• Margaret Levy

    Partner
    Co-Chair; Insurance Industry
    mlevy@manatt.com
    Download Contact (.vcf)

    Los Angeles
    Direct: 310.312.4368
    General: 310.312.4000
    Fax: 310.312.4224

    Education

    University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, J.D., 1975.
    UCLA Law Review; UCLA Moot Court Honors Program.

     

    Michigan State University, B.A., with highest honors, 1972.
    Honors College; National Merit Scholar.

    Bar Admissions
    California
    • Profile
    • Representative Matters
    • Honors & Awards
    • Publications
    • Memberships & Activities
    • Speaking Engagements

    Profile

    Ms. Levy has more than 30 years of civil trial and appellate litigation experience handling varied complex business and contract disputes, with an emphasis on representing life and health insurance companies and health plans in “bad faith” and ERISA litigation.

    Representative Matters

    • Prudential Reinsurance Company v. Superior Court, 3 Cal. 4th 1118 (1992): Successfully briefed and argued before the California Supreme Court the issue of whether reinsurers are entitled to offset amounts owed to them by an insolvent insurance company against amounts owed by them under the terms of their reciprocal reinsurance contracts and California Insurance Code Section 1031. Opinion by Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas. Opposing counsel: Karl L. Rubinstein, Rubinstein & Perry, 355 South Grand Avenue, 31st Floor, Los Angeles, California 90071, (213) 346-1000.
    • Prudential Reinsurance Company v. Superior Court, 234 Cal. App. 3d 525 (1989): Successfully briefed and argued the same issue before the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Justices George, Woods and McClosky. Opposing counsel: Karl L. Rubinstein, Rubinstein & Perry, 355 South Grand Avenue, 31st Floor, Los Angeles, California 90071, (213) 346-1000.
    • Hadland v. NN Investors Life Insurance Company, 24 Cal. App. 4th 1578 (1994): Handled the trial and successful appeal of a case which established that plaintiffs should not have been permitted to amend their complaint to state causes of action under California Insurance Code Sections 790.03(a) and (b) after the California Supreme Court’s decision in Moradi-Shalal v. Firemens Fund Insurance Co., 46 Cal. 3d 298 (1988). The Court of Appeal held that plaintiffs had failed as a matter of law to establish justifiable reliance on oral representations about their health insurance coverage because they failed to read the insurance contract. This case holds that an insured has a duty to read his insurance contract, and the insured is bound by the terms of the insurance contract, regardless of whether he reads it. California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, opinion by Justices Sonenshine, Sills and Crosby. Opposing counsel: R. Richard Farnell, 4675 MacArthur Court, Suite 1200, Newport Beach, California 92660, (949) 553-1300; Margaret Kathryn Maas, 110 Avenida Serra, San Clemente, California 92672, (949) 361-0386.
    • AMEX Life Assurance Company v. Superior Court (Slome Capital Corp.), 14 Cal. 4th 1231 (1997): Briefed and argued before the California Supreme Court the issue of whether a terminally ill applicant for life insurance can create an enforceable contract by sending an impostor to take the physical examination and blood tests which are an express condition precedent to the issuance of a policy on the life of the applicant or whether the incontestability provision in the contract controls. Opposing counsel: Timothy J. Hogan, 3601 Calle Tecate, Suite 210, Camarillo, California 93012, (805) 445-1428 and Jak Zakariaie, 2029 Century Park East, Suite 2910, Los Angeles, California 90067, (310) 552-0066.
    • Gullett v. Federal Kemper Life Assurance Company, California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Case No. G016262 (1997): Succeeded in obtaining unpublished opinion by Presiding Justice Sheila Sonenshine, concurred in by Justices Sills and Rylaarsdam affirming summary judgment in favor of the insurer. The Court of Appeal held that the beneficiary of a $500,000 life insurance policy was not entitled to recover benefits under the policy because the insured committed suicide within two years of the reinstatement of the policy. Opposing counsel: Robert K. Scott, David I. Lipsky and John McCarty, Law Offices of Robert K. Scott, 7700 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 605, Irvine, California 92618, (949) 753-4950.
    • Mersereau v. Aid Association for Lutherans, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Case No. BO85457 (1995): Successful in obtaining unpublished opinion by Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer concurred in by Justices Ortega and Masterson which held that a medical insurance policy providing coverage for “needed care and treatment of injury or sickness” did not provide coverage for expenses incurred for in vitro fertilization. Opposing counsel: John C. Taylor, Taylor & Ring, LLP, 10900 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 920, Los Angeles, California 90024, (310) 209-4100; Rosalyn S. Zakheim, Court of Appeal/Division 8, 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90013, (213) 830-7361.
    • Horvatin v. Allstate Life Insurance Company, 631 F. Supp. 1271 (1986): Successfully litigated suit regarding alleged ambiguity of accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy. United States District Court, Central District of California, Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. Opposing counsel: William D. Shapiro, 432 North Arrowhead, San Bernardino, California 92401, (909) 888-0102.
