Smith Stratton’s lawyers routinely represent many of the world’s largest insurers in a broad array of complex coverage matters. In addition to defending insurers in high-stakes litigation and arbitrations, the firm provides guidance and counseling regarding numerous issues that arise during the handling of a claim. The firm’s insurance coverage practice includes the following areas:
The firm’s insurance coverage practice has increasingly involved claims for pharmaceutical and other life sciences-related liabilities. The firm has represented domestic and international insurers in litigation in the United States, as well as in the London Court of International Arbitration and in all stages of the claim process. The firm’s experience includes claims involving Vioxx® (rofecoxib); gadolinium (MRI contrast agent); OxyContin® (oxycodone); Reglan® (metaclopramide); Byetta® (exenatide); Fosamax® (alendronate sodium); MMR (vaccine); thimerosal (vaccine preservative); diacetyl (artificial butter flavoring); blood factor concentrate; tobacco; and breast implants.
As an example of the firm’s pharmaceuticals practice, the firm, on short notice, substituted for counsel with a conflict and devoted a large team of attorneys to conduct intensive discovery on an expedited basis, involving literally millions of pages of documents and dozens of depositions, for a case in Connecticut, ultimately negotiating a favorable resolution for our client.
Asbestos and Asbestos Bankruptcy Litigation
The firm has represented insurers with multi-million dollar exposures in several of the largest asbestos coverage actions filed across the country. The firm has taken a leading role in extended trials challenging the reasonableness of policyholders’ pre-packaged bankruptcy plans under Section 524 (g) of the Bankruptcy Code.
The firm represented two insurers in the seminal Congoleum case, where the New Jersey Superior Court invalidated the insured’s unreasonable inventory settlements with major plaintiffs’ asbestos firms, and the bankruptcy court upheld the insurers’ standing to object to the plan. The firm also represented insurers in the Burns & Roe, Combustion Engineering, Honeywell/NARCO and Federal-Mogul bankruptcy-related coverage litigations.
Bad Faith Litigation
The firm has successfully handled hundreds of matters in which policyholders sought extra-contractual damages, predicated on an insurer’s alleged bad faith. The policyholders’ bad faith claims have arisen from many distinct types of underlying coverage disputes, including business interruption claims, fidelity claims, construction defect claims, excess verdict claims, UM/UIM claims, co-insurance issues and cancellation issues.
Intellectual Property Coverage Litigation
The firm often advises insurers regarding the extent to which personal and advertising injury coverage applies to claims for trademark, patent or copyright infringement.
First-Party Property Claims
The firm has developed significant expertise in advising insurers with respect to coverage issues that arise in the context of first-party claims. The firm has represented a major domestic property and casualty insurer in litigating claims pertaining to: a policyholder’s contention that the insurer improperly interposed the dishonest acts exclusion in connection with automotive goods that disappeared from a warehouse; the application of the “ordinance or law exclusion” to a fire claim under a property policy; the scope of business interruption coverage available to an insured who experienced a fire after the insured’s property policy was cancelled without adherence to applicable administrative code requirements; and the extent of business interruption coverage available to a mobile satellite communications company.
Duty to Defend
On a routine basis, the firm provides opinions and prepares coverage position letters to ensure proper treatment of a policyholder’s request for a defense. The advice frequently extends to the particular manner in which an insurer may defend a claim under a reservation of rights in accordance with New Jersey law.
Environmental Insurance Coverage
For over 25 years, the firm has remained actively engaged in coverage issues emanating from environmental claims. The firm’s experience in the environmental field includes litigation pertaining to claims under both general liability policies issued before 1986 and specialty policies, such as remediation cost cap and environmental site protection policies designed to specifically address environmental issues.
Construction Defect Litigation
The firm has represented numerous insurers in connection with construction defect related claims, including fire retardant treated plywood, EIFS and plumbing products.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Over the last five years, insurers have retained the firm in connection with demands for coverage deriving from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The firm routinely litigates claims alleging that an insurer has failed to properly provide either UM/UIM coverage or PIP benefits. The cases have involved statutes of limitations, step-down clauses, named insured questions, other insurance clause interpretation, and the proper scope of arbitrations governing auto claims.