Professional Liability

Goodell DeVries Helps Rescue Elderly Client’s Savings Bonds from Federal Interpleader Action

On an open question of federal law, Christopher M. Corchiarino and Derek M. Stikeleather successfully moved for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of a Complaint in Interpleader that had attempted to deposit United States Series EE Savings Bonds into the U.S. District Court of Maryland.  McVeigh v. McVeigh, ECF No. 50, 13-cv-00065-CCB (D. Md. September 26, 2013). 

An attorney had filed the interpleader seeking to deposit his 91 year-old mother’s savings bonds, whose redemption value exceeds $100,000 and which the attorney had recently re-titled to add the name of another relative.  Claiming that the debts of the recently added relative created conflicting claims to ownership of the bond certificates, the attorney refused to return them to his mother and filed the interpleader instead.  In doing so, the attorney notified all of the newly named relative’s creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service.

Goodell DeVries argued as a matter of first impression that the interpleader should be dismissed on statutory grounds for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  Despite strong opposition from both the attorney and the U.S. government (which also claimed an interest in the savings bonds), the Court agreed that the bonds were not appropriate for an interpleader, and dismissed the action with prejudice.


Goodell DeVries Obtains Fourth Circuit Reversal in a Professional Liability Insurance Coverage Case

Kamil Ismail and Joseph B. Wolf obtained reversal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit of the lower court’s entry of summary judgment against their accounting firm client in a professional liability insurance declaratory judgment action. In its December 22, 2011 opinion, the Fourth Circuit held that the district court erred in granting CAMICO Mutual Insurance Company, and denying the accounting firm, summary judgment regarding a duty to defend the accountants in three state court professional liability actions. The court rejected CAMICO’s argument that coverage was excluded because there were also allegations of insurance agent or broker liability in the underlying actions. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to CAMICO and directed the district court to enter judgment in favor of the accounting firm. The appellate court also agreed with the accounting firm that the district court’s decision that there was no duty to indemnify was premature under Maryland law because the coverage issues were intertwined with the underlying liability issues, and the latter were still being litigated in the professional liability cases.