    • Suarez v. Life Insurance Company of North America, 206 Cal. App. 3d 1396 (1988): Successfully litigated lawsuit regarding alleged ambiguity in accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy. California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, opinion by Presiding Justice Mildred Lillie, Justice Fred Woods and Acting Justice Kolts [sitting by Judicial Council assignment] concurring. Opposing counsel: Barrett S. Litt, Litt & Associates, 3435 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1100, Los Angeles, California 90010, (213) 386-3114.
    • Reynolds Metals v. Alperson, 25 Cal.3d 124 (1979):  Litigated issue of recoverability of attorneys' fees by a defendant sued on a theory of alter ego.  Opinion by Justice Clark, Chief Justice Bird and Justices Tobriner, Mosk, Richardson, Manuel and Newman concurring.  Opposing counsel:  H. Walter Croskey, Goodstein, Copes & Field (now Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District); Jerome H. Sarrow (unable to locate).
    • Schmidkunz v Scandinavian Airlines System, 628 F.2d 1205 (1980):  Successfully litigated issue of whether a claim for injuries sustained by a passenger when she fell in the Copenhagen airport was subject to the Warsaw Convention.  Memorandum opinion by Circuit Judges Chambers and Tang, with District Judge Orrick, sitting by designation.  Opposing counsel:  Gilbert A. Thomas (unable to locate).
    • Gladney v. Cumberland Life Insurance Company, Ventura County Superior Court Case No. 86-856 (1989): Jury trial regarding whether insured’s disability resulting from a gunshot wound sustained during an argument with his girlfriend constituted an accident or a reasonably foreseeable consequence of his aggressive acts. Judge Joe D. Hadden. Opposing counsel: A. Tod Hindin (unable to locate).
    • Gustavo Montufar v. Mack Financial Credit Corp.:  Successful pro bono representation of an indigent Spanish-speaking individual who purchased a used truck on an "as is" basis.  After the truck broke down it was wrongfully repossessed and sold in violation of the Uniform Commercial Code; obtained a $35,000 jury verdict in favor of Mr. Montufar.  Los Angeles County Superior Court, Judge Raymond Cardenas.  Opposing counsel:  Maynard J. Klein, 30169 Matisse Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275, (310) 544-4750.
    • Schade v. Allstate Life Insurance Company (1991): Obtained defense verdict in lawsuit to recover medical insurance benefits under a policy which was determined to have lapsed for non-payment of premium. Retired Judge Albert T. Blanford, Ventura County Superior Court. Opposing counsel: Haskell J. Shapiro, 1677 Cherokee Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109.
    • Kellman v. Massachusetts Indemnity and Life Insurance Company, United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Case No. CV LV 82617 (1985): Obtained defense verdict in lawsuit involving death claim by beneficiary of a mortgage accidental death policy in which the jury found that the insured’s death while swimming in Lake Mead was due to a heart attack rather than drowning. United States District Judge Howard McKibben. Opposing counsel: Daniel Marks, Las Vegas, Nevada (unable to locate).
    • Geoffrey Lutz v. The Mega Life and Health Insurance Company, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of California Case No. 98-CV-616-L(JA) (September 2000): Obtained defense judgment in lawsuit involving claim for hospital insurance benefits and for bad faith in which the Court determined that the insureds’ coverage under the policy had lapsed for non-payment of premium and that the insurer did not breach the contract or the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. United States District Judge M. James Lorenz. Opposing counsel: Stephen J. Estey, Esq., 2869 India Street, San Diego, California 92103, (619) 295-0035.
    • Carolina Cisneros v. Monumental Life Insurance Company, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. KC 032527 (October 2002): Obtained defense verdict. Case settled after jury returned verdict in favor of plaintiff for contract benefits and in favor of defendant on plaintiff’s claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, punitive damages, emotional distress damages and attorneys’ fees after the jury found that plaintiff was entitled to accidental death benefits as a result of her husband’s death following surgery for a hernia caused by an old appendectomy. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern, Opposing counsel: Charles J. Mazursky and William A. Daniels, Mazursky & Schwartz, 10990 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90024, (310) 478-5838.
    • Lambros v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 111 Cal. App. 4th 43 (2003). The Court of Appeal concluded that the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in the insurer’s favor on all claims was proper. The insured claimed that the insurer was not entitled to retain the “unused” portion of his annual premium for his life insurance when the coverage was terminated prior to the end of the year. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz, Opposing counsel: Arthur Grebow, Esq., Berger Kahn, A Law Corporation, 4215 Glencoe Avenue, Second Floor, Marina del Rey, California 90292, (310) 821-9000; Joseph N. Cravec, Jr., Esq., Specter, Specter, Evans & Manogue, P.C., The 26th Floor, Koppers Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219.
