Tami Kay Lee
Ms. Lee has substantial experience defending insurance coverage/bad faith liability and agent/broker malpractice involving multi-million dollar exposures. Her experience includes defense work on a wide range of insurance policies and providing coverage opinions involving commercial general liability, employment practices liability, reinsurance, excess liability, errors and omissions, directors/officers, manuscript type policies, and up and coming trends relating to cyber liability and data breach losses.
Ms. Lee typically defends corporations, individuals, general contractors, developers/subcontractors, surplus lines carriers, agents/brokers, and accountants through various forms of alternative dispute resolution including arbitrations. She also finds expertise in appellate work with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and various California Appellate District Courts from briefing to oral arguments. Her extensive litigation background and appellate work takes a lawsuit from the cradle to the grave.
Ms. Lee received her Juris Doctor from Whittier College School of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University, Los Angeles. While in law school, Ms. Lee was a member of the Moot Court Honors Board and participated in the Rendig’s Products Liability Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also externed with two Federal District Court Judges, the Honorable Consuelo Marshall and Marianna Pfaelzer, who both certified Ms. Lee as a student law clerk before the Federal District Court. As an undergraduate, Ms. Lee was active in the national accounting fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, and was a member of the National Golden Key Honor Society.
Ms. Lee is a member of the State Bar of California and Nevada, the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit and the Federal District Court, Central and Southern Districts of California. Recently, she became among the select few to be a bar member of the highest court of our nation, the United States Supreme Court. She is also a California Certified Public Accountant.
RECENT NOTABLE WINS
- The 2nd Appellate District Court in Reza Fateh Manesh v. Geoffrey G. Melkonian affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining Melkonian’s demurrer on all counts involving legal malpractice claims. In a well-reasoned and fulsome discussion by Justice Carl H. Moor with Justices Lamar W. Baker and Dorothy C. Kim concurring, the Court found there was no continued representation to effectively toll the statute of limitations on appellants’ action because an attorney’s failure to formally withdraw from representation does not necessarily mean the attorney continues to represent the client. The Court cited Flake Neumiller & Beardslee (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 223, 230–231 stating “[T]he failure to formally withdraw as attorney of record, standing alone, will not toll the statute of limitations under the rubric of continued representation.” In other words, tolling under the continuous representation exception ends when “a client has no reasonable expectation the attorney will provide further legal services.” Ibid.
- Los Angeles County Superior Court, Judge Richard E. Rico, granted Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff Biopharma Research Organization, LLC’s complaint alleging bad faith conduct in denial of a commercial property loss claim. Plaintiff alleged it was entitled to an entire new roof costing in excess of $400,000 including punitive damages in relation to the bad faith denial claims. The Court found plaintiff did not sustain a direct physical cause of loss and evidence was undisputed as to no wind or hail penetrating the roof causing a hole through which rain water can enter when tarp was placed on the roof.
- The Sonoma County Superior Court in Baback v. Davis granted the cross-defendant Granton Insurance Agency summary judgment finding there was no special duty to place commercial auto insurance based on the assumption the customer would require it because it operated a catering business. The Court found the customer/insured never had the coverage for eight years prior to the catastrophic underlying loss the customer caused resulting in the 18 year old underlying Plaintiff Baback’s permanent flaccid paralysis of his right dominant arm. The agency also argued “Unclean Hands” Doctrine to show the customer clearly did not want the coverage sued upon based on evidence suggesting a prior alteration of a Certificate of Insurance which did not indicate existence of the coverage the agency allegedly failed to place.
- Prevailed on motion for summary judgment for Bulen Insurance Agency in Riverside County Superior Court, Inland Properties LLC Bulen Insurance Agency. Plaintiff alleged Bulen failed to place coverage for a tenant’s criminal acts occurring on Plaintiff’s property but was not able to prove such coverage was available in a Landowner’s policy. Plaintiff also alleged the agent misrepresented the terms of coverage. However, the Court stated Plaintiff simply failed to provide any evidence the damage was not due to wear and tear rather than the tenant’s vandalism and focused on the exclusion regarding same in support of summary judgment for Bulen.
