Maria A. Feeley
Maria Feeley is a partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department of Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in the Philadelphia office. Ms. Feeley is chair of the firm's Women's Initiative, vice chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee, and a member of the firm’s Hiring and Contributions Committees.
Ms. Feeley focuses her practice on complex business and commercial disputes, products liability, insurance coverage, bad faith, social media law and education counseling. She has litigated matters in a variety of fora, including arbitration, federal and state courts. She understands the significant disruption litigation causes to businesses, as well as the expense and risk associated with litigation, and counsels clients on alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration and mediation, as well as strategies to reduce the risk of litigation.
She advises and represents domestic and international manufacturers, distributors and retailers in lawsuits throughout the United States. She serves as coordinating counsel and strategic counsel for clients facing litigation throughout the United States, and counsels clients with respect to litigation management, pre-litigation strategies, and other issues such as risk management.
She has represented insurance companies in complex insurance disputes and bad faith lawsuits, and served as national counsel for insurers, managing their litigation and outside counsel throughout the United States.
Ms. Feeley is an arbitrator for the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, and is often appointed to chair civil arbitration panels. She is an adjunct professor at Rosemont College, where she teaches business law and sits on the Board of Trustees. She is a regular speaker before industry and professional associations, and conducts in-house training and educational programs for clients.
In April 2014, Ms. Feeley was appointed to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, an independent agency charged with enforcing the Ethics Act, which applies to public officials, public employees, and candidates and nominees for public office. The Ethics Commission’s responsibilities include rendering advisory opinions regarding the Ethics Act, enforcing the Ethics Act as it relates to the filing of Statements of Financial Interests forms, investigating alleged violations of the Ethics Act, and issuing decisions in relation to such investigations. Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, the Ethics Commission also is vested with responsibilities which include generating a public listing of all state, county, municipal, and other government positions meeting the definitions of the terms “public official” or “executive-level public employee” set forth in the Gaming Act. The Ethics Commission has additional responsibilities under the Lobbying Disclosure Law, including the enforcement of certain provisions of the Lobbying Disclosure Law and the issuance of advisory opinions regarding the Lobbying Disclosure Law.
Ms. Feeley’s experience includes:
Education Counseling, Litigation and Investigation Services
- represented Charter School students and parents challenging Chester Upland School District practices
- counseled school district on issues relating to charter schools, faculty/administrator conduct, enrollment, special education, record keeping, compliance and billing practices
- counseled educational institution clients with respect to pending litigation
- represented religious institution facing claims by former students
- advised college on risk management issues, training and institutional responses to crises
- counsel academic institution on issues relating to the unionization of faculty
- counseled a college with respect to revising its by-laws and committee structures, in accordance with Association of Governing Body Guidelines and suggested best practices.
Litigation Management, Counseling and Training
Commercial Disputes and General Litigation Experience
- managed litigation and outside counsel for clients facing litigation throughout the United States to ensure adherence to best practices, and implementation of litigation strategies consistent with company goals
- counseled third-party administrators in the United States and Asia with respect to litigation pending against their clients throughout the United States
- counseled corporate clients and conducted litigation management training, and provided continuing legal education to in-house attorneys
- evaluated pending litigation against companies to be purchased by clients, and worked with corporate counsel through the due diligence process to address issues relating to pending and anticipated litigation, and insurance coverage issues
- counseled clients with respect to litigation hold issues and managing electronic discovery.
- obtained dismissal of all claims against an international hotel chain on forum non convienens grounds in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- obtained summary judgment in favor of a franchisor seeking to enforce the terms of a franchise agreement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division
- obtained a judgment through arbitration in favor of a building contractor on a breach of contract claim in Philadelphia
- obtained judgment notwithstanding verdict after a two-week jury trial in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on the basis that plaintiff did not prove its claims against the defendant, an Italian machinery and manufacturing company, as a matter of law
- successfully compelled arbitration of a wrongful death claim based on an arbitration clause in a consumer contract, and defended the claim in an arbitration proceeding administered by the National Arbitration Forum
- represented a major clothing manufacturer with respect to licensing disputes, and instituted arbitration proceedings on behalf of the client through the American Arbitration Association
- successfully tendered defense and indemnity pursuant to contract in connection with a litigation arising out of a construction accident
- represented a major commercial developer in a suit against a national outlet mall developer, including claims for intentional interference with prospective contractual relationships in Pennsylvania
- represented an international bank in contract disputes and trade secret claims in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
- defended a national bank against claims of breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of contract, violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and invasion of privacy
- represented a publicly traded company facing breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
- represented an international hotel chain in a negligence action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and successfully resolved the litigation through mediation
- defended a national HVAC equipment manufacturer in a lawsuit including claims for unfair competition, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, tortious interference with actual and prospective contractual relations, and commercial disparagement
- obtained dismissal of a purported class action lawsuit against a title insurance company alleged to have systematically and endemically overcharged purchasers of title insurance
- counseled domestic and international corporations on significant procedural issues such as forum non conveniens, personal jurisdiction, and choice of law
- defended domestic and international manufacturers, distributers, and retailers in product liability cases throughout the United States
- managed electronic discovery in complex commercial disputes.