    • Cedars Sinai Medical Center v. Mid-West National Life Insurance Company of Tennessee, 118 F. Supp. 2d 1002 (C. D. Cal. 2000): The insurer’s motion for summary adjudication on Plaintiff’s claims for breach of oral contract, quantum meruit and fraud was granted and the motion was denied on Plaintiff’s claims for estoppel and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiff's hospital claimed that the insurer was obligated to pay the patient’s bill, regardless of the fact that the insured’s coverage was rescinded due to a misrepresentation on his application for coverage, because the insurer verified and pre-certified the insured’s hospital stay. Opposing counsel: Joy Young, Stephenson, Acquisto & Colman, 303 North Glenoaks Boulevard, Suite 700, Burbank, California 91502, (818) 559-4477.
    • Griffith v. Allstate Life Insurance Company, 31 Fed. Appx. 450; 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 3114 (2002): The District Court granted the insurer's summary judgment motion on all claims asserted by Plaintiff. The insurer rescinded the insurance coverage of the deceased insured based on misrepresentations involving her health. Plaintiff’s children filed suit claiming that because the application was telephonically solicited and the insured did not sign it, the rescission of the contract was unlawful. Opposing counsel: Robert K. Scott, Law Offices of Robert K. Scott, 7700 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 605, Irvine, California 92618, (949) 753-4950; Douglas K. DeVries, DeVries Law Firm, 1792 Tribute Road, Suite 480, Sacramento, California 95815, (916) 473-4343.
    • Amadeo v. Principal Mutual Life Insurance Company, 290 F. 3d 1152 (9th Cir. 2002): The summary judgment on Plaintiff’s bad faith claim was reversed by the Ninth Circuit because it found that the district court’s ruling that a genuine issue existed as the insurer’s liability on a disability insurance policy was in error. The Court ruled that a jury could properly conclude that the insurer’s policy interpretation was arbitrary and unreasonable. Opposing counsel: Thomas F. Borcher, Esq., Jacobs, Jacobs & Rosenberg, 11755 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2150, Los Angeles, California 90025, (310) 473-9211.
    • Ruth T. Hairston v. Office of Personnel Management, 318 F. 3d 1127 (Fed. Cir. 2003): Obtained reversal of a final order of the Merit Systems Protection Board denying 82-year-old widow Ruth Hairston’s application for a former spouse survivor annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System. The Federal Circuit held that the original notice sent by the federal government was confusing and therefore ineffective, thus the Office of Personnel Management was ordered to pay the former spouse survivor annuity to Ms. Hairston. Opposing counsel: Hillary Stern, Esq., U.S. Department of Justice, 1100 L Street, N.W., Room 7038, Washington, D.C. 20530.
    • Heighley v. JCPenney Life Insurance Company, 257 F. Supp. 2d 1241 (C.D. Cal. 2003): The insurer’s motion for summary adjudication of Plaintiff’s bad faith and Business and Professions Code Section 17200 claims was granted. The Plaintiff’s bad faith claim was found to be time-barred, and plaintiff did not meet his burden of proof to establish that the insurer’s actions were unlawful, unfair or fraudulent in connection with its denial of the insured’s claim for accidental death benefits. The Plaintiff was found to have met his burden to proceed on the breach of contract claim. The insured claimed that his mother died as the result of hospital negligence and that such negligence constituted an accident under the terms of the policy. Opposing counsel: Alan Moss, Esq., Law Offices of Alan Moss, 735 Montgomery Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California 94111, (415) 296-7500.
    • Sousa v. Unilab Corp. Class II (Non-Exempt) Members Group Benefit Plan, 252 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (E.D. Cal. 2002): Three-year contractual limitations period was reasonable and governed plaintiffs’ claims under ERISA, rather than California’s four-year statute of limitations period. Opposing counsel: Andrew M. Hitchings, Esq., 813 Sixth Street, Third Floor, Sacramento, California 95814, (916) 446-7979.
    • Anil Mehta v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, et al., California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division 1, Case No. B185364 (2006): Successfully briefed and argued before the California Court of Appeal and obtained an unpublished opinion affirming summary judgments in favor of defendant insurers and sales representatives on plaintiffs’ claims for fraud and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in alleged “vanishing premium” cases. Plaintiffs claimed they were misled by misrepresentations that the dividends on their life insurance policies would be sufficient to cover all future premiums after they had paid premiums for a specified number of years. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr. Opposing counsel: Patricia A. Moore, Law Offices of Patricia A. Moore, 22750 Hawthorne Boulevard, Suite 200, Torrance, CA 90505, (310) 373-9029; Cynthia Coulter Mulvihill, Mulvihill Cole Hyde, APC, 216 W. Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia, CA 91016, (626) 358-7471.

