Insurance Coverage - Policyholder
Kasowitz’s award-winning Insurance Recovery Practice Group includes attorneys with over 30 years of coverage experience focusing exclusively on representing corporate policyholders around the world in disputes with their insurance companies.
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 are particularly attentive to the broader business, legal, and public relations implications of the matters we handle. Our partnership with our clients and 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 2014, 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 Litigation 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:
- Won a complete dismissal for Cushman & Wakefield, a global real estate services company, in an $80 million Superstorm Sandy case brought by Orient Overseas Associates, alleging Cushman of breaching its Management Agreement and negligently misrepresenting to Orient the terms of flood coverage it had procured on behalf of Orient. In a 15-page decision, a New York Commercial Division judge dismissed these claims, holding that the documentary evidence submitted by Cushman, in addition to admissions Orient made in opposing Cushman's motion, "utterly dooms Orient's claim against Cushman."
- Won a landmark victory for Givaudan Fragrances Corporation regarding far reaching implications in protecting a corporate insured’s right to reorganize its business as it sees fit, without fear of risking the forfeiture of its historic insurance coverage. The unanimous decision, issued in favor of Givaudan by a panel of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, affirmed Givaudan’s right to seek more than $500 million in insurance coverage which had been assigned to it in connection with various governmental and private claims related to environmental damage to the Passaic River and Newark Bay.
- Won a landmark appellate decision on behalf of IMO Industries, Inc., affirming its policyholder rights to coverage for tens of thousands of underlying asbestos claims under its $1.8 billion dollar insurance coverage program. In an extensive 114-page opinion, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed trial court rulings in favor of the policyholder after a four-day bench trial as well as rulings in the policyholder’s favor in nearly a dozen substantive motions decided by the trial court.
- Favorably settled a coverage litigation dispute for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) over racketeering and labor law-related suits brought against the IUOE. Kasowitz created important legal precedent for California policyholders in this decision of first impression in California state court. The parties disputed under a policy that required the insurer to "advance" defense fees, rather than "defend" claims, and whether the insurer must pay for claims that only "potentially" triggered coverage. Insurers with "duty to advance" language often quoted to a federal decision, Jeff Tracy, to claim their policies require a higher standard to trigger coverage. In September 2014 summary judgment proceedings, the court ruled that both the "duty to defend" and to "advance" are triggered by the "potentiality" standard and rejected application of Jeff Tracy. The ruling helped to expand California policyholder protections.
- Obtained a nationally acclaimed summary judgment ruling for Signal Products, the then-handbag licensee for Guess Inc., through which Kasowitz created favorable policyholder law on three issues of first impression in California stemming from a coverage dispute over Gucci's $100 million infringement claim against Signal. In particular, the court rejected popular insurer defenses regarding payment for "independent defense counsel" expenses. The court also rejected insurer arguments that policyholders may hire only one firm to defend litigation, even when multiple firms are necessary. Lastly, the court ruled that insurers cannot avoid unfavorable information obtained by underlying defense counsel hired by the insurer, instead ruling that information learned by counsel is imputed to the insurer.
- Secured a judgment in favor of MBIA just four months after the filing of the complaint in the Southern District of New York, in which the judge declared that the London market must pay MBIA's tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the defending suits arising from the restructuring of its core business operations.
- 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.
- Won an appeal on behalf of Syracuse University, when the New York Appellate Division, 4th Department, unanimously affirmed the trial court's summary judgment ruling, which awarded Syracuse its costs that it had incurred in 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 fromer Associate Basketball Coach, in December 2012.
- 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.
- Chambers USA (2011-2015)
- 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 for Insurance: Policyholder in California.
- 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, 2013-2014)
- Honored as “Insurance Group of the Year.”
- Honored among 2015 "Insurance All-Stars."
- U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” (2012-2016)
- Top tiers for Insurance Law Nationwide, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- Benchmark Litigation and Benchmark Plaintiff (2011-2015)
- Top tiers nationally for Insurance and Insurance Plaintiff.
- Lawdragon 500 (2011-2015)
- Two individual attorneys honored as “Leading Lawyers in America,” the only policyholder counsel recognized.
- The Legal 500 (2013-2015)
- 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 (2013-2016)
- Nominated as a “Northeast Insurance Firm of the Year” (2013).
- Nominated for the "Practice Area Awards: Insurance" (2014-2016).
- Who’s Who Legal (2012)
- Four individual attorneys recognized.
Chambers USA 2015 - Insurance
Chambers USA ranks Kasowitz as a leading law firm in the area of Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder, nationwide, and in California and New York. According to Chambers USA, Kasowitz is a "prominent group acting from both the East and West Coasts on high-stakes coverage litigation for large clients; active in both professional liability and environmental and asbestos coverage cases for international and domestic policyholders; [and] premier players in policyholder matters, focusing on complex and high-value work involving professional liability coverage, privacy and data protection, and insurance coverage for costs arising out of lawsuits related to business restructuring."
Kasowitz Insurance Recovery Team Recognized as one of Law360's 2014 Practice Groups of the Year
Kasowitz’s Insurance Recovery team has been chosen as a Law360 "2014 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 firms worked on or lawsuits the firm had wins in." Please CLICK HERE to read the Law360 feature article about the recognition.
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."