Earlier this past week, attorneys for the victim in the infamous locker-room rape at the hands of Jerry Sandusky confirmed that their client was preparing to file a civil lawsuit against Penn State for what it described as “egregious and reckless conduct.”
That civil suit is expected to be one of myriad similar suits — there were 10 Sandusky victims in his 50-plus count indictment — filed at some point in the future. If that indeed comes to fruition, the university believes it will be covered financially.
In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation scheduled to air Sunday, PSU president Rodney Erickson told the program that “we believe we are adequately covered” by the school’s general liability coverage.
“[W]e hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible,” Erickson said. “We don’t want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation. If we can come to an agreement with them, with their attorneys, we believe that would be the best possible outcome in this whole very, very difficult, tragic situation.”
In the statement released by Victim 2’s lawyers, no dollar amount that their client would be seeking was mentioned.
Relying on general liability coverage, though, could prove troublesome for the university.
Penn State’s general liability insurer sought last week to deny or limit coverage for Sandusky-related claims. Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance argued that Penn State withheld key information needed to assess risk.
In a memo filed in court in Philadelphia, the company argued that Penn State failed to disclose that it had information about Sandusky that “was material to the insurable risk assumed by PMA.” The company, which has long insured the university, also argued that its policies after March 1, 1992, were amended to exclude “abuse or molestation” and that coverage for such behavior is excluded as a matter of public policy in Pennsylvania.
It remains unclear how many victims will actually follow through and file civil suits against Penn State, or if there are additional victims — or how many — not involved in the criminal case who could come forward in the future.