Cozen O’Connor: Miller, Michael

Michael J. Miller

Chair, Life Insurance & Annuities
Co-Chair, Software

Philadelphia

(215) 665-4114

(215) 372-2347

Recent Publication:

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

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.

For the last 20 years, Michael has concentrated his practice on major insurance secondary market and software litigation cases. He has also represented insurers in property, casualty, and 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 real estate disputes, equipment leasing, lending agreements, shareholder disputes, and construction cases. With an insurance litigation practice that is national in scope, he has a record of successfully litigating the full spectrum of cases involving the sale of life insurance policies and annuities in the secondary market — often representing clients in connection with attempts by “factoring companies” to effectuate purchases of structured settlement payment streams.

Michael also 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 active handling cases arising out of the improper sale of life insurance policies (and interests therein) on the secondary market, sometimes referred to as stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI). Michael provides representation in connection with attempts by "factoring companies" to effectuate purchases of structured settlement payment streams. Michael has a record of successfully litigating the full spectrum of case variations that arise out of STOLI and structured settlements. He has assisted with drafting model legislation and has counseled insurers on developing protocols for responding to the issues raised by factoring transactions and the claims that often result from these transactions. He has developed a national reputation for successfully litigating these cases.

In addition to his experience in a wide range of commercial litigation issues, Michael has also 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 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 local "Litigation Star" by Benchmark Litigation. Insurance industry associations often invite Michael to speak at their conferences, and Michael is a regular presenter at the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (NSSTA) meetings.

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

Reported Decisions

A few of Michael’s reported case decisions include the following: 

  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 693 F. App’x 838 (11th Cir. 2017). 
  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Conestoga Tr. Servs., LLC, 263 F. Supp. 3d 695 (E.D. Tenn. 2017). 
  • 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). 
  • Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2016 WL 5746352 (D.N.J. Sept. 30, 2016). 
  • Matthews v. Liberty Assignment Corp., No. S-150-CV0282983, 2016 Cal App. LEXIS 356 * _ (Cal. Ct. App. May 2, 2016); 
  • Moore, et al. v. EPS Settlements Group, et al., No. 14-CV-80521-COHN/SELTZER, 2015 WL 4775974 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 17, 2014). 
  • Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada v. U.S. Bank Nat’l. Assoc., et al., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4732 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 13, 2016); 
  • Jackson v. Rohm & Haas Company, et al., 06-3682, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65900 (E.D. of Pa., September 5, 2007); 
  • RegScan v. Brewer, et al., 04-6043, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20087 (E.D. of Pa., March 16, 2007); and 
  • Lang v. Continental Assurance Company, et al., 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 24586 (3d Cir., December 4, 2002); 
  • First England Funding, L.L.C. v. Aetna Life Insurance & Annuity Co., et al., 790 A.2d 243 (N.J. Super. 2002); 
  • 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); 
  • WebBank v. American General Annuity Service Corp., et al., 54 P.3d 1139 (Utah 2002); 
  • Vance Williams v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, et al., 750 A.2d 881 (Pa. Super. 2000).

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

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

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