Michael J. Miller

Chair, Life Insurance & Annuities
Co-Chair, Software

Philadelphia

(215) 665-4114

(215) 372-2347

Michael is a commercial trial lawyer who concentrates his practice on major life insurance secondary market and software litigation cases. Michael also represents insurers in property, casualty, commercial, and environmental insurance coverage cases, life and disability insurance coverage cases, alleged agent and broker fraud and Ponzi scheme cases, RICO cases, and countless cases involving annuities. Michael has litigated a broad range of commercial issues, including life insurance, software, real estate, equipment leasing, lending agreements, shareholder disputes, and construction cases. With an insurance litigation practice that is national in scope, Michael has a record of successfully litigating the full spectrum of cases involving the sale of life insurance policies and annuities in the secondary market — including stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) cases and attempts by “factoring companies” to effectuate purchases of structured settlement annuity payment streams.

Michael has an impressive track record representing software firms involved in software defect, implementation, and licensing disputes. These cases are litigated and tried in courts all across the country and in international arbitration centers.

Michael has been especially focused on cases arising out of the improper sale of life insurance policies (and interests therein) on the secondary market (i.e., STOLI). As chair of the Life Insurance & Annuities Group, Michael plays a role in virtually all of the group’s STOLI cases. Michael has a record of successfully litigating the full spectrum of case variations that arise out of STOLI. Michael has also assisted with drafting model secondary market legislation.

In addition to his experience in commercial litigation issues, Michael has taken the lead in complex insurance transactional matters, including complex environmental risk transfer issues, owner- and contractor-controlled insurance programs, and captive issues. Michael negotiates contracts for transfers of complex environmentally contaminated real estate, and then works with brokers and underwriters to draft insurance policies designed to address these risks. He was closely involved in "Early Transfer" transactions at the Mare Island Navy Base (California) and the Fort Ord Army Base (California).

Michael has been recognized for several years as a "Litigation Star" by Benchmark Litigation. Insurance industry associations often invite Michael to speak at their conferences, and he is a regular presenter at the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (NSSTA) meetings.  Michael currently serves as outside general counsel to NSSTA.

Michael earned his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from the University of South Florida. Michael earned his law degree, cum laude, from Temple University Beasley School of Law where he was on law review.

Experience

STOLI Decisions

A few of the reported STOLI cases in which Michael played a key role include the following:

  • Wells Fargo v. Estate of Malkin ("Malkin II"), —A.3d—, 2022 WL 1671966 (Del. May 26, 2022) (obtained a seminal ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court in a closely watched case, with the Court holding that neither STOLI investors nor their securities intermediaries can claim immunity under the UCC and setting a high bar for an investor seeking restitution for premiums paid).
  • Sun Life Assur. Co. v. Wilmington Trust, N.A., 2022 WL 179008 (Del. Super. Ct. Jan. 12, 2022) (“DeBourbon and Frankel”) (obtained summary judgment under Delaware law in connection with claims on two LPC STOLI policies with aggregate face amount of $19 million)
  • Sun Life Assur. Co. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2020 WL 1503641 (N.D. Ill. March 30, 2020) ("Corwell”) (obtained summary judgment on Coventry STOLI policy under Illinois law with face amount of $5 million)
  • Sun Life Assur. Co. v. U.S. Bank N.A., 369 F.Supp.3d 601 (D. Del. 2019) (“Sol”) (obtained summary judgment on Coventry STOLI policy under Delaware law with face amount of $5 million)
  • Sun Life Assur. Co. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 238 N.J. 157 (2019) (“Bergman”) (certified question to New Jersey Supreme Court resulting in invalidation of $5 million STOLI policy under New Jersey law)
  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 693 F. App’x 838 (11th Cir. 2017) (“Malkin I”) (successfully argued and preserved the first of several Coventry STOLI victories under Delaware law)
  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Conestoga Tr. Servs., LLC, 263 F. Supp. 3d 695 (E.D. Tenn. 2017), aff’d 717 Fed. Appx. 600 (6th Cir. 2018) ("Collins”) (successfully argued and preserved a “front-end” STOLI victory under Tennessee law)
  • U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, 2016 WL 8116141 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 30, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, 2017 WL 347449 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 24, 2017) (“Van de Wetering”) (obtained summary judgment on $10 million Coventry STOLI policy under Delaware law)

Additional Reported Decisions

  • Matthews v. Liberty Assignment Corp., No. S-150-CV0282983, 2016 Cal App. LEXIS 356 (Cal. Ct. App. May 2, 2016) (defeated attempted structured settlement factoring transaction of worker’s compensation payments)
  •  Moore, et al. v. EPS Settlements Group, et al., No. 14-CV-80521-COHN/SELTZER, 2015 WL 4775974 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 17, 2014) (defeated class action arising out of structured settlement shortfall payments following insolvency of annuity issuer)
  • Jackson v. Rohm & Haas Company, et al., 06-3682, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65900 (E.D. of Pa., September 5, 2007) (defeated RICO claims against insurer arising out of disability insurance)
  •  RegScan v. Brewer, et al., 04-6043, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20087 (E.D. of Pa., March 16, 2007) (defeated RICO claims brought by competing environmental research technology firm)
  • Lang v. Continental Assurance Company, et al., 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 24586 (3d Cir., December 4, 2002) (obtained ruling that continuing coverage refusals were not distinct acts and coverage dispute was not continuous and ongoing for statute of limitations purposes)
  • Singer Asset Finance Company, L.L.C. v. Johnny L. Bachus and State Farm Life Insurance Company, et al., 741 N.Y.S.2d 618 (4th Dept. 2002) (defeated factoring of structured settlement payments based on anti-assignment language)
  •  WebBank v. American General Annuity Service Corp., et al., 54 P.3d 1139 (Utah 2002) (argued and preserved summary judgment on loan versus sale principle)
  • Vance Williams v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, et al., 750 A.2d 881 (Pa. Super. 2000) (defeated class action claims in connection with automobile settlement practices)

