GEORGE MCCLELLAN

CELL: (609) 468-0127
EMAIL: george@mcbelaw.com
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With diverse experience in complex commercial litigation across a multitude of industries, George focuses a significant portion of his practice on dispute resolution and regulatory compliance for managed care and pharmaceutical companies as well as fraud detection and prevention.

George has led teams of attorneys and consulting agencies in developing legal strategy in high-profile class action litigation and state and federal investigations for Fortune 500 companies with billions of dollars in potential liability. George has a breadth of experience in various industries, including managed care organizations, pharmaceuticals, property and casualty insurers, and national franchises.

George is admitted to practice in the State of New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Unite States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

George received his Bachelor of Arts in 1997 from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his juris doctorate in 2000 from The College of William and Mary School of Law.

CYNDI BERNSTIEL

CELL: (610) 635-9510
EMAIL: cyndi@mcbelaw.com
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Cyndi is an experienced litigator and former prosecutor. She represents leading insurance companies in the investigation and litigation of complex insurance cases arising from coverage, bad faith and fraud claims. Cyndi has 25 years of experience investigating and litigating cases involving criminal and/or fraudulent activity. She is a recognized industry expert in the area of arson and fraud investigation and litigation, who was selected by the International Association of Arson Investigators to teach an eight-hour class on NFPA 921 and 1033 to origin and cause investigators. Cyndi conducts in-depth, multi-faceted investigations on behalf of her insurance clients and routinely conducts examinations under oath of policyholders. Cyndi has assisted her insurance industry clients in investigating all types of suspicious claims, including large-scale residential and commercial arsons, residential burglaries, commercial vandalism/burglaries, stolen/damaged artwork claims, claims involving the mysterious disappearance of property/automobiles, and claims involving income tax, bankruptcy and mortgage fraud, among others.

Cyndi’s entire professional career has been focused on investigating and litigating criminal activity including insurance fraud.  After completing a criminal clerkship with two Judges in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Cyndi served as a prosecutor for six years.  As an Assistant District attorney, Cyndi tried numerous cases to verdict including drug and sex crimes, violent felonies, arsons and homicides.  She also served as Chief of the Investigating Grand Jury, overseeing complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations including arsons and white collar crimes.  Cyndi has been investigating and litigating insurance fraud for leading insurance companies on the civil side for the last 19 years.  She has developed the unique skills and good judgment needed to conduct a comprehensive fraud investigation, while simultaneously protecting her carrier clients from potential bad faith exposure.  She also helps her clients utilize the Examination Under Oath process where further factual development is necessary, often resulting in substantial cost savings to her clients.

Cyndi completed 41 tested hours of specialized arson investigation training by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Gynco, Georgia.  She is frequently asked to lecture on a wide range of topics involving the investigation and litigation of arson and insurance fraud claims.  She also routinely conducts in-house training for her insurance industry clients on best practices for the adjustment and investigation of arson and fraud claims and for preventing bad faith exposure.

 

