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Law school sues for liability insurance coverage

Liberty University’s law school is asking a federal judge to force the school’s insurance company to come to its defense as it fights a federal racketeering lawsuit involving the alleged kidnapping of a 10-year-old girl in the midst of a same-sex-marriage custody battle.

LU law has filed a declaratory judgment action in Lynchburg federal court claiming Hanover Insurance Co. and its affiliates were wrong to deny coverage and a defense for the school in the lawsuit filed by Janet Jenkins.

In her Vermont lawsuit, Jenkins contends agents of Liberty’s law school conspired to aid the 2009 disappearance of then-10-year-old Isabella Miller. The girl and her birth mother, Lisa Miller, fled to Nicaragua with the help of a Virginia pastor who was convicted last summer of aiding an international kidnapping.

The insurance company says it does not owe coverage because Jenkins’ lawsuit does not claim bodily injury, property damage or “personal and advertising injury” under its policies. The insurer cites 18 other bases for denial.

The law school, represented by Calvin W. Fowler Jr. of Richmond, contends Jenkins’ claim of emotional distress “easily falls within the broad scope” of the policy’s definition of “bodily injury.”

The insurance coverage dispute has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon.

In the Vermont lawsuit, Liberty’s law school has a motion to dismiss pending.


  1. Gee, I thought that “market forces” made everything right! Why wouldn’t a conservative institution like Liberty accept the decision of a free-market company acting in their best capitalistic interests?

    How could a university founded by Jerry Falwell put money ahead of principle?

    I’m shocked and appalled…

    Say it ain’t so…

  2. Not on point, CJ. Liberty is suing to force the insurer to do what (it claims) they made a contract to do. Enforceable contracts are fully compatible with (maybe even essential to) a free market.

    (That said, I don’t see it as obvious that emotional distress is included in bodily injury, but that’s a question of what the contract says, and I have no access to it.)

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