Michael Horrow Speaks at CAALA’s 34th Annual Convention in Las Vegas

Southern California consumer attorney Michael B. Horrow was a guest speaker at The Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles (CAALA) 34th Annual Las Vegas Convention, the nation’s largest trial lawyer convention. The event, which ran from Thursday, September 1 through Sunday, September 4, 2016 was held in Las Vegas and was widely attended by hundreds of attorneys.

Volunteers From Donahue & Horrow Join to Help Habitat for Humanity, Greater Los Angeles

Volunteers are the heart of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA) and each year, thousands of volunteers lend a hand to build and rehabilitate homes. We are proud to be able to take part in helping others and this year, volunteers from Donahue & Horrow helped Habitat LA ensure that homeowners in Los Angeles can live in safe, decent and affordable housing. It’s hard, but rewarding work, and being part of a team that strives to improve the lives of others is what it’s all about at Donahue & Horrow.

Butte Fire Insurance Coverage, Temporary Living Expenses

Many homeowner insurance policies cover additional living expenses during natural disasters. This covers living expenses for homeowners incurred as a result of damage caused by fire or mandatory evacuation, allowing consumers to focus their attention on recovery. The coverage typically includes food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, and extra transportation expenses. Policy provisions, including deductibles, vary by company. Consumers should check with their insurer regarding any limitations that may apply to the coverage.

Donahue & Horrow, LLP Team Members Ride in Tour de Pier 2015 to Raise Funds for Cancer Charities

Teams from Donahue & Horrow, LLP participated in the 3rd Annual Tour de Pier. This unique fundraising event brings one of the hottest indoor fitness activities – stationary cycling – to the gorgeous outdoors of Manhattan Beach. The 2015 Tour de Pier was held on Sunday, May 17, 2015 and raised funds for the cancer community to benefit three different charities.

Cabral v. Ralphs – $4.8 Million Jury Verdict Reinstated

Adelelmo Cabral was driving home from work on the Eastbound I-10 freeway when he lost control of his car, crossed several lanes of traffic, and collided with the rear of a Ralph’s tractor-trailer rig that had been parked on the freeway shoulder, about 16-feet from the edge of the right lane. The area where the truck had been parked was marked by CalTrans with an “Emergency Parking Only” sign. The Ralph’s driver had stopped there to have a snack. He chose that specific area because it was shaded. Michael Horrow represented Mr. Cabral’s wife and children in a wrongful-death case against Ralph’s.

At trial, Mr. Horrow obtained a jury verdict in favor of the Cabral family, which found that the Ralph’s driver had been negligent in parking his truck adjacent to the freeway, and he also persuaded the trial court to deny Ralph’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. On appeal, however, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment in favor of the Cabral family, finding that Ralphs could not be held liable because its driver owed no duty of care to passing motorists with respect to where he parked his truck alongside the freeway.

The California Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and reversed the Court of Appeal, reinstating the jury verdict.

Welle v. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co.

An OB/GYN retained Michael Horrow to represent her in an insurance bad-faith lawsuit in federal court to challenge Provident’s denial of her claim for long-term disability benefits. As part of her bad-faith claim, Mr. Horrow served a discovery request on Provident asking it to provide information about the bonus awards and performance ratings for the employees who denied Welle’s claim. The insurer refused to provide this information, claiming that the request was improper for various reasons. Mr. Horrow challenged this position and the federal court ruled that Provident was obligated to provide the information he had requested, which the court found was relevant to the bad-faith claim and not unduly burdensome or overbroad.

Sullivan v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America

Michael Horrow represented Otilia Sullivan in an ERISA action in federal court to recover long-term disability benefits. One of the disputed issues in the case was whether the district court should evaluate the plan’s denial of benefits under the de novo or the abuse-of-discretion standard of review. The plan argued that because the “Summary Plan Description” (SPD) document that it provided to plan members to summarize the plan benefits said that the abuse-of-discretion standard applied, the court should apply that standard. But Michael Horrow pointed out that, notwithstanding the statement in the SPD about the administrator having discretion, the plan itself contained no such grant of authority. Mr. Horrow convinced the district court that, in the absence of a grant of discretion in the plan document itself, a statement in the SPD to that effect was insufficient. As a result, the court applied the de novo standard of review.