Education
Cyndi is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Delaware where she was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and a writing tutor for the Honors Program. She received her law degree from Villanova University School of Law where she was a member of the Moot Court Board.
Successes
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a $3.2 million confirmed residential arson fire that destroyed the insured’s 11,000 sq. ft. home and its contents.  Uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured set the home ablaze and lied repeatedly during the carrier’s claim investigation to warrant a claim denial for arson and fraud, and ultimately a jury verdict for the carrier in the insured’s breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit of almost $1 million for the carrier’s investigation costs and advance payments.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a $3.2 million confirmed residential arson fire that destroyed the insureds’ home and contents.  Even though the insureds were in Florida when their Maryland home caught on fire, uncovered sufficient evidence that the insureds had directed someone to set the fire, had repeatedly lied during the carrier’s claim investigation, had committed contents fraud and had a financial motive to commit arson for profit sufficient to warrant a claim denial for arson and fraud.  Carrier prevailed in subsequent lawsuit for breach of contract and bad faith brought by the insureds.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a $2 million confirmed residential arson fire that destroyed the insured’s New York home, as well as a prototype for a new device that was allegedly the subject of a $300 million contract, together with personal property worth more than $1 million.  Uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured provided untruthful information about the claim and his multiple prior foreclosure and bankruptcy actions to warrant a claim denial under the policy’s “fraud and concealment” provision, as well as sufficient evidence of the insured’s failure to fully cooperate with the carrier’s claim investigation warranting a denial on the additional ground of noncooperation.  Insured’s subsequent lawsuit for bad faith and breach of contract was dismissed on summary judgment.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a $4.3 million confirmed residential arson fire that destroyed the insureds’ Maryland home and contents.  Despite the fact that the insureds had a confirmed alibi witness, uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured had directed someone to set the fire, had lied repeatedly during carrier’s claim investigation including lying about his move to another home before the fire and removing valuables from the loss location before the fire and that he had sufficient financial motive to commit arson for profit to warrant a claim denial for fraud. Carrier prevailed in subsequent lawsuit for breach of contract and bad faith brought by the insureds.
  • In a lawsuit in which a federal bankruptcy trustee deployed a team of three law firms in her efforts to recover in excess $90 million in damages for breach of contract and bad faith, we successfully settled the claim for $2.5 million, which was also less than three percent of the amount in controversy and less than five percent of the policy limit. Litigated simultaneously in six venues, we prevailed in complex, protracted motion practice regarding the attorney-client privilege to investigate what appeared to be a sophisticated insurance fraud scheme and subsequently prevailed in dispositive motion practice regarding multi-million dollar claims of alleged business interruption.
  • Assisted carrier with uncovering forgery, mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, tax fraud and misrepresentations during the carrier’s arson claim investigation.  The insured ultimately withdrew the claim as well as his lawsuit seeking $500,000 in property damage and bad faith damages.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a confirmed total loss arson fire to a bed and breakfast in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania  Despite numerous alibi witnesses vouching for the insured being at work when the fire started, uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured had a financial motive to commit arson for profit and that he had lied during the carrier’s claim investigation to warrant a claim denial on these bases, and ultimately a defense verdict for our insurance company client.
  • In a case involving a confirmed residential arson fire, won summary judgment based on the insured’s repeated failure and refusal to cooperate with carrier’s claim investigation, even though the insured offered to cooperate later during the litigation.
  • Secured for our insurance company client the insured’s withdrawal of a $1.4 million property damage and bad faith lawsuit in Pennsylvania based upon the results of our comprehensive fraud investigation and subsequent litigation discovery which conclusively revealed that the claimed weather-related water and mold damage to the insured townhomes pre-existed the inception of the policy period.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a confirmed commercial arson fire and alleged theft from the insured’s New York auto body shop.  Uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured had set or directed someone to set the fire, had himself removed the claimed items from the body shop before the fire and thereafter claimed them as stolen, had lied repeatedly during carrier’s claim investigation and had a financial motive to commit arson for profit, sufficient to warrant a claim denial under the policy’s “dishonest acts exclusion” and “concealment and fraud” provision. Insured walked away from the claim following the carrier’s claim denial.