Insurance and Bad Faith
- obtained summary judgment on behalf of a manufacturer of power strip products in a case involving claims for negligence, strict liability and breach of implied warranty
- obtained dismissal of all claims against an Italian distributor of wine sued in a product liability lawsuit filed in New Jersey
- obtained dismissal on behalf of a Chinese manufacturing company in a product liability lawsuit filed in Arizona, on the basis that the Arizona court could not exercise jurisdiction over the Chinese company
- obtained dismissal of breach of contract and strict liability claims against a product manufacturer alleged to have caused a fire resulting in more than $24 million in damages at a commercial facility in Pennsylvania
- obtained dismissal of all claims against an Italian manufacturer of steel chemical containers on the basis that the New Jersey court could not exercise personal jurisdiction over the Italian company
- obtained summary judgment in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Maryland, in favor of a manufacturer who allegedly developed a defective product that resulted in a flood
- obtained dismissal of all claims against an international product manufacturer sued in Pennsylvania on the grounds that that court could not exercise personal jurisdiction over the Taiwan company
- obtained summary judgment in favor of a manufacturer whose product was alleged to have caused a warehouse fire
- represented the manufacturer of a component of a crane in a product liability death case, and successfully resolved the case through mediation
- successfully resolved a product liability case for a leading global beauty company, and the world’s largest direct seller marketing to women in more than 100 countries, in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, by transferring to binding arbitration and obtaining a favorable result for the client
- represented an international manufacturer whose product was alleged to cause the failure of a helicopter, resulting in the death of 17 passengers
- represented an international manufacturer and domestic product distributor whose product allegedly caused an explosion resulting in severe burn injuries to multiple children
- represented a heavy equipment manufacturer in a product liability case involving injuries allegedly sustained when the front window of an excavator allegedly failed to latch into its overhead storage position, and fell on the operator
- represented an international manufacturer of a valve that allegedly leaked gas, causing an explosion resulting in the death of an individual
- represented domestic and international manufacturers of machinery in cases involving catastrophic injuries and the death of machine and equipment operators
- represented an Italian machinery manufacturer whose product was alleged to have caused severe head trauma and brain injury to a factory worker
- represented a manufacturer, distributor and retailer whose product was alleged to have caused severe burn injuries to consumers
- represented an international beverage manufacturer in product liability action
- represented an Italian manufacturer and importer of glass bottles in a product liability case in New Jersey
- defended an international product manufacturer in a strict liability and negligence action pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and successfully resolved the litigation through mediation.
- successfully argued an appeal before the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirming judgment in favor of an insurer found to owe no defense or indemnity to its insured
- reached a successful resolution on behalf an insurer facing claims in Delaware Superior Court by a policyholder seeking payment of defense costs in connection with a criminal indictment alleging wrongful acts over an extended period, and involving a subsidiary acquired after a number of the alleged acts had taken place
- reached a successful resolution on behalf of an international insurer facing claims in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in which its policy holder alleged it breached a Non-Profit Directors, Officers and Employees Liability and Reimbursement Policy and violated Georgia’s Bad Faith Statute, O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6
- obtained dismissal of a $24 million subrogation claim filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
- worked with a court-appointed receiver for an insurance trust which became insolvent, to investigate the causes of the trust’s demise and bring lawsuits against the trust’s trustees, officers, consultants and actuaries, leading to a $13.5 million recovery on behalf of the trust
- obtained judgments on behalf of insurers declaring that they owed no defense or indemnity under Commercial General Liability Policies
- successfully represented a national insurance company that sued its third-party administrator for poor claims handling
- counseled a national insurer providing a defense to an insured hospital system under reservation of rights, with respect to scope of coverage and number of occurrences for multiple catastrophic claims pending against the policyholder
- counseled insurer on the Hague Convention and other International Treaties potentially implicated when providing coverage to foreign companies
- provided coverage analyses and opinions for national and international insurers, and filed declaratory judgment actions on behalf of insurers to determine coverage obligations with respect to policy holders and other insurers
- drafted coverage opinions, reservation of rights and coverage denial letters on behalf of insurers
- served as national counsel for insurers, managing their litigation and outside counsel throughout the United States
- counseled third-party administrators in Asia with respect to litigation pending against their clients throughout the United States
- represented insurers and insureds based in Asia, Europe, and Mexico, facing first- and third-party litigation in the United States
- assisted clients in resolving, and, when necessary, litigating coverage disputes, in a variety of fora, including arbitration, federal and state courts.
