The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is suing its insurance carriers in an effort to reach a settlement with Larry Nassar survivors, its chair said Friday.
Despite being in mediation for almost a year and a half, the USOPC and USA Gymnastics have been unable to come to an agreement with the survivors. USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons placed the blame on the organization’s insurance carriers, saying they have “not lived up to their contractual obligations.”
“This lawsuit seeks to have a court resolve the issues related to the insurers' obligations, as part of our efforts to achieve a fair resolution for the victims and survivors,” Lyons said.
“We feel additional work needs to be done to get to a place of settlement,” she added.
Attempts by USA TODAY Sports to obtain a copy of the lawsuit, filed in Colorado state court in Denver on Thursday, were not immediately successful. Colorado state court does not maintain online records for civil lawsuits, and a court spokesman did not return multiple messages Friday from USA TODAY Sports.
Olympic champions Simone Biles and Aly Raisman are among more than 500 girls and young women who have sued USA Gymnastics and the USOPC, saying they were sexually abused by Nassar, their coach or someone else affiliated with the sport. The lawsuits were put on hold when USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in December 2018, and the federation must reach a settlement with survivors as part of its plan to emerge from the proceedings.
If it doesn’t, the bankruptcy case could be dismissed and the lawsuits would resume.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robyn Moberly ordered a settlement conference after USA Gymnastics and the survivors, later joined by the USOPC, filed a joint motion Aug. 20 accusing the insurance carriers of stalling negotiations “for their own economic benefit.” The carriers did not bring representatives “ultimate, unrestricted (settlement) authority” to mediation sessions earlier in the month, USA Gymnastics and the survivors said in their motion.
The survivors rejected a $215 million settlement offer that USA Gymnastics made Jan. 30, in part because it included a release for the USOPC and other third-party defendants. Moberly has criticized the USOPC, saying it needed to be “actively participating, particularly with their pocketbook.”
The USOPC has disputed this, saying it was contributing to the settlement but could not say how much because the court has ordered mediation proceedings to remain confidential.
Asked if the USOPC’s current financial challenges, which stem from the pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to next summer, contributed to the decision to sue the insurance carriers, Lyons said no.
“This is not about the USOPC's financial condition. This is about getting justice, and appropriate justice, for the survivors. We have insurance for just these types of situations. And we'll just continue to play out the mediation, and hope that we can get to a timely settlement so these survivors can have some closure."
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