Insurance Company Forces Removal of Jesus Portrait

A very interesting development in the case of an Ohio school with a large portrait of Jesus in the halls. The school’s insurance company has voided its liability policy in the case, presumably because they know it’s a losing fight in the courts, and the school now says it will take the picture down.

The Jackson City School District agreed to remove the picture from its high school after a hearing in federal court in Columbus Tuesday.

There wasn’t a court order.

But Superintendent Phil Howard says it decided to have the picture taken down after its insurance coverage was denied for the legal battle.

Howard released this statement: “Our insurance company denied coverage and we can’t risk taxpayer money at this time. We are ordering the Hi-Y club to take down the portrait to avoid the court ordering us to do so.”

Howard also says he now expects the Hi-Y club to file a lawsuit against the school, but there is little chance of losing that suit. What right is being restricted? They don’t have any right to the school giving them such space to display the picture.

In the Dover trial, their insurance company did the same thing but the school went forward with the challenged policy anyway and lost about a million dollars as a result.

Comments

  1. unbound says

    Although there is some hope to be found in this case (the Superintendent understanding that there is no chance of them winning), it still seems rather disturbing in that if there wasn’t a major loss of money involved, it seems they would be happy to pursue this course of action. In other words, they still don’t truly get it.

  2. anubisprime says

    Come on the school knows it is taking liberties with the constitution they were just seeing if they could bluff through it.

    When the insurance company pulled the plug they were and are pretty scuppered in their jeebus bleating.

    Being martyrs for jeebus is one thing getting sued rigid through an accident or incurring a liability on school premises was another kettle of holy fish, cos losing a court case as a insurance company means the premiums go up to reimburse…they were deluded but not crazy!

  3. jayhawk says

    At first I laugh at the thought of students suing a public school because the school will not let them hang a print of their relgious icon. As Ed says, it would seem there is no right for students to put up a religious icon on the wall of the school.

    Then I remember that when a Texas School told the cheerleaders before football games to stop writing religious messages on their signs when they were performing as school cheerleaders, the cheerleaders got a judge to tell the school to back off. The judge said you cannot infringe on the cheerleaders freedom of religion.

    Of course the difference being Ohio is in the U.S. and subject to the Constitution of the United States and the cheerleaders were in Texas.

  4. says

    RICHARDELGURU, JESUS CAN DO ANYTHING HE WANTS! OBAMAS JUST TRYING TO STOP JESUS FROM RAISING AN ARMY OF BABY JESUSES (IN WALLETSIZED) WHOLL PUSH BACK AGAINST OBAMA, HIS MUSLIN ARMY, AND AGENDA 21 BY FORCING A PAINTING OF OUR LORD TO TAKE LADYPILLS, AS WAS FORTOLD IN THE CONSTITUTION!
    RAISE THE ALARM, PATRIOTS!

  5. Ben P says

    Although there is some hope to be found in this case (the Superintendent understanding that there is no chance of them winning), it still seems rather disturbing in that if there wasn’t a major loss of money involved, it seems they would be happy to pursue this course of action. In other words, they still don’t truly get it.

    I think Anubis prime is probably right. It’s not that they don’t truly get it, it’s more that they just don’t care. They think promoting their religion is of paramount importance and whatever separation of church and state means, it just can’t mean that they aren’t allowed to promote Jesus at every turn.

    Although I’m presuming a bit here, I think the opposing sides on gun control make a good counter. 2nd Amendment caselaw is not well developed compared to freedom of religion caselaw, but post Heller it’s pretty clear that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. The precise contours of that right aren’t yet developed though.

    Most pro-gun folks see the 2nd amendment as protecting a very strong right, and in their opinion gun control laws aren’t just bad as a matter of policy, they’re clearly unconstitutional.

    On the other hand, most folks that support strong gun control measures see public safety as a paramount interest, to the extent they consider what the second amendment means, they hold a belief that, whatever it means, it shouldn’t be interpreted to prevent them from passing laws to protect children from getting shot.

  6. dean says

    Excellent.

