Gene Johnson Nov. 16, 2015, 2:49pm


A Connecticut-based insurance company is suing an attorney headquartered in Philadelphia, his firm and an area school district to get out of a policy they issued to the lawyer, alleging the document was established by – among other things – concealment of facts, material misrepresentations and omissions.

Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America filed a lawsuit Aug. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against James Ellison, the Susquehanna Legal Group LLC and the Coatsville Area School District, seeking a court declaration that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify Ellison and his firm in regards to a professional liability insurance policy they issued the attorney and the law firm.

Ellison sought out the policy in response to a third-party complaint lodged by the school district against the attorney and his former firm, Rhoades and Sinon LLP, in January 2012 alleging conspiracy, tortious interference and professional malpractice, the complaint states. The school district was sued by its former superintendent and two employees in regards to their termination and the lawsuit was settled for $2.4 million, with $250,000 to be paid on behalf of Ellison and his former firm, according to the complaint. The Chester County District Attorney announced in 2013 that Ellison and the firm were being investigated for criminal conduct, "stating their representation of the Coatesville District had cost taxpayers millions," the complaint states.

Later, in 2014, the school district voted to terminate contracts with Ellison, alleging that from 2009 to 2014, Ellison used cellphones and other devices from the school district to use for personal and business purposes, as well as overcharged for his services.

Travelers seeks to declare its policy with Ellison void and rescinded and other relief as the court sees proper.

Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. is represented by Michael R. Kelley of McNees, Wallace & Nurick LLC of Harrisburg.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case number 1:15-CV-01615

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