Litigation of Insurance Disputes

Insurance Litigation: Pleading, Discovery, Motions, Settlement, Trial and Appeal

Callahan & Blaine is one of the premier insurance litigation firms in the United States. One of the fundamental reasons for Callahan & Blaine's long track record of success in the insurance law field is a combination of high-level trial and advocacy skills coupled with expertise in the substantive areas of insurance law.

On the one hand, insurance law is a very technical and highly specialized field which requires highly sophisticated knowledge of insurance law and contract law, extensive knowledge of court of appeal opinions and a deep understanding of thousands of insurance law cases and principles. Without question, Callahan & Blaine attorneys have the highest level of substantive knowledge and expertise of insurance law. For example, Edward Susolik, chair of Callahan & Blaine's insurance department, has been an adjunct professor of insurance law at USC Law School for many years, is an assistant editor of the leading insurance law treatise in California, the Rutter Guide on Insurance Litigation, has written scores of articles and given hundreds of speeches in the area of insurance law and has handled over 1,000 bad faith lawsuits and disputes in his 20-plus year career.

Likewise, all of the senior attorneys at Callahan & Blaine who practice in the insurance department also have extensive expertise and knowledge in the insurance law realm. For example, Tae Im is a 1988 graduate of UCLA law school and has over 22 years of expertise and experience in the area of insurance law with major law firms. Mr. Im has been one of the key components of the Callahan & Blaine Insurance Department since 2002.

On the other hand, in addition to this expertise in the substantive area of insurance law, Callahan & Blaine is also "California's Premier Litigation Firm." Callahan & Blaine attorneys are known and respected throughout the United States as being Top Gun trial lawyers and litigators. Callahan & Blaine's extensive trial and courtroom experience translates into direct success and results for Callahan & Blaine's clients in the insurance law realm.

This is a very powerful combination. It is thunder and lighting. Not only do Callahan & Blaine attorneys understand the most complex and sophisticated insurance problems, but Callahan & Blaine attorneys have the dynamic trial and litigation skills to prove up their client's case in court, whether through law and motion, trial, appeal or otherwise.

Below is just a summary of Callahan & Blaine's expertise in the litigation of complex insurance disputes:

I. Pleadings

Preparing and filing an insurance bad faith complaint that is factually and technically correct is absolutely essential to the success of your case. Based on Callahan & Blaine's 25 years of bad faith litigation experience, we have many proprietary secrets and strategies that we provide to our clients to maximize their chance of litigation success. For example, one fundamental rule is that it is absolutely critical to be the plaintiff in any insurance dispute with a carrier. Further, the first cause of action on your complaint should always be for breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In this way, we always represent the "plaintiff" in a "bad faith complaint." This is contrasted to being as a defendant and cross-complainant in a declaratory relief dispute brought by a carrier.

Likewise, Callahan & Blaine will never file a "shotgun" complaint that has many unnecessary causes of action, such as fraud, unfair competition or intentional infliction of emotional distress. California is the most liberal state in the nation with respect to insurance bad faith. All that a California plaintiff needs to win their bad faith complaint is to prove "unreasonableness" on the part of the insurance carrier. This is basically a negligence standard. This is a huge advantage for plaintiffs in an insurance dispute. Superimposing the much higher burdens of proof of intentional torts is counterproductive and ineffective.

Callahan & Blaine has many other pleading strategies that it utilizes in maximizing success of its bad faith cases. Those strategies are shared liberally with our clients.

II. Discovery

Callahan & Blaine attorneys are experts at discovery and depositions. In fact, for many years, both Daniel J. Callahan and Edward Susolik have lectured extensively on discovery and deposition topics, including a seminar on "How to Win Your Case in Discovery."

Callahan & Blaine and Edward Susolik obtained a very significant court of appeal opinion in an insurance bad faith case regarding discovery issues, including the waiver of the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine by lawyers representing the insurance company in a bad faith case. This opinion is entitled Spyglass Homeowners Association v. Scottsdale Insurance Co., and it found a waiver of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine by a carrier and its counsel. That case eventually settled for over $8 million.

One of the fundamental reasons Callahan & Blaine has such a storied record in handling discovery and discovery disputes is because Callahan & Blaine and its lawyers have an extensive track record in conducting actual trials in front of a jury. It is axiomatic that a litigator who has never conducted a trial cannot be an effective advocate in the pre-trial and discovery phases, much less the actual handling of a trial. Ultimately, every lawsuit that is litigated must have its ultimate goal how the facts and legal issues will be decided before a jury and judge. If the litigator is not an experienced trial attorney, the entire discovery, law motion, deposition and pre-trial phase will be handled in a mediocre and unpersuasive manner.

Callahan & Blaine's extensive record of successful advocacy and trials informs and provides the foundation for everything Callahan & Blaine does in the discovery and deposition phase. For example, Callahan & Blaine attorneys take highly productive depositions because of their extensive trial experience in cross-examining real witnesses in front of actual juries.

Moreover, because of Callahan & Blaine's extensive history and experience of having handled over 1,000 bad faith lawsuits and disputes, Callahan & Blaine has an extensive library of discovery demands, including request for productions, interrogatories, request for admissions, subpoenas and all other aspects of the discovery process. As a result of Callahan & Blaine's extensive success in obtaining discovery in hundreds of cases, Callahan & Blaine is able to use and replicate those discovery demands from the numerous past cases for the maximum effect in representing its current clients in litigation.

III. Law and Motion

One of the key fundamentals to successfully winning your case during the discovery phase of the litigation is to be able to enforce the discovery demands and deposition questions with powerful law and motion. For over 25 years, Callahan & Blaine has been successfully winning law and motion disputes, whether they be motions to compel responses to discovery, or questions in deposition or other critical law and motion matters. For example, many insurance companies will fight to keep secret their claims manuals and other important claims documents and memoranda. However, these documents are absolutely critical to the success of a bad faith litigation, because if the policyholder can prove that an insurance company violated its own rules and doctrines, then the policyholder will be able to win the bad faith complaint. Callahan & Blaine has an extensive record of winning hundreds of motions to compel to obtain insurance companies' claim files, claim manuals, underwriting manuals, reinsurance documents and numerous other critical and key factual documents.

In addition to discovery motions, Callahan & Blaine also has an extensive track record of success in prevailing on dispositive motions, such as motions for summary judgment. Because Callahan & Blaine is able to obtain all of the critical factual information during the discovery and deposition phase, Callahan & Blaine is frequently in a very powerful position when it comes to dispositive motions. For example, Callahan & Blaine has successfully filed and prevailed on many motions for summary adjudication on the issue of the duty to defend or the duty to provide independent counsel. Because the duty to defend doctrine is so powerful in litigation, being able to win a dispositive motion on the defense issue can be worth millions of dollars to a policyholder client.

IV. Trial and Settlement

Callahan & Blaine is one of the leading trial firms in the nation. Callahan & Blaine has many fantastic trial results, including a $934 million jury verdict in a business litigation case and a $58 million judgment against a major insurer. Because of its extensive experience and expertise in trials, Callahan & Blaine is highly feared and respected by its insurance company adversaries. This fear and respect of Callahan & Blaine's trial skills leads to the highly successful settlement and resolution of Callahan & Blaine's cases. It is one of the true ironies of litigation that the best settlements come from the lawyer who is an expert at trials and has prepared his case in trial. The trial lawyer who prepares his case for trial is the lawyer who gets the best settlements.