Legal Ethics

Court Fines Insurer & Lawyer for Appealing Duty to Defend

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An insurance company that not only refused its contractual duty to defend a policyholder but appealed a trial court’s ruling that the duty to defend was not a close case has been hit with a $2,500 sanction by a Georgia appellate court.

And Atlanta attorney Dennis Brown of Buckley Brown was penalized $2,500, too, for making what the state Court of Appeals described as a frivolous filing on behalf of his client, Transportation Insurance Co., recounts the Fulton County Daily Report.

Brown, who is still considering his options, declined to comment. However, his opposing counsel, Duke Groover of James Bates Pope & Spivey, said Brown had “acted professionally throughout the case” and blamed the insurer for the appellate mishap. He represented Piedmont Construction Group in the appeal. The contractor had sought both a defense and indemnification concerning an accidental fire at a college.

“I think he is a very good lawyer, and I have a lot of respect for him,” says Groover of Brown. “I think that the positions taken by Transportation were made by Transportation and not their attorney.”

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