Trials & Litigation

Law school sues insurer, seeks coverage of civil racketeering case

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Liberty University School of Law has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force its insurance carrier to defend the institution in an earlier civil racketeering case over a child-custody battle between married same-sex parents, reports Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s VLW Blog.

The underlying suit, which is proceeding in federal court in Vermont, alleges that the law school participated in a conspiracy to kidnap the child whose custody was at issue and take her out of the United States in 2009. It was filed by Janet Jenkins over the conduct of her partner, Lisa Ann Miller, the child’s birth mother, who fled to Nicaragua with her then 10-year-old daughter after an unfavorable court ruling.

Law school dean Mathew Staver and his firm defended Miller in the custody case, but he was not personally named as a defendant and has said he had no knowledge of the plan to remove the child from the U.S.

The declaratory judgment action (PDF) the law school filed against Hanover Insurance Co. in federal court in Lynchburg, Va., seeks a court order requiring the carrier to provide a defense.

Hanover contends that it is not responsible to defend the Vermont case, because the suit seeks no damages covered by the school’s policy, which includes bodily injury, property damage and “personal and advertising injury.”

However, attorney Calvin W. Fowler Jr. of Richmond, who is representing the law school, said an emotional distress claim by Jenkins falls within the “bodily injury” category, the blog explains.

See also: “Liberty Law Dean Says Gay Mom’s Racketeering Suit Against School Is Frivolous”

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