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In House PIP Counsel Not Prohibited From Suing Carrier - CURE v. Kurtz, A-4330-11

"Plaintiff Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange (CURE) appeals from the Chancery Division order dismissing its July 22, 2013 complaint to disqualify an attorney and a law firm pursuant to Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs) 1.9 and 1.10. We affirm.

"The record reveals that CURE identifies itself as "an insurance reciprocal exchange authorized by the Department of Banking and Insurance to exchange reciprocal contracts among its members." It employed defendant Allison T. Kurtz as an in-house attorney from October 19, 2009 to December 5, 2011. Kurtz's primary assignment involved representing CURE against personal injury protection (PIP) claims, mainly at arbitration. During her tenure, Kurtz worked on approximately 180 PIP matters, including several filed by defendant Massood & Bronsnick, L.L.C. ("the law firm" or "the firm")."

[Thereafter, Ms. Kurtz left CURE to become an associate at the firm and CURE filed an Order to Show Cause to disqualify her and the firm from any cases involving CURE.]

"Based upon our review of the record and the applicable legal principles, we agree with the trial court that CURE failed to demonstrate that Kurtz had acquired confidential information that could be used against CURE in future PIP matters. CURE's allegations that Kurtz had knowledge of business practices, litigation strategies, and staff personalities were too imprecise and general to meet the high standard required by Trupos to show that the matters were substantially related. The judge appropriately noted that the general knowledge Kurtz had received did not become confidential factual information when used in the relatively informal, routine, fact-specific PIP proceedings. We conclude that CURE did not meet its burden of proving that a violation of RPC 1.9 occurred."

CURE v. Kurtz, A-4330-11 - full decision below...