Michael Cawley concentrates his practice in the areas of insurance coverage, bad faith disputes, professional liability, product liability and cyber, 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.
Michael is included in Best Lawyers in America (2018-2022) in the field of Insurance Law. He is also 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 defense for insurance agents and brokers, 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. He 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.
Real Estate Error and Omission Claims
Michael’s professional liability experience extends to the defense of error and omission claims brought against real estate agents and brokers, property managers and real estate developers. He has had extensive experience in defending real estate agents and brokers charged with negligence and misrepresentation in the sale and leasing of both residential and commercial properties; Fair Housing Discrimination Claims; defense of licensing proceedings as well as failure to disclose claims (i.e. the failure to disclose the existence of fungi/bacteria and other pollutants on properties sold/leased to third parties).
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.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal statute that creates civil causes of action for unlawful/illegal actions taken in connection with an ongoing enterprise. RICO violations require what are known as “predicate” actions which include, but are not limited to, the use of the mails, wire facilities or the Internet in pursuit of the unlawful activity. In his 30 plus years of litigating cases in state and federal courts, Michael has litigated RICO cases in federal district courts and has participated in arguments before the federal appellate courts. Most recently, Michael litigated the now notorious “Kids for Cash” RICO action in federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania which involved a complex bribery scheme where state court judges accepted bribes from a developer and his lawyer who developed a private youth detention facility. In return for the bribes, the judges wrongfully incarcerated more than 2400 youths over a three year period in the privately owned facility.
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.
He 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.
Insurance Broker Liability
Michael has significant 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.
Cyber, Privacy & Data Security
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.
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.
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, he 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, he obtained a multimillion dollar judgment against the entity responsible for the contamination.