This is a lawsuit between an attorney and his malpractice carrier. The lawyer, Thomas Edwards, handled a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a commercial diver against the diver’s former employer, Cal Dive. He obtained a multi-million dollar settlement. The victory was short-lived as one year later Cal Dive filed suit against the diver and Edwards alleging that the diver had exaggerated his injuries. Cal Dive sued Edwards for restitution and unjust enrichment.
Edwards requested that his insurance company defend him, but they declined. Edwards filed suit. While he obtained summary judgment in the trial court, the Fifth Circuit reversed that ruling and entered judgment for the insurance company.
The Fifth Circuit held that claims for unjust enrichment and restitution were not legal malpractice claims because they asserted no breach of the standard of care. Therefore, the policy did not provide a duty to defend or require any other coverage. The pertinent reasoning is as follows: