2860 Fee Arbitration is Denied Where Insurer is Not Currently Defending


This section of the civil code provides for arbitration of disputes under California’s so called Cumis doctrine. That statute sets forth the rules for selection of “independent counsel” when the carrier reserves its rights creating a potential conflict between the carrier, its selected counsel and the insured.

The Housing Group (Plaintiffs) filed suit against their insurer, PMA Capital Insurance Co. (the “insurer”). The Plaintiffs sued the insurer for breach of contract and alleged “bad faith” arising out of liability in third-party actions relating to construction projects.

The insurer petitioned to compel arbitration of an alleged fee dispute pursuant to Civil Code Section 2860(c), contending the action involved disputes regarding the applicable fee to be paid to the Plaintiffs’ independent counsel by the insurer incurred in the underlying litigation.

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