    Honors & Awards

    The Best Lawyers in America, 2008-2014 (Insurance).

    Southern California Super Lawyer, 2003-2013.

    Top 100 Women Litigators in California, 2009.

    Recipient, Inner City Law Center 2013 Humanitarian Award.

    Publications

    "Conversations with Justice Stanley Mosk" California Supreme Court Historical Society Yearbook 1996-97 (1998).

    "Current Coverage Issues in Health Insurance Law: Is There Coverage When There Is No Coverage?" 26 Tort & Ins. L. J. 621 (1991).

    Memberships & Activities

    Lawyer Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, July 2014-July 2017.

    Admitted to practice in California, the United States District Courts for the Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of California, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

    Admitted pro hac vice in several jurisdictions, including Nevada (Las Vegas and Reno), Arizona and Montana.

    Member, Board of Governors, Association of Life Insurance Counsel, 2009-2013.

    Member, Board of Directors, Inner City Law Center, 1994-Present.

    Member, Board of Directors, UCLA School of Law Alumni Association, 2000-2003.

    Member, Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association, 1980-Present.

    Member, Defense Research Institute’s Life, Health and Disability Law Committee, 1989-Present.

    Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 1976-Present.

    Member, Association of Life Insurance Counsel, 2002-Present.

    Member, Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies, 2008-Present.

    Member, Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1976-Present.

    Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association Access to Justice Committee, 1989-Present.

    Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association Judiciary Committee, 1989-2003.

    Member, Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Advisory Board, 2004-Present.

    Participant, Los Angeles Superior Court Voluntary Settlement Conference Program, 2009.

    Vice Chair, American Bar Association Life Insurance Law Committee, 1997-2003.

    Vice Chair, Defense Research Institute’s Life, Health and Disability Law Committee, 2001-2004.

    Member, California Supreme Court’s Multijurisdictional Task Force Implementation Committee, 2002-2004.

    Member, Board of Directors, California Supreme Court Historical Society, 1998-2004.

    Member, Board of Governors, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 1996-2001.

    Participant, Los Angeles Superior Court Joint Association Settlement Officer Program, 1988-2000.

    Member, Board of Directors of UCLA Women and Philanthropy, 1995-2000.

    Member, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, 1976-2000.

    Member, Long Range Planning Committee, Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association, 1995-98.

    Chair, American Bar Association Committee on Health Insurance Law, 1994-95.

    President, Board of Directors, Public Counsel, the pro bono law office of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations, 1993-94.

    Co-Chair, Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award Dinner, 1993.

