Susan J. French has a multi-faceted practice which include successfully resolving matters for insurers and corporate clients. Susan represents insurers and their insureds in matters pertaining to bad faith, extra-contracted liability, insurance coverage, personal injury and commercial litigation, and in particular, cases involving federal multi-district and state opioid litigation. Additionally, she counsels corporate clients in complex proceedings such as class actions, commercial contracts, financial services, real estate and commercial transaction matters.
Experienced in many practice areas, Susan is successful in resolving litigation involving injuries related to exposure to chemicals and pollutants, wrongful death and catastrophic personal injuries, motor vehicle, railroad and construction accidents, products liability and breach of warranty, mass torts, professional liability on behalf of the medical, pharmaceutical, accounting, engineering and legal professions, premises liability, creditors rights and bankruptcy, as well as breach of fiduciary duties.
Some of Susan’s notable outcomes include:
- Walker v. Foremost Insurance Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 588 F. Supp. 3d 613 (E.D. Pa. 2022). Won summary judgment in a landlord property liability case were the accident occurred on the insured premises, but the damages occurred off the insured premises and the policy did not cover damages occurring off the insured premises. Defeated insured’s cross-motion for summary judgment.
- Gavasto v. 21st Century Indem. Ins. Co., No. 1625 WDA 2019, No 1695 WDA 2019, 2021 Pa Super. Unpub. LEXIS 572, 2021 WL 754026 (Feb. 26, 2021). Superior Court affirmed non-jury verdict for defendant insurer on statutory bad faith claim of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
- Piccone v. WolfBlock, No. 07-17663 (C.P. Montg. Nov. 10, 2014) appeal dismissed, No. 1032 EDA 2015 (Oct. 20, 2015). Won summary judgment and appeal in professional liability case brought by former client who alleged that statements made by her counsel in a family court mediation breached duty of confidentiality and adversely affected a judge’s subsequent custody order.
- Paige v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, No. 99-CV-497 (Green, J.), 2003 WL 22135961 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 18, 2003) Defeated class certification for all of 4 proposed classes in Section 1983 civil rights action.
- In re Summit Metals, Inc.; Richardson v. Monaco, Bankr. Del., No. 98-2870 (KJC); Adv. No. 11-51772 (KJC), 477 B.R. 484 (2012). Won summary judgment and Rule 11 sanctions in breach of fiduciary duty claim filed by member of Chapter 11 Official Creditors Committee against bankruptcy trustee and counsel for Creditors Committee. Case was originally filed in Queens County, New York and was removed to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York where a motion to dismiss for improper venue or transfer was granted to transfer the case to the District of Delaware which then referred the case to the Delaware Bankruptcy Court for disposition.
- Palumbo v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc., May Term 2002, No. 3758, 2003 WL 256939 (C.P. Phila. Feb. 3, 2003). Secured dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds of Federal Employers Liability Act case filed in Philadelphia arising out of an accident in New Jersey — a Legal Intelligencer most requested opinion.
- Pilla v. Delaware River Port Authority, No. 98-CV-5723 (Newcomer, J.), 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6553 (E.D. Pa. May 7, 1999). Obtained dismissal of employee’s Title VII sexual discrimination, Pennsylvania Human Relations Act disability and sexual discrimination, negligent retention and supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, assault and battery and punitive damages claim.
- Dutch Run-Mays Draft LLC v. Wolfblock LLP, Jan. Term 2014, No. 3183 (C.P. Phila. May 8, 2015). Represented law firm in professional liability matter arising out of client’s auction purchase of a large tract of real estate in West Virginia. Defeated motion to reinstate a complaint that the plaintiff had failed to serve timely on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run and the claim also was barred by collateral estoppel.
- O’Boyle v. Flaherty, Superior Court of New Jersey, No. ATL-L-5179-10 (Apr. 29, 2014). Represented law firm in professional liability matter arising out of negotiations and litigation with lenders regarding calculation of pay-off amount of mortgage note and mezzanine line of credit for shopping center in Tennessee.
