United States > Industry focus > Insurance: advice to policyholders
Index of tables
Insurance: advice to policyholders
- Donald Brown - Covington & Burling LLP
Robin Cohen -
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP
- Mitchell Dolin - Covington & Burling LLP
- Steven Gilford - Proskauer Rose LLP
- Saul Goodman - Covington & Burling LLP
- William Greaney - Covington & Burling LLP
John Heintz -
Robert Horkovich -
Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C.
- Michel Horton - Morgan Lewis
- Benedict Lenhart - Covington & Burling LLP
- Andrew Lundberg - Latham & Watkins LLP
- Jerold Oshinsky - Jenner & Block LLP
Kirk Pasich -
William Passannante -
Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C.
- Seth Schafler - Proskauer Rose LLP
- Nancy Sher Cohen - Proskauer Rose LLP
John Shugrue -
- William Skinner - Covington & Burling LLP
John Vishneski -
- Paul Zevnik - Morgan Lewis
It was a ‘banner year’ for Covington & Burling LLP, the undisputed top tier firm with a long history in exclusive policyholder representation. Clients and peers agree that ‘there is no comparison’ and its practice is ‘truly best in class’. With a large team of top lawyers who have ‘deep substantive knowledge of the law around policy coverage and policy interpretation’, it is able to address the most diverse, complex and high-stakes policy claims. Significant ongoing matters include: the representation of BP in six coverage actions related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; Chiquita in coverage claims for underlying tort lawsuits brought under the Alien Tort Statute; and LyondellBasell in a London arbitration against Oil Insurance Limited. Newly filed cases include: an action against over 300 insurers seeking coverage for ExxonMobil’s asbestos claims; three NFL lawsuits; and environmental coverage litigation for Northrop Grumman. Other clients include National Grid, UnitedHealth and Vulcan. In Washington DC, group chair Mitchell Dolin has ‘unparalleled knowledge’ due to his ‘depth of experience in handling major matters’, and clients appreciate both ‘his manner and his results’. Benedict Lenhart is vice-chair of the practice. The ‘highly intelligent, creative, practical’ William Skinner has ‘strong business acumen’, and is ‘on top of his game’. In San Francisco, the ‘phenomenal’ Donald Brown is ‘the complete package’ and combines ‘law school professor knowledge with the street savvy skill of a trial attorney’. David Goodwin, John Buchanan, the up-and-coming Anna Engh and ‘strategic thinker’ Ralph Muoio are also recommended.
Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C.’s historic policyholder practice is ‘outstanding in all respects’. William Passannante chairs the practice together with Robert Horkovich, who is considered to be ‘the nonpareil policyholder attorney in this country’, as he is equally strong ‘in preparation, negotiation and trial’. He led the state of California to victory in a 14-year dispute with its insurance companies over coverage for the cleanup of the Stringfellow Acid Pits. In the first appellate case addressing insurance coverage for a computer hacking loss, Joshua Gold won a $7m recovery for Retail Ventures. Finley Harckham is currently representing DynCorp in a coverage action by the government of Ecuador and numerous Ecuadorian citizens which seeks billions of dollars in damages for alleged losses of legitimate crops during aerial spraying as part of efforts to eradicate illegal drug crops in nearby Columbia. Other recent matters included assisting Queenstake in dealing with complex legal and political issues surrounding the domestic mining industry and the continuing representation of Alfa Laval in 1,300 asbestos-related lawsuits, some of which stretch back decades. The practice also acts for the United Nations as insurance counsel and another large client is Colgate-Palmolive. The firm recruited Robert Chesler from Lowenstein Sandler PC as shareholder in New Jersey and Scott Turner, who previously operated his solo insurance recovery practice, as counsel in Washington DC.
Dickstein Shapiro’s ‘extraordinary’ insurance practice attorneys are ‘experts in the commercial insurance field’ and ‘provide top-notch advice and counsel’. Part of their ‘ability to relate to the needs of the client’ is their ‘understanding of the value of money’, with ‘a billing practice that is more than fair’; the firm is also involved extensively in pro bono work. The long-established practice, which operates in the US and internationally, recently expanded its work in the entertainment sector, through the representation of clients such as Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and their companies in a lawsuit against their former business manager and former insurance broker. The practice also recently advised SDG&E on coverage matters arising from the 2007 San Diego wildfire litigation. In another high-profile matter, James Murray was retained by Beebe Medical Center to handle the insurance side of the widely publicized sexual abuse suit against Dr Earl Bradley. In Los Angeles, ‘proactive’ practice head Kirk Pasich is ‘among the best and most knowledgeable attorneys’. Cassandra Franklin and ‘up-and-comer in the field’ Sandra Thayer, who leads the firm’s political risk insurance coverage initiative, are also recommended. In New York, Jeff Schulman is ‘humane and brilliant’. The ‘outstanding’ John Heintz is based in Washington DC.
‘A real litigation powerhouse’, Jenner & Block LLP is headquartered in Chicago, but also has offices in Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles, where its ‘first rate’ insurance litigation and counseling practice continues to grow. The firm’s selective hiring attitude has resulted in attorneys who are ‘business savvy, efficient and effective’ across the board, and clients remark on the ‘consistent level of intellect and client service from every lawyer’. Legal issues ‘are considered with a high degree of intellectual rigor, tempered by a practical attitude, informed by years of significant legal experience’. Lorelie Masters, Mary Craig Calkins and Linda Kornfeld are among the top coverage litigators in the country. Matthew Jacobs has ‘great experience and wisdom’ and ‘responds promptly to all concerns’. Highly recommended practice chair John Mathias currently handles the large rehabilitation proceedings of Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company. The firm continued to act for longstanding clients such as HSBC and Fiserv, and also attracted high-profile mandates from new clients: for example, it represented AEP in property damage and business interruption claims arising from the 2008 turbine failure accident at DC Cook nuclear plant; News of the World regarding coverage issues arising from the English telephone hacking and bribery scandals; and Penn State University concerning coverage issues arising from the Gerald Sandusky sexual misconduct scandal. (Since publication, Linda Kornfeld has left the firm.)
Proskauer Rose LLP is respected for its ‘expert and efficient’ representation of policyholders. The insurance recovery and counseling group provides ‘excellent’ service in contentious and non-contentious matters. It saw a renewed influx of construction defect claims, much work in the property loss area as well as in reinsurance and life insurance. John Failla has developed expertise in secondary life insurance transactions. In cooperation with the firm’s leading practice in privacy and data security, a different growing area of expertise is coverage for cyber risks, which is an area of activity for practice co-head and ‘very creative attorney’ Steven Gilford. He is ‘extremely responsive and provides practical advice from both legal and commercial standpoints’. Marc Rosenthal shows ‘particular strength on technical policy matters’. Gilford and Rosenthal are representing United Therapeutics Corporation in efforts to secure coverage for a warehouse accident. Other major clients include Yum! and Alpha Therapeutic Corporation. The practice’s ‘talented lawyers’ also include co-head Nancy Sher Cohen, the ‘exceedingly capable’ John Gross, Seth Schafler and senior counsel Francis Landrey, all of whom have ‘superb technical ability and a wealth of knowledge about the industry’.
Reed Smith LLP is equipped with a large and ‘good team’ of policyholder-focused insurance recovery lawyers that spans across a broad geographical platform and handles a wide spectrum of insurance matters. With extensive experience in general liability, first-party property and D&O liability insurance, the practice is now increasingly involved in cyber and data breach coverage, and shipping and cargo matters. Partners are ‘responsive’, ‘know the industry well’ and are integrated with other practice groups. Pittsburgh-based Douglas Cameron heads the practice. In Chicago, D&O expert Carolyn Rosenberg and Mark Hersh are ‘easy to work with’, ‘pleasant’ and ‘helpful’. John Shugrue represented Anadarko in connection with coverage issues arising from of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Other highlights included: a multibillion-dollar mortgage insurance coverage for Bank of America; fidelity and bond matters for Fannie Mae; D&O work related to the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy; data privacy insurance matters for West Publishing; and class action and mass tort coverage for Navistar and US Steel. Other notable partners are John Ellison, David Halbreich and James Restivo.
Jones Day’s global insurance recovery practice ‘exceeds expectations’ and continues to aggressively recruit. It is co-led by Steven Sigalow in Cleveland and ‘extremely good negotiator’ Martin Myers in San Francisco, who is ‘patient and warm in his style’ and ‘very responsive’. The broad practice offers ‘incredible client service’ that is ‘efficient and effective’. It handles a variety of insurance recovery matters domestically and globally, and clients ‘use the firm anywhere in the world’. Active clients include Adobe, Chevron, Dell and Levi Strauss. The practice operates on a ‘right lawyer for the right need’ basis, regardless of office location. Jack Montgomery in Pittsburgh, for instance, represented Federal-Mogul in a $88m claim for property damage and business interruption loss due to the 2011 flooding in Thailand. The ‘tenacious’, ‘creative’ and ‘highly dedicated’ Tyrone Childress in Los Angeles worked with Union Pacific Railroad Company on various matters, including prosecuting insurance coverage claims relating to hurricanes and floods, derailments, and major accidents. Ed Joyce and Dave Steuber are also recommended.
