Shouldering cost of defense in lacrosse case at issue
By Ray Gronberg
-- Duke University and a subsidiary of the American International Group
are trying to settle a lawsuit about which of them should shoulder the
bills for defending the school's handling of the 2006 Duke lacrosse
A joint motion filed last week in federal court on behalf
of Duke and the National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh,
Pa., said the two sides have engaged in mediation and hope to make a
deal on Nov. 4.
The motion prompted U.S. District Court Judge
James Beaty Jr. to extend to Jan. 4 the deadline for Duke and National
Union to complete pre-trial discovery.
effectively gave the sides two more months to make a deal. They had been
scheduled to finish swapping depositions and expert reports on Nov. 4.
lawyers for Duke and National Union said settlement talks had been
delayed by a National Union attorney's cancer treatments.
time for completion of the talks, they added, would help the two sides
avoid significant additional expense and was in the interest of
Duke officials sued National Union in
November 2008, in hopes of offsetting some of the bills they've incurred
in defending the school from other lawsuits filed by two groups of
2005-06 lacrosse players and the team's former coach.
lawsuits are part of the continuing fallout of stripper Crystal Mangum's
allegation -- eventually proven false -- that she'd been raped by
lacrosse players during a team party.
The school long ago settled
out of court with the three men -- David Evans, Colin Finnerty and
Reade Seligmann -- who faced and a year later were exonerated of
criminal charges of rape.
Duke has also settled, twice now, with former men's lacrosse coach Mike Pressler.
two other player-filed lawsuits are still pending against the school.
Those cases and a suit filed by Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann are also
pending against the city.
Duke's insurance in theory should cover at least part of its legal bills and any settlement costs.
the school and National Union have been wrangling since the matter
almost since Mangum's allegations went public in March 2006.
The insurer has argued it should be off the hook because Duke officials violated their obligations to the company.
court filings it has singled out the school's decision to settle with
Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann despite the company's advice that Duke
should avoid admitting or assuming any liability without first obtaining
National Union's consent.