Despite the children's disappointment, the stand-ins' performance was flawless-almost.

"One sheep deflated spontaneously, so he had to be substituted by an orangutan," the event's organizer told the BBC. "He was a last-minute replacement jockey but performed admirably."

Insurer rains on parade

During small-town parades, many people have childhood memories of waving to the crowd while riding atop a fire truck. In Bloomsburg, Pa., residents must remain at the curb.

Two years ago, the town's insurer threatened to increase rates by at least $8,000 should the all-volunteer fire department allow anyone but firefighters on the trucks, said Carol Mas, town administrator.

The town's fire chief, Bob Rupp, recently suggested new guidelines in hopes of allowing guests back on to the vehicles during events. He suggested they be seated and wear seat belts, Ms. Mas said. Before, riders would stand in the truck bed.

Mr. Rupp said that allowing children on board can ignite an interest in the career and by not allowing them and their families on board, the department may be deterring people from joining, the area's newspaper, the Press Enterprise, reported.

Contributing: Mark A. Hofmann, Gloria Gonzalez, Beth Murtagh