Harvard told a federal judge last week that its insurance company was aware of a high-profile lawsuit challenging its race-conscious admissions process, saying the company, Zurich American Insurance Company, should cover the costs legal affairs of the University.
In a brief filed last week, Harvard attorneys asked Judge Allison D. Burroughs to bring her lawsuit against the insurance company. The filing comes a month after Zurich asked the court to dismiss the case with summary judgment.
Harvard sued Zurich last September, alleging the company breached its contract by refusing to cover legal fees Harvard had accrued in its ongoing litigation against the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions, which is currently sitting before the Supreme Court. Zurich says it shouldn’t have to cover Harvard’s legal costs because the school didn’t notify it in time of the SFFA lawsuit.
Harvard took out an excess insurance policy with Zurich in 2014 for legal costs exceeding $25 million. The school had also purchased a different insurance policy from the American International Group that same year to cover the first $25 million.
Zurich did not pay Harvard for excess costs once the cap was exceeded, telling the University it “did not receive timely notice of the SFFA claim,” according to the school’s original lawsuit. .
Zurich lawyers wrote in a document filed in August that the University must notify the firm within 90 days of the end of the AIG’s insurance period in order for it to cover the excess costs. The 90-day window ended in January 2016, but Harvard did not provide formal notice until May 2017, according to court documents.
The University has acknowledged in court documents that it did not formally notify Zurich until May 2017, but argued in briefs submitted last week that Zurich’s own internal records indicate that it was aware of the ongoing lawsuit, which has received extensive national media coverage.
“Zurich was surely aware of the SFFA action in the year since it was filed, particularly given the significant and ongoing attention the lawsuit has received in local and national news,” wrote the lawyers for Harvard.
Spokespersons for Zurich American Insurance Company and Harvard declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
—Writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at [email protected]