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Michelman & Robinson, LLP’s (M&R’s) breadth of experience in virtually every area of insurance runs deep. We have long been recognized as leaders in the insurance industry, given our rich history representing clients in claim disputes, all types of coverage litigation and regulatory matters. As a “go-to” law firm for the insurance industry, we know our clients’ businesses and the insurance landscape inside and out.

We are a nationally-recognized, industry-focused law firm comprised of attorneys who routinely represent the largest insurance carriers, brokers, agents and reinsurance companies in the country. In addition, we represent the largest outside investors who are looking to invest in this lucrative industry. We have an unparalleled ability to foresee impediments and risk to your business and act in an astute, nimble and cost effective manner to solve problems before they arise.

We counsel insurance and reinsurance companies, as well as self-insurance groups, on their long-term business goals, guiding them through formation, corporate structuring, mergers and reorganizations, state insurance regulations, market conduct, policy coverage issues, and more. To provide even greater quality service to our insurance clients, M&R implemented an Insurance Retail and Wholesale Industry Group, a multi-disciplined group of attorneys from several different practice areas who work in concert to service the full spectrum of our clients' needs.

When there is a dispute, we are strategic and relentless in our no-holds barred approach to litigation. Our insurance attorneys vigorously represent clients in trial and arbitration wherever the venue. Our trial and post-trial work has led to numerous multi-million dollar damage awards. We specialize in insurance-related litigation that arises from everything from construction defect and intellectual property disputes, to labor and employment and health care lawsuits. We have unmatched expertise and a proven track record of consistently delivering superior results for our clients. 

We immerse ourselves in every aspect of insurance—as a result, our attorneys are frequently asked to give talks and presentations at industry trade conferences and seminars, and to write articles for top insurance publications. We are actively involved with the Association of California Insurance Companies, American Agents Alliance, Brokers Insurance Group, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of California, California Insurance Wholesalers Association, Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America, National Association of Professional Surplus Lines, American Council of Life Insurers, and the Association of Compliance Professionals, among others.

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Areas Of Expertise

The following is a select sampling of our representative matters:

  • Acquisition: Represented the largest specialty insurance brokerage in the United States in its acquisition of one of the nation’s largest 401(k) advisory and brokerage firms.
  • Acquisition Related: Advised and represented clients in the issuance of surplus notes and obtained the required regulatory approvals.

