Putnam law firm sued by insurer

By Audrey Holsclaw | Jul 30, 2008

HUNTINGTON -- A complaint for declaratory relief has been filed by an insurance company against a Putnam County-based law firm following a failed lawsuit.

The Putnam County firm of Klein & Hall Attorneys LC, its partners Mitchell Klein and John Hall and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company have been named as defendants in a federal case filed by TIG Insurance Company.

The suit, filed on July 21, follows an Oct. 23, 2006, federal case in which Fidelity filed a claim against Klein & Hall Attorneys and Klein and Hall as individuals.

In the 2006 suit, Fidelity was seeking to obtain reimbursement of more than $100,000 under a contract with the attorneys and their firm for losses sustained as a result of negligent conduct relating to the issuance of title assurances. The suit also alleged that Klein, who lives in Cabell County, and Hall, who lives in Ohio, breached their personal guarantees by failing to reimburse Fidelity for those losses.

On Oct. 29, 2007, Klein filed a notice of claim to Accordia National, which is now Wells Fargo. On Nov. 1, Klein sent Accordia a letter stating that "The Non-renewal date was 6/1/02 and we purchased a five year endorsement ... The complaint alleges negligence occurring prior to June 1, 2002. In all honesty, we forgot that we had purchased the endorsement and believed ourselves to be without coverage for the events complained of in the complaint."

Klein sent the letter to receive a written determination of whether or not cover under the Accordia policy still existed. The policy period ran from June 1, 2001, to June 1, 2002, plus an extra 60 days following the end date for the extended claim period.

On Nov. 8, TIG Insurance first received notice of the suit along with a letter from Wells Fargo forwarding the notice to TIG Insurance.

On Dec. 6, 2007, TIG Insurance agreed to defend Klein & Hall Attorneys and Klein and Hall as individuals, but it was subject to a "reservation of rights." However, the negligent acts that Fidelity alleges took place outside Klein and Hall's policy period.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia by Tammy Harvey of the Charleston firm of Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, the suit states that TIG Insurance believes the policy it provided does not obligate it to provide a defense or indemnification relative to claims arising out of the 2006 suit because both the negligence and the claim were not reported within the policy period or extended claim period.

TIG Insurance is seeking a declaratory judgment determining that it does not have to provide any coverage to Klein & Hall Attorneys or Klein and Hall as individuals as a result of the claims asserted against them in the 2006 suit and "any such further relief that the Court deems just and proper."

Klein & Hall is based in Hurricane in Putnam County, and it also has offices in Charleston, Huntingon, Barboursville and Proctorville, Ohio.

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