Thomas C. Salane

Thomas C. Salane

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Thom Salane offers a unique blend of litigation skills and insurance experience that has earned him recognition as one of South Carolina’s preeminent insurance lawyers.

With more than 40 years of litigation experience, Thom understands both the litigation process and the nuts and bolts of the insurance business. As a primary spokesperson for the insurance industry to the General Assembly, Thom served on the Legislative Advisory Committee re-writing and re-codifying the State’s insurance laws. Thom also served as General Counsel for South Carolina’s personal and commercial lines automobile insurance residual market mechanisms. In addition, Thom routinely represents major domestic and national insurers in complex insurance litigation, including insurance coverage issues, class action claims, bad faith actions, unfair insurance trade practices claims, reinsurance issues and governmental or regulatory matters dealing with rate and form filings, reinsurance, mergers and acquisitions. 

Thom’s litigation skills are also in demand outside of the insurance arena. He has represented national pharmaceutical companies in complex litigation involving the pricing of prescription drugs. He has defended numerous businesses in environmental, mass tort and toxic or hazardous spill claims. Thom also defends professional liability claims against attorneys, insurance agents and school officials.

Thom believes that every client should be treated as if they were his only client, entitled to his full attention and best efforts. Thom challenges himself each day to focus on those tasks needed to achieve the client’s objectives and produce positive results. He understands the difference between advocacy and honesty and strives daily to deal honestly with both clients and with others in his representations. His commitment to competence and excellence is reflected in his selections to Best Lawyers in America, South Carolina Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation Star and the highest rating and peer review rating afforded by Martindale-Hubbell.

Committed to service beyond the law, Thom has volunteered with numerous community charities and organizations, serving as a member and chair of the Board of the Free Medical Clinic, a volunteer with the Cooperative Ministries and other organizations helping homeless individuals to become productive members of the Columbia community.

Insurance Litigation:

  • Won dismissal of a class action lawsuit claiming excessive rates against an insurer and state reinsurer, based upon judicial recognition of the filed rate doctrine applied to the insurance industry.
  • Established appellate confirmation that environmental clean-up costs fall with-in the industry absolute pollution exclusion.
  • Appeared as amicus curiae for the American Insurance Association and the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America to reverse an adverse coverage determination that project damages due to contractor’s faulty workmanship constituted an “occurrence” under a commercial general liability insurance policy.

Personal Injury Litigation:
  • Won summary judgment on wrongful death claims against employees of a residential rehabilitation juvenile facility regarding the death of a volunteer worker killed by juveniles on work furlough and obtained dismissal of civil rights claims against the facility based on the “deliberate indifference” standard.
  • Won defense verdict in favor of neighborhood association for bodily injury claim of guest of homeowner injured in a diving incident at the neighborhood swimming pool.
  • Won summary judgment for Mississippi attorney sued in class action for alleged malpractice claims.
  • Defended a chemical company in more than 100 cases for mass tort injuries allegedly sustained in a railcar lead during the shipment of the company’s ammoniated fertilizer solution.
  • Negotiated settlements of multiple dram shop death claims arising out of automobile accidents involving 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 representing insurer interests in legislation.
  • Former General Counsel for the South Carolina Reinsurance Facility (1976-2004), the State’s automobile residual market.
  • General Counsel for the South Carolina Commercial Automobile Insurance Plan (1986 to present), the industry’s voluntary residual market for commercial vehicles
  • Successfully represented numerous insurers, rating organizations and insurance agents in administrative matters before the South Carolina Department of Insurance, including rate and form filings, administrative penalties, unfair claims practices charges, insurer rehabilitations and liquidations, insurer expansion applications, agent and company licensing, surplus lines approvals, market conduct and/or audit examinations.
  • University of South Carolina J.D. cum laude, J.D., 1974
  • University of South Carolina, A.B. cum laude, 1969
  • South Carolina, 1974
  • United States District Court, District of South Carolina, 1974
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, 1975

Professional or Industry Involvement

  • American Board of Trial Advocates – 1997 to Present
  • South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association – 1983 to present
  • South Carolina Bar Associaton – 1974 to present
  • American Bar Association – 1974 to present

Community or Pro Bono Involvement

  • Free Medical Clinic – Board Chair 2008-2010
  • Richland County Fee Dispute Resolution Board
  • Cooperative Ministries - Volunteer
  • Claude Sapp Award – USC Law School 1974
  • Cy Young Award – USC Law School 1974
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society -1967 to present
  • Phi Beta Kappa Scholastic Society – 1968 to present
  • Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award – 1969 (Most Outstanding Graduate USC)
  • Martindale-Hubble Peer Review Rating – AV (5.0)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants - 2018
  • Best Lawyers in America, Insurance Law 2007-2018
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, 2013-2018