Solutions in a Competitive World

April H. Gassler

April H. Gassler's Profile Image
Phone: (202) 733-6728

Education

  • JD, Georgetown University, 2003
  • BA, Louisiana State University, 2000

Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • U.S. District Court - D.C.
  • U.S. District Court - Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Other Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Women's Bar of the District of Columbia

From Mathlete, to National Chemistry Olympiad, to Coverage Lawyer, April Gassler has spent her life solving complex problems. In her early career, April represented insurance and financial services companies in complex commercial disputes and nationwide class action litigation, at both the trial and appellate levels. For over a decade now, April’s practice has centered on counseling insurance industry clients on complex coverage issues arising from commercial general liability, directors’ & officers’ liability, and other types of professional liability insurance policies, as well as on representing those clients in insurance coverage and “bad faith” litigation. She also assists commercial real estate developers in the Washington, D.C. area in connection with a variety of insurance and litigation issues. In addition, April is a trained mediator with a growing Alternative Dispute Resolution practice.

April enjoys working with her insurance and real estate industry clients because no two matters are the same. While familiar issues may arise in multiple cases, the unique facts and circumstances of each — as well as the differences in applicable law — ensure that there is never a dull moment. In addition, as an avid crossword puzzler, April has a strong appreciation for the fact that while there may be many viable solutions to a single problem, it is important to consider which solution is the best fit under the circumstances. April’s clients appreciate her ability to quickly identify and analyze the core issues in a new matter and her collaborative approach to developing a resolution strategy. She responds to communications promptly and can be relied upon to provide expeditious and reliable advice and/or work product when an urgent issue arises.

April pursues a wide-range of interests outside of her legal career. She is involved in a variety of volunteer activities with the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C., of which she is a Past President. Some of her favorite projects include the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C.’s annual Student Leader Awards Scholarship Program, the Club’s work with Bright Beginnings, Inc. (a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that provides pre-school education to homeless families), and mentoring student leaders in the CKI Club at American University (a local chapter of the world’s largest collegiate service organization). April is also a prize-winning amateur baker, owner of three rescued beagles, and an LSU Tigers fanatic.

Representative Matters

Insurance Industry Clients

  • April has monitored, and in many cases helped settle, numerous CGL, D&O, and E&O claims at both the primary and excess levels. Read more...

    Such activities include meeting with defense counsel, helping negotiate defense arrangements, reviewing legal bills, preparing coverage correspondence, evaluating a primary carrier’s coverage and settlement positions, and participating in mediations and other settlement negotiations. The insureds involved have included contractors of all sizes, banks, private equity firms, hedge funds, national retailers, software companies, law firms, insurance agencies, travel agencies, mortgage servicing companies, trucking companies, movie theater chains, and educational institutions. Claims have included FDIC actions against failed banks, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims against D&Os, malpractice actions against various professionals, construction defects, employment-related disputes, and a variety of claims arising from a company’s cessation of business. 

  • April has also litigated coverage and/or provided coverage counseling in a variety of matters involving Public Officials and Educators Legal Liability policies. These claims have arisen from diverse underlying circumstances, including allegations of police brutality, police negligence, abuse by teachers, and many others.
  • As lead counsel for a D&O insurer, April negotiated a favorable settlement with an insured mortgage servicing company that was facing multiple lawsuits, including class actions and a state attorney general action, alleging fraud and misconduct in its foreclosure-related operations. Read more...

    The claims were against an insured holding company that owned various businesses providing services to lenders and mortgage servicing companies in connection with mortgage defaults, foreclosures, and sales of lender-owned properties. One claim alleged that the holding company participated in a scheme to defraud the previous owner of the subsidiary mortgage servicing companies and sought over $40 million in damages. Another claim was brought by a state attorney general and alleged that an insured subsidiary and officer defrauded consumers in connection with real estate foreclosures. Based upon April’s investigation and consultation with the insurer’s underwriters, she determined that the insurer had a strong claim for rescission of a D&O renewal policy. In 2015, April represented the insurer in a declaratory judgment and rescission action in federal court that resulted in a favorable settlement for the insurer, including releases of two insurance policies.

  • April obtained judgements in favor of a D&O insurer in two separate suits brought against it by an insured bank, seeking coverage for claims made against the bank by its custodial accountholders who lost funds in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Read more...

    After the Connecticut District Court granted a motion to dismiss, holding that an exclusion for claims arising out of the insolvency of an investment firm precluded coverage, April joined the litigation team on the appeal to the Second Circuit, where dismissal was affirmed. Associated Cmty. Bancorp, Inc. v. Travelers Cos., 421 Fed. Appx. 125 (2d Cir. 2011). The bank then brought another suit in the New York Supreme Court contending that amended complaints filed by the custodial accountholders provided new bases for coverage. The court granted the insurer’s motion to dismiss holding that several policy exclusions precluded coverage, including the insolvency exclusion, fee dispute exclusion and sale of securities exclusion. Associated Cmty. Bancorp, Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 2013 N.Y. Slip. Op. 30182 (Sup. Ct.), aff’d, 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4627 (June 24, 2014). 

