We offer a number of special services to assist clients and other interested parties with unique or unexpected legal needs.
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Contact: John J. Hare, Chair, Appellate Advocacy and Post-Trial Practice Group
The day-to-day work of the Appellate Advocacy and Post-Trial Practice Group consists of handling important pre-trial and trial motions, monitoring trials with possible high exposures, consulting with trial lawyers inside and outside the firm, and handling cases throughout the post-trial and appellate processes.
In addition to these functions, this practice group serves the important role of preparing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs on behalf of clients and other interested parties in cases of special concern to our clients and their industries.
Our law firm is exclusively a civil defense litigation law firm. As such, we focus on providing strong defense advocacy on matters entrusted to us and in advancing arguments of law and public policy consistent with the nature of our practice and the interests of the defense community as a whole. As a result, among our regular activities is the preparation of amicus curiae briefs that attempt to focus appellate courts on the policy ramifications of potential outcomes. Recent examples of cases in which we’ve filed amicus curiae briefs are:
- In Nertavich v. PPL Electric Utilities, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously upheld the reversal of a multimillion dollar verdict against an electric company on the basis that the plaintiff had not satisfied the "retained control" exception to the general rule of non-liability for independent contractors.
- In Seebold v. Prison Health Services., Inc., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Pennsylvania Superior Court and held that a physician has no duty to warn and advise a third-party non-patient of a patient's communicable disease.
- In Condio v. Erie Insurance Exchange, our brief was extensively quoted by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in dealing with the fundamental issue of whether underlying claims for UM or UIM benefits were adversarial in nature such that the insurer is able to defend the claim where there are reasonable bases to do so.
- In Lane Enterprises, Inc. v. W.C.A.B. (Patton), we argued that, in calculating the claimant's pre-injury average weekly wage under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, an annual bonus should be pro rated. This position was accepted by the court. The claimant's attorney had argued that the bonus—paid in the last quarter of the year—should be considered as income earned during that particular quarter, which had the impact of substantially inflating the claimant's pre-injury average weekly wage.
- In Kuney v. PMA Insurance Company, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held, consistent with our argument, that the exclusivity provisions of the Pennsylvania workers' compensation law prohibit a tort action against the insurance carrier for damages caused by the insurer's allegedly intentional mishandling of the injured employee's compensation claim.
- In Hollock v. Erie Insurance Exchange, it was asserted that Erie Insurance Company's handling of an underlying UIM claim amounted to bad faith. The trial judge found that bad faith existed and entered an order for $3.5 million in punitive damages. In our brief, we asserted that the trial court had erred in considering the insurer's conduct that had occurred after the underlying UIM claim was over. We also argued that the amount of the award was unconstitutionally excessive. Unfortunately, after having accepted the appeal from the Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered an order indicating that the appeal had been "Improvidently Granted."
- In Smith v. Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, again consistent with our amicus curiae brief written on behalf of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute, upheld the constitutionality of the damages limitation of the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, which states, "Damages arising from the same cause of action or transaction or occurrence or series of causes of action or transactions or occurrences shall not exceed $500,000 in the aggregate."
- In Glenbrook Leasing Company v. Beausang, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accepted the position advanced in our brief and rejected the adoption of the Continuous Representation Rule. This particular Rule applies to calculation of the statute of limitations pertaining to legal malpractice claims and sets the tolling of the statute of limitations from the time the attorney-client relationship has been terminated. This line of judicial reasoning has been accepted in other jurisdictions.
- In Ferencz v. Milie, the issue at play was whether expert testimony of the lawyer-expert should be permitted in the trial of a legal malpractice case to establish what would have occurred had an underlying case been tried to verdict, or to establish the settlement value of an underlying action. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded this matter to the trial court to address the sufficiency of the available evidence of legal malpractice setting aside consideration of such expert testimony, the position we advocated. By virtue of that ruling, the Court elected not to address the second issue of whether a lawyer-expert should be permitted to testify to the settlement value of an underlying action.
- In Nationwide v. Fleming, the amicus curiae brief we submitted to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court advanced the argument that attorney-client privilege extends to both the attorney's confidential advice given a client as well as confidential information given by the client to the attorney.
Education and Training
Contact: Larry Schempp, Director of Professional Development
Marshall Dennehey offers a variety of educational and training programs, both in-house for the enrichment of our attorneys and outside the firm for the benefit of our clients.
In-house, we offer CLE programs on a wide array of substantive legal skills issues. The firm provides comprehensive, in-depth training programs for entry level associates and for intermediate level associates. The firm requires all of its attorneys to participate in certain continuing legal education programs designed to keep pace with evolving issues in the practice of law, such as, by way of only one example, the new challenges presented by electronic discovery and changes to the rules of civil procedure.
For our clients and members of the bar outside of the firm, our attorneys present CLE programs, accredited in multiple states, and CE programs for insurance professionals, also accredited in multiple states, throughout the year on many different substantive topics. Seminars are often requested by clients with respect to specific areas of practice.
Insurance Program Management
Contact: Howard P. Dwoskin, Director, Casualty Department
When your unique insurance needs require specialized attention, Marshall Dennehey's insurance program management team is ready to assist. We provide litigation support and claims management for specialty insurance programs in the amusements/recreation, trucking, hospitality, and other industries. With 20 offices in six states and 500+ lawyers, we offer broad regional coverage and flexible technology systems to ensure consistent litigation handling.
Our program management team works with brokers, third party administrators and corporate entities in every phase of litigation management. We ensure prompt acknowledgment of a claim, timely communication with insureds, assignment of the claim to the correct local office and the appropriate lawyer, formulation of a clearly defined resolution strategy, accurate estimates for loss and expenses, and timely compliance with all litigation guidelines. We also conduct regular internal file audits and program assessments.
Hotline Risk Management
Contact: Christopher E. Dougherty, Chairman Emeritus; Senior Counsel
Marshall Dennehey’s professional liability attorneys provide "hotline" risk management assistance as part of the firm's value-added client services to a wide range of professionals. In an effort to help clients avoid liability and manage potential litigation, designated attorneys take calls from professionals regarding issues that arise during their day-to-day practices. Our attorneys advise on everything from assistance with responses to subpoenas, drafting engagement letters, and implementing real-time, pre-claim risk management and avoidance.
In addition to the hotline, we provide risk management training and education to various professionals including attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, real estate agents, securities professionals, and other professionals.
INSURANCE LAW GLOBAL
Contact: Christopher E. Dougherty, Chairman Emeritus; Senior Counsel
Marshall Dennehey is proud to be one of the founding law firm members of the Insurance Law Global network, a multi-jurisdiction legal network that provides global services to insurance clients.
Launched in March 2017, Insurance Law Global is an alliance among Weightmans in the U.K.; Blaney McMurtry in Canada; LC Rodrigo Abogados in Spain; Ekelmans & Meijer in The Netherlands, and Marshall Dennehey. Collectively, ILG has bases in 30 cities across six countries.
The firms collaborate on a non-exclusive basis to help clients respond to the challenges presented by globalization and the increasingly dynamic political and environmental landscape. Visit www.insurancelawglobal.com for more information.