Polygamous town sued by its own insurance company

Posted at 10:52 AM, Jan 20, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — The polygamous border town of Colorado City, Ariz., is being sued by its own insurance company in the face of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co. filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix last month against Colorado City and the neighboring town of Hildale. The company is seeking not to cover the town for damages, should it lose the Justice Department lawsuit.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Hildale and Colorado City, accusing the town governments of operating as a de facto arm of the Fundamentalist LDS Church and its imprisoned leader, polygamist Warren Jeffs.

“The United States alleges that for at least 20 years, and in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Colorado City and Hildale have operated as an arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (sic) and have been deployed to carry out the will and dictates of FLDS leaders and have abdicated their official duties to protect the rights of all citizens equally and to administer governmental functions consistently with the Establishment Clause,” the insurance company’s lawsuit claims.

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit, accusing the towns of not providing adequate services to non-members of the FLDS Church. The lawsuit included accusations its police force was selective in enforcement of the laws and failed to protect non-FLDS members.

The St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co. lawsuit claims its insurance policy “does not provide coverage to Colorado City for the claims made in the USA action.”

“Specifically, St. Paul and Travelers (Indemnity) want the Court to determine whether, under their insurance policies with Colorado City, AZ, they must provide coverage for and defend the city in a separate lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice,” Hildale attorney Blake Hamilton said in a statement to FOX 13.

Hildale and the towns’ joint utility companies were also named in the lawsuit even though St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co. does not represent them.

“The complaint indicates that these parties were named because, as parties to the Department of Justice’s lawsuit, they may have an interest in the subject of Colorado City’s insurance coverage,” Hamilton said.