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Harvard suing Marsh in relation to open admissions suit loss

Posted On: Nov. 1, 2023 2:41 PM CST


Harvard University is suing its broker, Marsh USA Inc., charging malpractice in a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts state court in connection with the university’s open admissions lawsuit loss before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

The lawsuit follows the university’s losses in district court and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston in a lawsuit it filed against Zurich American Insurance Co. seeking excess coverage for attorneys fees.

The litigation against insurer and broker stem from a 2014 lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions in federal court alleging the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the university in June in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.

While Harvard had promptly notified the primary insurer, American International Group Inc. unit National Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., which had issued a $25 million primary policy, about the litigation, it did not notify Zurich until May 2017, which was outside the policy’s 90-day notification window, according to the 1st Circuit’s ruling in President and Fellows of Harvard College v. Zurich American Insurance Co., which affirmed a lower court.

The university blames Marsh for the late notice, in the lawsuit filed in state court last week. “Notwithstanding Marsh’s contractual and professional obligation,” the broker “failed to provide notice of a major claim to certain of Harvard’s excess e&o insurers,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint states that Zurich’s first-layer excess E&O insurance policy provided $15 million in coverage in excess of AIG’s $25 million primary policy and additional higher-level coverage. It said its related defense costs, fees and expanse have already, or will soon, exceed the Zurich policy’s $27.5 million attachment point.

Marsh had no comment.