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LAUSD suing insurers for $200 million over Miramonte payouts

Craig Clough | September 4, 2015

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Mark Berndt, former LAUSD teacher at Miramonte elementary School.

Mark Berndt, former LAUSD teacher at Miramonte elementary School.

LA Unified is suing some of its insurers for $200 million, claiming the companies refused to cover the cost of its defense of the Miramonte sex-abuse scandal.

Former elementary school teacher Mark Berndt was convicted in 2013 of sexually abusing 23 of his students and is serving a 25-year sentence. Dozens of former students of Berndt sued the district, which has made a record-breaking payout of $175 million to his victims.

But now the district is claiming in court that its insurance policies from 1975 to 2012 covered personal injuries and “expansive” liability and that the insurers improperly refused to make any payments in the case, according to the Courthouse News. The targets of the lawsuit are 20 insurers and re-insurers, including some of the nation’s biggest insurance companies, such as Aetna, Ace, AIG, Allstate, Allianz and Fireman’s.

“Despite the school district’s repeated requests for assistance, and despite the fact that the allegations in the underlying Miramonte litigation triggered coverage under the policies, each of the defendants has failed and refused to honor its basic insurance obligations owed to the school district in conjunction with the underlying Miramonte litigation,” the complaint states, according to Courthouse News.

The district pays insurance premiums of $4 million to $5 million annually, LA Unified general counsel David Holmquist told the Los Angeles Times.

“We were expecting them at the time to contribute toward the settlements and they failed to do so and left us with no alternative but to file suit,” he told the Times.


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