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Insurance Carrier Won’t Pay Pine Bluff School District Over Harassment CaseLock Icon

2 min read

Despite its settlement in March of a 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit, the Pine Bluff School District’s problems with the case are far from over.

The school district’s insurance carriers, Ace American Insurance and its parent company, Chubb Limited, recently said they weren’t providing coverage in connection with the lawsuit because the district waited too long to make the claim.

The school district asked a judge in U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff to rule that Chubb should cover the claim. Chubb has denied doing anything wrong and asked that the case be dismissed.

The school district appeared surprised to receive a letter from Chubb on Feb. 14 that said it wasn’t going to cover the claim involving the harassment lawsuit. Chubb said the school district’s claim was not filed until Oct. 3, 2016, more than 60 days after the end of the policy. Chubb said the policyholder is supposed to give written notice of any claim as soon as practicable, but must do it within 60 days of the policy ending, which was Feb. 1, 2016, according to Chubb’s letter, which is included in the lawsuit.

In March, the school district settled a harassment case in U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff with a former math teacher, Celeste Alexander, for $50,000. Her attorneys included Amanda A. Farahany and Tequiero Morenito Smith of the Barrett & Farahany law firm in Atlanta and attorney Olly Neal Jr. of Little Rock. Alexander’s lawyers are seeking attorney fees and costs of $392,000.

Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit was Michael Nellums, who was the principal of Pine Bluff High School at the time of the alleged harassment. The school denied all liability, but agreed that a jury could rule in Alexander’s favor, according to court filings in Alexander’s case. As of Thursday, a judge hadn’t ruled on the award of attorney fees and costs.

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