Hema P. Mehta

Hema focuses her legal practice in the areas of insurance coverage, insurance defense and trucking litigation matters.

She has extensive experience litigating complex insurance coverage issues arising in first-party claims, construction and other casualty matters.  She provides legal counsel to various insurance companies and assists her clients in evaluating and defending claims.

Experience

  • Represented an insurance carrier that was sued for breach of contract and bad faith arising out of the insurer’s denial of coverage for a civil lawsuit in which the insured allegedly accidently killed the decedent.  The insured pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter admitting that he had an imperfect claim of self-defense, when he struck the decedent with a loaded pistol that accidently discharged, killing the decedent.  Agreeing with our interpretation of the criminal acts exclusion in the insurance policy, the court found that the insurer acted properly in denying coverage because it was the criminal nature of the act, not the degree of criminal culpability, which triggered the applicability of the exclusion.
  • Represented an insurance carrier in a case in which police officers sought a defense and indemnity in response to plaintiffs’ claims that the officers sent anonymous harassing text messages. Plaintiffs sued the officers alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence per se for violations of two criminal statutes – harassment and disorderly conduct – invasion of privacy and conspiracy.   The trial court ruled in the insurer’s favor, finding that there was no duty to defend and indemnify the police officers as there was no occurrence to trigger coverage and that the allegations of intentional conduct fell outside the scope of their employment.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of the insurer for its alleged bad faith in denying a water loss claim.   Plaintiff alleged that she had interior water damage to her home due to wind damage to the roof.  After conducting a thorough inspection of the roof and the interior, the insurer concluded that none of the damage caused to the interior or the roof was caused by wind damage. The plaintiff instituted an action against the insurer arising out of its denial to pay benefits for her alleged loss.  The court agreed that the insurer acted reasonably in denying coverage and did not act in bad faith.
  • Represented an insurer where the insured sought first-party coverage for a fire loss and also sought defense and indemnification with respect to an action filed against him by the injured party.  The insurer issued a vacant building insurance policy that contained vacancy warranty and secured premises warranty endorsements.  The insurer contended, among other things, that the vacancy warranty endorsement barred coverage because the dwelling was tenant occupied at the time of the fire.  The insured contended that it was unaware of the occupancy and, as such, the warranty did not apply.  The court, agreeing with the insurer, found that the language of the vacancy warranty endorsement was clear and unambiguous and did not require the insured’s knowledge of the occupancy.  The court ruled that the insurer did not have a duty to defend and/or indemnify the insured and that the insurer did not breach the insurance contract by failing to pay the insured’s fire loss claim.
  • Represented an insurer in a first-party case where the insured alleged breach of contract and negligence as well as bad faith for the alleged failure to pay for three separate losses to the same insured property.  After filing a motion for summary judgment, the case settled for an amount significantly lower than the plaintiff’s initial claim.
  • Insured filed a bad faith claim alleging that the insurer failed to provide coverage pursuant to the insurance policy issued to the insured.  The insured’s home was destroyed due to flooding resulting from several days of continuous rain.  The insurer denied coverage under several exclusions, including, water exclusion relating to flood water, surface water and water below the surface of the ground, and governmental action exclusion.  After filing a motion for summary judgment and oral argument, the insured realized that there may be valid coverage issues and the case settled for nuisance value.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a leasing company sued as a result of a multiple fatality motor vehicle accident.  Plaintiffs alleged that the driver of the leased vehicle was an employee of the leasing company and was acting within the course and scope of its employment at the time of the accident.  The court ruled that respondeat superior liability could not apply because the lessor was not an employee of the leasing company at the time of the accident.  Plaintiffs also alleged negligent violation of a statute relating to securing a minimum amount of insurance for the vehicle.  Plaintiffs argued that the leasing company’s’ noncompliance with the statute deprived plaintiffs of funds which would have otherwise compensated them for their alleged losses.  The court agreed with the leasing company and ruled that noncompliance with the statute was not actionable.

Education

  • J.D., Rutgers-Camden School of Law, 2002
    • Rutgers Law Review, Editor
    • Moot Court, Member
  • B.S., University of Pittsburgh, 1997

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Third Circuit Court of Appeals

Memberships

  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • New Jersey Bar Association
  • South Asian Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Serves as an arbitrator in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Arbitration Program

Community/Civic Involvement

  • Ashburn Village Homeowners Association, President, 2010

Honors/Awards

  • Selected for Inclusion on the 2012-2013 Pennsylvania Rising Stars Super Lawyers® list

Selected Publications