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Insurers File Lawsuit to Avoid Paying in School Sex Abuse

In a lawsuit unsealed Tuesday at the Brooklyn federal court, two insurers, the Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America and the Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford Connecticut, have sued the Poly Prep County Day School and its administrators.

In their lawsuit, the insurance companies claim that their policies did not cover payments for liabilities incurred by the school over sexual abuses. The insurers also pointed out that the claim filed by the school, after a year of the initial lawsuit against the school by victims, was guilty of laches.

The present lawsuit stems from another where victims, including 10 former students and two underage men complained of having been abused by Philip Foglietta, who was football coach of the school from 1966 to 1991. Foglietta died in 1998 without any criminal charges being brought against him, as the lawsuit was filed only in 2009.

In 2010, Poly Prep sent letters to the insurers notifying them that the school sought coverage for defense and indemnification costs under the insurance policies that covered the school from 1966 to present. The insurers have claimed that they are not liable for such payment under several grounds, including that they are excluded from paying up when any “bodily injury” was not unexpected, but “expected and intended.”

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The lawsuit also claims that in spite of Poly Prep officials having received complaints about the conduct of Foglietta as early as the 1960s, former and current administrators and directors of the school had swept the reports of abuse under the rug to protect the school’s reputation.

The insurers first disclaimed their liability by letters to both the former headmaster and current headmaster of the school, as also the former administrator. Upon the school being adamant in their stance, the insurers finally sued the school and related parties on December 6 under seal.

Similar suits by insurers disclaiming coverage in the Jerry Sandusky abuse case are currently pending in Pennsylvania state and federal courts.

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