For 15 years, Pashman Stein has been developing and implementing strategies to assist businesses and individuals in obtaining insurance coverage for an ever-increasing range of liabilities and losses. Pashman Stein has represented not only large corporate policyholders, but also numerous midsize and smaller companies and their officers and directors in connection with insurance issues and insurance-related strategic concerns. Many policyholders in numerous industry groups have turned to the firm to address large and small issues.
Pashman Stein regularly advises clients who have received notice from an insurer of a denial or reservation of rights to deny coverage for a particular claim. Immediately upon retention, Pashman Stein performs an analysis of the prospects for obtaining coverage to develop the best strategy for clients. This initial analysis involves a written report reviewing the facts, the relevant policy language and the applicable law. Based on that review, attorneys recommend whether and how best to pursue insurance recovery for the claim.
The firm also has been retained by many clients that already have received adverse insurance coverage decisions at the trial level and are pursuing appeal.
Pashman Stein has a history of successful results in representing policyholders against insurance companies. Many cases have involved written decisions addressing issues of first impression in New Jersey, including coverage for Telephone Consumer Protection Act class-action claims under the advertising-injury and property-damage sections of a comprehensive general liability policy; coverage under the debris-removal provision of a comprehensive building owner’s policy; the extraterritorial reach of Court Rule 4:42-9, which allows for the award of counsel fees in an action upon a liability policy in favor of a successful claimant; and indemnification for defense costs under corporate by-laws and Delaware statutory law for an attorney who also served as a corporate secretary after successfully defending a suit alleging libel and emotional distress claims against him by a former officer and director.
Pashman Stein attorneys also advise individual and corporate clients in connection with their rights and obligations under indemnification and advancement-of-legal fees provisions of corporate by-laws and operating agreements. While New Jersey’s corporate laws require companies to indemnify corporate officers who successfully defend lawsuits against them, New Jersey companies also can provide, in their corporate governance documents, other conditions upon which they will advance defense costs or indemnify employees or officers prior to the conclusion of litigation. Attorneys advise clients on drafting and interpreting indemnification and advancement provisions, and represent clients pursuing coverage or defending against claims for coverage. Attorneys have litigated some of the only reported decisions on this important and often overlooked area of coverage.
The firm is best known for litigating in New Jersey Superior Court, particularly cases in the Chancery Division involving breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder oppression, enforcement of restrictive covenants, and other complex business issues. While the majority of clients are New Jersey-based companies from a variety of industries, many of the firm’s largest lawsuits have been on behalf of national and regional Fortune 500 companies. The firm — and retired Justice Gary Stein in particular — is regularly retained to conduct highly publicized, as well as confidential, internal investigations into allegations of improprieties, conflicts of interest and other compliance issues.
|Pashman Stein by the Numbers|
| ||Firm-wide||N.J. Office|
|Department as percentage of firm (head-count)||75%||75%|
|Department as percentage of firm (revenue)||80%||80%|
• Michael Stein (partner, Hackensack, admitted 1989) — co-founded the firm in 1995 and heads its litigation practice; specializes in general commercial litigation, chancery litigation, legal ethics and appellate advocacy; has substantial trial and appellate experience in both state and federal courts.
• Samuel Samaro (partner, Hackensack, 1988) — heads the firm’s employment practice; has tried numerous cases to verdict in state and federal courts, and before administrative agencies; regularly advises on policy drafting and interpretation, workplace harassment and bullying, litigation avoidance and planning; certified civil trial attorney.
• Dennis Smith (partner, Hackensack,1988) — chairs the firm’s policyholder practice; has obtained coverage for clients in environmental, toxic tort, class-action and director-and-officer liability cases, as well as in the related area of entitlement to indemnification pursuant to corporate bylaws, articles of incorporation and business corporation acts.
• Sean Mack (partner, Hackensack, 2000) — co-chairs litigation practice; litigates complex business disputes in state and federal courts in New Jersey, New York and other jurisdictions for clients in the medical device, healthcare and transportation industries.
