Earl Bradley suits move forward

Insurer wants out of defending Bradley, Beebe
September 13, 2011

A civil class-action suit against convicted rapist Earl Bradley and Beebe Medical Center is set to move forward.

Bradley was convicted of 24 counts of rape, assault and sexual exploitation involving 86 child patients. He was sentenced to 14 life sentences and 164 years in prison. His defense team has filed a notice of appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Wilmington attorney Bruce Hudson is representing 200 victims and their families against Bradley and Beebe. Hudson said he hopes to get access to 7,400 patient files – “a universe of potential victims” as Hudson called it – dating back to when Bradley first came to the area in 1994. The Department of Justice collected the files from Bradley’s BayBees Pediatrics office.

He said he hopes the department will provide the files to his office. Hudson’s office is also seeking a court order to obtain all of Bradley’s patient names and addresses, which will allow notices to be sent to all of Bradley’s former patients asking if they were abused by Bradley and if they want to be a part of the class.

Hudson said the suit will proceed to a trial or there will be a settlement. He said his game plan is to create a victim’s fund that will be the source of compensation for any sort of settlement. Hudson said the mechanics of such a fund – such as how injuries to victims would be assessed and what the compensation would be – have yet to be worked out.

While Hudson would not comment on whether a settlement is in the plans, he said everyone involved with the case wants to spare the victims and their families any more trauma.

Former Beebe insurer wants out

The St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, Beebe’s former insurer, has filed a complaint in Delaware U.S. District Court saying it has no obligation to defend lawsuits against Beebe and Bradley.

“St. Paul did not have, and currently does not have, an obligation to indemnify Beebe or Bradley for any settlements or payments they incurred or will incur,” the complaint said.

Beebe spokeswoman Kelly Griffin said the hospital is choosing not to comment on active litigation. Members of the Beebe Board of Directors did not respond to request for comment.

Beebe had three policies through St. Paul from 1993 to 1997: a healthcare liability protection policy, a professional liability protection and excess umbrella liability protection.

In its complaint, St. Paul said that the earliest charge in the indictment against Bradley dates to April 30, 1998, more than a year after St. Paul’s policies with Beebe expired. Bradley, according to the complaint, had been a Beebe employee from when he came to Lewes in July 1994 until November 1997. Bradley then went into private practice but still had hospital privileges with Beebe until his arrest in December 2009.

Not long after Bradley’s arrest, lawsuits began to be filed naming Bradley, Beebe and the Medical Society of Delaware as defendants. Those suits have since been consolidated into a large class-action suit. St. Paul said on Dec. 13, 2010, Beebe notified the insurance company about the claims, seeking defense coverage. St. Paul said Beebe continued tendering claims and suits for defense, with the most recent being on March 4.

In the policy description provided in the complaint, the umbrella policy says employees of Beebe are covered for work they do at the hospital. However, no employee is covered if he/she commits sexual abuse against a patient. Nor did the policy cover personal injury resulting from a covered employee knowingly breaking the law.

St. Paul contends in the suit it has no duty to pay or defend Beebe for patients born after the end of St. Paul’s policy or patients who did not become patients of Bradley until after the policy expired.