Michael Cawley concentrates his practice in the areas of insurance coverage, bad faith disputes, commercial litigation and professional liability matters. He has extensive trial and appellate experience in state, federal and bankruptcy court. Michael’s experience includes the representation of insurers and insureds in all forms of insurance coverage disputes and the litigation and trial of complex professional liability cases. He is a member of the firm’s Class Action Defense practice.
More recently, he has complemented the above practice areas by developing proficiency in litigation involving intellectual property, e-commerce and other technology-based claims and in drafting, reviewing and negotiating commercial agreements related to those industries including distribution agreements. Michael has counseled and litigated consumer credit matters for lenders, including issues arising under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and has addressed other compliance issues dealing with federal and state laws governing consumer credit.
Areas of Focus
Insurance Coverage / Reinsurance Disputes
Michael has provided insurance coverage advice to his insurer and policyholder clients on issues arising under multiple types of policies, including general liability, professional liability, directors and officers, property, and excess/umbrella liability policies. He is also experienced in reinsurance agreements and ERISA/non-ERISA issues involving life, health and disability matters.
Michael’s practice concentrates on the representation of insurers and insureds in coverage matters and related bad faith claims in state and federal courts. He has a comprehensive understanding of insurance industry underwriting and claims department practices as well as the relationship insureds have with their retail insurance brokers and the expectations each has with respect to the intent behind an insurance policy. This experience has enabled him to work closely with insurers and their insureds in developing strategies to resolve cases with excess liability potential through the use of hi-lo arbitrations, binding arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
With respect to insurance coverage litigation, Michael is keenly aware of the need to skillfully represent a client’s insurance coverage position since the consequences of coverage litigation are of critical importance to insurer and insured alike. Michael has numerous reported decisions in both state and federal court regarding critical insurance coverage issues, including the landmark 2006 Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion in Kvaerner Metals Div. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co . Michael’s reported decisions in the insurance coverage field establish the depth of his knowledge of the insurance industry and the principles governing it.
Insurance Broker Liability
As a complement to his insurance coverage practice, Michael has extensive litigation and trial experience in representing some of the largest retail and wholesale insurance brokers and agents in litigation across the United States. He is routinely asked to counsel insurance agents and brokers in how to avoid error and omission litigation and to represent insurance agents and brokers before insurance departments. His combined knowledge of the insurance industry and the insurance brokerage business has resulted in brokers retaining him to represent their interests in matters ranging from claims that a broker engaged in price fixing to the procurement and placement of risks with carriers that later became insolvent.
Michael is an instructor with the Philadelphia Insurance Society where he offers a three-credit course on Insurance Broker Liability, which has been qualified for continuing legal education credits by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
During the 25 years Michael has been practicing law, he has litigated cases involving both large and small medical device manufacturers. He also was involved in the defense of the manufacturer of the anti-obesity drug fen-phen. He has defended the interests of manufacturers of implanted spinal devices and manufacturers of food products charged with selling contaminated food products as well as successfully pursuing actions against third parties responsible for contaminating food products. Michael’s experience as defense counsel for product manufacturers includes representing the manufacturers and distributors of a variety of products, including lighters, swimming pool products, space heaters and others.
In defending attorneys charged with legal malpractice, Michael is acutely aware of the significance of such claims. The defense of malpractice claims requires experience, integrity and judgment. In that regard, Michael has represented lawyers in a variety of cases from the defense of an attorney charged with failing to file civil actions to the defense of a lawyer charged with multiple violations of state and federal laws while representing a major university. Michael was a contributor to the American Bar Association’s 50-state survey entitled The Law of Lawyers Liability published in June 2012
Michael has more than 15 years of experience representing employers in a variety of employment and labor issues. He has litigated before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission as well as in the federal and state courts in matters ranging from sex discrimination brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; wrongful termination, age discrimination and hostile work environment claims brought pursuant to the common law; and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition, Michael has counseled employers in labor matters, including the preparation of a company’s policy prohibiting racial or sexual misconduct and the publication of such policy to employees. He has assisted in investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and/or racial discrimination made by employees against coworkers and/or an employer as well as situations involving employees, who while in the workplace have exhibited signs that they may be either a danger to themselves and/or to co-workers.
Directors & Officers Liability
Michael has litigation and trial experience in the representation of directors and officers in disputes involving the alleged violations of securities laws; derivative suits wherein shareholders allege that the directors and officers failed to properly manage a company and in so doing lost the ability to acquire other companies that would have assisted the company in meeting its strategic goals; and claims that the directors and officers routinely misrepresented the financial condition of the company.
Michael has defended the interests of directors and officers on the board of a regional waste management corporation that was confronted with claims of mismanagement, as well as an officer of an insurance subsidiary of a major financial institution in a binding American Arbitration Association proceeding.
In addition to litigating director and officer cases, Michael remains current on the law regarding corporate governance. Additionally, he is knowledgeable regarding insurance coverage issues under director and officer policies and how the protections of those policies will become increasingly relevant in light of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act.
Awards & Distinctions
AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
fellow of the American Bar Foundation, 2010
Selected for inclusion in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers - Insurance Coverage, 2007-2014
Co-chair of the Membership Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Professional Liability Litigation Committee, 2009-2011
Co-chair of the American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, 2012
In Non-precedential Case, Third Circuit Affirms Fracking Trade Secrets Trump Physician’s Right to Know, Absent Actual Harm
Physician’s Challenge to Pennsylvania’s Oil & Gas Law
April 13, 2015
A recent non-precedential Third Circuit opinion upheld a lower court decision that the absence of a confidentiality agreement can prevent a physician from obtaining information about fracking chemicals when no actual harm has been alleged. But it leaves the door open to future challenges by those in the health care industry treating patients who are at actual or imminent risk of harm or have actually been harmed by fracking activities.