• Andrew Moskowitz (partner, Hackensack, 1997) — focuses his employment law practice on disability, discrimination and whistleblower claims, as well as cases involving the Family and Medical Leave Act; advises on and litigates restrictive-covenant matters and handles commercial and general litigation cases; formerly a partner at Hackensack labor-and-employment firm Deutsch Atkins.
• Adam Schwartz (partner, Hackensack, 1999) — handles business and commercial litigation; helps individuals, closely held companies and large consumer-product and media companies resolve business-related issues, including contract and lease disputes, coverage claims, claims for breach of fiduciary duty by corporate officers and directors, and business divorces.
• David White (of counsel, Hackensack, 1976) — has litigated matters in numerous fields, including banking, petroleum marketing, insurance coverage and environmental law; has background in corporate transactional law.
• Jennifer Castranova (associate, Hackensack, 2003) — focuses on commercial litigation; has worked with a diverse spectrum of clients and matters ranging from minority shareholder disputes to business torts and breach-of-contract claims.
• Janie Byalik (associate, Hackensack, 2006) — has experience in all aspects of commercial and business disputes, including breach-of-contract claims, business torts and disparagement actions, consumer fraud, false advertising, shareholder disputes, oppressed minority shareholder actions, actions for breach of non-competition and nonsolicitation agreements and breach of fiduciary duty claims; formerly a litigation associate at Latham & Watkins.
Cases of Note:
• Atlantic Research Corp. v. Admiral Insurance Co., Superior Court, Bergen County Law Division — Pashman Stein represents the plaintiff in multistate environmental insurance coverage litigation seeking defense and indemnification costs in connection with various sites, including those owned, leased and used by Atlantic Research Corp. The case involved a choice-of-law issue and coverage for successor corporations under decades-old policies. Settlements totaling in the millions were reached in 2012. Litigation against several insurers is ongoing.
• National Lighting Co. Inc. v. Bridge Metal Solutions, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York — In this declaratory judgment action, Bridge Metal, a Pashman Stein client, sought an order for reimbursement by Travelers Indemnity Co. for substantial defense costs and expenses incurred in two lawsuits that were dismissed. In a published opinion in 2011, the trial court granted Bridge Metal’s motion for summary judgment. In 2012, on Travelers’ appeal, both sides briefed and argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit an issue of first impression: whether the phrase "infringement of title," commonly used in advertising injury coverage provisions, includes common-law and Lanham Act trade dress infringement claims.
• Giannantonio v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, U.S. District Court, New Jersey — Pashman Stein represented the plaintiffs in a declaratory judgment action seeking coverage under a directors-and-officers liability policy for the CEO and general counsel of Tropicana Casino & Resort for claims asserted against them by the former director of security. The case involved issues of first impression as to the scope of coverage for retaliation claims based on conflicting policy language and settled in 2012 with a recovery for the plaintiffs, though the amount was not disclosed.
• Occhifinto v. Olivo Construction, Superior Court, Sussex County Law Division — Pashman Stein represented the owner of NVE Pharmaceuticals in a suit against several defendants arising out of the allegedly defective construction of its facility. NVE sought $5 million in damages as a third-party beneficiary. One defendant, a masonry contractor, no longer was in business but was defended by its insurer, who filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to disclaim coverage. On Jan. 12, 2012, the court entered summary judgment in favor of NVE. That February, the court ruled NVE was not entitled to legal fees incurred in connection with the action, though an appeal is pending.
• Balmuth v. Lincoln National Life Ins. Co., U.S. District Court, New Jersey — Pashman Stein represented the plaintiff in a declaratory judgment action seeking to compel payment of a death benefit under a $5 million policy. The insurer contended that the policy was void, fraudulently procured and had no insurable interest because the insured was solicited to obtain the policy by a financial institution but then agreed to sell the policy to the financial institution. A settlement of undisclosed terms was reached in December 2012 and finalized in 2013. •