Sperduto Thompson & Gassler has a vibrant, nationwide insurance practice, characterized by both litigation and non-litigation assignments in a host of coverage lines. With a record of successful litigated and negotiated outcomes — in state and federal courts, at the trial and appellate levels, and literally coast to coast — there are few issues and types of coverage the Firm’s attorneys have not confronted.
Over the years, one or more of the Firm’s attorneys have litigated cases as varied as directors and officers liability coverage disputes arising from bank failures and shareholder litigation, bad faith cases arising from underlying catastrophic personal injury lawsuits, disputes with professional sports teams involving professional athlete disability policies, and highly complex insurer versus insurer disputes involving large towers of primary and excess insurance coverage, among many others. In addition to this litigation experience, the Firm’s attorneys have equally broad and deep experience in coverage counseling engagements requiring the analysis of complex coverage questions under a wide array of policy types.
Representative insurance litigation victories secured by Firm attorneys, both while with the Firm and at their prior professional homes, include:
- American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company, 668 F.3d 991 (8th Cir. 2012) (unanimously affirming summary judgment in favor of a primary carrier who was sued for alleged bad faith by an excess carrier following entry of a $46 million Missouri state court wrongful death judgment against an interstate trucking company).
- Associated Community Bancorp, Inc. v. Travelers Cos., 421 Fed. Appx. 125 (2d Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal of a coverage action against a D&O insurer, holding that an exclusion for claims arising out of the insolvency of an investment firm precluded coverage for claims by the insured bank’s custodial accountholders who lost funds in the Madoff Ponzi scheme). Subsequent state court litigation also ended in victory for insurer. Associated Community 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).
- 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 a claim arising out of her provision of home health services when she did not hold a valid nursing license).
- Roesler v. TIG Insurance Company, 251 Fed. Appx. 489 (10th Cir. 2007) (vacating a $4.6 million Oklahoma jury verdict awarding both compensatory and punitive damages in a bad faith action against a professional liability insurer).
- Dover Downs, Inc. v. TIG Insurance Company, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16365 (D. Del. Aug. 11, 2004) (granting a motion to dismiss in favor of a general liability insurer that had contested coverage on the basis that property damage and personal injury coverages were not triggered by underlying civil rights claims).
- International Surplus Lines Insurance Company v. Wyoming Coal Refining Systems, Inc., 52 F.3d 901 (10th Cir. 1995) (unanimously affirming summary judgment in favor of a non-profit organization’s liability insurer who was sued for alleged bad faith in denying coverage based on the insured’s misrepresentations in its policy application; the insured and underlying plaintiff had entered into a $750 million consent judgment in Wyoming state court that they then unsuccessfully attempted to collect from the insurer).
As the foregoing list suggests, most of the insurance litigation handled by the Firm’s attorneys historically and currently has been on behalf of major national and international insurance carriers. The Firm also, however, maintains a selective but growing practice involving the representation of business clients who need guidance in understanding their often-complex insurance policies and frequently need an advocate in their corner during their interactions with insurers.
For example, the Firm represents prominent commercial and real estate developers in the Washington, D.C., region who, on any given project, inevitably have in place complex and multi-faceted insurance programs addressing a variety of potential risks. This work has involved the Firm in matters as diverse as construction collapse incidents, environmental and “indoor pollution” issues, construction defect claims, employee theft claims, title insurance disputes, and disputes with business partners, third-party insurance administrators, and investors.
The Firm also has been called upon to work with business clients and their insurance brokers in analyzing the pros and cons of new policy forms or new lines of coverage, and negotiating manuscript endorsements that address the client’s unique circumstances.