Michael J. Smith has built a reputation as one of the leading insurance coverage lawyers in the country. He has been entrusted with some of the highest profile insurance coverage allocation cases, including as lead appellate and trial counsel.
Clients retain Mike to handle many of their largest, most complicated and contentious coverage disputes. They call on his exceptional legal analysis and pragmatic advice to help achieve their goals, whether through litigation or negotiated resolution.
A significant part of his practice is devoted to complex insurance (and reinsurance) coverage issues. Mike’s wide-ranging experience covers matters involving mass tort (including long-tail claims with complex trigger and allocation issues), environmental, management liability (directors and officers), bad faith/extra-contractual liability, professional liability/errors and omissions, advertising injury, construction defect, and property claims.
Clients and co-parties frequently designate Mike as lead counsel to argue pre-trial motions and handle trial matters. He develops case strategies to ensure cost-effective outcomes and handles all aspects of discovery and motions practice, pretrial and trial practice. He also is charged with conducting effective case negotiations (including alternative dispute resolution, where appropriate). Additionally, he advises clients on preventive measures and provides training to avoid or minimize liability exposure.
Mike has extensive litigation and trial experience in state and federal courts throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in four states and the District of Columbia as well as before three U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd and 6th Circuits. He has handled matters in nearly 20 states, stretching from coast to coast.
Prior to co-founding Stewart Smith, Mike was a shareholder and partner at Cozen O’Connor from 2000-2013, where he practiced complex litigation nationally. From 1993-2000, he practiced in state and federal courts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations and appeals, with a well-respected boutique litigation firm headquartered in Philadelphia. He handled tort, products liability, insurance coverage, commercial litigation, civil rights, labor and employment, and professional liability matters.
Michael Smith earned both his J.D. and B.A. degrees from Villanova University.
(2017) – Secured full dismissal of contempt charges against client alleging violation of Final Restraining Order in connection with request for records under New Jersey’s Open Records Act (OPRA) (pro bono court appointment).
Everest National Ins. Co., et al. v. Illinois Union Ins. Co., et al., County of Kings, New York (2017) (obtained summary judgment for clients with respect to claims as to a duty to defend, compelling other insurers to defend clients as additional insureds under their respective policies, and to reimburse clients for past defense costs)
First Horizon National Corp. v. Houston Cas. Co., Western District of Tennessee (2017) – (obtained summary judgment for its client under a Blended Risk Insurance Program totaling $75 million, with a finding that the insurers properly denied coverage under their policies because the underlying claim against the insured did not fall within the applicable policy period, and, even if it did, the insured failed to give proper notice of the Claim. The Court also concluded that the insured’s bad faith claim failed, and dismissed all claims in the matter with prejudice)
Everest Indemnity Insurance Co. v. Valley Forge Inc., No. 15-593, E.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140277 (summary judgment granted to insurer on duty to defend, duty to indemnify and bad faith claim in case brought by Commonwealth of PA against insured alleging violation of Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Streams Law and Pennsylvania common law)
Anna Kormilitsyna, et al. v. Everest National Insurance Co., Supreme Court of New York, County of New York, Index No. 650769/2013 (partial summary judgment entered dismissing declaratory judgment count and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing)
R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., et al., Superior Court, Judicial District of Waterbury Connecticut, Complex Litigation Dep’t, No. X02-CV-07-5016321S (Phase I Trial) (served as lead counsel for 28 insurers in a 2-week insurance coverage declaratory judgment trial involving underlying asbestos, silica and talc-related claims)
R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., et al., Superior Court, Judicial District of Waterbury Connecticut, Complex Litigation Dep’t, No. X02-CV-07-5016321S (Phase II Trial) (served as lead counsel for 28 insurers in a 5-week insurance coverage declaratory judgement trial involving underlying asbestos, silica, and talc-related claims)
Green, et al. v. Everest National Insurance Company, et al., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, Docket No. 120403113 (preliminary objections in nature of demurrer granted in favor of insurer in direct action suit)
Everest National Insurance Company v. New Quality’s Bar Que Hut, et al. U.S.D.C. E.D. PA, Docket No. 2:2011- CV-02435 (motion for judgment on the pleadings granted in favor of insurer finding no coverage for claims alleging violation of Telephone Consumer Protection Act)
Evraz Claymont Steel, Inc., et al. v. Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company, et al., Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, C.A. No. N10C-12-038 JRS (summary judgment entered in favor of insurer regarding additional insured endorsement)
Everest National Insurance Company v. J. Daniel Brett & Co., et al., U.S.D.C. E.D. PA Docket No. 08-CV-642 (motion for judgment on the pleadings granted in favor of insurer based on “dual entity”/professional services exclusion)
Mike has been elected as a fellow of the American College of Coverage Counsel, an organization comprised of more than 350 attorneys involved in insurance coverage and extracontractual matters and honorary members from academia representing the interests of both insurers and policyholders. The college is focused on the creative, ethical, and efficient adjudication of insurance coverage and extra-contractual disputes, peer-provided scholarship, professional coordination, and the improvement of the relationship between and among our diverse members.
Mike has been repeatedly voted a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” as well as Best Lawyer in the Insurance Law category by his bar association peers. This honor is the result of an independent balloting survey sent to lawyers across the state and, overall, only 5 percent of lawyers are named to the list.
As a complement to his extensive litigation practice, Mike has published articles and given speeches on issues of significant importance to the insurance industry. His publications and presentations include:
Panelist, Perrin Conference Emerging Insurance Coverage and Allocation Issues, May 11, 2017
Moderator and Speaker, Reservation of Rights and Denial of Coverage Letters: Key Issues and Practical Considerations, Client Seminar given on November 20, 2015
Moderator, Latest in Coverage and Bad Faith, 16th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) Insurance Institute, May 9, 2012
Excess/Umbrella Insurance, client seminar given on December 8, 2010
Litigation Conduct and Bad Faith, client webinar presentation given on October 26, 2010
Litigation Conduct and Bad Faith, 2010 Cozen O’Connor Bad Faith/Extra-Contractual Conference: Unique Perspectives and Successful Strategies, presentation given on June 10, 2010, Philadelphia
Chinese Drywall: Background, Scope, and Insurance Coverage Implications, presentation given on October 1, 2009, Richmond, Va.
Chinese Drywall: Background, Scope, and Insurance Coverage Implications, presentation given on September 17, 2009, New York
Federal Magistrate Practice (Co-presented with the Honorable David Strawbridge), Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel (PADC) Annual Meeting, June 11, 2008
Multiple Claimants and Insufficient Policy Limits: Slicing Up the Pizza Pie Without Getting Burned! Mealey’s Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, May 6, 2008
Bad Faith and Punitive Damages Arising from Third-Party Liability Claims (Co-author), Property Loss Research Bureau and the Liability Insurance Research Bureau National Conference, 2005, San Antonio
Where There’s Smoke, Best’s Review, August 2005 – article regarding insurance coverage and welding rod claims
Insurance Coverage Issues, 1st and 2nd Annual ACI Advanced Forum on Welding Rod Litigation conferences, Nov. 15-16, 2004, New Orleans, and June 20-23, 2005, Chicago
Presentations for various insurance companies, entitled Bad Faith: Issues, Answers, and Practical Considerations, Bad Faith: Legal Issues and Pitfalls and Practical Considerations, and How to Avoid Bad Faith and Litigate Bad Faith Claims
The Truth About Hold Harmless and Indemnity Agreements, Insurance Society of Philadelphia
Reservation of Rights/Denial of Coverage Letters, Insurance Society of Philadelphia
Mike has represented, on a pro-bono basis, individuals in connection with Accion Comunal Latino Americana de Montgomery County (ACLAMO), a community-based multiservice organization serving the needs of low- income families, especially those of Latino background in Montgomery County, PA. Mike has also provided pro bono services to the Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge, Inc., a nonprofit school located in Valley Forge National Historical Park.