In Harlow v. MetLife, Judge Bernal Brings Clarity to Disputes Involving “Reasonable” Attorneys’ Fees Adopting Standards Favorable to ERISA Claimants

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Legal Articles June 19, 2019

The topic of attorneys’ fees has long been of interest to insurance lawyers and clients alike.  Recently, the courts have grappled with issues such as: When are attorneys’ fees recoverable? What types of billing practices are reasonable?  What are reasonable hourly rates?  Attorneys want the assurance that the fees they charge will be deemed “reasonable,” and defendants (the insurance companies) want to know when they can raise defenses to the amount of an attorneys’ fees they may be expected to pay.  In this article, we will consider a recent case that has helped bring some clarity to the issue of “reasonable” fees for legal work.  Robert J. McKennon of McKennon Law Group PC acted as an expert in this case …

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Fee-Shifting: When are Attorneys' Fees Recoverable in ERISA Cases?

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Legal Articles February 13, 2018

Challenging a wrongfully denied claim for life, health, long-term disability or accidental death and dismemberment benefits can be a very time-consuming endeavor for law firms handling these types of cases. The resources required to fight a sophisticated insurer can quickly become very expensive. Without the ability to collect attorney’s fees, many wrongfully denied insurance claims would go unchallenged, not for lack of merit, but due to a lack of economic viability. Fortunately, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, allows for recovery of attorneys’ fees upon a showing of some degree of success on the merits. In other words, a meritorious lawsuit under ERISA will almost certainly result in making the culpable party (usually the insurer who …

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Attorneys' Fee Awards in ERISA Cases: McKennon Law Group PC Gets A Large One

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, ERISA, News February 13, 2018

Most employee benefits are governed by a federal law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), including life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, pensions and other benefits offered by employers to their employees through their employee benefit plans. Sometimes the plan, or an insurance company if the plan’s benefits are funded by an insurance policy, wrongfully refuses to pay benefits that are due to an employee. If an employee files a successful ERISA lawsuit to collect his plan benefits, he is entitled to recover his attorneys’ fees incurred in the lawsuit. The applicable ERISA statute, 29 U.S.C. section 1132(g)(1), states: “In any action under this subchapter . . . by a participant, beneficiary, or fiduciary, the court …

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California Court Affirms Decision Finding Bad Faith Where Insurer Interprets Policy Against Insured's Interests

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, Bad Faith, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Duty to Defend, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance, Punitive Damages October 11, 2017

On August 31, 2017, the California Court of Appeal discussed a variety of topics touching upon important matters in insurance “bad faith” litigation in Pulte Home Corp. v. Am. Safety Indemnity Co., 14 Cal.App.5th 1086 (Aug. 31, 2017). In this blog, we discuss the case in detail as well as the potential benefits the opinion provides to insureds’ future claims for bad faith. Before we discuss the details of the case, we first address the basics of insurance bad faith. Next, we detail the issues addressed in the case, the facts of the case, the court’s reasoning and ultimate rationale. Finally, we address the Pulte’s broader impact, solidifying the insurer’s good faith duty to interpret ambiguous policy provisions in …

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High Court Changes Cumis Landscape

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Duty to Defend, General Liablity August 24, 2017

We all know the maxim that “bad facts make bad law.”  Two years after J.R. Marketing, LLC prevailed in the Court of Appeal concerning its dispute with its commercial general liability insurer, Hartford, it ran out of luck before the California Supreme Court in its fight over important Cumis counsel issues.  Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, LLC, 190 Cal. Rptr. 3d 599, 2015 DJDAR 9111 (Cal. Aug. 10, 2015).  This is a must read for every lawyer in California that acts as Cumis counsel.

The High Court held an insurance company can sue independent counsel (i.e., Cumis counsel) directly for reimbursement of unreasonable or unnecessary legal charges counsel billed it to defend its insured.  This …

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High Court Changes Cumis Landscape

Posted in: Attorneys Fees, Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Duty to Defend, General Liablity August 26, 2015

We all know the maxim that “bad facts make bad law.”  Two years after J.R. Marketing, LLC prevailed in the Court of Appeal concerning its dispute with its commercial general liability insurer, Hartford, it ran out of luck before the California Supreme Court in its fight over important Cumis counsel issues.  Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, LLC, 190 Cal. Rptr. 3d 599, 2015 DJDAR 9111 (Cal. Aug. 10, 2015).  This is a must read for every lawyer in California that acts as Cumis counsel.…

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