Commercial/Intellectual Property Litigation

  • After obtaining partial summary judgment on behalf of a software provider, led trial team to complete defense victory in a jury trial on the remaining fraud and misrepresentation claims.
  • Obtained a substantial award for a client that had contracted with a software development firm to produce computer sports games. Commenced and prosecuted a successful arbitration proceeding when the software development firm failed to produce a working product.
  • For a global software provider, led a team of lawyers in the successful defense of an international arbitration after a delayed and troubled implementation of a massive ERP solution.
  • Led large teams in multiple complex software defect, implementation, and licensing disputes. 

News

Cozen O'Connor’s Life Insurance & Annuities Group Named One of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018

March 23, 2019

The Cozen O'Connor Life Insurance and Annuities Group was named by The Legal Intelligencer one of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018 after joining the firm in April 2018.

Cozen O’Connor Expands Commercial Litigation Practice in Philadelphia with Group from Drinker Biddle

April 26, 2018

Cozen O’Connor announced today that three nationally recognized commercial litigators — Michael J. Miller, Gregory J. Star, and Stephen R. Harris — along with 11 others have left Drinker Biddle to join Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation practice

Publications

What’s Happening in California After McHugh? [Alert]

April 07, 2022

Michael Miller and Ilya Schwartzburg discuss the state of lapse cases six months after McHugh.

Secondary Market Investor Files Interest Rate Class Action [Alert]

January 04, 2021

Michael Miller and Charles Vinicombe discuss a new life insurance secondary market investor strategy — suing life insurers on a class action basis for not paying enough interest.

“Retread” Blowouts Create Hazards for Investors

November 16, 2020

Mike Miller and Stephen Harris discuss the risks involved with structured settlement annuity payments that were sold to a factoring company and that were then resold or assigned, typically by the factoring company, to another investor.

New Jersey Enacts Anti-STOLI Legislation

October 28, 2020

Charles J. Vinicombe and Michael J. Miller discuss New Jersey's anti-STOLI legislation codifying the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Sun Life Assurance Company v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Class Certification Denied in Portion of COI Case Based on Argument that the Policies are STOLI [Alert]

September 10, 2020

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York recently issued a decision denying class certification to a sub-class in a cost of insurance class action based upon the insurer’s defense that certain of the claims were barred because “a substantial number of the policies at issue were obtained through stranger-originated life insurance schemes.”

New Jersey Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves Anti-STOLI Legislation [Alert]

March 02, 2020

Charles J. Vinicombe and Michael J. Miller discuss New Jersey Assembly Bill A.B. 1263, which supplements New Jersey’s Viatical Settlements Act, N.J.S.A., and codifies the ruling in Bergman that STOLI is illegal and void in New Jersey.

NY DFS’s Regulation 187 – Consumers’ Best Interests [Alert]

January 29, 2020

Mike Miller, Laura Zulick, and Chase Howard discuss how this rule will impact life insurers beginning February 1.

Pension Factoring Continues to Create Problems [Alert]

January 21, 2020

Mike Miller and Stephen Harris discuss the facts in Michele R. Lenderman v. Emil J. Wansa, Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America and North American Co. for Life and Health Insurance and why pension factoring continues to create problems for institutions that manage and fund these pensions.

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Stranger-Originated Life Insurance Is Illegal and Void

August 15, 2019

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently condemned stranger-originated life insurance (“STOLI”) transactions as void ab initio human life wagers in a case that the life insurance and life settlement industries watched closely.

STOLI - What you don't know may cost you [Munich RE]

November 01, 2018

Michael Miller and Gregory Star contributed an article to Munich Re discussing stranger-oriented life insurance, "STOLI," and the effect it has on people today.

Court Dismisses Claims Alleging Undisclosed Deductions from Structured Settlement Funds [Alert]

October 24, 2018

Lisa Stern and Mike Miller discuss a number of attempts to hold casualty carriers and annuity issuers liable for allegedly failing to disclose deductions from the amounts used to purchase structured settlement annuities for plaintiffs’ benefit. Each case has met with varying results but serves as a reminder of the pitfalls and exposure to the insurance industry at the point of settlement.

Federal Court Upholds Policy Approved Under the Interstate Insurance Compact [Alert]

October 24, 2018

Lisa Stern and Michael Miller discuss the first decision to directly address the question whether an interstate compact that is not congressionally approved may delegate authority to an interstate body to promulgate regulations that trump conflicting law in the compact states.

Texas Court Dismisses Factoring Company’s Broad Declaratory Judgment Claims Against Annuity Owner and Issuer [Structured Settlements Alert]

August 29, 2018

Stephen Harris discusses a Texas Court's ruling In the Matter of: A Transfer of Structured Settlement Payment Rights by Shantel D. Freelon, RSL Funding, LLC, Plaintiff v. J.G. Wentworth Originations, LLC, Defendant.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Structures 101 &102

February 25, 2020 - Las Vegas, NV

STOLI: It’s Not Over, Not Even Close

April 01, 2019 - Boston, MA

The Association of Life Insurance Counsel 2018 Annual Meeting

May 07, 2018 - Half Moon Bay, California

Industry Sectors

Education

  • Temple University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1991
  • University of South Florida, B.S., magna cum laude, 1988

Awards & Honors

Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation

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