Late last week (Friday, April 28), the lawyers representing Wilton in the Girl Doe v. Wilton Board of Education, et al., lawsuit, asked for a continuance in the case. The town’s law firm, Howd & Ludorf, made their motion citing the recent insolvency of Castlepoint Insurance, the excess insurance carrier that covered the town in December 2012, the period of time Girl Doe’s family allege she was abused by a Wilton preschool paraprofessional.
The judge in the case, Douglas C. Mintz, granted the request for continuance, moving the Trial Management Conference from Aug. 18, 2017 until Oct. 18, 2017, with a Jury Trial now scheduled to begin on Nov. 1, 2017.
The continuance filing has raised some confusing and thorny questions of insurance coverage and whether the town has been left exposed in any way, further exacerbating tensions over a controversial case. What doesn’t help is that the town heads into the Annual Town Meeting tonight, and questions about the lawsuit and insurance coverage will undoubtedly be raised during public discussion.
Of concern: if Castlepoint, the excess insurer at the time of the lawsuit, has been declared insolvent, will the insurance carrier that has since assumed responsibility for Town liabilities maintain the same level of coverage? And what are the aggregate limits the town has to be concerned about, or the total an insurance company will pay in one year from all liabilities? If there’s a judgement that exceeds the town’s aggregate insurance coverage limits, or additional lawsuits start racking up against the town, what then? Some residents have raised questions about where would the money come from if the town suddenly has to pay more than what all insurance will cover.
First selectman Lynne Vanderslice has responded to press questions to outline which insurance carriers have covered the town during and since December 2012, and where available, she has provided information on what kinds of policy limits existed. Vanderslice declined to comment on specific details related to the “Girl Doe” lawsuit, but answered general questions.
GOOD Morning Wilton has mapped out a timeline of what insurance providers covered the town, when:
Dec. 2012–Argonaut Insurance Co., was the primary liability insurer for both the Town of Wilton and the Wilton Board of Education in Dec. 2012. It is still the town’s current primary liability insurer. Argonaut is rated A (excellent) by AM Best, the recognized source for ratings of insurance providers. According to Vanderslice, Wilton’s current coverage limit with them is $1 million per occurrence. Argonaut, Wilton’s primary liability insurer, is not insolvent, nor has it ever been insolvent.
Castlepoint Insurance was the Town’s former umbrella insurance provider at the time. It would have provided additional liability insurance coverage above the limits of the primary liability insurance provider. So if judgement (or settlement) in a hypothetical lawsuit would be greater than Argonaut’s $1 million limit, excess insurance would kick in.
Dec. 2012–Alleged incident involving former Miller-Driscoll preschool paraprofessional Eric von Kohorn, as described in the Girl Doe v. Wilton Board of Education, et al., lawsuit. The girl’s parents say von Kohorn sexually abused their daughter in a preschool bathroom.
Jan. 2013–Girl Doe’s parents report the incident to school officials.
2013–Up until now, Castlepoint was rated A- (excellent) but in 2013 it was downgraded to B+ (good). According to Vanderslice, as soon as Wilton’s insurance broker learned that Castlepoint’s rating was downgraded, the broker began moving the Town/BoE to a new excess insurance provider.
Jan. 21, 2014–Wilton begins with a new excess provider, effective Jan. 21, 2014–Indemnity Insurance Co of North America, a subsidiary of ACE Insurance, which is now known as Chubb Insurance following its merger with Chubb in 2016. At the time of Wilton’s last renewal and now, Chubb is rated as A+ superior. Wilton’s current coverage limit is $10 million per occurrence. Castlepoint ceases to be Wilton’s excess insurance carrier.
Interesting to note: The period for the policy Wilton held with Castlepoint in 2013 was July 1, 2013-July 1, 2014. Wilton’s policy broker moved to a new excess provider in January 2014, rather than wait for the expiration of the policy year.
Nov. 2015–Girl Doe Lawsuit Filed
April 1, 2017–According to Howd & Ludorf’s continuance motion, Castlepoint Insurance was declared insolvent by a California court. Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association (CIGA) has assumed responsibility for any claims against the town during the time period Castlepoint was our insurer.
Insurance Coverage Questions–and Answers
Every liability insurance policy has both a per-event limit as well as an aggregate–the maximum the policy will cover in a year (or policy period). The current (FY2017) limit for Wilton’s primary liability insurance (with Argonaut) is $1 million per event, and $2 million aggregate. The current (FY2017) limit for Wilton’s excess liability insurance (with Indemnity) is $10 million per event, and $10 million aggregate.
GOOD Morning Wilton asked Vanderslice for copies of FY 2017 AND FY 2013 insurance policies as well as the 2014 cancellation notice for Castlepoint and an explanation of coverage under CIGA. The first selectmen forwarded the declaration pages for FY2017 (both below), as well as the cancellation notice (above).
Vanderslice says that the 2013 files are being retrieved and will be forwarded as soon as they are located. She also notes that it is being determined “that we have accurate documentation from CT Insurance Guaranty Association.” As of now it is unclear exactly what limits CIGA would place on possible excess payments, if any, and how much CIGA would be able to provide.
Von Kohorn Deposition Request
Just yesterday, attorneys for the Girl Doe family made a motion to depose Eric Von Kohorn, as part of their efforts against Howd & Ludorf’s defense. They want to question von Kohorn–now known as Prisoner No. 411758 at Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield, CT, where he is serving a six-year sentence, suspended after two years–in response to a defense motion to summary judgment.
That defense motion, argued in court on April 24, asserts that von Kohorn’s statement that he had informed another Wilton school staff member he was taking Girl Doe alone into the bathroom was inadmissible hearsay.
Girl Doe’s attorney from Silver Golub & Teitell want to question von Kohorn and present the court with any pertinent testimony and supplement their objection to the motion for summary judgment.