Accomplishments

Landmark California AppealsSignificance of Mr. Ehrlich’s landmark appellate cases


Won unanimous decision in U.S. Supreme Court strengthening consumer protections for more than 80 million Americans, UNUM Life Ins. Co. of America v. Ward, 526 U.S. 358 (1999).


Won first appellate decision in California holding that HMOs could be sued for bad faith for not providing timely care, Kotler v. Pacificare of California (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 950.


Won first California decision requiring health plans to disclose arbitration provisions to members, Smith v. Pacificare Behavioral Health (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 139.


Established the constitutionality of the California statute extending the statute of limitations for victims of the Northridge earthquake, 20th Century Ins. Co. v. Sup.Ct. (Ahles) (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1247.


First decision holding that bad-faith claims against Medicare HMOs were not preempted by the Medicare Act, Hofler v. Aetna US Healthcare of California, Inc., 296 F.3d 764 (9th Cir. 2002).


First decision in Ninth Circuit holding that ERISA plan administrator’s conflict of interest tainted its decision, resulting in award of disability benefits for the applicant, Lang v. Long-Term Disability Plan of Sponsor Applied Remote Technology, Inc. (9th Cir. 1997) 125 F.3d 794.

Accomplishments

Trial law and appellate law experience

US Supreme Court Appeals StepsWhile much of Mr. Ehrlich’s experience has been focused on written advocacy, he also has significant trial experience, having tried several jury and bench trials in state and federal court, and having assisted Michael Bidart and Ricardo Echeverria of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria, LLP in winning multi-million-dollar verdicts for their clients. [Representative Cases]

Mr. Ehrlich is one of the few lawyers who has ever tried and won a claim for bad-faith denial of the existence of a contract – a tort that was created by the California Supreme Court in 1984 and abolished by that court 11 years later. Mr. Ehrlich’s case, Todt v. HOH Water Technologies, Inc., was tried in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, and resulted in a $765,000 judgment for the plaintiff, including an award of punitive damages.

Major appellate victories

His significant appellate victories include:

  • UNUM Life Ins. Co. of America v. Ward, 526 U.S. 358 (1999) which Mr. Ehrlich briefed and argued in the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue raised by this case was whether the federal statute governing employee benefit plans, ERISA, overrode state insurance statutes and rules, which provided considerable protection to policyholders. In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court adopted the position advocated by Mr. Ehrlich, and limited ERISA’s preemptive scope. The Ward decision benefited more than 80 million people who obtained their health insurance, life insurance, or disability insurance through their employer.
  • Smith v. Pacificare Behavioral Health (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 139which held that health insurers and HMOs in California were required to comply with California statutes that regulated the use of arbitration clauses in health-insurance contracts. Mr. Ehrlich later convinced other appellate courts to adopt the reasoning of Smith, in Imbler v. PacifiCare of California (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 567, and Zolezzi v. PacifiCare of California (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 573.
  • 20th Century Ins. Co. v. Sup.Ct. (Ahles) (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1247. After widespread abuses by the insurance industry were reported, the Legislature extended the statute of limitations for policyholders to file claims arising out the Northridge earthquake. The insurance industry attacked the statute, and Mr. Ehrlich handled the principal briefing and argument on its constitutionality in the appellate courts. After the statute was held constitutional on appeal, Mr. Ehrlich successfully defended that decision in the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, which both declined to hear the decision.
Orange County Courthouse circa 1901

Orange County Courthouse, completed in 1901. Courtesy Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov

Law and motion

Mr. Ehrlich’s ability to draft legal arguments and to present them effectively has also resulted in many favorable, but unpublished, decisions in the trial and appellate courts. While these decisions affect only the parties involved in the litigation, they often involve critical aspects in the case on which the entire litigation turns. For example, defeating a defendant’s summary-judgment motion in the trial court is often the key to forcing a defendant to settle a case.

While handling the significant law-and-motion matters for Shernoff Bidart Echeverria, LLP, Mr. Ehrlich defeated numerous summary-judgment motions in the firm’s major cases, leading to several seven-figure and eight-figure settlements.

Writs and appeals

We can defend favorable verdicts and attack unfavorable ones. We can draft writ petitions to seek appellate review of a devastating – but unappealable – trial court ruling, or respond to petitions filed by an opponent. We are experienced in seeking reversals in cases where the defendant has prevailed on summary judgment. [Our Legal Services]


The Ehrlich Law Firm handles federal and state appeals

We can help plaintiff’s attorneys with any appellate matter in either the state or the federal appellate courts.

We can defend favorable verdicts and attack unfavorable ones. We can draft writ petitions to seek appellate review of a devastating — but unappealable — trial court ruling, or respond to petitions filed by an opponent. We are experienced in seeking reversals in cases where the defendant has prevailed on summary judgment.

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