  • In a case involving a multi-year, claims-made policy, April represented a D&O insurer who obtained a declaratory judgment that late notice precluded coverage for a claim against an insured bank even though notice was tendered before the policy expired. Read more...

    April represented the insurer in federal court in Maryland, seeking a declaratory judgment that late notice precluded coverage where the insured bank failed to provide notice of a claim until after a default judgment had been entered against it. The case involved a lawsuit brought against the insured bank in Illinois by a disbarred attorney appearing pro se and involving a failed real estate transaction. The insured bank was served via its registered agent and the suit papers were forwarded to the bank according to its standing instructions. However, due to a comedy of errors, the bank failed to respond to the suit and the disbarred attorney obtained a default judgment against the bank in the Illinois action, which he then sought to enforce against the bank in Maryland. The case involved questions of the court’s ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident who sought to have a judgment enforced by the Maryland courts, interpretation of a multi-year claims-made policy’s notice provisions, and application of a state statute requiring an insurer to demonstrate prejudice to avoid coverage on the basis of late notice. See St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Am. Bank Holdings, Inc., 819 F.3d 728 (4th Cir 2016) (April was involved only in the district court proceedings; she did not participate in the appellate proceedings). 

  • April was part of the team that obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, in favor of a primary CGL insurer facing a bad faith failure to settle claim by an excess insurer after a $46 million judgment was entered in an underlying wrongful death action arising out of a multi-vehicle highway accident. Read more...

    April was the senior associate on the litigation team that represented the primary CGL insurer after the verdict was entered in Missouri state court against its insured trucking company (who itself was, by then, a debtor in bankruptcy proceedings). The primary insurer declined to settle the case within its $5 million policy limit after several demands from an excess insurer to do so. The underlying case was brought by the survivors of a married couple who died in a massive, twelve-vehicle pile-up on a foggy Missouri interstate highway. The client obtained summary judgment on the excess insurer’s bad faith failure to settle the claim and the judgment was affirmed on appeal to the Eight Circuit. American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company, et al., No. 10-2275, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 2646 (8th Cir. Feb. 10, 2012). 

Real Estate Industry Clients

  • April assisted a large commercial real estate developer in the creation of its portfolio environmental liability coverage program. Read more...

    This involved surveying the market and helping inform the client’s decision-makers about the pros and cons of this type of coverage. Once the decision was made to pursue the program in earnest, April assisted with the development of the client’s submissions to its insurance broker and, in turn, the market. She then reviewed quotes and proposals from various insurers, and worked closely with broker representatives and the client’s legal and risk management personnel, to craft customized policy language and endorsements suitable for the client’s portfolio. 

  • April has worked with commercial real estate developers to prepare successful claim submissions under environmental insurance liability policies. Read more...

    Such matters include: (1) a claim in which a contractor’s underpinning operation triggered a release of noxious fumes that affected neighboring residents and caused construction delays; (2) a claim arising from a pervasive mold condition in the attic spaces of LEED certified townhomes located in two separate projects based upon the same building plans; (3) a claim arising from off-gassing of formaldehyde from fixtures installed in residential units. These claims involved insurance carriers who initially denied all coverage or sought to impose multiple self-insured retentions, effectively eliminating or drastically reducing the amount of insurance available to the pay the client’s losses. In each instance, as a result of the firm’s advocacy on behalf of its clients, the insurers reversed their positions and afforded coverage. 

  • April has assisted the firm’s real estate clients in successfully pursuing title insurance claims arising from previously unknown encroachments discovered during construction that required design modifications and/or created the potential for construction delays that could materially alter financial aspects of the development projects.

Additional Reported Decisions

  • Warren Hospital v. American Casualty Company of Reading, Pa., 398 F. App’x 800 (3d Cir. 2010) (affirming summary judgment ruling that, by operation of other insurance clause in a nurse’s professional liability policy, the nurse’s personal coverage applied only in excess of the self-insured retention payable under her employer’s insurance program).
  • Sheinbaum v. American Casualty Company of Reading, Pa., Case No. 09-CV-273, 2010 WL 3909209 (D.D.C. Oct. 1, 2010) (granting summary judgment in favor of a professional liability insurer, holding that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify a foreign-trained nurse under a policy for registered nurses in response to claim arising out of her provision of home health services when she did not hold a valid nursing license).
  • Alvarez v. Insurance Company of North America, Case No. 06-CV-4326, 2006 WL 3702641 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 12, 2006), aff’d, 313 F. App’x 465 (3d Cir. 2008) (dismissing putative class action asserting claims for fraud and violation of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act in connection with sales of long-term care insurance policies).