Categorized | Opinion

Legal Issues Surround Penn State

By David Peel

Penn State University was once known for a great football tradition and long-serving head coach Joe Paterno.

Ever since the scandal broke about the cover up of Jerry Sandusky’s molestation of young boys, they have been regarded as a pariah.

Everyone expected the NCAA to sanction the University severely. They were right.  The NCAA forced PSU to vacate its football victories since 1998 (including 111 by Paterno, who had held the record as the most winning coach in Division 1A ) and fined PSU $60 million, created a four-year postseason ban and reduction in football scholarships, and five years of probation.  The NCAA stated this was for “perpetuating a ‘football first’ culture that ultimately enabled serial child sexual abuse to occur,” according to the NCAA website.

Everyone also expected that a wave of lawsuits would inundate the once noble institution, and they were right. But, in a move only lawyers would have predicted, one case is very different. Their own insurance company, PMA, is suing them. The longtime primary general liability insurer filed a motion saying any obligation they have for providing insurance coverage to Penn State for the victims must be denied. They have alleged the school failed to disclose what all they knew about Sandusky.

The motion itself states: “It would be unlawful and contradictory to public policy to require PMA to provide coverage to PSU under any policy issued to PSU after May 1998 with respect to PSU’s concealment of Sandusky’s sexually abusive conduct … and failure to take appropriate action to prevent Sandusky from molesting minors.”

Insurance companies that file these types of motions are often successful. If you buy life insurance but don’t tell them you already have terminal cancer, your heirs will see a motion that is similar.

But, a sad part of the law is this: when an insurance company wins the right to deny coverage, it is the victims who often do not receive compensation. They are hurt again just because the wrongdoer lied!

In this matter, it is believed by many that Penn State has sufficient resources to pay all expected claims. That is yet to be seen.

This is another matter where all the money in the world cannot make what happened to the children right.

Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

— What do you think? Send Letters to the Editor to thomas.sellers@journalinc.com.

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