    Counsel to Office of the Special Advisor to the Board of Police Commissioners for the City of Los Angeles (Webster Commission), 1992.

    Member, Task Force on the Involvement of Women in the Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association, 1991-93.

    Speaking Engagements

    "In-House Think Tank on Containing Costs, Preventing and Managing Litigation, & Using the Claims Review Process to Set Up, Control and Strengthen the Defense," Moderator of panel of in-house counsel, American Conference Institute's Premier Forum on Defending and Managing ERISA Litigation, New York, New York, October 19-20, 2009.

    “Taking the Deposition of an Expert,” Defense Research Institute, Inc. Seminar on Sharing Success:  A Seminar for Women Lawyers, Santa Monica, California, March 5-6, 2009.

    “Advanced Life Case Investigation - The Forever War,” Eastern Claims Conference 2009, New York, New York, March 1-3, 2009.

    “Life Insurance and Accident Death Insurance Litigation Update,” Annual Conference of American Council of Life Insurance, Chicago, Illinois, October 10-12, 2004.

    “Recent Developments in Life Insurance and Accident Death Insurance Litigation,” Annual Midwinter Meeting of the Life Insurance Law and Health and Disability Insurance Law Committees of the ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Orlando, Florida, January 15-18, 2004.

    "The Latest Disability Hotspots:  Claims and Defenses - Mental/Nervous Disorders," American Conference Institute Seminar on Strategies for Success in Litigating Disability Insurance Claims, Boston, Massachusetts, June 10-11, 1999 and San Diego, February 10-11, 2000.

    “How to Use Bad Faith Experts and Jury Consultants in Life, Health and Disability Cases,” Defense Research Institute, Inc. Seminar on Life, Health and Disability/ERISA Litigation, Chicago, Illinois, September 24-25, 1998.

    “New Strategies for Defending Life, Health, and Disability Insurance Claims Litigation,” ALI-ABA Conference on Life Insurance Litigation, New York, New York, May 7-8, 1998.

    “Defending Lawsuits Alleging Fraud Or Misrepresentation In The Sale Of Health Insurance, Agent Misconduct And Illegal Or Improper Premium Increases,” American Bar Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, August 2, 1997.

    “Defending a Bad Faith Case:  A Woman’s Perspective,” Defense Research Institute Women Litigators Forum, San Diego, California, February 29-March 1, 1996.

    “Insurance Fraud:  Detecting It, Reporting It, Stopping It,” North Texas Association of Insurance Counsel, Dallas, Texas, August 25, 1995.

    “Mediation/Mock Trial of an ERISA Disability Benefits Claim,” American Bar Association Annual Meeting, New York, New York, August 10, 1993.

    “The IME Process: What Can Go Wrong and How to Do It Right the Next Time — A Practical Demonstration of the Independent Medical Examiner’s Deposition,” Defense Research Institute Seminar on Life, Health and Disability Law:  ERISA Developments and Defense Tactics, Chicago, Illinois, October 1-2, 1992.

    “When Is There Coverage When There Is No Coverage?  Current Coverage Issues in Health Insurance Law,” Spring Meeting of the ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Cancun, Mexico, March 28-April 1, 1990.

    “Constitutionality of Punitive Damages” and “Proposition 103 Update,” Shand, Morahan & Company, Inc. Insurance Company Lineslip Meeting, Bloomington, Illinois, July 18-19, 1989.

    “Managing a Bad Faith Case in Litigation,” Defense Research Institute, Inc. ERISA, Bad Faith and AIDS Seminar, Washington, DC, April 4-7, 1989.

    “Removal and Remand,” Los Angeles County Bar Association and The Rutter Group, Century City and Los Angeles, California, May 21 and May 24, 1988.

    “Limiting Discovery of Other Files in the Post-Colonial Life Era,” Midwinter Meeting of the ABA Committees on Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Public Regulation of Insurance and Employee Benefits Law, Palm Beach, Florida, January 14-16, 1988.

    “Avoiding Bad Faith Suits,” Life Investors, Inc. Claims/Legal Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, August 5, 1987.

    “Managing a Bad Faith Case” and “Pilot Life v. Dedeaux and ERISA Preemption:  Good News and Bad News,” Shand, Morahan & Company, Inc. Insurance Companies Loss Prevention Program, Evanston, Illinois, October 7, 1987.