Expertise

Payne & Fears LLP offers a full range of business and litigation services to its clients in three primary practice groups: Labor and Employment, Business Litigation, and Insurance Coverage. Across these practice areas, we represent all types of clients, from multi-national corporations to emerging tech startups to individual insurance policyholders.

Practice Areas

 

Testimonials

  • I hire Payne & Fears LLP because of certainty--certainty in my receipt of value, in its strategic approach to problem solving, in its integrity of billing, in its candor when evaluating my cases, in its creativity while searching for an economical and fair resolution and in its attorneys’ tenacity throughout the ensuing battle. In a world of unknowns, I value constancy in characteristics that matter most. Payne & Fears LLP delivers that constancy.

    - Chief Litigation Officer, Fortune 500 Company
  • Your support at Payne and Fears is top rate and it is such a pleasure to work with someone who understands business and offers a conservative, yet aggressive approach – not very easy but something that you seem to demonstrate well!  You are always my first choice of outside counsel.

    - Senior Vice President, Human Resources, International Consumer Goods Company
  • I have had nothing but great experiences with Payne & Fears. The attorneys are knowledgeable and efficient.

    - Counsel, Large Regional Financial Institution
  • Payne & Fears LLP has represented me and my company for many years. It is an excellent law firm with the highest standards. I have worked with hundreds of attorneys in my career. I get results with Payne & Fears LLP.

    - Small Business Owner
  • With over 35 years of in-house counsel and executive operations experience, I have worked with many law firms throughout the U.S. Payne & Fears is at the top of my list of law firms for handling commercial litigation and employment law matters on the West Coast based upon the highest level of competence, responsiveness and cost-effectiveness that has been delivered. They also stand apart with the highest ethical standards and, might I add, a not often seen virtue of humility among their partners.

    - Executive Vice President & General Counsel, National Highway Equipment Dealer and Distributor
  • The attorneys at Payne & Fears have the unique ability to size up complex matters and provide well-reasoned solutions. Their knowledge of the law and depth of experience, coupled with the responsive and personal service they provide, all contribute to a strong and valued relationship with our organization.

    - Vice-President of Labor, Publically Traded Silicon Valley Technology Company

Successes

Jul 16

Federal Court: Insurer Breaches Duty to Defend By Insisting it Owes Only a “Defense-Follows-Indemnity” Share of Defense Costs

In an insurance recovery case being handled by Payne & Fears partners Scott Thomas and Sarah Odia, an Arizona federal court, applying Nevada law, recently held that NGM Insurance Company breached its duty to defend its additional-insured homebuilder by refusing to pay more than a proportionate share of the builder’s defense costs based on what NGM called a “defense-follows-indemnity” formula.

The court rejected NGM’s argument that its duty to defend required it to pay only a small fraction of the builder’s defense costs proportionate to its named insured’s relatively small role in the homeowners’ overall damages; the court correctly applied Nevada law to the effect that if an insurer has a duty to defend any part of a lawsuit, it has a duty to defend the entire lawsuit. This ruling puts to rest the ill-conceived notion that under Nevada law, insurers defending developers and homebuilders as additional insureds under policies issued to subcontractors can get away with anything less than fully defending their additional insureds.

The court also rejected NGM’s argument that the builder “failed to mitigate” its damages by not trying to shift NGM’s defense burden to other defending insurers. Instead, the court held that the builder is entitled to recover from NGM all of the builder’s reasonable defense costs and any consequential damages resulting from NGM’s breach – potentially including its litigation expenses in the recovery action.

The case is Centex Homes et al. v. NGM Insurance Co., case number 2:19-cv-01392, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (July 9, 2021 Order, ECF No. 195).

Insurance Coverage

Sarah J. Odia, Scott S. Thomas

May 12

Payne & Fears Hits Another Home Run for Policyholder in Coverage Dispute

Payne & Fears’ insurance team partners Nate Cazier and Jared De Jong continued their winning streak on behalf of Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. in its dispute with Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. regarding coverage for an underlying class action lawsuit.

After months of litigation, culminating in summary judgment in favor of Rawlings, Payne & Fears secured payment for all of Rawlings’ unpaid legal fees and invoices, plus interest, and an agreement by Starr to fully defend and indemnify Rawlings through the resolution of the class action, all without Rawlings releasing any of its rights or claims against Starr. As a result, Rawlings was able to dismiss its coverage action without prejudice and turn its undivided attention to defeating the underlying litigation.

“We’re excited to recover all of the unpaid and future litigation costs, which are well into the seven figures,” Nate Cazier said. “What really makes this special is that we were able to maneuver the case in a way where our client was made whole without sacrificing any of its rights or claims in the process.” 

“This arrangement may not seem extraordinary, but insurers often require policyholders to release all of their claims (past, present, and potential) before they will issue payment,” Jared De Jong said. “This deal gives our client an additional level of comfort knowing that it can immediately resume litigation if Starr starts playing games with its coverage.”

And Payne & Fears is still on deck, ready to go to bat for Rawlings in case it does. 

Insurance Coverage

Jared De Jong, Nathan A. Cazier