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Nationwide Can't Force Arbitration In Cleanup Defense Row

02/11/2015 Law360

Nossaman attorney Jenny Meeker was mentioned in the Law360 article, "Nationwide Can't Force Arbitration In Cleanup Defense Row" regarding Nossaman's representation of Steelcase, Inc in Steelcase Inc. v. Nationwide Indemnity Co.

According to the article, a California federal judge rejected Nationwide Indemnity Co.'s bid to arbitrate a claim that the insurer shortchanged Steelcase Inc. by $1.9 million on its defense costs in an environmental liability suit, ruling that broader allegations regarding the insurer's duty to defend must be addressed before the fee dispute.

District Judge Stephen V. Wilson described Nationwide's arbitration bid as "premature," because Steelcase's coverage suit accuses the insurer of more than just refusing to pay the full hourly rate of the office furniture maker's attorneys — the lone claim potentially subject to arbitration.

Steelcase filed the instant coverage action in August, after Nationwide refused to cover their attorneys' fees above its $225 per hour limit prompting the insurer to move last month to compel arbitration under Section 2860 of California's Civil Code, a provision that deals specifically with fee disputes arising from an insurer's duty to provide independent counsel to a policyholder.

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