    Heddle, please do not take offense: . When I read your post I pictured Montgomery Burns saying it, with his traditional hand-wringing.
    My only excuse: I’ve been reading statistics regression projects all day: they seem to have warped me more than usual.

  7. John Hinkle says

    Christian Leader: Fellow Christians, the liberal secularist insurance company has forsaken us. But take heart! With some sacrifice we can still carry our battle to the courts for Jesus!
    Fat Christian Guy: Yeah! We will fight for our Lord!
    Christian Wearing Fish Shirt Guy: And what is the sacrifice? Shall we hold a prayer vigil? With candles?
    Christian Leader: Yes! A prayer vigil! And a little more! If every household digs deeply into their pockets and gives five hundred to a thousand dollars, we can raise enough to pay for Jesus’ lawyers! Who is willing to give for our Lord and our childrens’ salvation?
    Fat Christian Guy: Oops, look at the time. I’m late for my harmonica lesson.
    Christian Wearing Fish Shirt Guy: Gotta run. It’s bath time.
    Big Hair Christian Woman: It takes me a month to make that at the salon. Kiss my ass!
    Big Hair Christian Woman’s Daughter: Mommy make him stop!
    <crowd disperses>

  8. says

    One item to the credit of the school board: Liberty Institute (not Falwell’s bunch), a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, was representing the board on a pro bono basis. But the board didn’t didn’t fall for that the way they did in Dover, where the Thomas More Law Center, after leading that board into legal quicksand, walked away when the bill came due. The Jackson City board at least had the sense not to think that they were getting a “free” defense, if they ultimately had to pay the plaintiffs’ expenses out of the school’s budget.

  9. chilidog99 says

    Don’t the taxpayers pay the insurance premiums? Did the Board think their premiums wouldn’t increase as a result of this?

  10. Chiroptera says

    chilidog, #14:

    I’m guessing that the typical taxpayer, especially the typical tax paying Teabagger, wouldn’t make the connection. They’d just blame their high tax bills on over paid teachers and the nefarious teachers’ unions.

  11. jamessweet says

    Heh, it’s sort of funny how insurers can sometimes be the reality check as a result of insurance being a fundamentally amoral pursuit. They don’t care what’s right or wrong, they just know the court case is going to LOSE BIG TIME, so they won’t’ cover it. Kinda priceless.

  12. raven says

    Being martyrs for jeebus is one thing

    They love their martyrs.

    Especially the best kind. Someone else!!!

    It’s always more fun for them to watch and cheer than actually be a martyr.

  13. says

    “but post Heller it’s pretty clear that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. The precise contours of that right aren’t yet developed though.”

    And post-Dred Scott, it was pretty clear that owning people was perfectly okay with the constitution.

    Bullshit.

  14. says

    Wasn’t there something about insurance companies taking global warming into account when writing up new policies? And how that might force people to accept climate change?

    Insurance companies in the forefront of climate change and separation of church and state. I didn’t see that coming.

  15. Randomfactor says

    Tommykey, they were apparently covered by Iron Chariots Insurance. Even Acts of God are inadequate against THEIR policies.

  16. Subtract Hominem says

    Modus @ 9

    RAISE THE ALARM, PATRIOTS!

    Oh, is that how to go about waking up sheeple? I’ve been doing it all wrong!

  17. Ben P says

    “but post Heller it’s pretty clear that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. The precise contours of that right aren’t yet developed though.”

    And post-Dred Scott, it was pretty clear that owning people was perfectly okay with the constitution.

    Bullshit.

    Thank you for proving my point.

  18. uzza says

    I’m left confused. They had insurance that protected them in case they were sued? A legal contract obligating the insurance company to defend them if they were sued? And when it came time to be sued the insurance company voided the policy?
    No comprendo.

  19. Suido says

    @Uzza #26

    IANAL, but I imagine it’s like car insurance being voided if you’re drink driving when you crash.

    Insurance policies generally cover you if you don’t bring the disaster upon yourself – when you’re deliberately choosing to continue unconstitutional actions, despite the threat of a lawsuit (and probably despite legal advice from insurance company), why should the insurance company pick up the bill?