- Trusts of Robert J. Berman Under Indentures of Trust dated October 14, 1976 and September 1, 1982, Nos. 2008-408IV & 2008-1745IV (Orphans Ct. Phila.) Represented former counsel to trusts in connection with trustee’s and beneficiary’s objections to the final account and discharge of previous trustee related to alleged failure of trustee and trust to make demand for payment on a note and mortgage securing a loan made to the original settlor and his spouse with substantially all of the assets of one of the trusts. Settled in 2011 in the second week of a trial which continued to verdict on the questions of whether the note was a demand note or was barred by the statute of limitations and whether the spouse had a right to set-off with respect to another note given by the trustee for a loan made to the trust by the settlor and his spouse.
- Down Under GFB, Inc. v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia, Nov. Term 2003, No. 3798 and May Term 2001, No. 866, consolidated with Oct. Term 2003, No. 3958 (C.P. Phila. 2003), 923 A.2d 1273 (JPa. Commw. Ct. 2007), app den. 596 Pa. 707, 940 A.2d 365 (2007). Represented condemnee before Board of Viewers and on appeal before a jury and won verdicts of $910,000 and $1.5 million (versus condemnor estimate of value of $159,666); case settled for $1.87 million in 2007.
- Brown v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, 350 F.3d 338 (3rd Cir. 2003). Obtained vacatur of 29-year-old consent decree governing tenants’ due process rights with respect to evictions.
- Ford v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, Oct. Term, No. 2467, 2001 WL 35906518 (C.P. Phila. May 1, 2001). Won verdict of compulsory non-suit in jury trial of plaintiff alleging lead paint poisoning on the grounds that plaintiff’s expert was not qualified, reversed, 789 A.2d 360 (Pa.Cmwlth. Ct. 2001), appeal den., 569 Pa. 696, 803 A.2d 736 (2002).
- Ford v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, Oct. Term. No. 2467 (C. P. Phila. 2003). Defended housing authority in re-trial of lead paint poisoning case resulting in a verdict of $215,832 for plaintiff (versus average Philadelphia verdict of $750,000 at that time in similar cases), reversed in part, 848 A.2d 1038 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct.2004) (creating new precedent that no implied warranty of habitability exists in a public housing lease and reversing part of verdict), appeal granted, 581 Pa. 273, 864 A.2d 1201 (2004) (on issue of whether remainder of claims barred by sovereign immunity), appeal dismissed as improvidently granted, 879 A.2d162 (2005) (after oral argument), reconsideration denied, 885 A.2d 980 (Pa. 2005).
- Henderson v. Morrone, No. 79-CV-4190 (Green, J.) (Nov. 8, 2005). Persuaded trial judge to vacate a consent decree he had entered 22 years earlier regarding tenants’ grievances, rev’d in part, 214 Fed.Appx. 209, 2007 WL 186764 (3d Cir. 2007), cert. den. 128 S.Ct. 78 (2007).
- Felsman v. Com., Dept. of Transp., July Term 1984, No. 4513 (C.P. Phila. July 31, 1992). Won jury verdict finding telephone company not negligent in its placement in highway right of way of a telephone pole struck by motorist, affirmed, 653 A.2d 720 (pa. Cmwlth. Ct. 1995).
- Bash & Bell Telephone, No. 90010069-17-1 (C.P. Bucks) (Jan. 30, 1991). Won dismissal of negligence claims and enforcement of limitations of damages clause in ruling on preliminary objections. The trial court’s opinion found that Pennsylvania does not recognize a claim for tortious breach of contract and struck claims for damages in excess of those allowed by the contract’s limitations of damages clause, affirmed, 601 A.2d 825 (Pa. Super. 1992) (adopting the ‘gift of the action doctrine’ in a seminal opinion stating that Pennsylvania does not recognize a claim for “negligent breach of contract”). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recognized Bash as a “leading case” on the gist of the action doctrine in a recent opinion adopting the doctrine. See Bruno v. Ere Ins. Co., 106 A3d 48, 66 (Pa. 2014).
- Academy Insulation Co., Inc. v. The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, 24 Phila. Co. 515, 1992 WL 1071431 (1992). Secured dismissal of tort claims arising out of an advertising contract. The Court held that a breach of contract claim cannot be converted to a negligence claim by asserting that the breaching party’s conduct was wanton.
Prior to joining Chartwell Law, Ms. French was a partner at a Philadelphia law firm handling insurance coverage and insurance defense litigation. Preceding that, for many years, she was a partner and general counsel for Wolf Block LLP one of the oldest law firms in Philadelphia.