Every once in a while, Dear Readers, I come across a crazy case that begs to be publicized.
This is one of them.
Can a priest obtain coverage for an affair with a parishioner’s wife?
Short Answer: NO!!!
In Drew v. Church Mutual Ins. Co., No. 13-CV-01906 JLL MAH, 2014 WL 2436273, Slip Opinion (D.N.J. May 29, 2014) a parishioner, Doer, sought out counseling from his parish priest, Drew, concerning the declining state of Doer’s marriage. Unbeknownst to husband Doer, the priest was having an affair with Doer’s wife. This was the reason for the marital decline. Instead of revealing his obvious conflict of interest, the priest Drew advised the cuckolded husband, Doer, to agree to a divorce. He needed to accept that he could not make his wife happy.
Doer later found out that the priest had lied to him. The priest had failed to disclose in counseling his conflict of interest. The counselor priest Drew was the reason for the demise of the Doer marriage. Drew left the country, upon advice of his superiors, in order to avoid service if a lawsuit ensued. Drew later snuck back into the country and left the priesthood. The husband Doer eventually filed suit and served Drew.
Husband Doer claimed, among other obvious wrongs, that the priest Drew breached his fiduciary duties when counseling the husband about the marriage. Drew then tendered the claim to the diocesan insurer, Church Mut. Ins. Co., for coverage. The insurance company denied the claim.
The policy did indeed provide coverage for a “counseling incident,” as this appeared to be. But that endorsement limited coverage to those acts that occurred after the policy was issued. The answer here was easy: the counseling incident took place before the endorsement was issued. The court agreed: No coverage.
Is there a lesson here for us insurance wonks? Not really. It is just fun to dip our pristine toes every once in a while into the silly pond scum of someone else’s life. That’s all, folks!!!