CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Episcopal Church of South Carolina filed a complaint in federal court against its insurance company.
Court documents show the insurance company, Church Insurance Company of Vermont, wrongfully made secret payments to churches that sued the Episcopal Church, helping to fund their litigation against the diocese.
The complaint specifically names St. Philip’s in downtown Charleston and seeks actual and punitive damages from the insurance company.
According to the complaint, the church discovered that the company paid insurance proceeds to at least one of the disaffiliated parishes, St. Philip’s Church in downtown Charleston. This discovery came through an annual report published online by St. Philip’s that said “After spending for TEC legal fees, Loan Amortization, and Capital Expenditures, St. Philip’s incurred a net cash deficit of $79,045. However, roughly half of the TEC Legal Fees were eligible for partial reimbursement from the Church Insurance Co. of Vermont, totaling some $111,749.”
“Such duties include fiduciary duties of loyalty and care to insure risks only for TEC and its affiliates, and to properly process insurance claims only for the benefit of TEC and its affiliates,” the complaint says.
The complaint involves a group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence that announced it was disaffiliating from The Episcopal Church in 2012, and filed a lawsuit seeking to take the identity and property of the diocese and its churches.