Ms. Feeley also is a frequent author on litigation, insurance, diversity and inclusion, and other professional issues. Examples include:
- successfully represented insurers in disputes regarding allegedly wrongful denial of long-term disability benefits involving plans governed by ERISA
- successfully represented insurers in disputes arising from allegedly wrongful denials of life insurance claims
- successfully represented an insurer against a claim seeking to reinstate a life insurance policy that lapsed shortly before the death of insured
- successfully represented an insurer in a case alleging improper refusal to pay benefits to a surviving spouse
- successfully resolved litigation through mediation, resulting in favorable settlements of claims alleging wrongful denial or termination of disability benefits.
She is a regular speaker before industry and professional associations. Examples include:
- “Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Organization,” Aspatore Books (expected 2014)
- “Pennsylvania Supreme Court Affirms Superior Court Decision Protecting Attorney-Expert Communications from Discovery” Pepper Hamilton LLP Commercial Litigation Alert (2014)
- “Creating and Maintaining a Positive Social Media Policy,” Lawyermade (2014)
- “Insured Injuries Under Coverage B: Personal and Advertising Injury,” Chapter in The Reference Handbook on the Commercial General Liability Policy, American Bar Association (1st edition published in 2010; 2nd edition expected in 2013)
- “Pennsylvania Superior Court Find Insured Has Burden of Allocating Settlement Payments Between Covered and Uncovered Claims” Pepper Hamilton LLP Client Alert (2013)
- “Third Circuit Reconciles Split Over the Standard for Deciding Motions to Compel Arbitration and Clarifies When Discovery Is Allowed on the Arbitrability Issue,” Pepper Hamilton LLP Client Alert (2013)
- “Helping Clients Weigh The Benefits And Drawbacks of Alternative Dispute Resolution,” Chapter in the Trends in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Thompson Reuters/Aspatore (2012)
- “What Your Mother Never Told You About Jury Selection,” Philadelphia Bar Association (2011)
- “En Banc Panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds Attorney-Expert Communications Not Discoverable,” Pepper Hamilton LLP Commercial Litigation Alert (2011)
- “Fair Share Act Is Now Law; ‘Deepest Pockets’ Now a Smaller Target in Litigation,” Pepper Hamilton LLP Client Alert(2011)
- “Insured Injuries Under Coverage B: Personal and Advertising Injury,” Chapter in The Reference Handbook on the Commercial General Liability Policy, American Bar Association (2010)
- “6 Tips for Effective Self-Promotion – The Key to Unlocking the Door to Career Opportunities and Professional Success,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute (2010)
- “Navigating Your Way Through Commerce Court,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute (2009)
- Statement of Diversity Principles, Philadelphia Bar Association (2008) (Member of Drafting Committee)
- Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Lawyers, Philadelphia Bar Association (2007) (Chair of Drafting Committee)
- Call to Action with Respect to the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys, Philadelphia Bar Association (2007) (Chair of Drafting Committee)
- Resolution Endorsing the Call to Action and Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys, Philadelphia Bar Association (2007).
