New York State Court of Appeals
Sex Abuse — Civil Liability
Multiple Occurrences — Apportionment
Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA
Background: At issue was the apportionment of liability for a settlement between the plaintiff and a minor plaintiff in an underlying civil action charging sexual molestation by a priest. On appeal is whether the multiple occurrences of sexual abuse should be apportioned among the several insurance policies, pro rata.
Ruling: The Court of Appeals affirmed. The court found that the multiple incidents were not part of a singular causal continuum. Further, the definition of “occurrence” in the policies contemplates exposure to toxic materials, not sexual assault. Finally, a pro-rata allocation is consistent with the language of the policies.
David B. Hamm for the appellants; Barbara I. Michaelides for the respondent