Settlement may be near in preschool molestation lawsuit

A settlement is close in the lawsuit Girl Doe PPA v. Wilton Board of Education Et Al.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs have requested a continuance of the jury trial that is scheduled for March 6 indicating “The parties agree they are very close to settlement and require an additional time to complete an agreement.” The motion requests a continuance to May 15, 2018.

If a settlement is reached it would mark the end of a contentious legal battle that began with a complaint filed on Oct. 7, 2015. The suit revolves around a Wilton family’s allegations their daughter was molested while a preschool student at Miller-Driscoll School.

The family claims the girl, referred to in court documents as Girl Doe, while in preschool at Miller-Driscoll, was molested by former paraprofessional Eric Von Kohorn who later was incarcerated on child pornography charges. He has since been released.

The family filed a complaint on behalf of the girl, her mother, and father, claiming physical and emotional distress. Their attorneys, Silver Golub & Teitell of Stamford, filed a brief in May 2017 offering a financial settlement:

  • $500,000 to fully resolve the individual claim of “Father Doe.”
  • $500,000 to resolve the individual claim of “Mother Doe.”
  • $4,500,000 to fully resolve all claims of the minor Girl Doe PPA Mother Doe and Father Doe.

Motion to dismiss

In March of 2017, the town and school board, through its attorneys Howd & Ludorf LLC of Hartford, filed a motion to dismiss claiming governmental immunity. That motion was denied in November and the town’s attorney sought to reargue the motion later that month. That request was also denied and jury selection was scheduled to begin next month in Stamford Superior Court.

Insurance carrier

The town’s insurance carrier for this incident — Castlepoint — was declared insolvent last April. At the time, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice told The Bulletin Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association (CIGA) assumed responsibility for the claim. According to its website, CIGA is part of a nonprofit system, created by state statute, that pays certain covered claims of insolvent insurance companies’ policyholders and claimants. It is funded by assessments of member insurers following an insolvency. There is a limit to how much coverage CIGA will provide.

The town dropped Castlepoint, which is a subsidiary of Tower Insurance, in January 2014. The town’s current excess insurance provider is Indemnity Insurance Co. of North America, a subsidiary of ACE Insurance, which is now known as Chubb Insurance following a merger of ACE and Chubb in 2016. Coverage extends to $10 million per incident, $10 million aggregate.

Argonaut Insurance Co. is the primary liability insurer for both the town and Board of Education. Coverage is $1 million per incident and $2 million aggregate, meaning per year, Chief Financial Officer Anne Kelly-Lenze has said.

The town won’t know the amount of coverage through the guaranty association until the time a claim is made, Kelly-Lenz told the Board of Selectmen last spring.

This is not the end of the fallout from Von Kohorn’s alleged misconduct. Silver Golub & Teitell represents another Wilton family suing the town and school district over allegations their son was molested while a preschooler at Miller-Driscoll.