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Paul L. LaSalle focuses his practice of law in first party property damage cases and bad faith litigation. Prior to joining the Merlin Law Group, Mr. LaSalle defended public entities and public employees in civil rights, personal injury and employment litigation matters. He uses his prior experience working with insurance companies to be a passionate and prudent advocate for policy holders to ensure they receive all deserved benefits from their insurance policies following their losses.

Mr. LaSalle has litigated hundreds of varying types of civil cases. He has substantial appellate experience, having argued a dozen appeals before state and federal courts. He has also successfully petitioned, then won a case before, the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Mr. LaSalle is a Cum Laude graduate of Monmouth University and the University of Dayton School of Law, where he earned the highest grade in his legal research and writing class. He is a life-long resident of Monmouth County, New Jersey. When not working hard for his clients, Mr. LaSalle spends his time at the beach with his family.

With cold temperatures gripping my home State of New Jersey, my mind (and research) brings me to warmer locations. In a recent case,1 a federal court in Georgia held that an insured’s 11-month delay in filing a claim after a loss was not justified and provided the insurer with a reasonable ground to deny the claim.
Continue Reading Is Eleven Months Too Long a Delay in Filing a Claim with an Insurer After a Loss?

Property insurance policies require that an insured have a financial interest in the insured property. Courts have defined a “financial interest” as either: “(1) a monetary right, title, or legal share in the property; (2) a monetary advantage, profit, and responsibility, i.e. a monetary stake or claim in the property; or (3) a monetary share of the ownership or control in the property.”1 A financial interest might include a leasehold interest pursuant to a written lease if the lease contains an obligation to procure insurance or repair the property.
Continue Reading Can An Insured With An Invalid Lease Have A Financial Interest In A Property?

Appraisal clauses, a common component of property insurance policies, set forth an alternative dispute resolution process by which the parties to an insurance contract can resolve disputes concerning the amount of a covered loss. While most property insurance policies’ appraisal clauses do not expressly set forth a time period to demand appraisal, waiver of the appraisal clause can occur if not timely invoked. Courts tasked with determining whether an appraisal clause was waived focus on whether the demand for appraisal was made within a “reasonable time.”
Continue Reading How Long Is Too Long To Demand Appraisal?

In a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court of Kentucky recently held that a mental incapacity defense was available to insureds to defeat the intentional-loss exclusion in an insurance policy.1 In that case, the insureds’ teenage son, who was in a disturbed mental state, started a house fire in a suicide attempt. After the fire damaged the house to the point it became uninhabitable for an extended period of time, the insureds made a claim for property damage under their homeowners policy. The insurer denied the claim relying upon the intentional-loss exclusion within the policy.
Continue Reading Is Mental Incapacity Defense Available to Insureds to Defeat the Intentional-Loss Exclusion?

As inches of snow pile up outside of my home, I found it an appropriate time to see if there were any recent cases interpreting insurance policies’ “freezing exclusion.” Ordinarily, property insurance policies preclude coverage from damage resulting from frozen pipes unless the insured has used reasonable care to maintain heat.1
Continue Reading Am I Using Reasonable Care to Maintain Heat In My Home to Provide Coverage for Frozen Pipe Damage?

Insurance policies impose a duty on insureds to cooperate with the insurer’s investigation of a claim. An insured’s duty to cooperate encompasses the insured’s obligation to appear for an examination under oath (“EUO”), if requested, and to provide documentation verifying the loss. “Cooperation clauses” generally have been held to be material provisions of insurance policies with compliance therewith a condition precedent to coverage.
Continue Reading Can My Insurance Company Deny My Claim For Failure to Cooperate With Its Investigation?

Misrepresentations in an insurance policy application may provide a basis for an insurance company to deny an otherwise valid claim following a loss. In such circumstances, the insurance company argues that the insurance policy was null and void from its inception based on the misrepresentation because it would not have issued the policy or would not have issued it under the same terms if the misrepresentation had not been made.
Continue Reading Can My Insurance Company Deny My Claim After A Loss Based Upon A Misrepresentation in My Insurance Policy Application?

My Red Bank colleague, Dan Ballard, and I recently gave a presentation about Misrepresentations & Mistakes at the 2020 Fall Conference of the Professional Public Adjusters Association of New Jersey (PPAANJ). During that presentation, I discussed New York case law providing that a homeowners insurance policy may be voided if the insured willfully and fraudulently places in the proof of loss a statement of property lost which the insured did not possess, or places a false and fraudulent value upon the articles which the insured did not own.
Continue Reading Incorrect Information Within Proof of Loss Not Enough To Void Insurance Policy