Cross-Complaint Against a Lawyer for Indemnity In California

In Rowell v. TransPacific Life Ins. Co. (1979) 94 Cal. App. 3d 818 [156 Cal. Rptr. 679], a disability insurer sued by its insured for bad faith unsuccessfully sought leave to file a cross-complaint for indemnity against the lawyer who had represented the insured when he made his claim for disability benefits. The insurer claimed the lawyer's delay in pursuing the claim was both a contributing cause to the insured's original damage and also an exacerbation of the damage caused by the carrier's own delay. We rejected both theories, explaining that "reasons of policy preclude a lawyer's liability by way of cross-complaint for indemnity for damage to his own client in the course of action against the cross-complaining adversary. The potential of conflict between the client's best interest and the course which the lawyer must take to minimize his own exposure to a cross-complaint from the adversary is untenable in view of the lawyer's duty of undivided loyalty to his client." (Id. at p. 821.)