Elliot Scharfenberg


Elliot loves being a lawyer, and his favorite part of practicing law is working closely with clients to resolve complex problems. He represents sureties in all manner of disputes and regularly negotiates and litigates performance bond claims, payment bond claims, bad faith claims, and claims against indemnitors. He often gets involved in matters before a lawsuit is filed and takes a business approach to resolve matters early on and in creative ways. Elliot thinks the best solutions to a client’s problems are not always the most obvious and that in order to resolve a matter most favorably for the client, lawyers need to think outside the box.

On the transactional side of his practice, he has negotiated surety workouts with bonding programs ranging from $5,000,000 to $130,000,000 and has worked with sureties to transition accounts during mergers and acquisitions. In surety default situations, he has negotiated takeovers, tenders, completion agreements, subcontractor ratifications, construction contracts, financing agreements, and collateral agreements. Elliot has also worked with several surety underwriting departments to refresh or draft new general indemnity agreements, collateral agreements, subordination agreements, capital retention agreements, powers of attorney, producer agreements, and preferred bond forms.

He has also litigated numerous cases through appeal. Elliot has handled litigation in state and federal courts, including bankruptcy courts, as well as in arbitration proceedings. Although most of his work is in Louisiana, he has also handled matters in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Delaware, and New York. The amount in controversy has ranged between $25,000 and $70,000,000. Elliot understands that each case is different, requiring different staffing needs. He is cognizant of legal costs and expenses, especially when the amount in controversy is low, but he also knows how to build and manage a trial team for large exposures.

In addition to his contract surety work, he also assists sureties in handling plug and abandonment bond claims and negotiating workouts for troubled accounts. Elliot’s practice primarily involves Gulf of Mexico assets, and the amount in controversy is often in the tens of millions of dollars. In connection with that practice, he has worked with investment banks and petroleum engineers to develop favorable solutions to his clients’ problems.

Elliot also enjoys working with insurers on subcontractor default insurance claims. He provides coverage opinions that set out his clients’ rights and obligations under the policy, clearly define the issues, and give strategies for resolving coverage disputes. He also litigates disputed claims, including defending against bad faith attacks. The amount in controversy has ranged between $2,000,000 and $45,000,000. Finally, he was able to leverage his experience in defending subcontractor default insurance claims to assist two major insurers in refreshing or drafting new subcontractor default insurance policies.