Cozen O’Connor: Wheeler, Charles E.

Charles E. Wheeler

Member

San Diego

(619) 685-1754

(619) 234-7831

Charles E. Wheeler has worked extensively in insurance coverage for environmental, toxic tort, products liability, construction defect, personal and advertising injury, and professional liability claims, including class actions. He has also handled insurance coverage involving first-party property, disability, annuity, workers compensation, and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. In addition to coverage disputes, Charlie has defended first-party and third-party bad faith actions, and Cumis counsel fee disputes, and has been involved in numerous inter-carrier contribution actions. He has also been retained to defend insureds in significant claims, including construction accident, water intrusion, and Phen-fen cases.

In addition to his insurance coverage practice, Charlie has extensive experience in commercial litigation. He has represented banks and securities brokers in customer disputes, including class actions. He has also defended corporations in derivative actions. Charlie has defended malpractice actions against auditors and appraisers, and has defended real estate fraud and probate cases. He has arbitrated commercial contract disputes.

Charlie received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1975 and graduated from Yale Law School in 1978. 

Experience

Publications

Zhang v. Sup. Ct.: Violation of Unfair Insurance Practices Act May Support Unfair Competition Claim [Global Insurance Alert]

September 12, 2013

In a highly awaited decision, the California Supreme Court in Zhang v. Sup. Ct. of San Bernardino County considered whether insurance practices that violate the California Unfair Insurance Practices Act can give rise to a first-party cause of action under the California Unfair Competition Law.

Ninth Circuit Refuses to Extend Continuous Trigger for Property Damage to Non-Pollution Claims [Global Insurance Alert]

July 10, 2013

In Montrose Chemical Corp. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 10 Cal.4th 645, 42 Cal.Rptr.2d 324 (1995), the California Supreme Court held that a “continuous trigger” applies to liability coverage for property damage claims arising out of pollution where the property damage is allegedly continuous or progressive.

California Supreme Court Holds Suits Against Dissolved Foreign Corporations Subject to Survival Statutes of State of Incorporation [Global Insurance Alert]

March 01, 2013

In a victory for liability insurers against the asbestos plaintiffs’ bar, the California Supreme Court ruled in Greb v. Diamond International Corp., that California’s statutory provision that a dissolved corporation continues to exist perpetually for purposes of being named as a defendant in a suit does not apply to dissolved foreign corporations. Instead, the law of the state of incorporation governs how long a foreign corporation can be sued after it is dissolved, even for suits by injured California residents. Diamond International Corporation was a dissolved Delaware corporation, and the Supreme Court held that the three-year Delaware survival statute barred an asbestos bodily injury suit in California filed more than three years after the corporation was dissolved under Delaware law. The practical effect is that the dissolved corporation’s insurers do not have any liability for suits filed more than three years after the Delaware dissolution, because the plaintiff cannot obtain a judgment against the insured necessary to bring a direct action against the liability insurer.

California Supreme Court Adopts "All-Sums-With Stacking" Rule Disapproves FMC Corp. v. Plaisted In The Process [Global Insurance Alert]

August 10, 2012

California Supreme Court Adopts "All-Sums-With Stacking" Rule Disapproves FMC Corp. v. Plaisted In The Process - Global Insurance Alert - In a long-awaited decision, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that in cases of continuous or progressive property damage, each insurer, including excess insurers, on the risk at any point when damage occurred is liable for indemnity up to its policy limit if its policy contains “all sums” language.

New Ninth Circuit Decision Purportedly Imposes Duty on California Insurers to Negotiate a Settlement within Policy Limits [Global Insurance Alert!]

July 02, 2012

New Ninth Circuit Decision Purportedly Imposes Duty on California Insurers to Negotiate a Settlement within Policy Limits - Global Insurance Alert! - The recent Du v. Allstate Ins. Co. opinion is the 9th Circuit’s Erie guess of the proper interpretation of a long-standing issue
of California bad faith law: whether an insurer has a duty to attempt to settle within policy limits even if there is no policy limits demand, and, if so, when that duty attaches. The 9th
Circuit ruled that an insurer does have the duty to attempt to settle a claim within policy limits when it is “reasonably clear”

California Supreme Court Limits Asbestos Liability for Valve and Pump Manufacturers [Global Insurance Alert!]

February 02, 2012

California Supreme Court Limits Asbestos Liability for Valve and Pump Manufacturers - Global Insurance Alert! - The California Supreme Court sharply limited asbestos liability for valve and pump manufacturers (and their insurers) in O’Neil
v. Crane Co., 2012 WL 88533 (Jan. 12, 2012).

New California Decision Rejects Stacking of Occurrence Limits, Requires Horizontal Exhaustion of Primary Insurance [Insurance Coverage Alert!]

June 13, 2011

New California Decision Rejects Stacking of Occurrence Limits, Requires Horizontal Exhaustion of Primary Insurance - Insurance Coverage Alert! - On June 3, 2011, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District (Los Angeles) published its opinion in Kaiser Cement & Gypsum Corp. v. Insurance Co. of the State of Pa.¸__ Cal.4th __, __ Cal.Rptr.3d __, 2011 WL 2163737 (2011). The opinion rejects stacking of occurrence limits across multiple policy periods for the same insurer, but confirms that horizontal exhaustion of primary insurance applies to primary insurance issued by other insurers.

California Insured Cannot Avoid Reimbursing Insurer for Uncovered Settlement by Claiming Unreasonable Time to Respond to Insurer's Notice of Settlement [Insurance Coverage Alert!]

April 26, 2011

California Insured Cannot Avoid Reimbursing Insurer for Uncovered Settlement by Claiming Unreasonable Time to Respond to Insurer's Notice of Settlement - Insurance Coverage Alert! - In Blue Ridge Ins. Co v. Jacobsen, 25 Cal.4th 489, 106 Cal. Rptr.2d 535, 22 P.3d 313 (2001), the California Supreme Court held that a liability insurer defending its insured under reservation of rights could settle a suit within policy limits and seek reimbursement of the uncovered settlement from the insured without the insured’s consent. The court imposed three requirements on the insurer to obtain reimbursement.

California Supreme Court Holds: Release

March 11, 2009

California Supreme Court Holds: Release "from" Rather Than "to" Dump Site is Relevant Release for Purposes of the "Sudden and Accidental" Pollution Exclusion - Insurance Coverage Alert! - In State of California v. Allstate Ins. Co. __ Cal.4th __ (March 9, 2009), the California Supreme Court made three holdings that have a major impact on environmental coverage and liability coverage in general. The Court explicitly disapproved the Court of Appeal’s decision in Golden Eagle Refinery Co. v. Associated Intern’l Ins. Co. 85 Cal. App. 4th 1300 (2001) on burden of proof issues and limited the scope of the Court of Appeal’s decision in

Environmental Coverage: California Court of Appeal Challenges Anti-Stacking Rule [Insurance Coverage Alert!]

January 21, 2009

Environmental Coverage: California Court of Appeal Challenges Anti-Stacking Rule - Insurance Coverage Alert! - On January 5, 2009, the intermediate California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District issued a published decision holding that the State of California is entitled to stack policy limits over multiple policy years for the costs of cleaning up the Stringfellow Acid Pits dump site near Riverside, California. The decision substantially increased the amount of excess coverage available to pay clean-up costs, which could exceed $700 million for the cash-strapped
State of California.

Industry Sectors

Education

  • Yale Law School, J.D., 1978
  • Stanford University, A.B., 1975
  • California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court -- Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court -- Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court -- Southern District of California
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • State Bar of California