  20. Ben P says

    I’m left confused. They had insurance that protected them in case they were sued? A legal contract obligating the insurance company to defend them if they were sued? And when it came time to be sued the insurance company voided the policy?
    No comprendo.

    As a lawyer that practiced as an insurance defense and coverage lawyer for five years let me educate you on how insurance companies operate.

    Your typical general commercial liability policy is a contract, a complicated 10 to multi-hundred page contract, that is detailed and very carefully written. As a matter of law they usually have to be clearly written, but that doesn’t mean they’re not technical and dense.

    Your typical Commercial General Liability policy (like the kind a school, and most businesses will have) says the insurance company will defend you and pay any sums that you become legally obligated to pay as a result of something covered by the policy. The policy typically provides that the insurance company will pay lawyers to defend you, that they can choose the lawyers, and that they have the sole discretion whether to right claims or to settle them.

    When you file a claim, the notice is going to go to a claims adjuster. THat adjuster’s JOB is to look at the claim and figure out (a) if it’s covered at all (i.e. is there any valid reason they can deny it, (b) is the claim something they fight, or something they settle, and (c) if the claim does have merit, how much is it worth.

    There are a lot of reasons an insurance company might deny coverage. As a part of the policy there are limits on coverage, for example, at the most basic level. a policy is time limited. If the accident happens outside of the policy period, sorry, no coverage.

    However, even among things that would be covered. there are specific exceptions. A common one is that the policy doesn’t cover intentional acts. So for example in an auto policy, it might cover accidents that are your fault, but if the evidence showed you intentionally rammed your car into someone, your insurance company might well say “sorry, you’re on your own.”

    Another one is that the policy imposes a duty of cooperating with the insurance company. A common example is that you’re to notify them prompty of any lawsuits. SUppose you get sued, you ignore it, then a default judgment is entered against you (meaning you have to pay regardless of whether the suit had merit), then you go to your insurance company. They’re likely going to deny coverage based on lack of cooperation, sorry you’re on you’re own.

    A similar cooperation ground is failing to share information with the lawyers your insurance company has hired. If you don’t give them what they need, they can go back and say “the insured isn’t cooperating,” and the insurance company might say “you’re on your own.” (although it has to be serious for that to stand up).

    Some combination of those is at stake here. The school got the threat of a lawsuit and notified their insurance company. The insurance company said “You need to take that painting down or we’ll deny coverage.” The school wisely said “yeah, sure, we’ll move it.”

  21. Ben P says

    In a seperate post in case this goes to moderation.

    http://www.sloanmason.com/files/pdf/ISO%20PDF%20CG%2000%2001%2012%2007.pdf

    that’s a basic CGL policy form.

    Depending on their needs, many companies will have different riders that extend coverage. A very common rider is for employment practices, meaning the insurance company will defend you and pay if you get sued for employment discrimination or wrongful termination or the like.

    Directors and officers (also called Errors and Omissions E&O) liability is another common one, meaning the insurance company will defend and pay suits arising out of things like failure to keep accounting standards or shareholder suits.

    The school probably had a specific rider that extended coverage to potential civil rights suits. I’ve seen something similar but not quite the same for private contractors in correctional institutions.

  22. lofgren says

    In other words, they still don’t truly get it.

    Meh, we’ll be saying that until the end of time. It’s still unambiguously the correct action. The picture is still gone. The administrators and teachers and students will probably whine until summer, then by next fall nobody will care anymore. Life goes on. Take what you can get.

  23. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Meta:
    1. Do Mollys get awarded from FTB or just Pharyngula?
    2. Can they be awarded for sarcastic or satiric posts?
    3. Has Modusoperandi been nominated or awarded?
    4. If not, I nominate him.
    5. Modus, sometimes you scare me…

  24. ambulocetacean says

    Gvlgeologist, it’s pretty obvious that you are falsely characterising Modusoperandi’s comments as satire simply in order to avoid addressing the points he raises.