Cabana v. Reliance Standard Ins.

April Cabana suffered back and leg injuries in an automobile accident. She succeeded in obtaining long-term disability (LTD) benefits from her employer’s disability plan, which was administered by Reliance. After the accident Cabana received extensive treatment on her back, undergoing two spinal-fusion surgeries. Yet she continued to have severe pain. Reliance agreed that she was totally disabled under the “own occupation” disability standard that applied for the first 24 months of the plan. After the 24-month period, the plan applied an “any occupation” test for total disability, and the plan continued to find that she was disabled. But roughly a year later, the plan changed its finding, found that Cabana was no longer totally disabled, and stopped paying benefits.

Cabana retained Michael Horrow to file an action in federal court under ERISA to reinstate her LTD benefits. He marshalled the evidence of her ongoing pain and medical difficulties, and convinced the district court at trial that Cabana was, in fact, totally disabled and entitled to benefits.

Donahue & Horrow, LLP Team Members Participate in “Fight for Air Climb 2015”

In 2014, a team of climbers from Donahue & Horrow, LLP participated in the Aon Center fundraiser. This year team Donahue Horrow once again stepped up to help fight against lung diseases. Each member of the team climbed 1,377 steps in a show of support for the American Lung Association’s fundraiser, Fight For Air Climb, at the Aon Center, Downtown LA on April 11, 2015.

Attorney Nichole D. Podgurski Honored as a 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Star

Congratulations to Nichole D. Podgurski on being named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers and for being honored as one of the top young medical malpractice attorneys in Southern California. She also received this award in 2013.

Nichole is an associate who handles cases in all areas of the firm’s practices, including the Consumer Litigation Department, Medical Malpractice, Elder Abuse and Personal Injury.

Commercial Insurance Coverage For Uber, Sidecar, Lyft Called Into Question

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that his department is ready to accept insurance company filings to create new commercial coverage or endorsements to personal auto insurance policies that will provide coverage for Californians who transport passengers for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

SKECHERS Pier to Pier Friendship Walk Charity Fundraiser Photo Highlights

On Sunday, October 26, 2014, a team of walkers from Donahue & Horrow participated in the SKECHERS Pier to Pier Friendship walk to help raise funds for the Greenberg Foundation, an organization that benefits philanthropy, voluntarism and grantmaking foundations, focusing specifically on private grantmaking foundations programs with am emphasis on serving the needs of children.

Fibromyalgia Can Lead To Debilitating Fatigue And ‘Brain Fog’

Fibromyalgia can cause intense, unrelenting pain, as well as migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome. and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle problems. Dealing with pain can be difficult enough, but when coupled with extreme fatigue and memory problems, it is easy to see why fibromyalgia can become a disabling condition.

Many insurance carriers, as well as government disability programs, used to treat fibromyalgia claims with great skepticism, and unless it was diagnosed with another disabling condition, more often than not was seen as a nondisabling condition. However, in July of 2012 that changed when the Social Security Administration issued a new ruling that clarified when fibromyalgia is considered a disability. Read the ruling in, “How And When Fibromyalgia Is Determined To Be A Disability By The SSA.”

Risk Factors For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: They May Not Be What You Think

Although many people think of CTS as a repetitive injury, not only is that often not the suspected cause of CTS, but recent studies seem to show a stronger link between those who have other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (a hypothyroidism disease), over activity of the pituitary gland, and rheumatoid arthritis and those afflicted with CTS. Women, especially pregnant women with edema, and women in menopause suffering from fluid retention, and overweight people are also known to have a higher risk of CTS than the general population.

