Gage County To Appeal Insurance Ruling, on Beatrice Six Case

BEATRICE – Gage County will appeal a judge’s decision that said the county did not have coverage through Employers Mutual Casualty Company, in the Beatrice Six case.

After meeting with attorneys Joel Nelson and Joel Bacon for 45 minutes Wednesday, supervisors voted to pursue the appeal, which must be filed by the end of this month.

Board members have frequently heard from constituents, why the county had no coverage.  Bacon maintains there was coverage.

:20                  “a reversal on it”

The county recently lost on the issues of whether there was coverage through EMC and the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, or NIRMA, an insurance pool of counties.

Lancaster County District Judge Jodi Nelson recently ruled that the liability policies Gage County bought in 1989 do not cover the county’s mishandling of the so-called Beatrice Six case.

Nelson ruled in October that policies Gage County carried through NIRMA, were not in effect when the six were arrested. That coverage went into effect in 1997. Nelson reached the same conclusion on the EMC policies, in force from Feb. 2, 1989, until Feb. 2, 1990.  Judge Nelson said the language of the EMC policy excluded “any and all professional services,” but did not define what those services were.

The county’s attorneys argued that law enforcement was an occupation, not a professional service.

Attorney Joel Nelson says the issues raised are further complicated by the amount of time covered from the crime, through the arrests and convictions, exoneration and claims.

:44                  “very difficult”

Bacon said there’s also an issue of how NIRMA should have responded in 2009.

:17                  “defend you, county”

County supervisor Matt Bauman says the size of the judgment lends a different light to the issue of coverage.

:21                  “that NIRMA covers”

The county’s insurance attorneys say they’ll try to appeal the latest decision directly to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Gage County is still awaiting a decision on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the county’s appeal of the Beatrice Six jury decision and more than $28 million judgment.

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