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Missouri Partners Prevail for Insurance Client in Landmark Case

Kansas City Partners Michael L. Brown and Michael Kopit obtained dismissal of two counterclaims filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas against our insurance company client in a case wherein nonprofit Counterclaimant demanded payment for their choice of independent counsel.

In 2023, an individual filed suit against a University-affiliated nonprofit, claiming that the nonprofit stole one of their business ideas after contacting the nonprofit as a potential investor. The nonprofit hired its own defense counsel for this case; however, our insurance company client hired a separate law firm to defend the nonprofit. Later, the nonprofit claimed that due to the conflict of interest with our client, it should be permitted to retain independent counsel of its choice, and confirmed that it hired its own defense counsel and requested reimbursement for costs. Subsequently, our insurance company client filed suit against the nonprofit, and the nonprofit filed two counterclaims against our client alleging breach of contract and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.

Our attorneys, Michael Brown and Michael Kopit, argued on behalf of our client that the absence of a provision in our client’s policy regarding which party selects defense counsel does not allow the nonprofit to select its own counsel at our client’s expense. Our attorneys also argued on behalf of our client that the nonprofit did not explain why our client’s selection of its counsel was not qualified to serve as independent counsel.

The Court found that our client met its duty to defend the nonprofit under its policy terms, and if the nonprofit chooses to reject our client’s selected counsel, neither our client’s policy nor Kansas Law requires our client to pay for the nonprofit’s chosen counsel. In April 2024, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas dismissed the counterclaims and ruled in favor of our insurance company client.

Mike Brown has extensive experience with contracts, risk management and business litigation. His clients comprise insurance brokers, architects, engineers and contractors for which he handles a range of business matters, from insurance coverage disputes to breach of construction contracts.

Michael Kopit handles insurance coverage issues, breach of contract and bad faith claims. He has experience working with clients in the insurance, transportation, retail, hospitality, real estate, and food and beverage industries, as well as public and private entities.