  • California Department of Insurance Litigation: The California Department of Insurance promulgated regulations that imposed examination fees on California insurers. M&R attorney was retained by several trade associations to file a writ of mandate in Superior Court challenging the CDI’s authority for imposing the examination fees. The attorney was able to obtain significant discovery and admissions during depositions, which allowed him to file a motion for summary judgment challenging the legality of the regulations which were granted by the judge. The CDI subsequently withdrew the regulations.
  • Capital and Dividends: Advised clients on initial and revised capital structures, reorganizations, and extraordinary dividends. Obtained regulatory approval for an extraordinary dividend in excess of $1 billion in a single transaction within 30 days of the dividend approval request.
  • Class Action Defense: Defended numerous insurance companies and producers against class actions for utilizing a broker distribution channel when the “brokers” were alleged to be de facto “agents”. In each case, we convinced the court to deny the Motion for Class Certification, reducing damages claims in excess of $100 million to nominal amounts.
  • Divestiture: Advised Bank of America with respect to its 2011 divestiture of Balboa Life and Balboa Life Insurance Company of New York to Securian, and counseled with respect the regulatory approvals required for its 2011 divestiture of the assets and business of the Balboa insurance companies to QBE Insurance Corporation.
  • Examination Fees: Successfully prosecuted litigation filed by the National Association of Independent Insurers (now PCI) against the California Department of Insurance, challenging the Department’s authority to impose examination fees on insurers.
  • Insurance Brokerage Enforcement Action: A large regional insurance brokerage was alleged to have inadequate customer service standards, have “dipped” into trust funds worth millions of dollars, and have employed unlicensed insurance professionals. The Department of Insurance sought to put the brokerage out of business. M&R tried the case over multiple months, in four different cities. Part of the strategy was to compare the Department’s service levels to that of the brokerage. This strategy proved successful, with the court dismissing the allegations and ruling that the license remain intact without sanctions. The brokerage received a nominal penalty of $16,000.
  • Insurance Brokerage Enforcement Action: Former California Insurance Commissioner, Chuck Quackenbush, publicly accused a large personal lines insurance brokerage of defrauding consumers, subsequently starting an enforcement action to revoke its license and fine its principals. During the course of the trial, which included hundreds of witnesses, it was discovered that Commissioner Quackenbush may have violated the law. As a result, the defense was entitled to his deposition, a unique and highly unusual request of a sitting insurance commissioner. Insurance Commissioner Quackenbush subsequently left office under a cloud of suspicion for alleged kick-backs, and the case was dismissed in its entirety.
  • Insurance Brokerage Enforcement Action: The Department of Insurance searched an insurance brokerage without a search warrant and sought to then revoke its license and issue a fine for minor administrative violations. M&R argued that the regulation was a violation of the United States Constitution’s 4th Amendment protections. After an administrative trial, the regulation was declared illegal. The department rejected the ruling, bumping the case to the superior court. The superior court agreed with the administrative law judge, and upheld the decision. On appeal, the appellate court also upheld the decision. As a result, the case was dismissed, forcing a change of the department’s search procedures.
  • Insurance Company Consumer Litigation: A large international insurance company was sued by a large public company policyholder contending that the insurance product was illusory, illegal and evidenced a pattern and practice justifying over $100 million in damages. M&R devised a defense strategy that included filing suit against the policyholder for failing to pay certain premiums pursuant to the policy. Through litigation, M&R secured a dismissal of the lawsuit, and recovered approximately $5 million from the plaintiff.
  • Insurance Company Administrative & Regulatory Enforcement Actions: A large national insurance company received an enforcement action by the Department of Insurance alleging that it was violating Proposition 103, which pertains to automobile insurance rates. The department sought significant change of business practices and a $25 million fine. M&R sued the department, contending that the enforcement action was illegal as it was trying to enforce an “underground regulation”; a regulation that is not law. In a lengthy decision, the court held that the department’s actions were illegal and dismissed the case. 
  • Insurance Consumer Class Action: A large insurance company was sued over allegations that its distribution channel comprised of brokers was actually “de-facto” agents. The plaintiffs sought an injunction and damages that equated to approximately $600 million for the defendant. M&R designed a multi-prong defense that included arguments that the class representative was “inadequate” and the actions of the insurer and broker were compliant. After lengthy litigation, M&R defeated the plaintiffs’ attempt to certify the class, and had the class representative declared “inadequate” and removed. Immediately thereafter, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case. Following this case, M&R successfully defended ten other similar class actions.   
  • Insurance Employment Class Action: A prominent insurance brokerage was held liable for violating California’s wage and hour overtime laws, among related issues. Facing a $42 million judgment, the client retained M&R. After conducting in-depth analysis, M&R designed a defense around the argument that the $42 million judgment should be reduced to $1.2 million because of a conflict in federal and state employment laws that were being misapplied by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that pursuant to California’s Business & Professions Code section 17200 (Unfair Competition Laws), it could expand the “class” under federal law. M&R countered that the United States Congress changed the law in the 1930’s, and again in 1949, to prohibit the expansion of federal law as being applied in this case. After intense litigation regarding the legislative intent, the federal court agreed, limiting the judgment to $1.2 million. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling.
  • Insurance Defense: Represented a global insurance company in the defense, and successful resolution, of more than $100 million dollars in complex environmental claims.
  • Lender Placed Insurance: Advise and represent the largest national insurance company and several others, in writing lender placed insurance for mortgage lenders and services, and counsels companies on California and other states on regulatory and rate issues.
  • License Revocation Actions: Successfully represented insurance agents and brokers in the defense of several license revocation administrative actions including charges of prior criminal convictions, and improper "transaction" of insurance without a license.
  • Liquidation: Defended the California liquidation court’s jurisdiction over an out of state partnership that solicited and negotiated a substantial investment with the Executive Life Insurance Company when liquidating the company on behalf of the California insurance commissioner.
  • Premium Payments: M&R attorney was retained to represent a major life insurer in a significant dispute with a California nonprofit that had been retained as a third party administrator to process premiums for certain city employees. The life insurer filed an action in Los Angeles Superior Court against the third party administrator for fraudulently converting premium payments to its own use. Prosecuting this action involved complex and prolonged negotiations with the City of Los Angeles Controller’s office in order to put pressure on the third party administrator and the City to allow another third party administrator to assume responsibility for the business. We were ultimately successful in accomplishing the transfer and settling the matter.
  • Proposition 103 Appeal: Represented numerous insurers who were required to roll back their premiums 20 percent as the result of the passage of Proposition 103, which significantly changed the way California insurance rates were regulated. During the course of administrative hearings concerning the rollback, M&R attorney filed an unprecedented motion to compel discovery against the California Department of Insurance, demanding information on other insurer rollback settlements that had been entered into by the department. The Administrative Law Judge granted the M&R attorney’s motion, but the California Commissioner overturned that order. The attorney then filed a writ of mandate with the Superior Court, which sustained the Commissioner’s Order.  M&R attorney appealed the Superior Court ruling and obtained an unprecedented ruling in the case of RLI Ins. Co. vs Superior Court (California Department of Insurance), 51 Cal. App. 4th 415 (1996), overturning the Superior Court’s decision and granting his client’s motion to compel. This published insurance industry appellate decision provided significant leverage for M&R attorney to obtain a reduced settlement for his clients.
  • Reinsurer Disputes: Represented several ceding companies in arbitrations involving disputes with reinsurers including work outs, run off of various MGA programs and improper payment of claims commission calculation and administration of claims programs.
  • Sale of Business:  Represented a national insurance wholesale broker in the sale of its Connecticut-based professional liability division to a property and casualty brokerage firm.

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