Michelle L. Burton
Michelle Burton is the Managing Partner of Shoecraft ♦ Burton LLP a boutique civil litigation firm in California which she started with her partner Robert Shoecraft in 2004. The firm specializes in complex insurance coverage, bad faith, professional liability, business, environmental litigation, personal injury and civil writs and appeals.
Ms. Burton is an avid runner and has completed the triple-crown half marathon series several years in a row. She enjoys spending time with her family outdoors and traveling.
Ms. Burton’s practice focuses on defense of insurers in first party bad faith claims, complex coverage disputes, suspect and fraudulent claims, business disputes and defense of insureds in construction, premises liability and professional liability claims including broker errors and omissions. Ms. Burton also has expertise in the area of affordable housing. Ms. Burton is both an accomplished trial attorney and adept legal writer. She has obtained defense verdicts against multi-million dollar claims for her clients throughout Southern California. Ms. Burton has earned the respect of her peers and trial court judges for her tenacious, tactful and adept litigation skills.
Ms. Burton has also authored numerous appeals both published and unpublished including recently overturning a 1.9 million punitive damages award against an insurer on JNOV and a 1.3 million dollar punitive damages award against an insurer. Ms. Burton was appellate counsel on one of the leading cases on rescission in California concerning material misprepresentations on an application for homeowner’s insurance. The First District Court of Appeal agreed the trial court failed to instruct on a central theory of the case and the jury instruction on rescission misstated the law resulting in reversal of an $836,000 underlying verdict and upholding JNOV in connection with the 1.9 million dollar punitive damages award.
Ms. Burton has authored articles on insurance coverage issues and is routinely called on by clients to render coverage opinions and draft policy language and endorsements to comport with new law. Ms. Burton also provides litigation and trial strategy consulting for her clients across the country.
- Ms. Burton is admitted in the State of California, all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California and the Supreme Court of California. She is also admitted to the State of Washington and all State Courts. Ms. Burton is a Certified Appellate Specialists in California.
- San Diego State University; graduated with a B.A. with distinction in (1991)
- Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law (1996) where she was a member of the National Trial Team
- Admitted to Washington State Bar (1998)
- Certified Appellate Specialists (2013)
- Ms. Burton is the President of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, San Diego chapter, and a member of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California.
- Member of the American Bar Association, San Diego County Bar, Los Angeles Country Bar, Lawyer’s Club, California Women Lawyers.
- President of Run Women Run since 2009, a non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of women in politics
- Legal and Political Consultant for local media, Ms. Burton is called upon by local media to provide legal analysis on noteworthy cases and political issues.
- Media Chair for the California Informed Voters Project which is sponsored by the National Association of Women Judges
- American Juris Prudence Award in ADR (1996)
- Top Attorneys Semi-finalist (2001)
- San Diego Business Journal Semi Finalist for Women Who Mean Business (2013)
Benyamine v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.
Settlement favorable to Pacific Specialty reached after 3 days of trial in connection with a bad faith law suit arising out of the appraisal process.
Rouland v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.
Defense Verdict – 5 week trial. Plaintiffs claimed hidden decay in a sewer pipe caused a landslide at their home. PSIC denied coverage on the grounds sewer pipe was not the predominate cause of the loss. Plaintiff sought bad faith and punitive damages in excess of 9 million dollars.
Allstate v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.
Defense Verdict – Allstate defended a nasty neighbor dispute and PSIC declined. PSIC’s coverage position was determined to be correct.
Hoffman v. King
35 minute Defense Verdict. Plaintiff claimed injures including PTSD after an alleged rescue of a minor. Plaintiff sought damages in excess of 500,000.
Roepel v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.
30 minute Defense Verdict after 5 week trial. Plaintiff claimed PSIC improperly rescinded her policy after a fire loss. The jury found Plaintiff made material misrepresentations on her application.
Morgan v. Pacific Specialty Ins. co.
Nonsuit Granted. Plaintiffs sued PSIC for breach of contract and bad faith following a fire at their home. Summary judgment was granted as to bad faith on a finding of genuine dispute. After the presentation of Plaintiffs case the court granted non-suit on breach of contract.
Vanderhyde v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.
Defense Verdict after 4 week trial. Plaintiffs claimed they were underinsured in the 2003 wildfires and sued PSIC for bad faith an punitive damages.
Appeals and Post-Trial Motions
Douglas v. Fidelity National Insurance Company
JNOV granted as to 1.9 million dollar punitive damages award. Ms. Burton was asked to assist after an adverse trial resulted in an award of bad faith and punitive damages. Ms. Burton is currently handling the appeal.
Roepel v. Pacific Specialty
Following a defense verdict the court of appeal found the insurer properly rescinded the insurance policy.
Morgan v. Pacific Specialty
The court of appeal affirmed non-suit in favor or the insurer on the grounds plaintiffs failed to complete repairs within the statutory time frame and could not recover replacement cost.
Otay Land v. United Enterprises (9th Circuit)
The Federal District Court of Appeals remanded a cost award after the trial court failed to engage in the proper analysis awarding just costs.
Decena v. Pacific Specialty
Reversal of 1.9 million dollar bad faith verdict including punitive damages award.
Heppler v. Peters
Seminal case involving indemnity agreements in construction contracts.
Heaton v. Alindajao
Alternative writ granted after denial of summary judgment
Training & Seminars
Ms. Burton provides training courses for insurers on the California Fair Claims Practices Regulations, SIU Regulations and has been a panel speaker at the Combined Claims Conference on issues involving 2071 property appraisals. She has been a panel speaker for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers on the use of social media in jury selection.
Ms. Burton is assists her local soccer club in fundraising efforts and is also dedicated to the advancement of women in politics and the law.