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West Coast expansion proved a costly mistake for British legal giant Clifford Chance. According to a recent decision by a New York state judge, some of those costs may not be covered by insurance.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Fried last week denied Clifford Chance’s motion for summary judgment in a suit against management liability insurer Indian Harbor Insurance Co. The London-based law firm is trying to recover the costs of a settlement it paid over its 2002 recruitment of a large group of partners from San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison to open Clifford Chance offices in California. Brobeck declared bankruptcy the following year.

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