Insurance companies sue to get out of paying to defend polygamous towns
Published: January 21, 2014 10:58AM
Updated: January 21, 2014 08:59PM
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The twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, where many followers of Warren Jeffs' FLDS church reside. Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo

A pair of insurance companies are suing to get out of covering two predominantly polygamous towns accused of operating as arms of the FLDS Church.

St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co. and The Travelers Indemnity Co. filed their lawsuit against Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, in December. The lawsuit was prompted by a Department of Justice case that accuses the twin towns on the Arizona border of policing and housing discrimination.

Filings in the DOJ case allege that town officials, including the local police, took orders from leaders of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In court documents, the insurance companies argue that their coverage does not include defending the towns in the DOJ case. Colorado City disagrees, according to court documents, arguing that the companies’ contracts mean they do have to pay up so the towns can defend themselves in the DOJ case.

Attorneys and a spokesman for Travelers Indemnity declined to comment on the case, saying they could not speak about active litigation.

An attorney for Colorado City could not immediately be reached Tuesday. Blake Hamilton, an attorney for Hildale, said it is not uncommon for insurance companies to face covering towns that get sued. However, Hamilton added that Hildale is not insured by the companies and was only named in the lawsuit due to its involvement in the DOJ case.

No hearings have been scheduled yet in the insurance case lawsuit.

The DOJ case also remains in a holding pattern while the towns fight another lawsuit filed by the Cooke family. In that case, the non-polygamous Cooke family claims the towns violated their civil rights by refusing them a water hookup, among other things.

That case is scheduled to go to trial next week in Phoenix, Ariz.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii