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Atlanta International Insurance Co. v. Bell
Michigan Supreme Court
475 N.W.2d 294 (1991)
A tile setter working on a construction site fell into a hole and died. The tile setter’s estate sued the security company employed to safeguard the construction site. Atlanta International Insurance Co. (Atlanta) (plaintiff) insured the security company and retained John Bell, David Hertler, and their law firm (collectively, Bell) (defendants) to represent the security company. A judgment was entered against the security company. As the company’s insurer, Atlanta was required to satisfy the judgment. Atlanta sued Bell for committing legal malpractice by failing to raise comparative negligence as a defense. The court granted Bell’s motion for summary disposition on the issue of whether Atlanta had an attorney-client relationship with Bell. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that no attorney-client relationship existed between Atlanta and Bell, and Bell’s sole loyalty and duty was owed to the security company. On appeal, Atlanta argued that an insurer has an attorney-client relationship with the insured’s defense counsel when the interests of the insurer and insured do not conflict, but that even if there were no attorney-client relationship between Atlanta and Bell, Bell was liable under a theory of equitable subrogation.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brickley, J.)
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