Insurer sues Devine Millimet

The Manchester-based law firm of Devine Millimet is being sued by a legal-insurance provider that alleges the firm didn’t provide complete information on an insurance application.

The Attorneys Liability Protection Society says that the Manchester-based law firm – one of the largest in the state – did not inform it of a possible pending claim when it applied for insurance in August 2002, according to a suit filed Dec. 29 in federal court in Concord.

At the time, the suit charges, the law firm had already been put on notice that it could be responsible for some or much of a $1.6 million order in probate court.

The possible claim related to the estate of Monsignor Norman Bolduc Jr. – a chancellor of the Manchester diocese and one of the highest-ranking Roman Catholic Church officials in New Hampshire. He died in a motorcycle accident in September 2000 with an estate exceeding $6.5 million, primarily invested in the stock of several high-tech companies. Bolduc’s estate later charged that the executor — Father George Soberick, pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes Church in Laconia – didn’t sell the holdings off quickly enough, resulting in the loss of more than $1 million to the estate.

In February 2005, a probate court agreed and ruled that Soberick owed the estate roughly $1.6 million.

Although Devine Millimet wasn’t named as a party in the probate court case, the probate court’s ruling did criticize it for the handling of the estate, and in April 2005 the National Grange Mutual Insurance Company — which had issued a probate bond on the estate — demanded that the law firm reimburse it for any damages it had to pay on behalf of Father Soberick, the federal suit says.

The insurer’s suit — filed by William Chapman of the Concord law firm of Orr & Reno — charges that when it applied for insurance from Attorneys Liability, the law firm didn’t check off the statement that it had “any knowledge of any incident or occurrence which might give rise to a claim.”

The suit asks that the law firm’s coverage be rescinded and the insurer be left off the hook for any claim arising over Bolduc’s estate, as well as attorney fees and unspecified damages.

While not commenting on specific allegations, Devine Millimet said it believes the suit has no merit and will defend against it vigorously, said Peter Beeson, a partner in the firm.

“This has been brought by the insurance company in the effort to avoid its obligation to provide coverage for a claim that hasn’t even been brought,” Beeson said. — BOB SANDERS

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