An insurance company has the right to bring a malpractice claim against a lawyer it hired to defend a policyholder, a federal judge has ruled.

“In a case such as this, where the insurer paid an amount in excess of the policy limits and the insured consequently suffered no pecuniary loss, the insured has no incentive incur the expense involved in bringing a malpractice action,” Senior U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam wrote in his four-page opinion in Government Employees Insurance Co. v. Forbes.