New Jersey does not have a fee-shifting statute. Coupled with the high-standard a policyholder’s property damage litigator must prove for bad faith, there is not much in the form of a deterrent to halt insurance companies continuing delay, deny, defend tactics once the claim is in litigation. Over the past few years, I have seen this also result in certain carriers seemingly making it a trend to file counterclaims against insureds.
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Property Damage attorneys will occasionally run into dispositive motions filed by Insurance Company attorneys looking to dismiss the lawsuit based on the following language from the policy’s loss settlement provision:

We will pay no more than the actual cash value of the damage until actual repair or replacement is complete
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The “Suit Against Us” provision is typically found in the “Conditions” section of a homeowners insurance policy. This provision explains to an insured when he or she can initiate a lawsuit against the insurance carrier. However, the timeline reflected in the provision may not be enforceable as certain states do not allow the insurance policy to conflict with the state’s Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract Actions.
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A tool that every policyholder attorney should use is the 30(b)(6) deposition. This is when the policyholder attorney requests the Defendant Insurance Carrier to designate “one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf.”1 The testimony of the designee is binding upon the company, regardless of the designee’s personal knowledge of the subject matter.
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The Western District of Pennsylvania recently had to answer the question of whether a raccoon’s actions in destroying a property can be considered vandalism or malicious mischief under an insurance policy. The trial court found that “raccoons and their companions in the animal kingdom cannot formulate the intent needed to engage in vandalism, malicious mischief, or any other criminal or actionable conduct.”1
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I currently have an hour and forty-five minute commute (until my house sells and I can move closer to the office). As you can imagine, listening to the same songs on the radio over and over can get old after a while. Thankfully, Mike Buonocore from our Red Bank office introduced me to the world of podcasts, and I stopped listening to the radio. I have since assembled my go-to political, fantasy football, sports/MMA, and mystery podcasts for the work commute.
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I recently had my second child. So, when my paralegal, Regina, came in my office the other day with a large box I assumed that it was more gifts over and above the abundance of gifts that Chip, the Tampa office, and the Red Bank office had already showered my growing family with. Although I was correct as to the contents, the box was from a client whose case I had recently settled.
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Back on March 29, 2019, every attorney in the Merlin Law Group Red Bank office attended the “Protection Gap in Property Insurance” seminar that was hosted by Professor Jay M. Feinman and held at Rutgers law school. This was the first time that I had observed Mr. Feinman speak on issues pertaining to insurance and I ended up buying one of his books, Delay, Deny, Defend, after the seminar.
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