Information About High-Risk Fire Area Non-Renewal Notices From Insurance Companies

If you live near a high risk fire area and received a non-renewal notice of your homeowners insurance, it is important to know your rights and options. While there are currently no laws in California that prohibit an insurer from non-renewing a homeowner’s insurance policy, California law does provide consumers with specific rights in the event of a non-renewal..

Congratulations To Rising Star, Nichole Podgurski

Congratulations to Nichole D. Podgurski on being named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers and for being honored as one of the top young medical malpractice attorneys in Southern California. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. While up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars.

Organized Disability Insurance Fraud In New York Spans Decades, Reaches Almost $400 Million In Fake Claims

Prosecutors have charged more than 100 former New York City employees, including 72 police officers and eight firefighters with disability insurance fraud. It is now being estimated that since 1988 as much as $400 million has been paid out for fraudulent disability claims filed by NYC employees against Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Another Multistate Settlement Reached In Death Master Case

For many years, life insurers have used the Death Master File to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but did not use the database to identify deceased life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries are owed life insurance proceeds. It is estimated that through this practice insurers avoided paying over a billion dollars in life insurance proceeds to beneficiaries.

AIG to pay California Life Insurance Beneficiaries an Estimated $25 Million to $30 Million

State Controller John Chiang and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced two multi-state settlements with AIG Insurance Company that require the company to pay an estimated $25 million to $30 million owed to California beneficiaries of life insurance policies, and an $11 million settlement payment.

California Assembly Passes Bill to Tackle Health Insurance Fraud

In an effort to address the growing problem of health insurance fraud around the state, the California Assembly recently passed bill AB 2138, which will increase the amount given to agencies responsible for investigating bad faith disability claims and other types of insurance fraud. Under the measure, the amount paid by health and disability insurers to investigate fraud would increase from 10 cents per insured person to up to 20 cents per insured. The additional funding would allow district attorneys’ offices around the state to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud cases.

Think You Have Coverage? What Your Policy Really Covers May Surprise You

The definition of total disability is not standard and will vary from company to company and product to product. Total disability can be defined in different ways. Generally, it can refer to total disability where one is unable to perform the substantial and material duties of your own occupation commonly referred to as “own occupation” coverage. Or, it can refer to coverage if one is unable to perform “any occupation” for which you are reasonably educated, trained or suited. This is called “any occupation” coverage.

Blue Shield of California to Pay Los Angeles $2 Million for Bad Faith Claims

In late December, Blue Shield of California settled a bad faith insurance claim with the County and City of Los Angeles, agreeing to pay $2 million for withdrawing health insurance benefits after members became ill. The health insurer came under fire for engaging in what former Los Angeles City Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, called “post-claims underwriting.”

Increased California Blue Cross Rates Lead to Class Action

November 11, 2011 – A class action lawsuit recently filed in California state court alleges that insurance giant Blue Cross engaged in illegal “bait and switch” tactics while increasing annual deductibles and premiums during the middle of a deductible year. The suit claims the company violated state laws, including the Knox-Keene Act which prohibits health care plans from using misleading advertisements and deceptive coverage descriptions.

Using the Universal Protocol to Avoid Medical Errors in California

In September 2011, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced administrative penalties against 12 California hospitals for failure to meet licensing requirements that the CDPH determined caused or was likely to cause serious injury or death to patients.

When these failures occur, a patient who suffered serious harm as a result may be able to make a claim against the at-fault health-care provider in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

New York Life Required to Report the Number of Death Benefits They Have Not Paid

All life insurers licensed to do business in New York are now directed to report on how many death benefits they have not paid because they did not use the official government list of deaths to promptly identify when policyholders died, the New York Insurance Department announced today. To produce this report, the Department is requiring insurers to immediately begin using reliable available data to identify when policyholders have died and death benefits are due but unpaid. Meanwhile, the Department is working on a regulation to make this requirement permanent.