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Insurance Recovery

Insurance Coverage - Policyholder

Kasowitz’s award-winning Insurance Recovery practice group is one of the largest in the nation, including attorneys with over 30 years of coverage experience focusing exclusively on representing corporate policyholders around the world in disputes with their insurance companies.  The team, which is uniquely comprised of experienced trial attorneys, is led by Robin Cohen, one of the preeminent insurance litigators in the nation and one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America” according to The National Law Journal.

Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery practice group has one primary objective – maximizing each client’s bottom line by successfully assisting corporate policyholders in securing revenue from insurance policies through litigation and alternative forms of dispute resolution.  In this regard, Kasowitz has successfully recovered more than $5 billion on behalf of a diverse group of Fortune 500 and other companies involved in, among other things, manufacturing, chemical, entertainment, pharmaceutical, financial, education, and healthcare industries.  Much of the group’s success is directly related to its commitment and willingness to develop creative and cutting edge solutions to resolve insurance problems.  Our approach is decidedly aggressive.  We work closely with our clients in developing these strategies and we are particularly attentive to the broader business, legal, and public relations implications of the matters we handle.  Our partnership with our clients and our trial-ready reputation and successes have been the basis for achieving favorable results for our clients not only at trial, but also through settlements and alternative dispute resolution procedures.

Recognizing the talent, depth and success of the group, Law360 named Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery practice group “Practice Group of the Year,” based on the significance, number, size, and complexity of the insurance matters worked on in 2013 and 2011.  Kasowitz also received, for the second time, the prestigious Chambers USA 2014 Award for Excellence, citing “Kasowitz has grown into a powerhouse over the past year with its presence on behalf of policyholders nationwide.”  The group is also recognized as the top-ranked policyholder practice in New York by Chambers USA, the only law firm to receive the survey’s top distinction, and as one of the leading practices in the U.S. according to the most recent legal rating guidelines published by Benchmark and Legal 500.  Further, the only three policyholder-side insurance coverage attorneys included in the Lawdragon list of the 500 best attorneys in America were all from Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery practice group.

Notable representations include:

