Monthly Archives: July 2014

When Does 15 = 1,000?

HOKE_K 015 medium 300dpi fileKatherine Hoke, Principal/Managing Partner

In mid-May, I volunteered for a three-hour shift at Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano. Minnie’s is a non-profit that distributes boxes of groceries to families in need in the local community.  At the end of the shift, I asked Cheryl “Action” Jackson, the founder of Minnie’s, what she needed to get through the summer. Cheryl immediately responded with “1,000 boxes of instant mashed potatoes.”

That was the inspiration for Shields Legal Group’s very first food drive.

We launched our drive on June 4th and ran it through the Fourth of July. Through the generosity of our employees and several corporate donors, we collected 1,012 boxes of instant mashed potatoes, along with $350 in cash and gift card donations.

SLG Employees

On Saturday, July 12th, thirteen Shields Legal Group employees and their family members arrived at Minnie’s Food Pantry to unload, sort, and shelve the boxes of instant mashed potatoes, and to pack boxes of groceries for the families Minnie’s serves. For those of us, like me, who brought our young children along, it was very gratifying to witness our children grow in empathy as they opened their hearts and served the needs of others.

At the end of our shift, Cheryl presented the first ever “graduates” of Minnie’s skills education program, sponsored by Bank of America. As each of the graduates walked Minnie’s red carpet, we clapped and cheered for them, praying that the food assistance and skills training they receive from Minnie’s will sustain their bodies, lift their spirits, and give them hope.

Kathy ScottAs Cheryl thanked us for our service and for the 1,000 boxes of mashed potatoes, which would positively impact 1,000 families in our community, she reminded us that the need is great and that the number of families experiencing hunger in our community continues to grow. Cheryl said she is not giving up, and neither will we.   We will continue to find ways that our small firm can make a positive impact in our community.

Thank you to the following for their generous support of our food collection for Minnie’s:

The 15 employees of Shields Legal Group

Wells Fargo Insurance Services

The Henry S. Miller Organization

JBI Partners

Wilshire Wealth Management Group

Cawley Partners

Chalak Mitra Group

This effort is part of our IMPACT 365 program. It is all about how can you make an impact on one of these areas, 365 days a year:

  1. Sustaining the environment;
  2. Lending a helping hand through volunteer service; and
  3. Giving back through financial gifts.

Thank you for sharing this article to inspire other to take action. A small group of dedicated people can turn a request for food into a 1,000 boxes of mashed potatoes – and have fun doing it!


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Filed under Community Involvement, Community Service, Impact 365

Denial of Insurance Claims – Has This Scenario Happened to You?

By Bart F. Higgins and David A. Shields

Your company hires employees to do physical labor or work on an assembly line. Your company has opted out of the Texas Worker’s Compensation system and is a “non-subscriber.” Your insurance agent recommends a surplus lines policy to protect against any worker’s compensation claims filed by your employees.

One day, the worst happens: an employee has a serious on-the-job accident. Medical expenses pile on, reimbursement requests come in and you turn the claim and expenses over to the insurance company pursuant to your policy.

What happens next is totally unexpected.

226ASP6179944780The insurance company denies coverage for any number of reasons; the employee falsified his Social Security Number or his accident wasn’t “within the scope of his duties.” The burden of the expenses and management of the claim falls on you, even though you paid for an insurance policy that would cover on-the-job injuries.

What can you do?

The attorneys at Shields Legal Group help businesses pursue insurance companies who have denied claims in bad faith. SLG is an expert in bad faith litigation against insurance companies, having recently obtained judgments totaling more than $20,000,000.

Recently, we filed a bad faith lawsuit against Homeland Insurance Co. of New York and One Beacon Insurance for bad faith denial of coverage, where the insurer, its affiliates and third-party administrator wrongfully denied coverage. They relied on the following provision in the policy:

[T]he Covered Person was untruthful in regard to any aspect of the required information supplied as part of the employment process including, without limitation, information as to physical or mental abilities to perform the job…

In other words, if an employee of your company uses a false Social Security Number during the employment process, the company may have a problem.  However, this narrow approach ignores provisions of the Texas Labor Code granting worker’s compensation benefits to those employees. It also ignores the situation when the insurance agents involved in the placement of the policy may have unlawfully placed your coverage in the surplus lines market. Agents have a statutory duty to make a diligent effort to place as much coverage as they can in the admitted market before accessing the surplus lines market.

When read together with the Texas Labor Code and policy language that requires the policy to conform with state statutes, the denial could be wrongful, potentially entitling your company to the amount of the claim, reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.

If your company faces a similar situation, contact Bart Higgins at or David Shields at for an evaluation of your particular situation.

Please note: This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  You should not act on any information contained in this article without first seeking advice from your legal counsel.

When litigation impacts your company or business, contact Shields Legal Group to learn more about how we may help you navigate those waters. Please visit ShieldsLegalGroup for more information.


David Shields





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Filed under About Us, Insurance, Insurance Broker, Litigation Management, Trusted Advisor