NU Online News Service, Nov. 23, 3:48 p.m. EST
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has ruled that OneBeacon Insurance Company was correct in denying coverage to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which is facing multiple lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by former priests.
According to the decision, the allegations against the archdiocese are volitional acts, not accidents, and are therefore not covered as part of a commercial general liability insurance policy written by OneBeacon.
The consolidated appeal involves 10 appeals and 13 underlying lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, according to court documents. The decision upholds the determination of two trial courts that insurance coverage was not triggered for the archdiocese.
The archdiocese had attempted to argue that because it did not intend to harm the alleged victims, the policy should provide coverage. All of the cases involve the same allegations of negligent misrepresentation–that the archdiocese represented that children were safe with priests despite high-ranking officials having knowledge of their past histories of sexual abuse. According to court documents, the plaintiffs allege church officials were confronted by former victims but the priests were allowed to have continued access to children.
The appeals court said their reading of like cases from the state Supreme Court backs up their conclusion that the negligent misrepresentation claims against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee are not covered by the OneBeacon policy.