Michelle Arbitrio, chair of Wilson Elsers national Specialty Professional Risks Practice, is an accomplished attorney who enjoys an enviable record of success. Michelle litigates, tries and appeals complex professional, commercial, coverage, life insurance, ERISA and employment disputes in state and federal courts and defends securities arbitrations before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
She takes particular pride in her skillful defense of those professionals for whom the need to manage potential exposure has never been greater, including insurance agents, real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Intimately familiar with the business of law, the business of insurance and the delicate calculus of balancing one against the other, Michelle commits herself to addressing the needs of in-house counsel, underwriters, brokers and other insurance professionals - many of whom consider her as much colleague as counsel.
A practicing attorney for 12 years, Michelle’s instinctive leadership abilities are already very much in evidence. She trains and manages a talented team of associates and paralegals and is regularly consulted by fellow partners who appreciate her sound perspectives and ideas. In fact, her ability to work cross-practice frequently spawns innovative and cost effective resolutions of her clients’ most challenging legal issues. While other adjectives commonly ascribed to Michelle include “ honorable, ” “ approachable” and “ tenacious, ” perhaps she’s proudest of being considered a “ lawyer’s lawyer” who garners the enduring respect of colleagues and clients alike.
Areas of Focus
Michelle handles a myriad of professional liability matters involving architects & engineers, insurance agents & brokers, real estate professionals, securities industries professionals, municipalities and government officials, debt collection agencies, staffing professionals and various miscellaneous professionals. Focused on preventing lawsuits from arising in the first place, Michelle works proactively with clients to create a culture that reduces legal exposure and avoids specific situations that can give rise to claims.
Securities & Financial Services Litigation
Michelle focuses her securities litigation practice on the representation of broker-dealers, registered representatives and other industry professionals in claims involving violations of state and federal securities laws, and violations of FINRA rules and regulations. In addition, Michelle counsels firms and financial professionals regarding compliance issues and regulatory enforcement matters, which can cause extensive harm to a clients reputation or business prospects. She engages in proactive activities with regulators at the earliest stages of the process.
LIife, Health, Disability and ERISA
Regarding ERISA and non-ERISA life, health and disability insurance claims, Michelle regularly consults with and represents insurers on a wide range of long-term and short-term disability matters; complex life insurance issues, including fraud investigations, stranger-owned and investor-owned (STOLI/IOLI) cases, material misrepresentation cases and suicide cases; and rescission, declaratory judgment and interpleader actions. Michelle also has experience with ERISA-related class actions.
Michelle represents employers in a wide variety of discrimination cases and sexual harassment cases. In addition, she has litigated matters involving non-competition agreements and corporate control disputes and regularly advises clients on these issues. As dictated by client needs and best practices, Michelle works with other functional areas within the firm, including cyber risk, privacy rights, employment law, management liability, government affairs, unfair competition, class actions and commercial/transactional services.
Awards & Distinctions
Rising Star - Westchester’s 40 Under 40
Loophole Leaves Insurers Powerless Against Fraud
New York Law Journal
December 1, 2014
Eastern District of New York Adopts “ Express Train” Discovery Schedule to Ensure Expeditious Resolution of Sandy-related Coverage Suits
Expedited Resolution of Sandy-related Coverage Suits
April 24, 2014
In late February 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a case management order, scheduling all parties in cases dealing with Superstorm Sandy on an “ express train to resolution.” In keeping with this approach, the Court has skipped all discovery conferences mandated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and remained focused on resolving these disputes.
Temporary Insurance Applications and Agreements: The Impact of Material Misrepresentations in Life Insurance Applications on Coverage
Material Misrepresentations in Life Insurance Applications
November 15, 2013
According to a recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the enforceability of a temporary insurance application and agreement as part of an application for a life insurance policy may be subject to and conditioned on the information provided in other aspects of the application so long as the material misrepresentation provision unambiguously allows for rescission.
Life, Health, Disability & ERISA Newsletter
Insurance Fraud & Group Policy Limitations
This Life, Health, Disability & ERISA Newsletter discusses insurance fraud, important ERISA holdings, new California law on group policy, and more.
“ Important ERISA Holdings from Hobson v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 574 F.3d 75 (2d Cir. 2009)” (co-author), Wilson Elser ERISA Alert, February 2010.
“ Insurance Alert - Recent Decision Regarding SOLI Policies in the Southern District of New York, ” Wilson Elser, February 5, 2008.
Securities 101: An Introduction to FINRA Arbitrations
October 29, 2013
Continuing Legal Education
Securities Update: A Discussion Regarding the New Suitability Rule, REITs, TICs, and Private Placements
March 12, 2013
Arbitrio Presents Mediation and Settlement CLE Program
January 13, 2010
Co-Lecturer, CLE/CE Presentation entitled A Claims Analysts Guide to Mediation at National Insurance Company, Berkeley Heights, NJ, January 2008.
Wilson Elser’s Michelle Arbitrio Named to Westchester County’s List of Rising Stars Under 40
May 7, 2014
Arbitrio Obtains $1.3 Million Verdict for Fortune 500 Client
April 2, 2014
Arbitrio Wins Award for Security Broker Client; Award Featured in Securities Publication
December 23, 2013
Arbitrio Wins Motion to Intervene and Enforce Class Action Settlement in Iowa Federal District Court
December 20, 2013
One Year after “ Sandy, ” Property Insurers Engulfed by Wave of Lawsuits
Unprecedented Influx of “ Sandy” Cases
December 11, 2013
Insurance companies with policyholders in the tri-state area find themselves in the crosshairs of several law firms intent on extracting damages in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Local attorneys are working side by side with out-of-state law firms familiar with the legal aftermath of hurricanes, including Katrina. Together, they are systematically filing lawsuits in both state and federal courts in lower New York and New Jersey. As part of their efforts, they have embarked on an advertising campaign to potential claimants, outlining in detail their qualifications and proposed approaches.
Arbitrio Client Alert on Temporary Insurance Applications and Agreements Featured in FC&S Legal
December 10, 2013
White Plains Team Scores Big Win for Defendant Life Insurance Company
November 14, 2011
The team successfully argued that the defendant insurance company was not liable for the conduct of a broker who convinced the elderly plaintiff, under false pretenses, to sign paperwork authorizing three large withdrawals from three of the defendants variable annuities owned by the plaintiff, and later stole the withdrawn funds.
A Check in the “ Win” Column for Broker-Dealers!
September 16, 2014
Clawback Suit Targets International Investors
June 17, 2014 (Also at New York, New York and Stamford, Connecticut Offices)