In suits, insurers ask to avoid Alamo-case damages liability

— Two insurance companies have asked a federal court to declare that they not be required to cover any monetary damages arising from abuse allegations against the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.

Cameron Mutual Insurance Co. of Cameron, Mo., and Nautilus Insurance Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz., asked for the declarations in lawsuits the companies filed last week and this week in U.S. District Court in Texarkana.

The insurance companies’ requests come as the ministry and its members face a number of lawsuits by former members. On June 2, a jury awarded two former members a total of $66 million for their claims that the ministry’s leader, Tony Alamo, ordered them to be beaten on multiple occasions.

Cameron Mutual Insurance says in its lawsuit, filed June 10, that it has issued insurance policies for two houses in Fort Smith owned by members of the ministry.

The company has asked for a declaration that it not be responsible for any damages awarded in a lawsuit filed by seven former ministry members, several of whom say Alamo took them as “wives” at young ages. Cameron Mutual Insurance said ministry members did not notify it of the lawsuit, as the policies require, and that the policies cover only accidents.

Nautilus Insurance said in its lawsuit, filed Wednesday, that its policies also cover only accidents, which would not include intentionally inflicted abuse. It issued policies to ministry members that covered a church, warehouses, apartments and two merchandise-resale businesses in Fort Smith.

Ministry members had not filed responses to the insurance companies’ lawsuits as of Friday.

Alamo, 76, was convicted in federal court in Texarkana in 2009 of taking five of the women across state lines for sex when they were underage in violation of the federal Mann Act. He is serving a 175-year sentence at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Arkansas, Pages 13 on 06/18/2011

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