- 2nd Appellate District – Follow up to Canan v. Jones: Appellate Court in Ventura County affirmed lower court’s order granting summary judgment for Jones & Maulding Insurance Agency. The Appellate Court found long standing California law on an agent’s duty of care was not altered based on undisputed evidence finding the Jones agency need not advise the customer to purchase excess coverage for UM insurance from another carrier because the customer had specifically requested a $1 million umbrella policy from Allied which only provided excess liability coverage, not UM.
- Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzanne G. Bruguera granted San Fernando Insurance Agency summary judgment on grounds there was no triable issue whether the agency had a duty to inspect the Plaintiff’s distribution warehouse to confirm Plaintiff was in compliance with the Protective Safeguards Endorsement which required regular maintenance of an operable smoke detector as a condition precedent to coverage. The Court also found there was no triable issue whether there was an implied contract between Plaintiff and the agency as to whether the agency had to inspect Plaintiff’s property as part of the services involving the agency’s placement of the commercial property policy. In support of this finding, the Court primarily relied on Travelers Prop Cas.Co. of America v. Superior Court (1993) 215 Cal.App.4th 561 which states no duty to inspect can arise out of the course of the parties’ ordinary broker-insured relationship which was what was involved in these given facts.
- Plaintiff policy holders sued broker Rancho Simi alleging garden variety collateral claims that included Unruh Act violations under Civil Code §51, and Elder Abuse Claims pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code §15610.30 arising from placement of homeowners’ insurance that did not cover burglary of personal property. Following Rancho Simi’s demurrer on the collateral claims as being improperly pled, Plaintiffs dismissed the counts.
- Plaintiff Michie policy holder/attorney voluntarily filed dismissal as to defendant agent/broker following a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss due to statute of limitations and Plaintiff’s failure to timely prosecute pursuant to FRCP 41(b). Plaintiff Michie alleged agent/broker failed to inform him about lapse in coverage relating to group errors and omissions coverage for securities brokers in which Plaintiff was an additional named insured. Plaintiff also alleged the agent/broker failed to inform him the group errors and omissions policy was a claims-made policy. Plaintiff policy holder’s damages arose out of an underlying pending lawsuit against him for securities broker fraud and legal malpractice for $2 million.
- Agent/broker malpractice claim filed in Ventura County Superior Court entitled Canan v. Jones, Plaintiffs alleged that their 17 year old son sustained in excess of $ 1 million in medical damages when he was severely injured while crossing a cross-walk on his skateboard. Plaintiffs claimed they were supposed to have excess underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage along with their umbrella policy. The agent/broker moved for summary judgment and the Court granted the motion after two lengthy hearings. The Court gave the Plaintiffs an opportunity to submit supplemental briefing to establish the agent’s expanded scope of duty based on evidence of a special relationship regarding placement of an excess personal umbrella policy. The Court found the agent/broker had no duty to recommend greater coverage than the customer requested. The Court recognized the law had not changed on this standard for almost 30 years following Fitzpatrick v. Hayes (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 916, 920.
- The Honorable John F. Walter of the United States Federal District Court, Central District of California, granted summary judgment to Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London finding no triable issue of fact exist as to whether Brighton Collectibles, LLC’s alleged conduct of selling customer lists met the policy wording for advertising injury based on Underwriters’ cited case law from the California Supreme Court, Hameid v. National Fire Ins. of Hartford, 31 Cal.4th 16, 28-29 (2003). Hameid rejected the argument “advertising” included activity involving personal solicitation of customers, such as sending mailers to customers on a mailing list or making personal phone calls to the customer from a customer list. Though Judge Walter also found Brighton’s alleged act of selling personal identifying information to third party direct marketers constitutes “publication” as that term is used in the “personal injury” clause of the policies, he found where “personal injury” coverage in an insurance policy requires “publication,” the term means “making known to any person or organization.” In this regard, despite the fact Brighton’s alleged act constitutes a “publication,” it was still not entitled to cover because Underwriters’ policy wording provided for an exception to “publishing activities” “arising out of” publishing done “by or for” Brighton and the Court granted Underwriters summary judgment.