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City sues insurer over Berry abuse case

The Urban County Government is suing a foreign insurance company for failing to pay five settlements arising from litigation over convicted child molester Ron Berry.

The county had an insurance policy with the Insurance Corp. of Ireland, now known as Icarom, from March 1, 1982, to July 1, 1985. The general liability policy insured, among many things, public officials from liability.

The county filed suit against Icarom last week in U.S. District Court in Lexington, saying the insurer has failed to pay claims the city filed over five settlements with plaintiffs. The suit says county officials forwarded depositions and other records to the company in 2005.

Despite several inquiries, the insurance company has yet to say whether it will pay or deny the claim, according to the lawsuit.

The city gave the insurance company an opportunity to participate in the defense of the Berry lawsuits, but it declined, the county's suit states.

About 200 people since 1998 have sued the county claiming they were sexually abused by Berry when they were children. Berry was the head of the Micro-City Government program for disadvantaged youth from 1969 to 1997.

Berry was convicted of 12 counts of sodomy in 2000. He served a three-year prison term.

The city has settled two lawsuits, and one other is still pending. The first was with four plaintiffs for $450,000, or about $112,000 each. The second was with 17 plaintiffs for $2.4 million, or $143,000 each.

The county's lawsuit seeks reimbursement for the settlements and litigation costs for five plaintiffs who say they were abused during the term of the insurance policy. The county also seeks unspecified punitive damages from the insurance company.

The five Berry plaintiffs participated in either the lawsuit that settled for $2.4 million or the pending suit in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

The Ron Berry lawsuits claim that county officials knew that Berry was sexually abusing children in the program and failed to stop him.

The county's lawsuit against the insurance company does not specify how much in damages it is seeking.

Officials with the insurance company could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Fayette County sued three other insurers over the Ron Berry litigation in 2001. Court records indicate those suits settled, despite previous statements from the insurance companies that the policies did not cover the type of activity Berry and city officials were accused of.

The terms of the insurance company settlements were not immediately available late Wednesday afternoon.