Saturday, June 14, 2003

Patton insurer loath to pay

By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton's personal insurance company has gone to court in an attempt to avoid paying the bill if the governor winds up owing damages to his former mistress.

The company is Encompass Insurance Co., through which Patton bought homeowner's coverage. Encompass has asked the Franklin County Circuit Court for a "declaratory judgment" spelling out its stake in the legal case between Patton and Tina Conner.

The company's complaint asks the court for a judgment "declaring that there exists no obligation on the part of Encompass under the policies to provide any indemnification or defense for the claims made by Conner," court documents show.

Patton has said he had an affair with Conner, who owned a nursing home. Patton has denied he ever abused his office.

Conner claims to have gotten favors from the administration during their sexual affair. She also claims Patton used his power to retaliate against her after the affair ended.

Conner filed suit against Patton charging sexual harassment and other alleged offenses. The circuit court dismissed all the charges but one - an allegation of outrageous conduct.

Patton has requested that Encompass pay for his defense and damages, if any, in the Conner suit, according to the court record.

"Encompass has offered to provide Patton a defense, under a reservation of rights to deny coverage," the complaint says.

Patton's policy included liability coverage for personal injury, bodily injury and property damage.

The company is arguing that Patton's alleged actions, even if true, did not meet those definitions.

"Additionally, if true, the conduct of Patton does not fall within the coverage under the policies," the complaint says.

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