  • Securing a decisive November 2012 jury verdict against several of the nation’s largest insurers in favor of a pump manufacturer, Warren Pumps, Inc. facing thousands of asbestos-related bodily injury lawsuits on complex questions involving, among other things, exhaustion of limits, the breadth and scope of follow-form provisions, the duty of excess insurers to pay for the costs of defense, the trigger of coverage in the context of asbestos claims, and the effect of so-called non-cumulation clauses. Combined with an October 2009 summary judgment ruling allowing the client to collect “all sums” from any insurer once its policy is triggered, the verdict clearly affirmed the client’s right to tender claims to any triggered policy year, and access hundreds of millions of dollars in excess layer coverage immediately.
  • Obtaining summary adjudication on behalf of Visa, Inc. regarding critical coverage issues of first impression in California, followed by a highly favorable settlement for losses arising from a class action alleging violation of consent-to-record provisions of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act and other similar state statutes. In January 2012, the firm’s lawyers, led by Ms. Cohen, obtained summary adjudication for Visa against its primary Professional Liability, Technology and Multimedia insurer on one of the carrier’s major defenses, successfully arguing that fixed, minimum statutory damages available under the Act and similar statutes are not excluded under the policies. In March 2012, the California Supreme Court denied the carrier’s petition for interlocutory review of the decision, after which the case settled in August 2012.
  • Securing a dismissal on behalf of Cushman & Wakefield involving breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation claims brought by a property owner, Orient Overseas Associates, alleging failure to provide sufficient coverage limits for recovery costs incurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
  • Won an appeal on behalf of Southern National Gas Company in a pollution coverage case when the Alabama Supreme Court upheld verdicts in two separate trials, relating to coverage issues of first impression involving environmental damage caused by pipeline operation. The decision secured coverage worth millions of dollars from Underwriters at Lloyd’s London.
  • Won an appeal on behalf of subsidiaries of Hilco Trading LLC when an Illinois appeals court granted Hilco summary judgment, ruling that Liberty Surplus Insurance Corp. had a duty under professional liability policies to defend Hilco’s respective subsidiaries against claims that they inflated appraisals. Reversing the lower court's decision, the appeals court accepted Kasowitz’s argument on behalf of Hilco Appraisal Services LLC and Hilco Enterprise Valuation Services LLC's that the underlying suits involved professional services provided to a “third party,” as required by Liberty and excess insurer Ace unit Illinois Union Insurance Co.'s policies. The dispute was over defense coverage for lawsuits in which Patriot Group LLC and Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank AG's New York branch accused Hilco Appraisal and Valuation of preparing erroneous appraisals that Patriot and HVB allegedly relied on when providing loans worth millions of dollars to Hilco Financial LLC.
  • Representing Syracuse University in pursuing a claim under a Not-For-Profit Individual and Organization Insurance Policy wherein the University sought and was awarded on summary judgment costs it incurred responding to and conducting an investigation in connection with a number of state and federal grand jury subpoenas concerning facts and circumstances relating to allegations of sexual abuse, and in particular the allegations against the University's former Associate Basketball Coach. In December 2013, New York’s Appellate Division, 4th Department, unanimously affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment ruling.
  • Securing summary judgment for Convergys Corp in a coverage dispute in which the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ordered the policyholder's umbrella insurance company to immediately pay the policyholder's costs of defending two privacy class actions.
  • Obtaining full coverage in a Second Circuit appeal on behalf of MBIA Inc. in its action to recover tens of millions of dollars from its directors and officers insurers for losses associated with federal and state regulators’ investigations and related derivative actions. Kasowitz obtained a landmark ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York awarding MBIA coverage for costs incurred by MBIA’s special litigation committee in responding to two shareholder derivative actions as well as coverage for costs incurred in responding to the regulatory investigations. The District Court, however, denied MBIA coverage for certain costs that were part of MBIA’s settlement with federal regulators. On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling in favor of MBIA, and reversed that portion of the District Court’s ruling in favor of the insurers, resulting in a full recovery for MBIA.
  • Securing multi-million-dollar settlements, and a jury verdict on claims for coverage and insurer bad faith against the sole non-settling defendant, on behalf of Louisiana Pacific f/k/a ABT Building Products Co., one of the largest manufacturers of building materials, in its action to recover from its general liability insurers for losses arising from lawsuits concerning allegedly defective hardboard siding. With respect to the only “holdout” carrier, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., a team led by Ms. Cohen filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of North Carolina, which was later tried to a jury resulting in a verdict for breach of contract, bad faith, and punitive damages worth tens of millions of dollars. The team also recovered all of ABTco’s attorneys’ fees and pre-judgment interest. The jury verdict and court award were affirmed in their entirety by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Defeating insurers’ claims for declaratory judgment that they were not required to insure Appleton Papers Inc. for environmental liabilities arising from contamination of the Fox River in Wisconsin, one of the largest CERCLA sites in the country with clean-up costs that could exceed $600 million. At trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of API. The court of appeals has since affirmed the jury verdict in its entirety.
  • Negotiating extremely favorable settlements on the eve of trial on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. in its coverage litigation arising from losses suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina, which focused on the scope of the contingent business interruption insurance provided under the policies at issue. The settlement negotiated by Kasowitz attorneys covered almost the entire loss.
  • Securing an early settlement on behalf of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in connection with the pursuit of insurance coverage arising from liabilities resulting from the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center, after defeating the insurers’ efforts to send the case to arbitration, which allowed the client to conduct needed discovery to replace documentation lost in the 9/11 attacks. While discovery was in the early stages, the Port Authority agreed to a beneficial confidential settlement agreement that confirmed that the insurer would meet its coverage obligation.
  • Recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in asbestos coverage proceeds on behalf of Philips Electronics North America Corporation and its subsidiary THAN. In coverage actions brought in Illinois, the firm’s attorneys obtained a series of summary judgment rulings requiring the primary carriers to provide a complete defense against the underlying asbestos actions, resulting in significant settlements.
  • Obtaining summary judgment requiring insurers to provide a complete defense to Philips Lighting Company in connection with 4,000 underlying toxic tort claims, after which all aspects of the coverage claim were fully and very favorably resolved.
  • Obtaining a 2012 agreement that increased by $20 million the insurance available to the Adelphia Recovery Trust in connection with claims against Buchanan Ingersoll arising from the circumstances leading to Adelphia’s bankruptcy in 2002. Kasowitz attorneys argued that more than one limit of liability was available to address the Trust’s claims, and obtained an agreement under which the insurer paid an additional $20 million solely to the Trust.
  • Achieving a multi-million-dollar settlement on behalf of Givaudan Flavors Corporation in litigation seeking insurance coverage for losses relating to hundreds of underlying lawsuits alleging injuries from diacetyl in butter-flavored popcorn. That settlement came within a few months of the involvement by the firm’s attorneys, and actually exceeded the insurer’s policy limits.
  • Successfully negotiated settlements for a major accounting firm to recover defense and judgment costs of an underlying suit related to professional malpractice coverage disputes against various insurance companies.

