Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
LOS ANGELES � Legs are among the most insured things in Hollywood. Model and “Project Runway” star Heidi Klum has insured her left one, which bears a small scar, for $1 million, and her right one for $1.2 million. Mariah Carey is rumored to have insured hers for $1 billion. Should either of them ever need to file a claim, they’ll find a small band of lawyers, like Dickstein Shapiro’s Kirk Pasich, who specialize in entertainment-related coverage disputes. There’s a lot more to the field than protecting body parts. Entertainers and entertainment companies purchase special and standard policies that can conceivably cover all sorts of calamities; claims have been filed for everything from botched publicity stunts to beaten-up paparazzi. “The best cocktail conversations are the ones involving individual talent,” said Pasich, who once worked for L.A.’s now-defunct Hill, Wynne, Troup & Meisinger, whose insurance coverage clients included celebrities as well as major studios, television networks and record companies. “Lawyers at the firm always enjoy that.” The clientele may be newsworthy, but some of the cases are routine, Pasich said, such as a cast member being injured and unable to show up for filming. Often, the studio takes out insurance that will pay for a replacement actor. Talent themselves can insure what they perceive valuable, like legs. Or lips. “You can insure against disfigurement � it’s amazing what you can insure,” Pasich said. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s Martin Katz said that while many of his cases involving entertainment insurance recovery don’t go to litigation, he’s worked on cases ranging from set fires to a star’s questionable back injury. He once represented a radio station when a DJ named “Mancow” stopped a station van � and all traffic � on the Golden Gate Bridge. The deejays were making fun of Bill Clinton’s alleged on-the-runway haircut stalling air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport, but not every stalled driver on the bridge found it funny: It led to a class action against the radio station. Katz was able to point to a “false imprisonment” provision in the station’s insurance policy to secure coverage and settle the case. And when Hollywood’s famous get feisty, they often turn to their liability insurance carriers to cover their transgressions. Pasich represented one half of a celebrity couple who clashed with paparazzi. Though the celebrity, whom Pasich won’t name, was charged with assault, he said he was able to get an insurer to cover the damages. Last year, Pasich represented former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis in a suit against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance over its refusal to defend him in a suit that stemmed from a tussle at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. The case was settled earlier this year. The most challenging cases in this arena are the ones involving intellectual property, Pasich said. Usually studios or individual talent take out insurance to cover litigation over copyright claims. That can include fights over who may have stolen the idea for a popular movie. Pasich and Katz both said there aren’t many competitors in the space. Pasich said most law firms don’t want to go up against big insurance companies. The ones that do often don’t have a strong entertainment base, and L.A.’s entertainment boutiques don’t always have the insurance capabilities. “It’s unique because it’s a corporate plaintiff’s practice,” Pasich said. But Reed Smith, which markets its insurance recovery practice, say it’s in the game, too. “Some large firms are conflicted out of it because they end up doing a lot of work for insurance companies,” said partner Boyd Sleeth, noting that Reed Smith avoids representing property or casualty insurance companies for that reason. Sleeth said he has represented film production companies, recording companies and music artists in insurance disputes, but questioned whether an entertainment background is really needed for such cases. “Once you get into claims, insurance recovery is the same for entertainment,” he said. But Marcia Harris at Dreier Stein & Kahan disagreed: “I can’t emphasize the necessity enough for having an entertainment lawyer.” Harris, who represents insurance companies against the studios in these disputes, said that she often sees complex profit definitions hidden in 25 to 30 pages of paperwork, details only entertainment lawyers would have the experience to pick up. She’s also worked on a couple of disputes involving completion bonds, purchased to protect against a movie that goes over budget or behind schedule. Harris focuses this part of her practice on insurance companies, which she said isn’t a conflict with her firm’s talent clientele. In the cases she works on, it’s often insurance companies versus studios, not the talent. Pasich also stressed the importance of being knowledgeable in both entertainment and insurance, something that can even come in handy for the opposing side. He once filed suit against a strip club that used his client’s image at the establishment � without her permission. The club didn’t have the money to settle the suit, but it did have insurance. “I advised my client on how to get the defendant’s insurance to pay,” he said. “We somehow helped get coverage for the person the client was suing.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.