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The Archdiocese of New York, on behalf of itself and other religious institutions, has filed litigation in New York Supreme Court against 33 insurers, including a Chubb Ltd. unit, seeking a declaratory judgment as to their obligations to provide coverage for childhood sexual abuse claims.
The complaint in Archdiocese of New York v. Insurance Co. of North America et. al., which was filed June 28, said that on Feb. 14, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Child Victims Act, which revives liability for sexual abuse claims that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. It says the legislation opens a one-year window in August of this year for claimants to begin civil actions alleging revived sexual abuse claims.
The complaint said although the insurers are obligated to provide coverage to the archdiocese and other policyholders under their liability claims for sexual and physical abuse, the insurers intend to dispute these claims.
It said Chubb unit Insurance Co. of North America has already denied coverage for a lawsuit with which the archdiocese was served in April, stating the litigation’s allegations “do not give rise to an ‘occurrence’ under the INA policies.”
In addition to seeking a declaratory judgment against all the insurers, the complaint charges Chubb with breach of contract and bad faith.
The diocese said in a statement: “The Archdiocese of New York has filed suit seeking to hold insurance companies to the policies they issued, and for which it paid premiums.
“Due to the passage of the Child Victims Act, we anticipate that victim-survivors will exercise their right to commence a lawsuit for abuse alleged to have occurred years ago. In fact, the archdiocese has begun to receive notice of lawsuits that will be filed in August, when the law goes into effect.
“We have notified Chubb, our historical primary insurer implicated by the existing claim, of the first of these lawsuits, and rather than honor its contractual obligation under the insurance policies they issued, Chubb has advised the Archdiocese that it will not stand behind its insurance policies and contractual obligations.
“This leaves the Archdiocese with no choice but to commence a lawsuit to ask the court to order Chubb to stand behind their insurance policies. “
A Chubb spokesman said in a statement, that as a “matter of company policy, we do not comment on claims or legal matters.”
A federal judge in New Haven, Connecticut, has awarded nearly $1 million to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, after Chicago-based Interstate Fire & Casualty failed to reimburse the archdiocese for payments the Archdiocese made to settle sexual misconduct cases.