  • Secured settlement for $1.00 of insureds’ breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit seeking $1.6 million stemming from alleged property damage to insured’s Pennsylvania farm house and numerous outbuildings from Hurricane Sandy after discovery confirmed that the insureds used Hurricane Sandy as an opportunity to claim prior un-repaired damage they had previously claimed in prior weather events, including Hurricane Irene, for which they had already been paid.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a confirmed $1 million residential arson fire that destroyed the insured’s Maryland home and contents.  Despite the fact that one of two separate fires caused the attic of the home to collapse, thus precluding a finding of arson for that particular fire, uncovered additional sufficient evidence that the insured set a separate fire elsewhere in the home and that he lied during the claim investigation sufficient to warrant a claim denial for fraud. Insured walked away from the claim following the carrier’s claim denial.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a $1.1 million residential arson fire that destroyed the insured’s New York home and contents.  Uncovered sufficient evidence that the insured had set the home ablaze to warrant a claim denial for arson, and insured ultimately walked away from the claim following the carrier’s claim denial.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating $500,000 residential arson fire that destroyed the insured’s Pennsylvania home and contents.  Uncovered sufficient evidence to rescind the insured’s policy based upon numerous material misrepresentations made by the insured during the policy application process.  Insured walked away from the claim following the carrier’s rescission of his policy.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating an undetermined fire loss, which also had other potential red flag indicators of fraud.  Worked closely with contents experts to uncover sufficient evidence that the insureds committed contents fraud sufficient to deny the claim under policy’s “concealment or fraud” provision, and uncovered additional evidence that the insureds failed to comply with their policy’s requirement that they install a central station fire alarm at the property.  Insureds walked away from the claim following the carrier’s claim denial.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating insureds’ fire and burglary claims to their Pennsylvania properties.  Uncovered sufficient evidence that the insureds solicited an arsonist to set the fire and lied about the circumstances of both the fire and burglary claims to warrant a denial of both claims under the policy’s “intentional acts” exclusion and its “concealment or fraud” provision.  Insureds walked away from the claims following the carrier’s claim denials.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating insured’s claim for alleged roof damage totaling $400,000 which investigation revealed that roof damage pre-existed the policy period and that the insured lied about the cause and timing of the damage during the investigation sufficient to warrant a denial of the claim under the policy’s “concealment or fraud” provision.  Following additional detailed discovery in insured’s subsequent breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against carrier which fortified the carrier’s fraud denial, insureds dismissed the lawsuit.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating insured’s claim for an alleged burglary of her Arkansas day care facility which investigation revealed that the burglary was staged by the insured and that the insured lied about the claimed contents inside the daycare facility at the time of the loss, which resulted in a denial of the claim for fraud, and ultimately the insured walking away from the claim.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating insureds’ claim for property damage to their multi-million dollar home theater system in New Jersey which investigation revealed that insureds has submitted fraudulent and overinflated invoices for portions of said damage, which resulted in denial of the claim for fraud, and ultimately the insureds walking away from the claim.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating insured’s $250,000 water damage claim, which investigation uncovered evidence that the insureds violated their policy’s “Concealment or fraud” provision by virtue of numerous material misrepresentations and concealments during the claim investigation regarding the claimed damages.  Following a declaratory judgment action filed on behalf of the carrier, the insureds withdrew their claim.
  • Assisted carrier with investigating a water loss at the insured’s commercial property, which investigation resulted in a claim denial based on the policy’s vacancy exclusion and its exclusions for neglect, interior water damage unless the property first sustains damage to its roof or walls through which the water enters and faulty, inadequate or defective maintenance.  Insureds walked away from the claim following the carrier’s claim denial.
  • Served as national coordinating counsel for large excess and surplus insurance carrier for Hurricane Sandy property damage claims.
Bar Membership & Court Admissions
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
Professional Affiliations and Professional Organizations
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board – Hearing Committee Member and Senior Hearing Committee Member (2001-2007)
  • International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)
  • International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) Member
  • CLM Insurance Fraud Committee Member
  • Montgomery Bar Association – Board of Directors (2000-2003), Young Lawyer’s Division, President (1999), American Citizenship and Membership Committee Chair (2000-2004), Chief Editor of the Montgomery County Law Reporter (2002) and Editor of the Montgomery County Law Reporter (2000 – 2001).
Speaking Engagements and Publications

