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 …

Read More
0

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 …

Read More
0

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 …

Read More
0

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 …

Read More
0

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.…

Read More
0

Insurers Forfeit Their Protections Under Civil Code Section 2860 (Cumis Statute) When They Fail to Meet Their Duty to Defend Obligations

Posted in: Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Duty to Defend, General Liablity June 27, 2013

If you want to read an important case on Cumis counsel and the consequences to insurers who fail to fulfill their obligations relating thereto, we have one for you.  J.R. Marketing LLC v. The Hartford Cas. Insurance Co., __ Cal.App.4th __ (May 17, 2013).  This case has a lot to offer: Cumis counsel, attorneys’ fees, Buss allocations, duty to defend, and insurance bad faith issues.  In this case, the California Court of Appeal for the First District handed down a very important decision that is highly beneficial to insureds and their independent counsel (i.e., Cumis counsel).  Significantly, the court expanded upon the limitations on the ability of insurers to impose upon their insureds’ choice of defense counsel when they …

Read More
0

Can an ERISA Claims Administrator Engage in Post-Trial Discovery Regarding Benefit Issues? No, Says District Court

Posted in: Abuse of Discretion, Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Discovery, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog January 21, 2013

In what may be a matter of first impression, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the United States Federal District Court for the Central District of California denied Sun Life and Health Insurance Company’s Objections to Proposed Judgment in an ERISA long-term disability insurance claim case handled by McKennon Law Group PC.  As detailed here, Robert J. McKennon and Scott E. Calvert of the McKennon Law Group secured a victory at trial for their client in an ERISA long-term disability insurance claim lawsuit against Sun Life, with the Court finding that Sun Life abused its discretion in denying Mr. Evans’ claim for long-term disability benefits.  Following the Court’s instructions, Mr. Evans filed a “Proposed Judgment Following Trial.”  Sun Life offered …

Read More
0

What are the Available Remedies Against an Insurance Company That Has Acted in Bad Faith?

Posted in: Attorneys' Fees, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Punitive Damages June 06, 2011

This article will be the second in a series of articles by McKennon Law Group PC addressing and answering basic questions concerning insurance law.  This one addresses: What are the available remedies against an insurance company that has acted unreasonably in handling an insurance claim?

The most common causes of action against insurers in the non-ERISA context are breach of contract and bad faith. 

The breach of contract claim allows an insured to recover policy benefits owed under the insurance policy plus applicable interest from the date the benefits were due (or at the rate of 10% on delayed disability payments in California).  The benefits due will depend on the type of policy at issue.  They may be a specific …

Read More
0

Ninth Circuit Applies New Hardt Decision to Deny ERISA Participant Attorney's Fees

Posted in: Attorneys' Fees, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, News July 19, 2010

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court handed ERISA plan participants a big victory when they decided the important ERISA disability case of Hardt v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance, __ U.S. __ (Decided May 24, 2010)(see our blog discussion here) holding that an ERISA plan participant may be able to collect attorneys’ fees from a plan or claim administrator without obtaining a judgment in the action.  It did not take long for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to apply Hardt.  In Simonia v. Glendale Nissan/Infiniti Disability Plan, __ F.3d __ (9th Cir. June 24, 2010), the court rejected a plan participant’s claim for attorney’s fees. No Attorneys Fees AwardIn Simonia, Aleck Simonia became physically disabled due to a …

Read More
0