Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Tripartite Relationship Triumphs in California

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Tripartite Relationship Triumphs in California

Article excerpt

The California Court of Appeal, Second District, has reaffirmed that state's adherence to the tripartite relationship in which defense counsel retained and paid by an insurer has two clients-the insurer and the insured-with the result that the insurer has standing to sue the retained law firm for legal malpractice. Gulf Insurance Co. v. Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone, 93 Cal.Rptr.2d 534 (Cal.App. 2000).

The case arose in the context of a legal services plan offered by American Express. A participant in the plan sued in a multi-count complaint, alleging that plan attorneys, who were listed as "approved counsel" by the plan, had bungled a bankruptcy case. In addition to a count for legal malpractice, this complaint included a count alleging breach of contract by the plan attorneys for failing to provide legal services of the promised quality. Gulf Insurance, which provided the plan with errors and omissions coverage, accepted defense of the action, but with a reservation of rights as to the contract count.

Ultimately, Gulf sued the plan attorneys for malpractice and for breach of contract to provide representation to the plan participant. The trial court granted the plan attorneys summary judgment on both counts, ruling on the first count that Gulf had no standing to the plan attorneys because it was not a client, and on the second count that there was no triable issue of fact presented as to whether Gulf suffered any harm. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.