Accolades

  • Chambers USA (2011, 2014)
    • Winner of the prestigious Chambers USA 2011 and 2014 Award for Excellence for Best Policyholder Coverage Practice.
    • Exclusive top tier ranking for Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder in New York.
    • Top tier ranking nationally for Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder.
    • Four individual attorneys recognized, and one attorney honored with the only “Star” ranking in insurance in 2013.
  •  Law360 (2011-2013)
    • Honored as “Insurance Group of the Year.”
  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” (2012-2013)
    • Top tiers for Insurance Law Nationwide, New York and San Francisco.
  • Benchmark Litigation and Benchmark Plaintiff (2011-2013)
    • Top tiers nationally for Insurance and Insurance Plaintiff.
  • Lawdragon 500 (2011-2013)
    • Two individual attorneys honored as “Leading Lawyers in America,” the only policyholder counsel recognized.
  • The Legal 500 (2013)
    • Top tier ranking nationally for Insurance: Advice to Policyholders.
    • Three individual attorneys recognized as “Leading Lawyers.”
  • Benchmark Litigation (2012)
    • Two individual attorneys recognized as “Top 250 Women in Litigation.”
  • Benchmark Annual Awards Shortlist (2012)
    • Nominated as a “Northeast Insurance Firm of the Year.”
  • Who’s Who Legal (2012)
    • Four individual attorneys recognized.

Highlights 

Kasowitz Receives the Prestigious Chambers USA 2014 Award for Excellence

Kasowitz’s insurance recovery group received the prestigious Chambers USA 2014 Award for Excellence. According to Chambers, "Kasowitz has grown into a powerhouse over the past year with its presence on behalf of policyholders nationwide. Highlights include a decisive jury verdict against several of the nation's largest insurers in favor of (a major pump manufacturer) facing thousands of asbestos-related bodily injury lawsuits, and representation of Convergys in securing the order for its insurer to cover defense costs of two significant privacy class actions."

Additionally, Jerold Oshinsky is featured as the only “Star Individual” for Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder. A 'Star' ranking is given to lawyers with exceptional recommendations in their field. Clients have stated that Mr. Oshinsky "knows insurance policy law like no other attorney we've dealt with."


Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery Team Recognized as one of Law360's 2013 Practice Groups Of The Year

Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery team has been chosen as a Law360 “2013 Practice Group of the Year.” According to Law360, "Winners were selected based on the significance of the litigation wins or deals worked on, the size and complexity of the litigation wins or deals worked on, and the number of significant, large or complex deals the group worked on or lawsuits the group won in 2013 Please click here to read Law360 feature article about the recognition.


Robin L. Cohen Featured as "Winning" Litigator by The National Law Journal

Robin Cohen, Chair of Kasowitz's Insurance Recovery practice, has been featured has been featured by The National Law Journal as a "winning" litigator overcoming tough odds in a case with high financial stakes.  Robin was recognized for her November 2012 trial victory for a pump manufacturer against several of the nation’s largest insurers in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in asbestos litigation coverage.  The trial took place only four months after the sudden and tragic death of Robin's close friend and Kasowitz partner, Randy Parr, who had been handling the day-to-day preparation for trial.

To read the story, please click here.