Jerry Sandusky, the convicted serial child molester, has agreed that State Farm, which carries his homeowner’s insurance policy, isn’t on the hook for covering the cost of his defense on any claims related to the sexual abuse of minors.
U.S. District Chief Judge Yvette Kane of the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed the case after Sandusky and State Farm filed a joint motion for dismissal of the case, which was filed in July when State Farm sought a declaratory judgment from the court regarding what it was obligated to cover after Sandusky requested coverage for his defense costs.
“State Farm does not have any obligation to provide a defense to or to indemnify Gerald Sandusky for the underlying claims or any and all other claims and/or demands at law or in equity arising from and/or in any way related to any sexual conduct, or any inappropriate physical contact or mental coercion of any person, alleged or actual, by Gerald Sandusky,” Kane said in the brief order she issued this week in State Farm Fire and Casualty v. Sandusky.
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach who ran a program for troubled youths, was convicted last summer on 45 of 48 counts of sexually abusing eight boys, many of whom he met through his charity.
All of the rights and obligations of the State Farm insurance policy that are unrelated to sex-abuse claims remain in force, according to the order.
The policy was issued to both Sandusky and his wife, Dorothy Sandusky.
“Dorothy Sandusky reserves all rights against State Farm concerning all claims, including the right to tender to State Farm and seek a defense and indemnity from State Farm for any pending or future claims that may be asserted against her of any sort or description,” Kane said.
State Farm had denied Sandusky’s request for coverage of defense in his criminal trial, but did provide him with a defense in the civil action, Doe A v. The Second Mile. State Farm said in its complaint that it has provided that defense pursuant to a reservation of rights.
It then asked the court to determine if State Farm has no obligation to defend Sandusky in the criminal proceedings, including any appeals. The insurer also wanted a ruling that it doesn’t have to defend or indemnify Sandusky in the Doe A case brought in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Sandusky, The Second Mile and Penn State.
According to the policies issued to the Sanduskys, coverage for bodily injury is negated if it is due to the willful and malicious acts of the insured, State Farm said in the complaint.
As to the civil case, State Farm said an “occurrence,” as used in a liability policy, is an accident, which is something that is unexpected and fortuitous.
“The [Doe A case] plainly describes intentional actions taken by Sandusky,” State Farm said. “The allegations of the underlying action describe Sandusky’s selection and grooming of underlying plaintiff for the purposes of sexually abusing him, a history of sexual abuse over the course of approximately four years, and Sandusky’s attempts to conceal such instances of sexual abuse. As such, the underlying action does not allege an ‘occurrence’ as that term is defined by the policy.”
(Copies of the four-page opinion in State Farm Fire and Casualty v. Sandusky, PICS No. 13-0148, are available from The Legal Intelligencer. Please call the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service at 800-276-PICS to order or for information.) •