Insurance company denies coverage in Scranton dentist's assault case

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Jun. 27—An insurance company for Scranton dentist Albert Hazzouri contends it is not responsible to defend him against a civil lawsuit that alleges he indecently assaulted a patient.

Lebanon Valley Insurance Co., of Wyalusing, says there is no coverage for a lawsuit filed by Jennifer Kuchwara, of Scranton, because the policy excludes claims for sexual abuse or misconduct.

Kuchwara filed suit in April against Hazzouri, his dental practice and Cedar Lackawanna Partners, which owns the building that houses the practice. The suit alleges Hazzouri indecently assaulted her while performing a dental procedure.

The Times-Tribune normally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Kuchwara asked to be identified.

In court papers, Gordon Einhorn, an attorney for Lebanon Valley, said Hazzouri disputes the company's position. He recently filed a court motion asking a judge to determine whether it is obligated to defend Hazzouri under a policy issued to Cedar Lackawanna Partners. The motion says Hazzouri is a partner in the company.

In a related matter, Hazzouri recently filed a motion to dismiss several counts in the Kuchwara lawsuit and to strike "scandalous" language from the complaint.

Kuchwara's lawsuit, filed by attorneys Michael Ossont and Jason Mattioli, alleged in part that Hazzouri was under investigation for assaulting multiple patients, but that the Lackawanna County District Attorney's office declined to prosecute him for the offenses.

"The aforementioned allegations are completely irrelevant and unrelated to the plaintiff's cause of action," Hazzouri's attorneys, Michael Perry and Kelly Hadley say in the motion to dismiss. "They are meant only to harass, embarrass and humiliate defendants."

Perry and Hadley also argue several counts, including claims for negligence filed against the dental practice and Cedar Lackawanna Partners, should be dismissed because only Hazzouri, as an individual, is accused of conduct that violated dental board standards.

Mattioli and Ossont will have an opportunity to respond to the motion. A judge will rule at a later date.

Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter.