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

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Successes

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

Mar 18

At Payne & Fears’ Urging, Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Hostile Coverage Action

Payne & Fears (P&F) achieved another significant victory this week on behalf of a national homebuilder by securing the dismissal of a coverage action filed by its subcontractor and insurer in a hostile forum.

The client-homebuilder’s subcontractor’s liability insurer agreed to defend the client-homebuilder as an additional insured against a construction defect lawsuit pending Texas. The subcontractor filed a declaratory judgment action against its insurer in Illinois seeking a ruling that its insurer had no duty to defend the client-homebuilder in the Texas lawsuit. Unlike Texas law, under Illinois law property damage from defective construction is not a covered “occurrence” under general liability policies. The insurer brought the client-homebuilder into the Illinois action as a third-party defendant.  P&F filed a motion to dismiss the entire Illinois action because (1) Illinois courts lack personal jurisdiction over the client-homebuilder and (2) the client-homebuilder was a necessary party to the action without whom the case could not continue.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted P&F’s motion (L&W Supply Corp. v. Alabaster Ins. Co., et al. N.D. Ill. Case No. 1:20-cv-03265 (March 18, 2021 Memorandum Opinion and Order)) and dismissed the action. The court found that the insurer had not met its prima facie burden of establishing the court’s personal jurisdiction over the client-homebuilder and that the client-homebuilder was a necessary party to the action because the relief requested by the subcontractor could not be obtained without affecting the client-homebuilder’s rights to insurance coverage.

Scott Thomas and Sarah Odia briefed the successful motion.

This case illustrates an important strategic issue that insureds ignore at their peril: Insureds need to be aware of jurisdictional and choice-of-law considerations when sued by their insurers so they can avoid what could be an unfortunate result if they do not challenge jurisdiction and they end up litigating coverage in a state (like Illinois) whose coverage laws are unfavorable to insureds. Although choice-of- law issues were not decided in this case, the forum in which your coverage action is litigated could have a significant impact on the outcome.

Insurance Coverage

Sarah J. Odia, Scott S. Thomas