Michaels, Schulwolf & Salerno has substantial experience in defending primary insurers with a duty to defend against coverage, breach of contract and extra-contractual liability claims arising from litigation management disputes. Firm attorneys are intimately familiar with primary insurer defense cost adjustment or auditing functions, and with all potential bases for defense cost adjustments and issues relating thereto. Our attorneys also are thoroughly knowledgeable concerning the principles of litigation management, and the process of assessing and litigating the reasonableness and necessity of defense fees and costs.
Firm attorneys have successfully defended claims of bad faith, breach of contract and estoppel to assert coverage defenses arising from defense cost disputes, both in terms of defeating dispositive motions and successfully concluding negotiated resolutions of these claims. Our attorneys are well-versed in the techniques required to identify billing abuses and mismanagement in the context of the often complex and voluminous invoices generated in defending large-scale litigation.
Our attorneys have a thorough understanding of the defense of mass tort claims and other large-scale litigation. The firm has a wealth of experience in assisting clients in monitoring and managing underlying litigation, whether it is defended by the insurer through agreed-upon national coordinating counsel, or by independent counsel chosen by the policyholder in Cumis counsel situations. As a result, the firm is well-positioned to assist primary insurance carrier clients in:
- Identifying and countering pre-coverage litigation "set-up" activity by independent defense counsel;
- Counseling clients with respect to defense cost audit activities during the pendency of coverage litigation, so as to avoid bad faith claims arising after a coverage action has been filed while defending fundamental principles of reasoned litigation management;
- Negotiating upfront, long-term multi-party, defense cost-sharing agreements and claims handling protocols to eliminate potential disputes before they arise; and
- Vigorously defending legitimate litigation management activity in the coverage action and extra-contractual suit context, including the pursuit of counterclaims and defenses based on the unethical activities of defense counsel and policyholders.