Under mounting legal pressure from a sweeping sex abuse scandal, USA Gymnastics is now suing its insurers.
The Indianapolis-based national governing body said in a lawsuit filed Friday that its insurance carriers have not provided a full defense or fully reimbursed the organization for defense costs in 10 lawsuits relating to former team doctor Larry Nassar.
The lawsuits, brought by women who say Nassar abused them, accuse USA Gymnastics of negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and failing to warn, train or protect athletes from Nassar's abuse. USA Gymnastics has denied those allegations and filed motions to dismiss the lawsuits.
In the lawsuit filed Friday in Marion Superior Court, USA Gymnastics claimed seven insurance carriers have breached their contracts. It asked a judge to require the companies to defend and indemnify the organization for the Nassar lawsuits and related claims.
"Defendant insurers' wrongful denial of coverage and refusal to confirm they will indemnify USAG is a breach of their obligations to USAG under their respective policies," the national governing body said in its lawsuit. Those policies date back to 1993.
USA Gymnastics also wants the judge to order the insurance carriers to pay all of USA Gymnastics' costs, such as interest and attorneys' fees, relating to the Nassar cases.
"While the insurers have paid some defense costs, the organization is bringing this action to maximize insurance proceeds available for settlement or resolution," USA Gymnastics said in a statement.
Seven insurance companies were named in the lawsuit: Ace American Insurance Co., Great American Assurance Co., Liberty Insurance Underwriters Inc., National Casualty Co., RSUI Indemnity Co., TIG Insurance Co. and Virginia Surety Co. Inc., Marion Superior Court records show.
Ace American, Liberty, RSUI and TIG declined to comment. The other companies couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Nassar was arrested after a 2016 IndyStar investigation exposed widespread sexual abuse problems at USA Gymnastics. He was sentenced in January to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. More than 160 girls and women have come forward claiming they were abused by Nassar over more than two decades. In a separate case, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.
Nassar worked for USA Gymnastics for 29 years, including four Olympic games. The former doctor also worked at Michigan State University, which has been named in many of the lawsuits.
A fight between USA Gymnastics and insurance companies is not unexpected given the allegations against USA Gymnastics, said Pamela Foohey, a law professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
It's common to see insurance companies refuse to cover actions they consider negligent, experts told Indystar. And at least one of the suits against USA Gymnastics said the organization either knew or should have known about Nassar's abuse but neglected to protect athletes.
Typically, an organization like USA Gymnastics might reach a settlement, with the insurance companies agreeing to cover some, but not all, expenses related to the lawsuits.
It may be worth paying an attorney to sue the insurance companies in an effort to gain at least some coverage in the Nassar cases, said Jennifer Drobac, law professor at IU Robert McKinney School of Law.
"It's natural for them to try and get coverage," Drobac said. "If the women have potentially good claims, USA Gymnastics is looking at a huge bill."
And USA Gymnastics is under increasing financial pressure. The organization has a $15 million endowment, according to 2016 tax records. But major sponsors, including AT&T, Hershey, Kellogg's and Proctor & Gamble, have cut ties in the wake of the sex abuse scandal.
Call IndyStar reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski at (317) 444-6135. Follow her on Twitter: @IndyMarisaK.
Call IndyStar reporter Tim Evans at (317) 444-6204. Follow him on Twitter: @starwatchtim.