The Intersection of Claims-Side Compliance and Extra-Contractual Exposure:  Building a Successful Foundation for your Claims Department, CLM Winter Conference (December 2019)

Investigating Claims with Potential Fraud Issues, In-house training for entire SIU Department of large specialty insurance company (August 2019)

Investigating Circumstantial Fraud Claims, In-house training for entire claims and SIU Departments of property and casualty insurance company (July 2019)

Admissibility of Expert Testimony in an Insurance Coverage Case, American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Seminar, Tuscon, Arizona (March 2019)

The Power’s In The Policy – Investigating Claims with Potential Fraud Issues, In-house training for Claims and SIU Departments of insurance company specializing in classic car insurance (August 2018)

Adjusting and Investigating Insurance Fraud Claims to Avoid Bad Faith Exposure, In-house training for Claims and SIU Departments of large specialty insurance company (July 2018)

I Will Survive! Overcoming Daubert Challenges, American Bar Association Property Insurance Law Conference, Nashville, TN (March 2018)

NFPA 921 and Your Expert Report, Training for Bucks County, PA Fire Marshal’s Office (October 26, 2017)

Best Practices for Adjusting and Investigating Fraud Claims, In-house training for entire Claims and SIU Departments of property and casualty insurance company (May 2017)

26th Anti-Insurance Fraud Training Seminar, sponsored by the NJSIA Education Foundation, Inc., Atlantic City, NJ (October 17-19, 2016)

8 Hour Training on NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033 to Civil and Criminal Arson Investigators, International Association of Arson Investigators, Reading, PA (February 2016)

Property & Catastrophe Fraud and Litigation, Presentation to 2015 CLM Claims College, School of Insurance Fraud, Philadelphia, PA (September 2015)

Insurance Fraud 2020 – New and Interesting Ways to Stay Ahead of the Fraudsters, CLM Annual Conference, Palm Springs, CA (March 2015)

Top Eight Ways to Win a Circumstantial Arson Case, Article for “Fraud Squad”, CLM Claims Management Magazine (November 2014)

Writing a NPFA 921-Complaint Expert Report and Qualifying as an Expert under NFPA 1033, 8 Hour Training to Civil and Criminal Arson Investigators, Homeland Security Training Institute, Glen Ellyn, IL (June 2014)

Your Curriculum Vitae and NFPA 1033, Training for Bucks County, Pennsylvania Fire Marshal’s Office (May 2014)

NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033 and Your Expert Report, International Association of Arson Investigators Training, Reynoldsburg, OH (March 2014)

Rescission – A Tool To Defeat Insurance Fraud, Claims & Litigation Management Alliance 2014 Webinar Series (January 2014)

Expert Report Writing and Your Curriculum Vitae, International Association of Arson Investigator’s Training, Reading, PA (November 2013)

The Circumstantial Arson Case: Investigative Techniques and Strategies, International Association of Arson Investigator’s 29th Annual Fire Investigation Training Conference, Champaign, IL (September 2012)

Winning the Circumstantial Arson Case, Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Conference, Hershey, PA (May 2012)

Investigating The Circumstantial Arson Case: Investigative Techniques and Strategies, 2012 International Association of Arson Investigators’ 63rd Annual Training Conference, Dover, DE (April 2012)

Winning the Fight Against Insurance Fraud: Contemporary Issues & Strategies, The CPCU Society Webinar (December 2011)

Developing Trends in the Investigation and Litigation of a Fire, National Business Institute, Philadelphia, PA (November 2011)

The Circumstantial Arson Case, International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) Seminar & Expo on Insurance Fraud, San Antonio, TX (September 2011)

An Insurer’s Fraud Defense in Catastrophic Property Loss Claims, ABA/TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee Annual Spring CLE Meeting, Orlando, FL (April 2011)

Coordinating the Civil and Criminal Arson Investigations, Joint Law Enforcement/Private Sector Arson Training Seminar (February 2011)

Top Ten Ways to Win a Circumstantial Arson Case, Joint Law Enforcement/Private Sector Arson Training Seminar (February 2011)

Fighting Insurance Fraud: From the Claim Investigation to the Courtroom: How to Conduct a Fair and Reasonable Investigation While Avoiding the Bad Faith Bullet, The CPCU Society (December 2008)

Arson for Profit – Fires in a Failing Economy, Joint Law Enforcement/Private Sector Arson Training Seminar (May 2008)

Charitable & Civic Involvement and Personal Interests

In 2013, Cyndi started the Superheroes 5k, an annual walk/run in memory of her son’s friend who died of brain cancer at 6 years of age. Together with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Superheroes 5k has raised over $200,000 in 7 years. The funds are donated to local families with children suffering from pediatric cancer. 

Cyndi has served on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project, a nonprofit organization providing free legal representation to children of Montgomery County who are victims of abuse and neglect. Cyndi has served as an advocate for these children and provides a voice to them as they weave their way through a complex legal system.

Cyndi enjoys running, reading books about business, entrepreneurship and personal development, attending concerts and spending time with her three children.

Clerkship

Criminal law clerk for the Hon. Michael Connor and Hon. Manuel Greenberg, Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County.