Cases and Deals

Blank Rome Represents Catholic Diocese of Duluth in Securing Partial Summary Judgment against Liability Insurers

A Blank Rome insurance coverage team won another motion for partial summary judgment on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, in a pending adversary proceeding against five of the Diocese's historical liability insurers.

The insurers sold the Diocese general liability insurance policies that provide "per occurrence" limits of liability as well as no deductibles or aggregate limits. The Diocese filed a motion for partial summary judgment to establish that the number of occurrences should be calculated on a per child, per priest, per year basis. The insurers sought to cap the Diocese's recovery by seeking a single occurrence per policy period, regardless of the number of abuses. Accordingly, the applicable number of occurrences is a hotly contested issue and one that may swing the insurers' exposure by hundreds of millions of dollars.

This week, the court granted the Diocese's motion and further held that each instance of abuse constituted a separate occurrence. This decision is not only significant for the other religious organizations whom Blank Rome represents in Minnesota, but also has implications for industries facing asbestos, product liability, and other exposures.

For more information on this ruling, please read Law360’s article, Judge Sets 'Occurrence' Measure for Priest Abuse Cases.

Earlier this month, the Blank Rome team secured another successful partial summary judgment on this matter. For more information, please read Law360’s article, Exclusion Doesn't Ax Priest Abuse Coverage, Judge Says.