  25. says

    @24:

    Please take as much space and time as you need to explicate:

    “but post Heller it’s pretty clear that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms”

    and how it relates to,

    “post-Dred Scott, it was pretty clear that owning people was perfectly okay with the constitution.”

    take your time and use additional paper if necessary.

  26. Ben P says

    “post-Dred Scott, it was pretty clear that owning people was perfectly okay with the constitution.”

    Well let’s see, Dred Scott v Sanford was rendered null by the 13th and 14th amendments. So there’s that whole issue of the constitution having been amended. Changes things a bit you know?

    Second, I challenge you to, without looking it up, identify the particular language within the constitution the Dredd Scott case concerned.

    Becaue I’m not going to wait, the sole constitutional language implicated by Dredd Scott is “”the judicial Power shall extend. to cases in law and equity…between citizens of different states.” The Defendant in Dredd scott contested that the Plaintiff, a former slave, could not be a “citizen” and therefore Federal Courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case. Other than the word “citizens” little constitutional language is implicated, and the decisionj is rife with a priori reasoning about “beings of an inferior order.”

    The 2nd Amendment on the other hand ‘provides “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    If you’re going to contend that the clause “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” means that the second amendment does not protect any sort of individual right, I suggest you read The Commonplace Second Amendment by Eugene Volokh 73 NYU L. Rev. 793 (1998)

    You might also consider reviewing the history of the English Bill of Rights of 1689, one of the constitution’s common law predecessors. James II in the Glorious revolution had attempted to disarm many protestants, and the Bill of Rights. THe bill specifically lists disarming protestants as one of the acts of james that trampled on “ancient rights” and to remedy that”That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.”

    Justice Story in his 1833 commentaries on the constitution specifically saw the 2nd amendment as equating to the English right, ““§1891. A similar provision [to the Second Amendment] in favour of protestants (for to them it is confined) is to be found in the bill of rights of 1688, it being declared, ‘that the subjects, which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law.’ ”

    Taking this into consideration, Justice Scalia is on quite firm ground when he opined in Heller that the “right” protected by the second amendment is an individual right to own firearms, and that a central principle within that right is the right to self defense.

    The Supreme Court has since upheld Heller in McDonald v Chicago (2010) and the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th circuits have adopted some or all of Heller into their case law. It’s not going away any time soon.

    Incidentally, 44 states likewise protect the right to bear arms in their state constitutions and most of those explictly reference self-defense as a factor.

    Now, before you assume silly things that aren’t true, this is straight from Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller

    Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

    No one but crazy people believes the second amendment is absolute as in prohibiting any and all restrictions on firearms, and I believe case law will further come to reflect that. I do believe, however, that it will eventually come to reflect a core right to possess which shall not be infringed but that various other restrictions are permissible.

    As for you, why don’t you try explaining the similarities and differences between jurisdictions that, post Heller, have attempted to prohibit firearm ownership by requiring permits that are functionally impossible to obtain, and jurisdictions that attempt to regulate the right to abortion by requiring anyone who wishes to obtain one to jump through burdensome hoops?

  27. chilidog99 says

    Not so fast everyone, there is an article out there that they merely moved the painting from the middle school to the high school. Well actually they returned the painting to the High C club, which is somehow in the high school.

  28. says

    chilidog99:

    The picture was moved to the high school some time ago as part of a transparent effort by the board to distance itself from responsibility for displaying it (Ed reported on that before). Acording to the article Ed linked to here, it has now been removed from the high school. On the other hand, at the end of the video story, the advisor to the Hi-Y club, that putatively owns it, stated that “he does not know where it will be displayed next.” So, stay tuned, folks!

  29. Pierce R. Butler says

    In the Dover trial, … the school went forward … anyway and lost about a million dollars …

    Ftr: The Dover school board lost well over two million dollars, but the ACLU and plaintiffs’ attorneys (those eebil secularists!), in consideration of the local taxpayers and public school students, let them off the hook for everything but direct expenses incurred.

