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United States > Industry focus > Insurance: advice to policyholders > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Insurance: advice to policyholders
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

The ‘excellent’ team at Covington & Burling LLP delivers ‘timely and constructive advice in a stunningly responsive way’ and continues to lead in the field of dedicated policyholder work, covering the insurance sphere comprehensively and representing clients in a vast range of claims including mass tort liabilities, D&O issues and fiduciary mandates. The 100-strong department grew in strength in 2015 following the launch of a Los Angeles office for the firm, which recently gained René Siemens from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The Washington DC team also expanded following the recruitment of Matthew Schlesinger from Reed Smith LLP in 2016. Recent highlights for the practice include advising the Public Service Enterprise Group in a suit seeking recovery for property damage losses from Superstorm Sandy. The matter, led by William Skinner and Saul Goodman, settled in 2015 with a judgment in favor of the client. William Greaney is leading advice to KeySpan Gas East in an environmental coverage matter relating to polluted gas plant sites and ‘superstarBenedict Lenhart - along with Anna Engh and San Francisco-based Wendy Feng - represented World Fuel Services in two coverage cases arising from an oil train derailment. Lenhart, along with Benjamin Duke in New York and Donald Brown in San Francisco, is also representing ExxonMobil in an action seeking coverage of asbestos claims. Lenhart and Mitchell Dolin lead the practice; Dolin continues to act for the NFL in concussion-related tort lawsuits brought by former players. Michael Lechliter and Jeffrey Davidson made the partnership in Washington DC and San Francisco, respectively. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC unless noted otherwise.

Anderson Kill’s dedicated policyholder practice represents clients in claims for environmental liability, D&O liability and data breach litigation as well as professional liability, commercial crime and property losses, among many others. Practice co-chair Robert Horkovich continues to represent the State of California in a coverage suit for the clean-up of the Stringfellow Acid Pits, and also continues his work as lead trial counsel for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in litigation linked to asbestos claims arising from the construction of the original World Trade Center. Clients also recommend co-chair William Passannante, Joshua Gold and Finley Harckham, who is representing O&G Industries in multiple property coverage suits arising from an explosion at a power plant construction site. Newark-based Robert Chesler acted for Gregory Packaging in a coverage dispute relating to property and personal injury issues following an ammonia spill at the client’s packaging facility. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York unless noted otherwise.

Jenner & Block LLP advises policyholders from a wide range of industries on matters such as financial disputes, asbestos coverage and environmental issues. Chicago-based John Mathias, who chairs the insurance recovery and counseling practice, recently represented Vail Resorts in a coverage action in connection with construction-related damage at a hotel complex. Matthew Jacobs in Washington DC is defending Danfoss in an action filed by Liberty Mutual relating to two workers’ compensation policies. The firm also has substantial expertise advising transport clients; Jacobs is representing Amtrak with Paul Smith and Jessie Amunson (both of whom are based in Washington DC) in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court regarding coverage of losses resulting from Superstorm Sandy. Other key clients include Southern California Edison, CSX Transportation and HSBC North America.

Jones Day’s ‘excellent’ practice covers a wide scope of matters for policyholder clients including catastrophic loss and property and casualty issues, as well as cybercrime coverage. Los Angeles-based practice head Tyrone Childress has been representing World Trade Center Properties in the allocation of subrogation proceeds following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as advising Union Pacific Railroad Company on coverage disputes relating to damage caused by severe weather events and railroad accidents. The team was strengthened in 2015 by the recruitment of the ‘responsive and direct’ Richard DeNatale to the firm’s San Francisco office from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. DeNatale has brought in a significant cyber element to the practice and current matters include assisting Sony with insurance issues following cyberattacks, including the 2011 attacks on the Sony online gaming networks and the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment following the release of the parody movie, The Interview. Clients recommend New York-based Edward Joyce and John Iole in Pittsburgh, who is representing Transocean in the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster litigation. Richard Milone joined the Washington DC office from Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s ‘extremely professional and knowledgeable team works closely with clients, communicating constantly with an almost courageous level of honesty’. The practice assists domestic and foreign clients comprehensively in insurance matters, with many clients from the pharmaceuticals, media and manufacturing sectors, as well as financial institutions. Chicago-based practice co-chair Steven Gilford has ‘incredible expertise in coverage litigation’ and continues to work with Chicago-based Marc Rosenthal, advising longstanding client Union Carbide on thousands of asbestos-related bodily injury claims made against it. The firm’s Los Angeles office focuses heavily on the sport and entertainment sectors, and co-chair Nancy Sher Cohen is representing the Creative Artists Agency in claims against United Talent Agency and a group of defecting agents relating to liability over employment practices. Clients recommend the ‘thoughtful, tactical and simply brilliantSeth Schafler in New York, who is advising JPMorgan Chase in a case relating to SEC disgorgement remedies. The ‘commercialJohn Failla in New York is another name to note.

The ‘very good’ policyholder practice at Reed Smith LLP is ‘one of the top-flight teams for financial services-related work’ and is also strong in the energy sector; the client roster includes Morgan Stanley, Phillips 66 Company and PNC Bank. Chicago-based John Shugrue continues to represent Anadarko Petroleum in claims and lawsuits following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, recently winning two summary judgments for the client, which are now on appeal. Pittsburgh-based department head Douglas Cameron is also recommended along with David Halbreich in Los Angeles, who represented the California Department of Transportation in a coverage dispute following an injury to a contractor’s employee. Chicago-based John Vishneski and John Ellison in Philadelphia are also recommended. Steven Moll and James Cooper joined the Houston office from Gardere Wynne Sewell.