What Remains of Act 13 in Pennsylvania after Robinson? Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Strikes Further Provisions of Act 13 as Unconstitutional
PA Appeals Court Affirms Rights of Towns to Regulate Drilling
August 15, 2014
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional provisions of Act 13 that required municipalities to adopt uniform zoning requirements that could allow drilling in all zoning districts. In so ruling, the court found that the disputed provisions of Article 13 violated the Environmental Rights Amendment in that it removed from Pennsylvania’s municipalities the right to be stewards over natural resources within their own borders.
Pennsylvania Effectively Eliminates Workers’ Compensation Act as Source of Protection for Employers from Suits Arising Out of Latent Occupational Disease Lawsuits
PA Supreme Court Denies Reargument of Tooey v. AK Steel
February 18, 2014
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has concluded that claims for occupational disease that manifest outside the 300-week period prescribed by section 301(c)(2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act do not fall within the purview of the Act, and therefore, that the exclusivity provision of section 303(a) does not apply to preclude an employee from filing a claim against an employer.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declares Portions of Marcellus Shale Act Unconstitutional, Upholds Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Operations
Pennsylvania Restores Ability of Municipalities to Limit Drilling
January 15, 2014
In a recent decision, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court confirmed municipalities’ constitutional right to limit gas drilling activities through local zoning rules and imposed a more structured state decision-making process to grant waivers from setbacks required for certain bodies of water.
Insurance Agency Risk Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Avoiding E&O Claims
Additional Insureds and Related Topics
December 17, 2012
The Law of Lawyers’ Liability: Fifty-State Survey
First Chair Press and the American Bar Association
Cawley Published in December 2011 Issue of PLUS Journal
December 22, 2011
Michael Cawley published an article in the December 2011 issue of the PLUS Journal entitled, The Insurance Broker’s Duties and Potential Liabilities in the Insurance Coverage Dispute.”
Michael Cawleys Article Selected for Inclusion in American Bar Association Book
July 22, 2011
An article written by Michael J. Cawley summarizing legal malpractice law in Pennsylvania has been selected by the American Bar Association for inclusion in its book entitled, Legal Malpractice Liability: A State by State Survey.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act extends filing deadlines for pay-bias complaints:Employers need to review compensation policies to limit liability
With the recent signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, President Obama effectively overturned a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that severely restricted the amount of time an employee had in which to assert a pay discrimination claim. An employee can now file a complaint of pay discrimination long after learning of any pay discrepancy.
“Insurance Broker and Agent Liability,” PLUS Journal, December 2011
Ethical Considerations of the Tripartite Relationship, Mealey’s Insurance Coverage Top 10 Issues, 2007
Technology in the Courtroom: How, Why, What, Who and How
April 29, 2015
American Bar Association: Tort and Insurance Practices Section Conference
The Ramifications of Error & Omission Claims by Insurance Agents and Brokers
April 22, 2015
Insurance Brokerage and Risk Managment Company Event
Bad Faith Across Jurisdictions
March 16-17, 2015
30th National Forum on Bad Faith Claims & Litigation
Insurance Policies and Whether Extreme Acts of Terrorism Trigger Insurers Coverage Obligations
February 26, 2015
Global Insurance Brokerage Firm Client
How to Avoid Errors and Omissions in the Procurement, Underwriting and Placement of General and Professional Liability Insurance Coverage
July 16, 2014
National Insurance Company Presentation
View from the Bench: Judicial Insight on the Latest Claims, Theories and Discovery Issues
April 1, 2014
ACI’s 27th Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Litigation
View from the Bench: Judicial Insight on the Latest Bad Faith Claims, Theories and Discovery Issues
November 22, 2013
American Conference Institute: 26th National Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Litigation
View From the Bench: Judicial Insight on the Latest Claims, Theories and Discovery Issues
April 30, 2013
ACI’s 24th National Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Litigation
Insurance Coverage Issues Related to Sexual Molestation Claims
April 26, 2012
Pennsylvania Bar Institute
Cawley to Present at Bar Association CLE on Insurance Coverage Issues Related to Sexual Molestation Claims
April 13, 2012
Mealeys Advanced Insurance Coverage, Top 10 Issues Seminar, January 2007
“The Ramifications of Insurance Agent and Broker Errors and Omissions,” Insurance Society of Philadelphia, February (semi-annual seminar), 2005-2012
Mealey’s Reinsurance Seminar, Boston, September 20-21, 2004
“Avoiding Insurance Broker and Agent Errors and Omissions Claims,” Mellon Insurance Services, 2002
Michael Cawley Appointed to the Insurance Subcommittee of the Union League of Philadelphia
Michael Cawley Prevails in Wrongful Death Suit
November 4, 2013
Specialty Profession Services Contributes to Agents of America e-Book, Insurance Agency Risk Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Avoiding E&O Claims
January 16, 2012
Michael Cawley Appointed to Co-Chair ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Subcommittee
January 3, 2012
Michael J. Cawley has been appointed co-chair of the Products Liability Subcommittee of the ABA Litigation Section of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee (ICLC).
Cushing, Douglass and Cawley Win Summary Judgment in a Novel Bad Faith Case
July 20, 2011
Kym S. Cushing, Michael C. Douglass and Reuben H. Cawley obtained summary judgment in the United States District Court of Arizona on behalf of an insurance company. The case involved allegations of bad faith and breach of contract arising from an errors and omissions policy for an insurance agent/broker.
Michael Cawley Named fellow of the American Bar Foundation
July 14, 2011
Michael J. Cawley has been named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.