ST. PAUL, MN — A Minnesota federal court has turned aside efforts by TIG Insurance Company to deny coverage to three sexual abuse survivors who had obtained stipulated judgments against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order for negligent retention of one of the Catholic Church’s worst sexual predators. This case will now go to a jury trial with a strong signal that insurance funds may be available to compensate victims of sexual abuse even in states that the insurance industry thinks of as having tough standards for showing that sexual abuse incidents are “accidents” covered by general liability insurance policies.
TIG’s attorneys had argued that the Oblates knew its priest was a likely repeat offender long before he abused the plaintiffs in the case and that this knowledge negated coverage under the terms of the policies. TIG also sought to avoid coverage on the grounds that the sexual abuse survivors presented insufficient evidence to show that TIG sold the Oblates a critical excess insurance policy.
Judge Eric C. Tostrud issued the order, which denied TIG’s motions both on the expected/intended defense and on the existence of the critical insurance policy. The sexual abuse survivors were represented by attorneys with Burns Bair LLP, a national law firm representing sexual abuse survivors and other injured persons on insurance recovery matters. Burns Bair worked closely with Jeff Anderson & Associates, a leading sexual abuse law firm that brought the underlying sexual-abuse cases against the Oblates.
“This is a significant victory for our clients and sexual abuse survivors everywhere” says Tim Burns of Burns Bair. “We can now move forward in gaining rightful compensation under the terms of the policies for the longstanding trauma these survivors have endured.” Jesse Bair echoed Burns’ comments, noting that “the clients were eager for their day in court and committed to forcing the insurer to live up to its obligations.”
The case is TIG Insurance Company v. Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate et al, Case No. 20-cv-2261, pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.