The Brainerd School District was informed Monday that its motion for summary judgment seeking specific coverage from its former insurance carrier was denied.
The Brainerd School Board in May decided to sue St. Paul Fire and Marine to force its insurance company to cover the district's expenses in a settlement of a lawsuit with a former student.
This lawsuit was served on the school district in March 1998. It was filed by a former high school student and named former teacher Tim Martin and the Brainerd School District as defendants relating to Martin's conduct and the school district's alleged liability during Martin's tenure as a high school girls' basketball coach.
The district agreed to pay the student $100,000. The board decided it would be in the best interest to reach a mutual agreement to resolve the matter rather than proceed to trial.
St. Paul Fire and Marine informed the board that it would not cover the settlement expense because the settlement was not based on a claim the insurance policy covered. The school board disagreed, contending the insurance company had a contractual obligation under the district's policy to pay the settlement in full.
The matter between the school district and the insurance company went before the Ninth Judicial District Court Jan. 23. The district asked for a summary judgment for the full $100,000. Judge John R. Leitner denied the judgment Feb. 16.
Superintendent Jerry Walseth said this morning that the order was sent to its attorney -- Richard P. Mahoney of Mahoney, Dougherty and Mahoney in Minneapolis on Feb. 16, who recently sent a letter to the school district's attorney Tom Fitzpatrick, of Brainerd, who informed the district of the judge's order.
"It's pretty tough to react to the judge's opinion," said Walseth.
"Obviously he thought the insurance carrier's case was more compelling. It is disappointing to us."
Walseth said it's disappointing to find out after this situation what the insurance company actually will cover. The insurance company no longer has a contract with the school district. This past school year the board agreed to switch to the Minnesota School Board Association for insurance coverage.
The $100,000 settlement has been paid from the school district's 2000-2001 budget.
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