Monday, August 27, 2007

Big Trouble for Durham? is reporting the threat of a lawsuit is so eminent that the City's Insurance carrier has demanded the City Panel appointed to look into misconduct by the Durham PD should be suspended.

Lawsuit Threat Could Suspend Duke LAX Panel

(08/27/07 -- DURHAM) - The threat of a potential lawsuit against Durham's police department has put an investigative panel in jeopardy. Sources tell Eyewitness News Reporter Tamara Gibbs that city leaders may have to consider suspending the panel, or risk possibly losing the city's insurance coverage for a potential lawsuit.

Sources tell Eyewitness News the insurance company, which would pay for a potential lawsuit settlement, threatened to suspend the city's policy if it didn't reconsider the Duke Lacrosse Investigative Committee. We're told the company sent its request by fax last Thursday. The city's policy would cover up to $5 million in the event of a lawsuit.

Attorneys for the city and the former Duke Lacrosse defendants spoke for the first time last week. They plan to meet face-to-face within the next few weeks. The high-powered talks have forced Durham leaders to hold at least two closed-door sessions.

"We don't know the details of a potential lawsuit," said spokeswoman Beverly Thompson, with the City Manager's office. "It would be inappropriate to comment before."

Eyewitness News has learned that Brendan Sullivan, a Washington, D.C. attorney, has been tapped to represent the former Duke Lacrosse players. According to Eyewitness News sources, Sullivan was instrumental in the players' recent settlements with Duke University.

The State Attorney General declared David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann innocent after rape allegations against them were determined to be false. The Attorney General's findings and the recent disbarment of former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong have raised questions about why and how the case was allowed to proceed...

Also according to the report members of the Police Department were requested to save all correspondence. No mention was made of Sergeant Mark Gottlieb's EZ Dry Erase Board.


Anonymous said...

Shallow threat. The insurance company would be sued for bad faith denial of benefits so fast their heads would spin. What is amazing is that this threat was made at all.

However, given the quality (or lack thereof) of most of Durham's legal minds to date, one can only wonder whether they have thought of this.

To put this plainly, unless there is an explicit contractual provision that allows for denial of benefits, the City of Durham can conduct this investigation without fear of retaliation by their insurance provider. In the event that the company denies benefits, the City has recourse, and suit can also be brought by the players as third party beneficiaries under the policy. I also am suspect of the five million language that has magically appeared in the public sphere. Is that five million per occurrence, or five million per victim?

And I can tell you straight up that Mr. Sullivan has already considered these facts. Nor would a Federal District Court be amused if they were placed in their lap. They would hammer the insurance provider.


Carolyn said...

I don't know anything about insurance liability - but it would seem to me that the only reason an insurance company would stop a committee is if the committee was doing something harmful to the city's liability. Since the committee isn't doing anything - not meeting, not interviewing the guilty cops, etc. - that appears to be the problem. The Whichard Committee is essentially whitewashing the scandal, thereby making itself complicit in the wrongs done by the DPD. Therefore, to stop the liability, the insurance company must stop the whitewash - and the only way to do that is to stop the committee itself.

That's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Personally I believe Whichard is a decent man and is doing an honest job. There is not much you can do for the buffons running this City.

Just when you think your safe to come back into Durham you are thrusted back in the Wonderland it is.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Whichard committee actually has been doing some work behind the scenes....from the N&O article

"Barber, Falcone and Whichard also met last week with the prosecutors from Cooper's office, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, who did the leg work that shaped the attorney general's decision to exonerate the players. The four-hour session "answered some questions but raised others" about the case, Whichard said. The special prosecutors have "got a whole room with documents, charts and files," Whichard said. "They expressed willingness to be available to us further if we need them to be."

gak said...

I read online in one of the news articles that the insurance contract has a clause that requires the city to stop any actions which may put the insured in further bad light. I question how this investigation does that, but on the surface, it is plausable


Anonymous said...

Can anybody say FEDS?!