Michael Cawley concentrates his practice in the areas of insurance coverage, bad faith disputes, professional liability, product liability and privacy/data security issues.
He has extensive trial and appellate experience in state, federal and bankruptcy courts and has practiced in jurisdictions across the United States.
Michael is experienced in Legal Project Management which employs strategies to assess, plan, manage and control legal work in collaboration with clients throughout the life of a case.
More recently, he has complemented the above practice areas by providing counsel to lenders involving consumer credit matters, including issues arising under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and has addressed other compliance issues dealing with federal and state laws governing consumer credit.
In September 2017, Michael was included in Best Lawyers in America (2018) in the field of Insurance Law; he is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell; a Fellow of the American Bar Association; and was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer (2007-2014).
Insurance Coverage/Reinsurance/Bad-Faith Disputes
Michael’s insurance coverage practice includes providing advice to his clients on issues arising under multiple types of policies, including general liability, professional liability, directors and officers, property, and excess/umbrella liability policies. He is also experienced in reinsurance agreements and ERISA/non-ERISA issues involving life, health and disability matters.
He concentrates on the representation of insurers in coverage matters and related bad faith claims in state and federal courts where he has an established record of defeating bad faith claims brought against insurers.
His experience in bad faith litigation has enabled him to counsel insurers in developing strategies to resolve high exposure cases with excess liability potential through the use of hi-lo arbitrations, binding arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Michael has numerous reported decisions in both state and federal court regarding critical insurance coverage issues. Michael was lead counsel in the landmark 2006 Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion in Kvaerner Metals Div. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co. where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that faulty workmanship by a contractor does not constitute an “occurrence” under a CGL policy.
In 2013 Michael prevailed on behalf of his insurer client in the insurance coverage litigation arising out of the notorious “Kids for Cash” scandal. In that litigation, an insured sought insurance coverage for a $100 million class action suit charging it with depriving more than 2400 youths of their constitutional rights by participating in a scheme to falsely imprison the youths in a detention center owned by the insured.
Michael has advised insurers and private industry in the specialty areas of data security and privacy. His focus has been on the defense of class actions as well as breach response, regulatory actions and risk management strategies. He has counseled clients who have had their systems attacked and ransoms demanded by individuals from abroad. He has counseled clients on why their systems were vulnerable to an attack and has retained the appropriate forensic specialists in conjunction with the client’s cyber insurer to address all aspects of the crisis created by the attack. He has provided guidance to the client regarding its notification obligation to thousands of individuals whose personal medical and financial information were compromised as a result of the attack and how to respond to governmental investigations of breach events. Finally, Michael’s insurance coverage knowledge of the terms and conditions of cyber coverage insurance policies enables him to understand and counsel his clients regarding the true extent of the exposure facing both the insurer and policyholder.
Insurance Broker Liability
Michael has extensive litigation and trial experience in representing some of the largest retail and wholesale insurance brokers and agents across the United States. He is routinely asked to counsel insurance agents and brokers on how to avoid error and omissions litigation and to represent insurance agents and brokers before insurance departments.
Product Liability/Product Recall
During the 25 years Michael has been practicing law, he has litigated cases involving both large and small medical device manufacturers. He also was involved in the defense of the manufacturer of the anti-obesity drug fen-phen. He has defended the interests of manufacturers of implanted spinal devices; gun manufacturers; disposable lighters; pesticides; diving boards and tanker trailers.
He has significant experience in the foodborne illness defense area. He has been retained by the Crisis Management Department of one of the world’s largest insurer of product recall risks for purposes of investigating product contamination events and determining the source of the contamination.
Most recently, Michael represented his dairy farm cooperative client in contentious litigation which spanned several continents involving a coliform contamination of butter products. While litigating the case, Michael worked with the USDA and the FDA in examining the manufacturing processes for the product, its storage and transport as well as an analysis of the equipment used to manufacture the product. As a result of this extensive investigation, Michael obtained a multi-million judgment against the entity responsible for the coliform contamination.
The defense of malpractice claims requires experience, integrity and judgment. In that regard, Michael has represented lawyers in a variety of cases from the defense of an attorney charged with failing to file civil actions to the defense of a lawyer charged with multiple violations of state and federal laws while representing a major university. Finally, Michael was a contributor to the American Bar Association’s 50-state survey entitled The Law of Lawyers Liability published in June 2012
Directors & Officers Liability
Michael has represented directors and officers of homeowners associations against claims alleging violations of the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act as well as breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims.
Michael has litigation and trial experience in the representation of directors and officers in disputes involving the alleged violations of securities laws; derivative suits wherein shareholders allege that the directors and officers failed to properly manage a company and in so doing lost the ability to acquire other companies that would have assisted the company in meeting its strategic goals; and claims that the directors and officers routinely misrepresented the financial condition of the company.
He has defended the interests of directors and officers on the board of a regional waste management corporation that was confronted with claims of mismanagement, as well as an officer of an insurance subsidiary of a major financial institution in a binding American Arbitration Association proceeding.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
U.S. District Court, Western, Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania
U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
Pennsylvania Bar Association
American Bar Association
Co-chair of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, 2012
Co-chair of the Membership Subcommittee of the Professional Liability Litigation Committee, 2009–2011
Defense Research Institute (DRI)
International Association of Defense Counsel
Professional Liability Underwriting Society
Risk Management Society