Breaking: Officers find missing 10-year-old from West Seattle

Lawyers: Insurer to pay 'Three Cups' charity $1.2M


| Zoom

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - An insurance company will pay $1.2 million to a charity co-founded by "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson in a settlement over the legal costs of a lawsuit and an investigation into Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute, attorneys involved in the settlement said.

The settlement, if approved, will mark an end to more than two years of legal troubles for Mortenson after "60 Minutes" and author Jon Krakauer published reports that alleged Mortenson fabricated parts of his best-selling books and mismanaged the Central Asia Institute.

After those reports, then-Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock launched an investigation into the charity. A settlement required Mortenson to repay $1 million and made fundamental changes to the institute's structure.

Four readers then filed a lawsuit that claimed Mortenson, co-author David Oliver Relin, publisher Penguin and the Central Asia Institute were involved in a fraud conspiracy by Mortenson lying in his best-selling "Three Cups of Tea" to boost sales and donations to the charity.

"Three Cups of Tea" and the sequel, "Stones Into Schools," recount how Mortenson started building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Three Cups of Tea" has sold about 4 million copies since being published in 2006.

A district judge threw out the lawsuit, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling.

Along the way, Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute racked up approximately $1.8 million in legal fees defending themselves in the investigation and the lawsuit.

The charity sued Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co., saying the insurer was obligated to pay for all of its defense costs, but offered to reimburse the institute 35 percent and Mortenson 25 percent of their defense fees in the lawsuit.

The insurer offered to reimburse 20 percent of Mortenson's costs and all of the Central Asia Institute's costs for the state investigation, according to the complaint.

The insurance company said in court filings that certain allegations against Mortenson don't fall within the policy, including the publication of material that the insured person or company knows is false.

The $1.2 million settlement was hammered out in a private mediation conference held Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch in Missoula, said attorney John Morrison of Helena and Billings attorney Carey Matovich.

Matovich represented the Central Asia Institute, and Morrison represented a law firm that defended Mortenson in the investigation and in the lawsuit.

The settlement still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen. The judge has given the sides until Dec. 6 to file dismissal papers.

Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance attorney Brian Harrison declined to comment Friday, saying the settlement was confidential.

Mortenson declined to comment.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Stolen Celebration
    Thieves have stolen all the decorations for Seattle's popular Halloween Alley

  • Commitment
    A Boeing CEO says Everett's new 777X wing facility is a sign of commitment

  • All You Can Eat
    6 belt-loosening food challenges in Seattle you may not be man enough to complete
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.