Susan J. French

Susan J. French has over 30 years of experience litigating  jury, non-jury, arbitration and appellate cases as first-chair counsel and managing nationwide litigation.  Her practice is currently focused on insurance coverage issues related to the federal Multi-District and state opioid litigation and the representation of insurers and their insureds in bad faith, personal injury and commercial litigation.

Sue is a business-oriented attorney with a wide range of experience representing corporate clients in sophisticated litigation (including class actions), insurance coverage, commercial contract, financial services, real estate and commercial transaction matters.

As a partner in an AmLaw 200 firm, WolfBlock LLP, Ms. French not only litigated cases, but also counseled insurers, corporate and governmental entities on insurance coverage, risk management, contract, compliance, government relations, corporate governance and transactional matters. As General Counsel of WolfBlock, Ms. French both litigated and managed professional liability litigation and managed claims, insurance coverage and placement.

Significant litigation matters resolved by Ms. French include claims involving:

  • insurance coverage and bad faith, including financial institution bond claims
  • 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
  • medical, pharmaceutical, accountant, engineering and legal professional liability
  • premises liability
  • breach of fiduciary duties
  • breach of contract
  • advertising injury
  • business torts
  • Uniform Commercial Code disputes
  • creditors rights and bankruptcy
  • condemnation/eminent domain just compensation
  • intellectual property and trade secrets misappropriation and theft
  • wrongful discharge and employment discrimination
  • civil rights violations
  • public utility law
  • real estate litigation related to easements, licenses, code violations, mechanics liens, lease disputes and evictions
  • government contracting and ethics investigations
  • insurance company liquidations
  • state insurance guaranty association claims
  • state and local tax claims
Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated Preeminent Badge

Education

  • J.D. Villanova University Charles S. Widger School of Law
  • B.A. Honors Program, B.A. Communications Villanova University

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • United States. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court
  • Pro hac vice admissions in state and federal courts in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Massachusetts and Ohio

Honors/Awards

  • Given an “AV” rating by Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating provided by the national legal directory

Memberships

  • Community Associations Institute, Past-President, Chair Philadelphia Council
  • Greater Philadelphia Condominium Managers Association – General Legal Counsel
  • Lambda Alpha International Real Estate Honor Society
  • Urban Land Institute
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

Representative Cases

  • 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. Obtained dismissal of complaint on summary judgment motion and defeated appeal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Piccone v. WolfBlock, No. 07-17663 (C.P. Montg.) 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.
  • 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 (Pa. 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.2d 162 (2005) (after oral argument), reconsideration denied, 885 A.2d 980 (Pa. 2005).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.
  • 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 claims.
  • 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 v. 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 “gist 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. Erie Ins. Co., 106 A.3d 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.

Community/Civic Involvement

  • Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas – Arbitrator 1991 – present
  • Lead Defense Liaison Counsel, Lead Paint Mass Torts Program 1997 – 2006