Failure renders Harvard’s $15 million policy useless in Supreme Court case

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Dive briefs:

  • Harvard lost the right to use its $15 million policy to pay legal costs because it failed to properly notify an insurer sued over its race-sensitive admissions policy, a federal judge said. said ruled this month.
  • The Ivy League sued Zurich American Insurance last year, arguing that the university missed the deadline to file a claim, but that the company was aware of the high-profile lawsuit and should pay its legal costs.
  • However, District Court Judge Alison Burroughs dissented. She determined that the terms of the policy were clear and that Harvard’s reasoning was “all unhelpful, unsupported by case law, prevailing or not.”

Dive Insight:

Harvard’s race-conscious admissions process has been the subject of a protracted legal battle. A judgment against it in an insurance lawsuit highlights the high costs of these legal battles and the need for universities to scrutinize insurance claims closely.

The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued Harvard University in 2014, claiming that its admissions policies disadvantaged Asian-American students.

Lower court judges have so far sided with Harvard. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, where conservative judges subvert race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard.

Shortly after being sued, Harvard notified major insurers about using a $25 million policy to cover legal costs. This policy applied once Harvard paid her $2.5 million.

But Harvard did not immediately tell its second insurer, Zurich, that it had theoretically covered up to $15 million in defensive costs that the first insurer did not. . In 2017, more than a year after the January 2016 policy deadline, he formally notified Zurich of the suit. This meant Zurich didn’t have to pay the costs, which the company claimed in court records.

‘No ambiguity’ Zurich lawyer written in court documents last month. “Because Harvard University did not meet a valid precedent condition, it is not subject to Zurich policy.”

Harvard University said Zurich must have known about the race-conscious admissions lawsuit “in the year after the lawsuit was filed, especially given the significant and continued attention the lawsuit received in national and local news.” was claiming.

However, District Judge Burroughs ruled that the terms of the policy were clearly articulated.

“Simply put, because a clear insurance policy must be applied in writing. Claims insurance notification provisions must be strictly construed,” Burroughs wrote, giving legal victory to Zurich. handed over to

A Harvard spokesperson declined to comment on Monday.

The university has not disclosed the exact amount it paid for legal fees in the race-conscious admissions case. However, Harvard said in its lawsuit that the costs exceeded $25 million.

The High Court heard oral argument in the Halloween case. SFFA also filed a lawsuit over the race-sensitive admissions policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Supreme Court is also considering this, but is considering it separately from Harvard University.

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