Insurance Law

Bill Cosby seeks to use homeowners' umbrella policy to pay legal bills

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Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby. Image from Randy Miramontez /

Bill Cosby hopes to use an umbrella policy tied to his homeowners’ insurance to pay his legal fees and any judgments in defamation lawsuits against him.

American International Group has filed two lawsuits seeking declaratory judgments that Cosby isn’t covered because of exclusions for sexual misconduct, the New York Times reports. “So far, Mr. Cosby is winning,” the story says.

Ten women in three states have filed defamation suits claiming Cosby and his representatives defamed them by denying their claims of sexual assault. Cosby has extra liability coverage of $35 million tied to his homes in Massachusetts and California.

A federal judge in California ruled against AIG in November, according to the Times and a prior story by the National Law Journal (sub. req.). U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell of Los Angeles found the exclusion doesn’t apply because Cosby’s statements, not his alleged sexual misconduct, are the subject matter of the lawsuit.

AIG plans to appeal the California ruling, and has filed an amended complaint alleging additional reasons it isn’t required to pay. One reason cited is that the California policy covers Cosby’s limited liability company rather than Cosby himself.

A lawyer for seven women suing Cosby in Massachusetts, Joseph Cammarata, also represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment and defamation lawsuit against Bill Clinton. The former president also used his personal injury coverage to help pay his legal bills.

Cammarata told the Times he dislikes the idea of an insurer picking up the tab. “If the allegations are true, you can harm someone, and get somebody else to pay for your wrongdoing,” he said. “God bless America! There is no financial responsibility.”

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