WWM Wins Appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

WWM attorneys Robert Conlon and Robert Arnold won an appeal on behalf of WWM’s client, a professional liability insurance carrier, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  The ruling affirmed the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (USDCNJ) grant of summary judgment for WWM’s client.  WWM’s client declined coverage for a third-party claimant’s lawsuit for legal malpractice against one of the insured law firm’s attorneys on the basis that the lawsuit related back to another claim against the attorney made outside of the policy period and, thus, did not constitute a “Claim” made during the policy’s term of coverage. In response to the denial, the insured attorney and law firm filed a declaratory judgment action against WWM’s client in New Jersey state court alleging that the client breached the insurance contract by declining coverage for the claim. WWM successfully removed the matter to the USDCNJ and thereafter the insureds filed a motion for summary judgment. WWM’s client also filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Continue reading

WWM Wins Dismissal of Hearing Loss Coverage Suit in Federal District Court

WWM attorneys succeeded in obtaining the dismissal on behalf of its client, Pacific Employers Insurance Company, of a declaratory judgment action filed by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC. By order dated February 27, 2013, an Ohio federal judge dismissed Bridgestone’s suit seeking to hold Pacific liable for hearing loss claims made by Bridgestone factory employees, finding that the dispute had already been decided by a prior federal court decision.

U.S. District Judge Sara Loi vacated her own March 2012 order that denied Pacific Employers Insurance Co.’s Motion to Dismiss based on res judicata grounds and entered dismissal of Bridgestone’s Complaint. In doing so, Judge Loi found that Pacific Employers Insurance Co.’s motion for reconsideration convincingly argued that the doctrine of res judicata barred Bridgestone’s suit given that the same issues had been previously litigated in a federal action filed in Louisiana that was subsequently affirmed on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Lioi had previously denied Pacific Employers Insurance Co.’s initial bid to dismiss the Ohio suit after erroneously determining that the Louisiana action did not involve the same insurance policies at issue in the Ohio suit. Continue reading

WWM Secures Significant Number of Occurrences Ruling from the Illinois Appellate Court in Wrigleyville Porch Collapse Coverage Litigation

Bob Conlon Successfully Argued for the Limitation of the “Time and Space” Test Adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court in Addison Ins. Co. v. Fay  to Cases Involving “Ongoing Negligent Omissions”

On January 11, 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District issued a significant ruling on the issue of number of occurrences under a comprehensive general liability policy. As explained below, the Court’s ruling provides clarification and refinement of the Illinois Supreme Court’s number of occurrences decision in Addison Ins. Co. v. Fay, 232 Ill. 2d 446 (2009). Continue reading

WWM Obtains Summary Judgment for Client Insurer: No Duty to Defend or Indemnify Legal Malpractice Claims

In January 2012, Gilbert Sollek brought a declaratory judgment complaint seeking a declaration of rights under a claims-made-and-reported legal malpractice policy that Westport Insurance Corporation had issued to Sollek’s former lawyer, Vann Leonard. Sollek asserted a claim against Leonard in an underlying lawsuit alleging negligence, legal malpractice, and unjust enrichment due to Leonard’s alleged failure to negotiate a successful settlement of Sollek’s home equity line of credit with Sollek’s bank. Westport denied coverage for Sollek’s claim against Leonard, and for the claims of other former clients against Leonard, after Leonard pled guilty to multiple counts of embezzling clients’ funds from his trust account. Sollek sued Westport in Mississippi state court seeking to recover under Leonard’s malpractice policy. Westport subsequently removed the action to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Continue reading

WWM Wins Major Pro Rata Allocation Ruling in Missouri Pollution Coverage Action

Bob Arnold, Peter Daniels and Garry Glass Secure Pro Rata Allocation in Missouri Pollution Coverage Action

Granting a motion filed by Walker Wilcox Matousek, Missouri Circuit Judge Thea Sherry has ruled that pollution losses should be allocated pro rata under Illinois and Missouri law. The case involved three separate lines of insurance issued to predecessors of policyholder, Mallinckrodt. Mallinckrodt sought insurance under all of these policies for environmental claims at over twenty different sites throughout the United States.

The court began its analysis with choice of law, observing that it was unnecessary to decide which state’s law applied if there was no actual conflict among the possible choices. The parties agreed that Missouri and Illinois were potentially applicable, so the court examined the laws of those states. Turning to Illinois first, the court focused on two cases: Outboard Marine Corp. v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 283 Ill.App.3d 630 (2nd Dist. 1996) and Zurich v. Raymark Indus, Inc., 514 N.E.2d 150 (Ill. 1987). Continue reading

WWM Successfully Defends Favorable Trial Ruling on Bad Faith Before 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

WWM Attorneys Robert Conlon and Christopher Wadley successfully defended, on appeal before the Ninth Circuit, a trial judgment they obtained in favor of a legal malpractice liability insurer in a complex, multimillion-dollar coverage and bad faith lawsuit. Weinstein & Riley, P.S. v. Westport Ins. Corp., Nos. 11-35325, 11-35341, 2012 WL 2024770 (9th Cir. June 6, 2012).

The case arose out of two underlying lawsuits involving the insured attorney. The first action, which was filed against the insured attorney in Oregon, involved the forced sale of a company that the attorney owned and controlled, and the separation of that company from the insured attorney’s law firm. The second action, which was filed against the insured attorney in Washington, involved malpractice claims against the insured attorney and his firm brought by the company he formerly owned and controlled, after the insured attorney sold his interests in the company. The insured attorney sought coverage from his legal malpractice carrier for approximately $2 million in attorney’s fees incurred in the underlying lawsuits. Continue reading

WWM Wins Summary Judgment in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida

WWM attorneys Robert Conlon won summary judgment on behalf of WWM’s client, a professional liability insurance carrier, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. WWM’s client declined coverage for a third-party claimant’s lawsuit against the insured law firm on the bases that the allegations: did not fall within the scope of coverage provided by the policy’s Insuring Agreement; and, were also barred by an exclusion.  The insured filed a declaratory judgment action against WWM’s client in Florida state court alleging that the client breached the insurance contract by declining coverage for the claim.  WWM successfully removed the matter to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and thereafter filed its motion for summary judgment arguing the two coverage defenses.  The insured firm filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Continue reading