K&L Gates has ‘incredible on-point abilities to solve clients’ problems’. Key insurance coverage partners are concentrated in Pittsburgh, including founding member and litigation practice co-head Thomas Birsic, but the practice has resources across the country as well as Europe and Asia. Clients value the ‘teamwork and respect among partners’ and the trustworthiness of the practice to handle matters of an ‘expensive and sensitive nature’. While it today handles a wide array of matters from business interruption losses to construction defects, government investigations and professional liabilities, the historic focus has been on asbestos and environmental insurance coverage lawsuits. John Sylvester serves as lead counsel to NW Natural seeking coverage for various environmental sites, including three former manufactured gas plant sites. Group coordinator David McGonigle is representing PPG in connection with its proposed asbestos bankruptcy settlement. ‘Versatile, flexible and passionate’ D&O expert Peter Flocos is a ‘trusted and valued counsel’ who is ‘available night and day’. David Schack shows particular ‘ability to understand the dynamics of clients’ businesses’.
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP’s insurance recovery practice is strongly concentrated in New York, where all recommended lawyers are based unless noted otherwise. The team handles sophisticated coverage disputes and has a ‘tremendous’ strength in litigation. Clients appreciate the ‘efficient and straightforward’ service, as well as the partners’ ‘incredible industry knowledge and contacts’ and ‘great business acumen’. However, the practice lost two key figures: top lawyer Robert Shulman joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP and, sadly, Randy Paar passed away in 2012. Nonetheless, the remaining team of ‘top-notch attorneys’ is ‘highly experienced and qualified’ and includes Adam Ziffer and Kenneth Frenchman, as well as Charles Freiberg in San Francisco. ‘Bright, prepared and dedicated’ practice head Robin Cohen represented Visa in connection with professional liability coverage for losses arising from an indemnification demand by a Visa client and a putative class action lawsuit. Cohen and Keith McKenna recently secured a verdict in favor of Warren Pumps, which sought insurance coverage for asbestos-related liabilities. The litigation involved dozens of insurance policies sold by more than 20 different insurance carriers. Other clients include Philips, Union Bank and Franciscan friars of California.
Latham & Watkins LLP’s insurance team is ‘excellent across the board’ and has ‘good business sense’. The firm’s coverage lawyers ‘give nuanced advice without being equivocal’ and have diverse expertise across disciplines. While the group is heavily concentrated in California, the practice extends throughout the US and also the EU. It witnessed an expansion in D&O and E&O work and coverage issues arising from bank failures. A particularly busy area of involvement is property insurance. The team handles property damages and business interruption losses for Western Digital, Corning and the state of Hawaii relating to the 2011 floods in Thailand, the 2009 Japanese earthquake and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, respectively. Practice co-chair Brook Roberts and John Wilson won a trial victory for longstanding client Fluor in its asbestos coverage battle, which led to an ongoing review of Henkel v Hartford that could revoke barriers to transferring insurance rights during corporate restructurings. In other notable work, fellow co-chair Andrew Lundberg is currently representing Rockwell Automation in an asbestos coverage matter and David Barrett developed the first union-side lockout policy on behalf of the NFLPA.
Morgan Lewis’ insurance recovery group is a ‘true business partner’ with ‘great ability to assemble a cost-effective yet richly experienced team’. With its broad geographical platform, the firm handles insurance and reinsurance disputes domestically and globally and has particular strength in international litigation. While the group continues to show expertise in the formation and use of captive insurers, it also expanded its work in connection with bankruptcy and restructurings. ‘All-around industry leader’ Daniel Chefitz is notably active in both fields. The practice co-chairs are Paul Zevnik in Washington DC, who ‘thinks outside the box to reach resolutions’, and Michel Horton in Los Angeles, who is ‘one of the most down-to-earth yet influential litigators’. As part of a large team of multidisciplinary lawyers, these three partners were involved in an environmental captive insurance project associated with Sunoco. They are also currently handling insurance issues arising from Thorpe Insulation’s bankruptcy, and are representing ITT’s former subsidiary Grinnell, and its current subsidiary Goulds Pumps, in various ongoing insurance disputes, which so far have led to a recovery of over $600m for the latter company. The group continues to handle matters for longstanding client PepsiCo and as well as new client Mars.