Other speaking engagements:
- “Practicing Law While Breaking the Confines of Implicit Bias In and Outside the Courtroom” (faculty), American Bar Association YLD 2014 Annual Spring Conference (2014)
- “Practicing in New Jersey and Philadelphia” (speaker), Columbia Law School (2014)
- “Avoiding Social Media Disaters” (faculty), Annual CLPG CLE Event, Westin Hotel, Philadelphia (2013)
- “PA Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial & Ethnic Fairness: 10 Years of Addressing Inequities & Securing Fairness & Equal Justice in PA’s Courts” (course planner and moderator), Pennsylvania Bar Institute and the Philadelphia Bar Association CLE Program (2013)
- “Voir Dire Workshop” (faculty), Pepper Hamilton LLP CLE Program (2011)
- “Deposition Workshop” (faculty), Dechert LLP CLE Program (2011)
- “Novel Issues Surrounding Coverage for Green Claims” (speaker), Annual CLE Conference of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association (2010)
- “Ethics and Marketing: Marketing Yourself from the Inside Out” (faculty), Pennsylvania Bar Institute and Pennsylvania Bar Association CLE Program (2010)
- Annual Bench Bar and CLE Conference (chair and faculty), Philadelphia Bar Association (2009)
- “Navigating Your Way Through Commerce Court” (course planner and faculty), Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE Program (2009)
- “Emerging Issues Concerning Green Claims” (speaker), Annual CLE Conference of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association (2009)
- First Summit and CLE Conference of the Women in the Profession Committee (chair and faculty), Pennsylvania Bar Institute and Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Lawyers” (course planner and moderator), Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE Program (2008)
- “How Women Can Succeed in a Law Firm Culture” (moderator), BVR/Mealey’s CLE Program (2008)
- “Transitioning to Partner: The Next Steps Following Advancement from the Associate Ranks” (faculty), BVR/Mealey’s CLE Program (2008)
- “Best Practices for Uniform Claims Handling” (faculty), Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals (2008)
- “Successful Interviewing and Beyond” (course planner), Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE Program (2007)
- “Representing Foreign Manufacturers Sued in the Unites States” (faculty), Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals (2007)
- Education Law (guest lecturer), Millersville University Graduate School of Education (2006 and 2007)
- “Understanding the Significance of the Hague Service Convention and Other International Treaties When Representing Foreign Companies” (faculty), Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals (2006)
- “E-Discovery Update” (moderator), Lexis-Nexis CLE Program (2005)
- “Trial Preparation and the Use of Technology” (moderator), CLE Program (2005)
- “Navigating Your Way Through Tough Evidentiary Issues” (moderator), CLE Program (2005)
- “Formulating and Implementing a Litigation Plan” (course planner and moderator), CLE Program (2005)
- Mock Deposition Camp, (faculty), Pepper Hamilton LLP CLE Program (2004, 2005)
- “Threshold Jurisdictional Issues For International Insureds” (faculty), Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals (2004)
- “Insurance Law and Bad Faith Update” (faculty), CLE Program (2000).
Ms. Feeley is a leader in the bar and the community. In 2007, she was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Governors of the 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association. In 2007 and 2008 she served as co-chair of its Women in the Profession Committee, in 2009 and 2103 she served as co-chair and in 2012 as chair of its Annual Bench-Bar and CLE Conference, in 2011 she served as chair of its Justice Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award Committee, in 2012 she served as vice-chair of its Women’s Rights Committee, and in 2013 she served as chair of its Women’s Rights Committee. Ms. Feeley chaired the First Women in the Profession Summit of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the subcommittee which drafted the Best Practices for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys. Ms. Feeley is the founding member of the Women in the Profession Public Service Task Force, was appointed to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Sandra Day O’Connor Award Selection Committee from 2007-2010, and the Association’s Diversity Award Selection Committee in 2008-2009. She was appointed to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Diversity Task Force in 2008.
- “Effective Networking for Lawyers” (speaker), American Bar Association Women in Law Leadership Academy (2010)
- “How to Become a Lawyer” (speaker), Temple University – Beasley School of Law (2008)
- “Judicial Tips For Effective Advocacy in State Courts” (program planner), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Meet the Newest Members of the Federal Bench” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Women Leaders of the Bar” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Why and How Women Lawyers Should Buy a Home and Invest in Real Estate” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Women of the City Law Department” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Power Networking for Women Lawyers” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Women Lawyers of Distinction” (moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “So You Think You’d Like to Work In-House” (moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “How to Have It All, The Career and The Family” (speaker), Philadelphia Bar Association and Flex-Time Lawyers LLC (2008)
- “Creating Your Most Polished and Professional Image to Achieve Your Highest Potential and Career Success” (program planner), Philadelphia Bar Association (2008)
- “Things I wish I had Known When I Was a Young Lawyer” (speaker), Philadelphia Bar Association (2007)
- “Judicial Tips for Effective Advocacy” (moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2007)
- “Developing a Niche Practice” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2007)
- “Making a Difference: Women Helping Women in the Legal Profession” (program planner and moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association (2007)
- “What Clients Want” (moderator), Philadelphia Bar Association, DuPont and Sunoco (2005)
- “Succeeding as a Leader in a Firm” (speaker), Philadelphia Bar Association (2005).
