On the Pulse…Our Insurance Agents & Brokers Liability Practice Group

Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 2, June 2019

By Eric A. Fitzgerald, CPCU CLU*

Marshall Dennehey represents retail and wholesale insurance agencies and brokerage firms of all sizes and sophistication, ranging from family-owned businesses to nationally-known, managing general agents and risk retention groups in state and federal court. We defend these clients against claims involving allegations of professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and fraud, among others. We routinely defend claims by policyholders and carriers across multiple lines of coverage in admitted and surplus markets.

As trial lawyers with extensive experience dealing with all aspects of both underwriting and claims processes, we pride ourselves in the efficient resolution of actions brought against our clients, whether by securing court dismissals on dispositive motions in civil suits, mitigating risk via alternative dispute resolution, or providing an aggressive defense through trial to verdict.

For example, our attorneys recently defended an insurance agency in the Twelfth Appellate District of Ohio where, after written briefs and oral argument, the court of appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the agent, finding no evidence of misrepresentations concerning insurance pre-fire. In another suit filed in Centre County, Pennsylvania, our firm recently secured a defense verdict at a jury trial on behalf of an independent insurance agency and its owner against claims of professional negligence brought by former long-time customers of the agency arising from alleged failure to offer builders risk coverage and a requested increase in limits before a fire loss.

Emerging trends in claims against insurance agents and brokers may suggest an expanding “special relationship” and a heightened duty to advise. While this trend is challenging for the defense bar, the breadth of our practice enables us to shape the evolving common law and monitor national case law as it develops. Our longstanding relationships with a number of E&O carriers provide us with a unique perspective as we maximize resources to achieve the best results for our clients at the right cost. Evolving regulatory and licensing matters are also a challenge that we are well-equipped to handle.

In addition to litigation, we routinely provide in-house risk management training for E&O carriers throughout the country and for agents/brokers through industry trade organizations, such as the National Faculty for the Society of CIC, the CPCU Society, Motor Carrier Insurance Education Foundation, and state and local trade groups. Currently, we operate professional liability hotlines on behalf of E&O clients. Our attorneys are also active in the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) and frequently publish on agent/broker E&O topics in leading industry publications including PLUS Journal; The Institutes CPCU Society’s professional journal, Insights; and the Defense Research Institute’s newsletter, Riding the E&O Line.

Our Insurance Agents & Brokers Liability Practice Group serves clients from our 20 offices located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Florida and Ohio, and in neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland, Connecticut, West Virginia and Kentucky. We look forward to serving agency and brokerage needs.

*Eric is a shareholder and the assistant director of our Professional Liability Department. He works in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office and can contacted at 215.575.2688 or eafitzgerald@mdwcg.com.


Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 2, June 2019. Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1. © 2019 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints, contact tamontemuro@mdwcg.com.