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Twin City Fire Insurance Co. v. Samaha

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

July 31, 2014

Twin City Fire Insurance Co., Plaintiff,
v.
George T. Samaha, III, Defendant.

ORDER

R. BRYAN HARWELL, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's notice of motion and motion for default judgment. Before me are the plaintiff's complaint together with the exhibits contained therewith, plaintiff's motion for entry of default as to the defendant and the clerk's entry of default as to the defendant.

From a review of the pleadings in this case, it appears that it is an action for rescission of a policy of insurance issued by Twin City Fire Insurance Company (hereinafter referred to as "Twin City") to the defendant. This policy, which was a lawyer's professional liability insurance policy bearing number LT 1627373, had effective dates of coverage from April 28, 2012 through April 28, 2013. It provided certain coverages for claims arising out of the rendering of professional services by the defendant.

The issuance of this policy was based upon certain representations made and information provided by the defendant in connection with the application for insurance. A copy of that application was attached as Exhibit B to the summons and complaint. In that application, the defendant made certain representations. Specifically, he represented that no professional liability claims or suits had been made against him or any attorney in his firm during the last five years prior to February 19, 2012, which was the date the application was completed and submitted. He also represented that he had not been disbarred, suspended, reprimanded, sanctioned or held in contempt by any court, administrative agency or regulatory body nor had he been the subject of any disciplinary complaint made to any of those entities.

According to the information contained in the complaint, which was unanswered by the defendant and is thus taken to be true, those representations were false and the defendant knew of their falsity. Specifically, at the time of the application, there were at least three malpractice suits either pending or which had been resolved within five years against the defendant. These included the following:

a. Shawn Seddinger v. George Thomas Samaha, III, 2010-CP-26-11552;
b. Helen Sizemore v. George Thomas Samaha, III, 2011-CP-26-904; and
c. Richard Horne, et al v. George T. Samaha, III et al, 2011-CP-26-5545.

In addition to these suits, at the time of the application, the defendant was the subject of an ongoing disciplinary investigation by the South Carolina Supreme Court. That investigation arose out of charges which were filed on August 14, 2009. In those charges, the office of disciplinary counsel alleged misconduct on the part of the defendant in his representation of Lillian J. McLure. There had been a two-day hearing related to these charges on June 30 and July 1, 2010. Those charges were pending at the time of his application and the defendant was subsequently suspended from the practice of law on August 1, 2012. Following the hearing, the hearing panel filed a report with the Commission on Lawyer's Conduct on December 15, 2011.

Following the issuance of the policy, the defendant, or others acting on his behalf, tendered four claims or potential claims to Twin City requesting defense and indemnity pursuant to the policy. These include the following:

a. U.S. Bank Nat'l Assoc. v. Peter P. Martin, et al. v. George T. Samaha, C.A. No. 2012-CP-26-9934, pending in the Court of Common Pleas, Horry County, South Carolina;
b. Claim of Peggy Randall;
c. Claim of John McDaid; and
d. Claim of Dennis ...

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