David McGonigle leads the practice at K&L Gates, and recently acted for PPG Industries in bankruptcy proceedings and a related asbestos liability issue. The firm has particular strength in manufacturing and heavy industry - John Sylvester continues to represent Ashland and Hercules in two arbitration proceedings relating to asbestos liabilities, and Thomas Birsic is acting for Air & Liquid Systems Corporation regarding asbestos-related bodily injury claims. Birsic is also representing Halliburton in two London-based arbitrations connected with coverage issues arising from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cyber liability is a growing area of practice, wherein Roberta Anderson recently advised Verizon and PepsiCo in negotiating cyber security and data privacy policies. All attorneys mentioned are based in Pittsburgh.

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP is now primarily based in Los Angeles. Notable partners include Jerold Oshinsky, who has ‘a tremendous depth of knowledge’, and the ‘highly focused’ Linda Kornfeld. The pair recently led advice to Pennsylvania State University in its attempt to recover costs linked to its response to the Sandusky sexual misconduct scandal. The team has a significant client base in the education sector and Duke University is another example; clients from other sectors include the International Union of Operating Engineers and Ringler Associates Incorporated. The firm also recently successfully represented Cottage Heatlh System in dismissing a coverage dispute arising from a data breach, wherein the insurer sought redress for the cost of settlement on the basis that the insured’s data breach policy was voided by alleged failings in its data breach procedures and risk controls. The team also includes commercial litigator Charles Freiberg, who is based in San Francisco, and Los Angeles-based David Thomas. Robin Cohen and her team moved to McKool Smith.

Latham & Watkins LLP utilizes its global footprint to assist clients in cross-border matters, and the insurance practice works closely with colleagues in the corporate and finance departments; the team is particularly experienced in negotiating representations and warranties coverage pertaining to corporate transactions. The firm is also strong in environmental coverage and is representing Montrose Chemical Corporation of California in an environmental contamination lawsuit following DDT pollution from the client’s operations in Torrance. Brook Roberts in San Diego is leading that matter and is also acting alongside John Wilson in the same office to represent Fluor Corporation in a case against Hartford relating to a policyholder’s right to assign interests under a policy. Los Angeles-based Andrew Lundberg continues to represent Meritor in asbestos coverage litigation following the client’s acquisition of Rockwell International’s automotive business. The team is also representing the NCAA in the high-profile concussion-related class action lawsuits arising from injuries suffered by student athletes. Other clients include Canadian Solar, Los Angeles Dodgers and Wynn Resorts. Peter Rosen leads the practice from Los Angeles, and has substantial experience in property, casualty and D&O matters.

The ‘extremely well-versed’ Robin Cohen leads McKool Smith’s insurance recovery practice, having recently joined the firm from Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. Cohen also brought several team members with her, including Kenneth Frenchman, who ‘does a fantastic job’, Adam Ziffer and commercial litigator Natasha Romagnoli, who has ‘probing attention to detail and advocacy’. The team has experience across a wide range of insurance issues, including asbestos-related matters, as well as other product liability, environmental, toxic tort cases and D&O matters. The team also has significant regulatory expertise.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has notable strength in restructuring and bankruptcy matters, as well as litigation experience relating to asbestos coverage, environmental claims, medical devices and financial services; it has a captive insurance team, led by Daniel Chefitz in Washington DC. Recommended trial lawyer David Luttinger recently represented Bank of America in litigation against the client’s mortgage insurer and continues to act for Goulds Pumps in a dispute with Travelers; Washington DC-based practice co-head Paul Zevnik also worked both matters. Other highlights for the department include acting for the Plant Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust in coverage litigation focusing on bankruptcy and restructuring issues. Practice co-heads Brady Edwards in Houston and Michel Horton in Los Angeles are also recommended.

Perkins Coie LLP’s ‘excellent and diverse’ practice advises on a wide range of issues, with substantial experience in the energy sector, where clients include Alpha Natural Resources, Weatherford International and NorthWestern Energy. The ‘hardworking and extremely thorough’ team is also highly experienced in Bermuda Form matters, and recently advised Tennessee Valley Authority in a Bermuda Form issue relating to a fly ash spill, recovering over $330m for the client. Other recent highlights include Selena Linde and Michael Sharkey representing Motors Liquidation Company DIP Lenders Trust in asbestos and environmental liability coverage litigation. The firm is also active in bankruptcy issues, toxic torts and mutual fund-related matters, and is increasing its focus on cyber and data breach mandates. Donald Friedman chairs the insurance recovery practice, in which clients recommend Lorelie Masters, who is ‘an excellent coverage litigator’, and Madison-based Timothy Burns. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC, except where noted otherwise.

The policyholder practice at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is noted for its expertise in representing insurance intermediaries and insurance brokers in coverage litigation. Clients include Marsh & McLennan Companies, Willis North America and Lockton. Christopher St. Jeanos and practice head Mitchell Auslander advised Marsh USA on an issue of first impression in a trial relating to insurance broker liability and Auslander is also representing First American Financial Corporation in multiple proceedings under E&O and property insurance policies. Outside of the firm’s work for insurance brokers, recent highlights include acting for Cameron International in coverage disputes relating to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, successfully obtaining a summary judgment for the client, and representing several New York-based insureds in Superstorm Sandy flood insurance claims, which are currently on appeal. All lawyers mentioned are based in New York.

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