The insurance company for the Diocese of Buffalo for much of the 1970s is taking the organization to court, arguing it should not have to pay for sex abuse judgments that the diocese intentionally covered up.
But attorney Steve Boyd said rather than trying to speak up on behalf of victims, the insurance company is simply trying to protect itself.
“It’s typical insurance company greed,” he said. “They don’t really care about the people they said they were going to insure when they sold they insurance. They don’t really care about the people who may have been injured by the diocese, who have been insured. They just care about their money."
Though Boyd is not involved with this insurance lawsuit, he is representing clients who are suing the Buffalo Catholic Diocese under the Child Victims Act.
“We’ve been working on this for a couple of years and we still don’t know what exactly the diocese knew or when,” he said.
In the lawsuit, Continental Insurance Company, which provided insurance for the Buffalo Diocese from 1973-1978, states they only cover “accidents” and it does not need to cover anything that was not caused by an “accident.”
“In this case, the insurance company is pretending they know something that they don’t know yet,” Boyd said.
In the document, Continental also suggests the diocese knew of priests' sexual abuse and that they posed a danger to children.
Boyd said the diocese is putting insurance companies on notice on the first day that they know of the liability – which, in many cases was August 14 – in which the Child Victims Act allowed victims to sue.
“There isn’t a single insurance company that represents a diocese, a religious order, a parish, or anybody that had any legal claims before August 14,” he said.
In response to the lawsuit, the diocese released a statement to Spectrum News: “The diocese has retained counsel who specializes in insurance coverage to address disputes with insurance carriers and intends to take all necessary steps to enforce the insurance contracts."
In the document, the insurance company states that despite the Child Victims Act, the diocese did not report the abuse in a “timely manner” thus “the entire insurance policy shall be void.”
Boyd says the insurance company is acting "irresponsible.”
“The diocese and these parishes all bought insurance coverage. The reason is they are saying ‘if we ever have someone that does something wrong and we get sued, we’re giving you the premiums to protect us,’ ” he said. “The insurance company is saying we’ve got your premiums, but forget about the protection.”
Boyd said this lawsuit could take months to play out. A request for comment was not immediately returned by Continental Insurance Company.
Additionally, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Bishop was in Buffalo to begin his investigation. The Buffalo diocese said he interviewed 30 people, but is now back in Brooklyn.