Letter to Attorney Advising to Put Professional Liability Carrier on Notice Does Not Render Claim Foreseeable
An attorney who represented a client in a real estate transaction received a letter four years later from new counsel advising all parties involved that the former client was considering filing suit against them. The letter advised the recipients to refer the matter to their professional liability and other carriers. The attorney investigated and concluded the former client could not maintain a viable claim against him, any such claim would be time-barred. He did not mention this matter when purchasing the applicable professional liability policy which excluded coverage for preexisting claims when the insured, prior to the coverage period, had knowledge of facts that “might reasonably be expected to result in a claim.” The Sixth Circuit reversed summary judgment in favor of the insurer finding, based on the “insured-friendly construction” of the above phrase the court deemed Ohio law required it to adopt, the letter did not make a claim reasonably foreseeable. The body of the letter did not mention the attorney by name or provide any details on the factual or legal bases for any claim against him; and the attorney reasonably concluded any claim for malpractice would be time barred.