Four insurance companies have appealed a judge’s order that frustrated their attempt to snag a portion of the $141 million in attorney fees and costs awarded to Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment Inc. in its fight against Mattel Inc.

The firms — National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Lexington Insurance Co., Chartis Specialty Insurance Co. and Crum & Forster Insurance Co. — paid legal costs for MGA, which obtained a $310 million judgment following a jury trial against Mattel over the copyright to the Bratz doll. The insurers seek reimbursement for MGA’s defense fees and costs, which they estimate at about $80 million.

On Sept. 27, U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana, Calif., denied the insurers’ motion to intervene in the Mattel case, finding the move “untimely” and “futile,” since “the insurers can no longer attempt to step into MGA’s shoes and directly recover reasonable attorneys’ fees from Mattel. And any claim for reimbursement of those fees from MGA would unduly prolong this litigation, which has been administratively closed and is now on appeal.”

Furthermore, he said, intervening would do nothing to ensure that MGA paid its insurers.

Crum & Forster, which provided coverage from 2003 through 2005, filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Oct. 24. The firm’s attorney, Susan Field, a partner at Musick, Peeler & Garrett, did not return a call for comment.

The other three firms filed notice on Oct. 25. Lexington provided general liability coverage from 2006 through 2008. National Union and Chartis provided excess umbrella coverage from 2001 through 2003. One of their attorneys, Mark Sheridan, a partner in the Newark, N.J., office of Patton Boggs, did not return a call for comment.

The 9th Circuit asked that opening briefs be filed in April 2012.

In addition to attorney fees and costs, the Aug. 4 judgment included $85 million in exemplary damages plus the jury verdict. The jury found that Mattel, maker of Barbie, stole trade secrets from MGA by planting spies at industry trade shows. But the jury rejected Mattel’s argument that it owned the copyright to the Bratz doll.

MGA has numerous lawsuits pending with its insurers over coverage of the Mattel case. A hearing in that litigation is scheduled for Nov. 30.

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