Education Law

Harvard flubbed insurance deadline, cannot access $15M policy, judge rules

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A laptop that has pulled up a school admissions webpage, sitting on a desk with school equipment

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Harvard University will not be able to tap into a $15 million insurance policy to cover legal expenses after failing to alert its insurer in a timely manner of the lawsuit over its race-conscious admissions program, a federal judge in Boston ruled Wednesday.

The admissions case questioning the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivy League school’s affirmative action policy brought by Students for Fair Admissions in 2014 was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 31.

Harvard has disclosed in earlier court filings that its legal bills hit more than $27 million to defend the lawsuit, as well as the still-pending 2017 Department of Justice probe into the admission policies, Bloomberg Law reports.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs of the District of Massachusetts denied the school’s suit against the Zurich American Insurance Co., the New York Times and Reuters reports.

The Zurich policy required that Harvard should have given notice of the lawsuit by Jan. 30, 2016. However, Harvard first informed Zurich of the suit May 23, 2017.

That’s “well past the deadline” to receive coverage, Burroughs wrote. “An unambiguous insurance policy must be applied as written.”

See also: “ABA amicus brief asks Supreme Court to uphold use of race-conscious admissions policies” “An ‘ominous development’ for race-conscious college admissions? Supreme Court accepts 2 challenges” “Supreme Court majority seems ready to restrict consideration of race in college admission” “Chemerinsky: Stakes are high as Supreme Court considers affirmative action cases”

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