Thomas C. Salane
Thom Salane offers an unusual blend of litigation skills and insurance experience that has earned him recognition as one of South Carolina’s preeminent insurance lawyers. With more than 35 years of litigation experience, Thom understands both the litigation process and the nuts and bolts of the business of insurance. He serves as a primary spokesperson for the insurance industry to the General Assembly. For more than 35 years, Thom has served as general counsel for South Carolina’s personal and commercial lines automobile insurance residual market mechanisms. In the 1980’s, he served on the insurance industry’s Advisory Committee to the legislature responsible for re-writing and re-codifying the state’s insurance laws, which are still in place today.
Thom routinely represents major domestic and national insurers in complex insurance litigation, including class action claims, bad faith actions, unfair trade practice claims and governmental or regulatory administrative matters in connection with rate and form filings, reinsurance, mergers and acquisitions. With extensive insurance coverage experience, he also represents many insurers in litigating significant coverage questions arising under personal and commercial lines policies. Thom has also successfully prosecuted the claims of numerous insurers challenging unconstitutional premium taxing schemes, winning millions of dollars in premium tax refunds for his insurer clients and producing a legislative change in an oppressive taxing law. Thom attributes his unique perspective of insurance from his knowledge and understanding of the industry’s day-to-day business operations. He is comfortable discussing all facets of insurance operations with insurance executives, actuaries, underwriters, claims managers, governmental affairs personnel or insurance agents. His background and experience enable him to intelligently advise insurers on their business decisions and to develop successful strategies for writing all lines of insurance in a small, and sometimes difficult market. Thom has even been called upon by his industry clients to supervise attorneys engaged in insurance litigation in other states. Thom also renders advice as outside counsel for many smaller, domestic insurers writing property and casualty insurance or life, accident and health insurance who have no in-house legal resources.
Thom’s litigation skills are also in demand outside of the insurance arena. He represents several national pharmaceutical companies in complex litigation involving the pricing of prescription drugs. He has defended numerous other types of business entities in connection with environmental, mass tort and toxic or hazardous spill claims. Thom also defends professional liability claims, including those asserted against attorneys, insurance agents and school officials. Thom also enjoys defending personal injury and property damage claims arising under challenging and unusual commercial settings.
In his spare time, Thom enjoys playing golf, reading and volunteering for worthwhile charities. Thom is the chairman of the board of the Free Medical Clinic in Columbia, South Carolina, a volunteer organization that provides prescription medication, primary care and specialty referrals to the working poor. Thom also regularly volunteers with the Cooperative Ministries by staffing and fixing meals at a homeless shelter.
- Won a dismissal of a class action lawsuit claiming an excessive rate against an insurer and its state reinsurer, based upon the first judicial recognition of the filed rate doctrine as it applied to insurance in South Carolina.
- Established an appellate confirmation that environmental clean-up costs, while “damages” under a commercial general liability policy, were nonetheless excluded under the industry absolute pollution exclusion.
- Appearing as amicus curiae for the American Insurance Association and Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America, Thom won a reversal of an adverse coverage determination that project damages due to contractor’s faulty workmanship constituted an “occurrence” under a commercial general liability policy.
Personal Injury Litigation
- Successfully won and affirmed a summary judgment on wrongful death claims against the employees of a residential rehabilitation juvenile facility regarding the death of a volunteer worker who was killed by juveniles on work furlough. Thom obtained the dismissal of civil rights claims against facility based upon the “deliberate indifference” standard.
- Successfully tried to a defense verdict a case on behalf of a neighborhood association, and affirmed on appeal, the bodily injury claim of a guest of a homeowner injured in a diving incident at the neighborhood swimming pool.
- Defended a chemical company in more than 100 cases for mass tort injuries allegedly sustained in a railcar leak during the shipment of the company’s ammoniated fertilizer solution.
- Negotiated the settlements of multiple dram shop death claims arising out of an automobile accident involving the service of alcoholic beverages to the at-fault driver.
Administrative, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs
- Serves as South Carolina legislative counsel for the American Insurance Association. In this role, Thom is responsible for representing insurer interests in legislation.
- Serves as general counsel for South Carolina Reinsurance Facility, the state’s automobile residual market mechanism. Thom manages legal representation for all rate and form filings, agency appointments or dismissals, implementation of law changes, claims disputes and defending internal administrative appeals.
- Serves as general counsel for South Carolina Commercial Automobile Insurance Plan, an industry volunteered residual market for commercial automobile insurance, including drafting of original plan documents and rules, application forms and advising the Governing Board.
- Successfully represented innumerable insurers in administrative matters before the South Carolina and other states’ Department of Insurance, including rate and form filings, administrative sanctions involving insurers and/or agents, unfair insurance trade practice claims, claims involving the administration of rehabilitations and liquidations, insurer expansion applications, agent and company licensing, declaring special dividends, surplus lines approvals, market conduct or audit examination.