Fee Bill Dispute Case Shows Importance of Focus on Attorney Compliance with the Rules of Prof. Conduct

My candidate for the worst appeals court decision ever in a fee billing dispute case involving an insurer and an insured has to be Thomson Inc. v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 11 N.E.3d 982 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014) trans. denied (May 15, 2015). Thompson was an environmental coverage case and one of the main issues was whether the insurers owed more than $5 Million in defense costs (which were awarded to the insured).

In a lengthy discourse on the expert opinions filed in the case, the court criticized the insurer’s expert’s opinion on several points including the fact that the expert cited to only one Indiana case in his opinion (which the court found inapplicable). Most importantly, though, the court noted that the insurer expert “did not apply Rule 1.5 as the standard” and that in fact the expert’s “written report expressly rejects it.” Also the court commented on the insurer expert’s qualifications and noted that the expert “never litigated or managed a toxic-tort, class action.”

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