  30. says

    Ben P re insurance coverage, I’d just add that (as far as I know) it is against public policy everywhere to insure for intentional torts. The very purpose of allowing suits against someone who, for instance, assaults another person is to impose a direct financial cost to the tortfeasor as a deterent to such conduct and, therefore, insurance companies are not allowed to insure for such torts. Similarly, legal damages are awarded to plaintiffs in civil rights cases to discourage governments from committing such violations.

    Civil rights violations such as are at issue here are continuing wrongs and, once the insurance company deems that a violation exists, it can tell the insured that, from that point on, it will deem the violation an intentional one for which there is no coverage. That would be subject to later litigation between the school board and the carrier but that, itself, could be quite expensive litigation for the school.

  31. pamsmigh says

    Insurance companies may just be the unsung saving grace in our economy. Thanks to them, cars have gotten safer (don’t want to pay out auto claims for huge hospital bills) building materials more fire-resistant (don’t want to pay housing claims for huge hospital bills), and now sanity in church/state battles (don’t want to pay huge legal bills). These sober-minded actuarially-minded folks don’t f(#$ around. They get down to making sense.

  32. says

    @ BenP:

    Thanks for the lengthy word salad Ben, I just had breakfast and I can’t “tuck into it” right now.

    Beneath all the bluster and bullshit, it appears that Dred Scott was Dredfully Rong, otherwise it wouldn’t have required a couple of amendments to rectify what most of us already know is an unjustifiable evil.

    So, the current supremes, heavily weighted to the right and contemptuous of anything that doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas of 2nd Amendment Rights (this is the same group, btw, which were they given another shot at Roe v Wade would almost certainly have voted to overturn it) have done something collosally stupid and glaringly partisan. Shit happens. I just wish it didn’t require as extraordinary a process as a constitutional amendment to do what could have been done with common sense and honesty.

  33. Ben P says

    Thanks for the lengthy word salad Ben, I just had breakfast and I can’t “tuck into it” right now.

    Beneath all the bluster and bullshit, it appears that Dred Scott was Dredfully Rong, otherwise it wouldn’t have required a couple of amendments to rectify what most of us already know is an unjustifiable evil.

    So, the current supremes, heavily weighted to the right and contemptuous of anything that doesn’t fit their preconceived ideas of 2nd Amendment Rights (this is the same group, btw, which were they given another shot at Roe v Wade would almost certainly have voted to overturn it) have done something collosally stupid and glaringly partisan. Shit happens. I just wish it didn’t require as extraordinary a process as a constitutional amendment to do what could have been done with common sense and honesty

    You’re exactly proving my point…once again. My precise point was that people who are strongly in favor of gun control don’t care what the law is, because they see guns as such an evil that, whatever the law means, they assume it can’t mean something that prevents gun control laws.

    The mere fact that when you think about Heller the first thing that comes to mind is Dred Scott says volumes in and of itself, But your second response only reinforces it. You don’t care what the law actually is, you only voice the opinion that the decision is “colossally stupid” and “partisan.”

  34. says

    “My precise point was that people who are strongly in favor of gun control don’t care what the law is, because they see guns as such an evil that, whatever the law means, they assume it can’t mean something that prevents gun control laws.”

    If that’s your “precise point” you’re exactly full of shit.

    I assume no such thing. I am well aware of the fact that the 2nd Amendment was “interpreted” by Scalia and the NRA–deliberately ignoring the first clause of the sentence that begins, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” to mean that anybody can have any/all of the gunz they want up to the line of “fully automatic” as far as the 2nd Amendment is concerned.If you don’t recognize the knots that Scalia tied himself into to come up with opinion, I wouldn’t want you for defense counsel.

    MY point was that Dred Scott was a completely fucked decision which was the law of the land because of spineless/biased justices on the SCotUS who heard the case that resulted in that decision. It took a fucking Civil War and TWO amendments to the Constitution to straighten that out*.. Again, if you can’t see that, well, I hope your clients are well heeled in any liability suit you defend them against.

    * The Brady Campaign’s best guess is that almost 1.42M people have died in the U.S., as a result of gunshot wounds, since 1933, about twice as many as soldiers killed in all U.S. Wars between 1775 and 1992.(http://www.bradycampaign.org/media/press/view/289)

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