In 2013, she was selected to serve on the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, which evaluates judicial candidates to help voters make decisions about candidates for judicial office. She also serves as a delegate to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Women’s Initiative Task Force.
Ms. Feeley has been a member of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession since 2009, and co-chaired its Quality of Life Committee from 2011-2012, co-chaired its Membership Committee from 2009-2011, co-chaired its Annual Report Card Committee from 2012-2013, and in 2013 was appointed to co-chair its Promotion of Women Committee. She also served on the YWI Advisory Board of Women’s Way, the county’s oldest and largest women’s funding federation, from 2006-2011.
Ms. Feeley is the Philadelphia liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. She co-chaired the Planning Committee for the 2010 ABA Women In Law Leadership Academy, and is a member of the ABA Advisory Panel that is periodically asked to provide opinions about the direction of the ABA and issues facing the legal profession. She is active in the Lawyers' Club of Philadelphia and in 2015 was elected the organization's treasurer.
Ms. Feeley also served on the Executive Board of the Stewards’ Alliance, an organization dedicated to supporting the special needs schools of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and served as chair of the board in 2010. In 2011, she was appointed to the Archbishop’s Cabinet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and since 2011, she has served on the Strategic Planning Committee for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services. She was also selected to be a member of the Archdiocesan Professionals’ Society.
Ms. Feeley has received numerous legal and professional awards. In 2011, the Profiles in Diversity Journal honored her in its 10th Annual WomenWorthWatching® issue. In 2009, the Philadelphia Business Journal named her one of “40 Under 40,” recognizing her as one of Philadelphia’s leading professionals under the age of 40, who are “proven performers in their respective industries.” In 2008, The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly named Ms. Feeley one of Pennsylvania’s 25 Women of the Year. Also in 2008, the Philadelphia Bar Association presented Ms. Feeley with the F. Sean Peretta Award, given annually to a member of the legal community who exhibits exceptional community service. American Lawyer Media named her as one of Pennsylvania’s “Lawyers on the Fast Track” in 2006. She has repeatedly been listed in the Pennsylvania edition of Super Lawyers Magazine as a Rising Star, an honor given to the top 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state who are 40 years old or younger.
Ms. Feeley provides pro bono legal services through the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP), and through the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations, served in the Attorney Mentoring Program, the Temple LEAP Program, the Legal Hotline Program, the Lawyer-for-a-Day Program and Law Week, and served as a judge in the National Moot Court Competition. Ms. Feeley has coached in the Philadelphia Reads Program and participated in the Philadelphia Department of Education Career Day. Through the Homeless Advocacy Project, she assisted displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Before joining Pepper in January 2004, Ms. Feeley was an associate in the Commercial Litigation and Property Departments of White and Williams LLP, where she worked extensively on complex commercial litigation matters, insurance coverage and bad faith lawsuits, products liability and construction defect cases, and real estate errors and omissions cases.
Ms. Feeley received her B.A., cum laude, in mathematics and history in 1993 from Rosemont College, where she received a four-year full-tuition academic scholarship and was inducted into the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society. She received her J.D. in 1997 from Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she served as a case note author and senior articles editor of the Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, formerly known as the Race and Ethnic Ancestry Law Digest. In law school, she was appointed to the National Moot Court Team and was a National Moot Court quarterfinalist and a John W. Davis Moot Court semifinalist.
Ms. Feeley is a member of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland bars. She also is admitted to appear before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the District of Maryland and New Jersey. She is a member of the American, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Philadelphia Bar Associations, the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, and the Lawyers’ Club of Philadelphia.
B.A. 1993, cum laude, Rosemont College; member, Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society
J.D. 1997, Washington and Lee University School of Law; senior articles editor, REAL Law Journal
Admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland