Although Hollingsworth LLP ably handles settlement and litigation of single large-loss claims for our clients, we are best known for our management of complex insurance disputes defined by factual and procedural complexity, legal uncertainty, and large sums at stake.  For example, our work in the various Stauffer coverage cases involved litigation brought by the policyholder or its carriers in state and federal courts in California, Delaware, and Illinois, including matters before the California appellate and Supreme Courts, the Delaware Supreme Court, and the Seventh Circuit – and recoveries to our client measured in nine digits. And we are able to draw upon the expertise of our Pharmaceutical Products and Toxic Torts & Products Liability practices in pursuing insurance recovery for claims involving complex scientific issues, such as liability claims for naturally occurring radioactive materials, environmental contamination, and product failure.

Insurance Recovery

Our attorneys have litigated coverage claims involving, among others, single and multi-site environmental liabilities, asbestos bodily injury, pharmaceutical products, medical devices (heart valves, breast implants), plastic vent pipes, and noise-induced hearing loss.  We have pursued coverage under Comprehensive and Commercial General Liability policies; Environmental Impairment Liability and Cost-Cap policies; Builder's Risk policies; Architects and Engineers policies; and Broad Form Property Damage Coverage.  We have proceeded to arbitration under English rules seeking recovery under high excess liability policies, such as those offered by ACE and X.L., specifically regarding the key issues of "batch" clauses and "maintenance deductibles" as applied to substantial product-liability losses.  Our attorneys also are at the forefront of efforts to recover for products and non-products asbestos exposures, having represented clients both in litigation and arbitration. We have secured recovery under fiduciary-liability coverages for ERISA liabilities as well as represented directors and officers regarding liability claims and policy wordings.  And whenever the facts merit, we aggressively pursue actions against insurance companies for bad faith.

We have faced (and like) the difficult challenges of pursuing novel or cutting-edge insurance claims in litigation in state and federal courts across the country.  We are especially effective written and oral advocates in guiding judges often new to complex insurance issues through the thicket of defenses offered up by recalcitrant insurance companies.  As an example, one amicus curiae brief on our client's behalf successfully persuaded a California appellate court to adopt a new and favorable framework (not suggested by the parties) for analyzing whether defense costs incurred before notice to the insurance company were fully recoverable. We have served as general insurance-coverage counsel for several of our larger multinational clients for nearly two decades.  This work has involved long-term management of insurance recovery efforts for substantial mass liability claims (both in the US and abroad), working on disputes across all lines of coverage, avoiding problems before they arise, and providing consistency of approach and institutional memory for our clients.

We work with our clients on a broad range of claims and policies.  For example, we have assisted a meat supplier regarding coverage for substantial damages claims from a franchisor whose franchisees served hamburgers contaminated with e coli 0157:H7 bacteria.  Similarly, we've pursued recovery for losses associated with genetically modified crops and foodstuffs.  And we've worked with structuring product-replacement programs so as to maximize coverage for "product recall" expenses.  We also advise directors and officers regarding corporate indemnities and D&O insurance coverage.

Employee-related losses are an increasing focus of our practice.  With our help, clients have obtained recovery under the relatively new Employment Practices Liability Insurance policies for discrimination-related claims.  Our clients have also obtained recovery under general liability policies for worker-exposure claims; for example, we represented a university concerning coverage and bad faith against its insurers for a toxic-exposure claim by a graduate student working in a university laboratory.  Finally, we have assisted corporate and nonprofit clients regarding substantial fidelity and crime insurance claims stemming from embezzlement, money laundering, and fraudulent practices.

We have successfully obtained recoveries from insolvent insurance companies both in the U.S. and in the London market, and we have close working relationships with the run-off management companies responsible for several of the larger London company insolvencies and with Equitas Ltd.  We also have great familiarity with disputes involving captive reinsurance programs and retrospective premiums.

Business Counseling

Our practice is not limited to resolving claims under insurance policies.  We assist our clients in structuring their own insurance programs, as we did, along with jointly retained London solicitors, in auditing the wordings in the liability, directors and officers, ERISA fiduciary, and fidelity programs for one multinational bioscience company.  We also have reviewed and revised policies that our clients seek to purchase involving environmental clean-up cost-overrun protection as well as loss-portfolio transfers of historic liabilities.  Similarly, we have advised clients about integrated risk, finite risk, and other alternative risk transfer devices.  Our attorneys also have drafted guidelines for in-house counsel and risk managers on providing notice to the appropriate insurance companies, including providing sample letters and the like.

We also are called upon to assist companies in connection with corporate transactions.  For example, we have been tasked with spearheading the due diligence efforts regarding potential liability and offsetting insurance recoveries of a multibillion dollar merger partner.  We also have assisted transactional attorneys concerning liability flows and corresponding insurance recoveries including drafting key elements of the transaction documentation and implementing corresponding changes to extant insurance policies.  Our expertise in structuring corporate transactions to convey or retain insurance rights grows out of our rather extensive experience litigating the consequences for antecedent insurance rights of mergers, asset acquisitions, spin-offs, roll ups, and seller-provided after-insurance indemnity obligations.  We have worked with clients also concerning the implications of bankruptcy on insurance recovery for environmental, medical device, and asbestos liabilities.

Insurance Team

In light of the diverse and complex nature of our insurance-coverage practice, our attorneys regularly are asked to speak and write on cutting-edge coverage issues.  Several partners have penned leading articles on settlement, pre-notice defense costs, managing complex coverage disputes, defense coverage and recoupment, and insurance bad faith.  Our lawyers have taught the insurance-law class at a leading law school, and we are active in the American Bar Association's groups on insurance law, including serving as the sole policyholder-side representative on an important ABA task force on insurance issues and the federal government as well as holding leadership positions in the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice section.

As with all of our practices, we strongly believe that the application of computer resources contributes to the cost-effective and business-like resolution of insurance disputes.  For litigation, where appropriate, we recommend imaging and coding the document population selectively, and we know how to manage electronic-discovery cost effectively. We also utilize state-of-the-art policy analysis and retrieval tools, and we have specialized insurance references on-line.  Both as part and outside of litigation, we have worked with spreadsheets and sophisticated allocation models in which liability and expense are allocated to particular policies and periods under a variety of scenarios.  In some circumstances, we have used use decision-analysis software to aid client management in evaluating coverage litigation and settlement options.  As in other areas of the Firm's practice, we have worked with software vendors and developers to customize and improve their insurance-related applications.

As insurance claims become more complex and insurers seemingly more recalcitrant, we have recommended that some clients retain specialized accountants to better document and if necessary defend the amount of their coverage claims.  As supervising coverage counsel, we have worked extensively with the consulting practice of a major international accounting firm, which a number of years ago retained one of our partners to help train its people and to further develop its already advanced systems for analyzing insurance-coverage claims.  We also have worked closely with specialized forensic accountants regarding fidelity and other claims and have similar close relationships with other professional firms that augment and complement the expertise we possess.

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