A federal district court in Mississippi granted motions on the pleadings in favor of insurers in response to underlying civil rights suit defendants’ and plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment action finding that no coverage existed under law enforcement policies requiring “wrongful acts” during the policy period where the alleged “wrongful act” was the failure to come forward with evidence that would have required earlier convictions to be reviewed. Travelers Indemnity Company v. Forrest County, 2016 WL 626549 (S.D. Miss. Feb. 16, 2016).
Insurers had issued liability law enforcement policies to a county whose officials were sued for civil rights violations and imprisonment of innocent individuals based on racial animus. The policies were in force years after the arrests, convictions and incarcerations and all required “wrongful acts” during the policy periods. The insurers argued that the underlying plaintiffs did not alleged specific, plausible conduct during the policy periods, but, instead, claimed only that the insureds violated a continuing duty to come forward with the truth and rectify past misconduct, which they claimed constituted “wrongful acts” during the policy periods. The court found, consistent with opinions elsewhere, that an official’s failure to come forward to rectify civil rights violations which occurred prior to the policy period does not trigger coverage under policies issued years after the wrongful arrests and convictions absent a new and independent “wrongful act” during the later policy periods.