The firm handles all types of commercial disputes and commercial litigation cases. Partnership disputes, organization/incorporation of LLC/PA and corporate entities, lease disputes, commercial transactions, franchise disputes, non-compete agreements, property disputes, arbitration proceedings, commercial collections matters and all manner of commercial/business issues can be effectively and efficiently handled by the firm. Representation in regulatory and administrative proceedings can be provided, as well.
Our attorneys have handled appeals on behalf of clients in every appellate forum in Louisiana, as well as the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Louisiana Supreme Court. We have successfully written appeal briefs and presented oral arguments in all of these courts. Our experienced staff can provide legal services in this practice area whenever and wherever the need may arise.
Our firm has successfully handled subrogation claims for insurers and for insureds who have suffered uninsured losses or excess limits losses. Cases involving simple negligence, gross negligence, strict liability, products liability, dangerous instrumentalities, design defects, product recalls and negligence per se claims have been successfully pursued by the firm to achieve a subrogation recovery for our clients and insureds. In the area of fire and explosion cases, our firm is uniquely positioned to offer the highest possible level of expertise and experience in the handling of those cases. We have developed a network of forensic experts representing every professional and scientific discipline who evaluate and assist in our recovery efforts.
Traditional liability defense cases have been a mainstay of our practice for many years. We have handled cases arising from automobile accidents, personal injury, premises liability, products liability, construction defects and subrogation defense. Our work in defending insured’s and self-insured individuals/entities emphasizes the early resolution of those claims and the avoidance of excess liability exposure. Innovative approaches to the settlement of liability claims are encouraged. Where appropriate, the cases are fully defended through trial. Mediation, arbitration and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods are employed to achieve a successful result in the handling of these claims.
First Party Coverage
A major part of the firm’s practice is dedicated to first-party coverage. These cases can involve a broad range of coverage issues such as sinkhole/earth movement, concurrent causation, wind v. flood, collapse, rescission, construction defects, manifestation/trigger of coverage, and evolving theories of coverage shaped by the case law in Louisiana and across the country. Our firm has extensive experience in handling these cases throughout the United States and Internationally. From a modest homeowner’s claim to a complex commercial loss involving hundreds of millions of dollars of exposure, we have the specialized expertise necessary for the successful resolution of these claims
Third Party Coverage
In handling liability claims, coverage issues frequently arise. Questions involving the status of “insured’s” under a policy, multiple occurrences, intentional acts, contractual liability, indemnity claims and coverage interpretations routinely arise. Our firm has handled these matters for clients under personal lines, automobile and commercial policies through experienced attorneys with a background in claims handling and in-house legal management for insurers. The early identification and resolution of coverage issues through declaratory actions, claims litigation, arbitration and mediation provide an effective mechanism for the timely and cost-efficient resolution of these claims.
Fraud and Arson/SIU Claims
Claims involving fraud and arson represent some of the most challenging claims insurers must face. By their very nature, these cases are volatile, complex and high-stakes. Our firm brings a level of expertise to these cases which few law firms can offer. Our principal, Guy E. “Sandy” Burnette, Jr., has over 30 years experience in the handling of these cases locally, nationally and internationally. He has been involved in drafting State and Federal legislation on these issues for over 25 years. He has created and implemented arson investigation training programs for local, state and federal agencies. He is a certified instructor at the Florida Fire College and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center/ATF National Academy. He is the author of over 100 articles and papers on fraud-related issues and received the Silver Hammer Award from the Office of Vice-President of the United States for his work in developing the first interactive virtual reality arson investigation training tool which has now been distributed in over 70 countries worldwide. Apart from the complexity of these cases, insurers face statutory compliance issues under the Fraud Immunity Reporting Act, Arson Immunity Reporting Act and SIU Compliance Act. Our firm was involved in writing each of those laws. For more than 25 years, our firm has been involved with handling complex fraud and arson cases around the world. Some of the most important cases of insurance fraud ever handled involved members of our firm, including the New York Insurance Fraud Ring ultimately identifying over $750,000,000 in fraudulent claims and a commercial arson case with a $200,000,000 contractual damages exposure, both of which resulted in the indictment and conviction of the responsible parties. Our unparalleled level of expertise in handling these cases will ensure a thorough and proper investigation has been conducted to identify and defend against fraudulent claims.
Bad Faith litigation remains a constant concern for the insurance industry. Extra-contractual exposure has been limited by recent court decisions and legislative tort reform enactments. However, the prevalence of extra-contractual claims in both first-party and third-party cases remains. Apart from the extra-contractual exposure to compensatory and punitive damages, these cases can be among the most costly to defend. Claimants seeking to establish a “business practice” as a prerequisite to seeking punitive damages will pursue discovery on a widespread scale, looking at the patterns and practices of a company in handling claims for other insured’s. The cost of discovery in those cases can even exceed the exposure for the claim itself. Defending against such claims requires a specialized level of expertise and a commitment to aggressively defend against claims of bad faith and Unfair Claims Practices Act violations. Our firm handles both first-party and third-party bad faith claims for insurers. We provide an early assessment of the case and the potential exposure to an adverse verdict so that an informed decision can be made on the disposition of the case. Where appropriate, our firm will handle settlement negotiations or mediation to bring the case to an early resolution. Where necessary, our firm will defend the case through trial. Our firm can also provide an independent review and assessment of bad faith claims where the matter is already in litigation with other counsel. We have provided expert testimony on claims handling issues and bad faith cases, as well.