It is rare that lawyers are called “heroes” by anyone, much less by a Court of Appeal. The California Court of Appeal paused to reflect on the results achieved by Conkle, Kremer & Engel for its client. In that matter, an accounting firm was faced with potential liability under a $40 million judgment, resulting from a refusal by the accountants’ malpractice insurer to pay all benefits owed under the accountants’ insurance policies. Other lawyers started an insurance bad faith action against the malpractice insurer, but decided to abandon the accountants when the going got tough. Knowing that the case would be difficult, the Conkle firm took up the gauntlet on behalf of the accountants against the insurer. The rest of the story is best told by the Court of Appeal itself:

“As one might gather from the one published opinion generated in this saga, Rus, Miliband & Smith v. Conkle & Olesten, [2003] 113 Cal.App.4th 656, the Conkle law firm were the heroes of the battle against the accounting firm’s malpractice insurer. It was the Conkle law firm who took an insurance bad faith case previously thought to be a loser and over which the accounting firm itself expressed severe doubts (doubts so severe that its previous law firm felt that it could no longer adequately represent the accounting firm against the insurer) and won the summary adjudication that led to the establishment of the [$1.875 million settlement] fund in the first place. It was the Conkle firm, after all, who managed to precipitate the settlement that removed the $40 million judgment then hanging over the head of the accounting firm (contingent on suing the malpractice insurer) and actually wring some money from the malpractice insurer.”

Signed by Presiding Justice David G. Sills, Justice Eileen C. Moore and Justice Kathleen E. O’Leary, of the Court of Appeal of the State of California for the Fourth District, Division Three

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