Judge rules against insurance company in Ryan Ferguson lawsuit
COLUMBIA - A judge ruled against Traveler Indemnity Company in a lawsuit stemming from Ryan Ferguson's wrongful prosecution and conviction in the murder of a newspaper reporter.
The city of Columbia was ordered to pay Ferguson nearly $11 million dollars last year after his conviction of second-degree murder was overturned.
Columbia notified Travelers Indemnity Company of Ferguson's federal lawsuit, but the company refused to defend the suit or engage in any settlement efforts. Travelers claimed there was no coverage for the suit under the insurance policies issued to Columbia in 2006 through 2011.
Travelers now must cover over $5 million of Ferguson's damages, plus attorney's fees.
The judgment found the insurance policies covering Columbia and its officers depended on whether Ferguson sustained "injury or damage" during the five years they were in effect. The coverage was not based on whether the conduct causing Ferguson's damages, which would have been his prosecution and conviction, took place during that time period.
A second count against the company claiming Travelers acted in bad faith is pending.
Ferguson was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2005 death of Kent Heitholt, a sports reporter with the Columbia Tribune. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
After years of attempts to appeal when new evidence surfaced, a court agreed to revisit the conviction in 2013, and it was overturned. Ferguson was released from custody nine years after being imprisoned.