Insurance Law

Should insurance cover suit against law firm after staffer allegedly engineered a false arrest?

A law firm could face a double whammy if its insurer is successful in a declaratory judgment action filed in federal court in Las Vegas.

Already, a former legal assistant at Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer & Garin is serving time for stalking, after allegedly setting up an opposing party for a false arrest in a wrongful termination case defended by the firm, contends American Economy Insurance in the declaratory judgment action.

Now the opposing party, Taha Abouramadan, has sued Lipson Neilson for defamation, false imprisonment and other torts and American Economy is asking the federal court to tell the firm there’s no insurance coverage as far as Abouramadan’s case is concerned, reports Courthouse News.

The insurer says in its suit that the former staffer, Lawrence Craig McGriff, worked with a Lipson Neilson lawyer defending a wrongful termination case brought by Abouramadan against his former employer. McGriff allegedly told the lawyer he had received phone calls asking what kind of car she drove and threatening to bomb the law firm. Threatening phone calls and texts to the lawyer then ensued.

After McGriff and the lawyer suggested to law enforcement responding to the bomb threat that Abouramadan might be responsible, he was arrested and jailed for a number of days at the outset of 2013. However, Abouramadan was subsequently released and exonerated when authorities determined that McGriff was behind the threatening messages to the attorney on the wrongful termination case, says American Economy in the declaratory judgment action. McGriff is now serving a 48-month prison term for intimidating a public officer and stalking, according to the insurer.

American Economy is asking the federal court should issue a declaratory judgment telling the law firm it’s on its own in Abouramadan’s tort case, because Lipson Neilson’s insurance policy covers only personal injuries and property damage. The tort case doesn’t involve either personal injury or property damage, the insurer argues, because it arose due to intentional conduct.

The Courthouse News article doesn’t include any comment from McGriff, the lawyer he worked with or Abouramadan or his legal counsel.

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