Insurance Coverage Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Insurance coverage issues may arise in two general ways. A party can be involved in a dispute—as a defendant or plaintiff—in which there is the possibility that third-party insurance may be tapped to cover the costs of litigation, damages and recoveries. Or a party may be involved in a direct dispute with an insurer that is refusing or failing to pay—or delaying payment—under a policy that should otherwise provide coverage.
Our attorneys are on the leading edge of emerging insurance coverage issues and litigation. We are trial lawyers, regularly appearing in courts at the trial and appellate levels. Several of our lawyers are also members of the Illinois Policyholders Counsel Group, an organization dedicated to protecting the interests of businesses and other policyholders, and to disseminating information and education.
On behalf of our policyholder clients, we have won a number of significant victories with industry-wide ramifications, including:
- Valley Forge Ins. Co. v. Swiderski Electronics, Inc., 223 Ill.2d 352, 860 N.E.2d 307 (Ill. Supreme Court 2006) (expanding advertising injury coverage and holding that undefined terms in insurance policies are afforded their plain, ordinary and popular meanings) (Swiderski was recognized by Mealey Publications as one of the 10 most significant insurance coverage decisions of 2006)
- Central Illinois Light Co. v. Home Ins. Co., 213 Ill.2d 141, 821 N.E.2d 206 (Ill. Supreme Court 2004) (appearing as amicus) (determining that insured's liability need not be fixed by the resolution of a lawsuit to trigger the duty to indemnify and that insured's participation in a "voluntary" state cleanup program constitutes a legal obligation)
- Guillen v. Potomac Ins. Co., 203 Ill.2d 141, 785 N.E.2d 1 (Ill. Supreme Court 2003) (construing for the first time the section of the Insurance Code requiring insurers to maintain proof of mailing notice of material changes to coverage)
- Johnson Controls Inc. v. Employers Ins. of Wausau, 264 Wis.3d 60, 665 N.W.2d 257 (Wis. Supreme Court 2003) (appearing as amicus) (determining that environmental response costs are "damages" and that a PRP letter demanding remediation is a "suit" for insurance coverage purposes)
- Perry v. Economy Fire & Cas. Co., 311 Ill App.3rd 69, 724 N.E.2d 151 (1st Dist. 1999) (determining the type of notice an insurer must give a policyholder before materially changing coverage)
- American States Ins. Co. v. Koloms, 177 Ill.2d 473, 687 N.E.2d 72 (Ill. Supreme Court 1997) (appearing as amicus) (finding the pollution exclusion applies only to traditional pollution and not to an accidental release of carbon monoxide from a broken furnace)
- Insurance Co. of Illinois v. Stringfield, 292 Ill. App.3d 471, 685 N.E.2d 980 (1st Dist. 1997) (limiting the scope of an insurance policy's pollution exclusion)
We are focused directly on the issues of most importance to our clients, and we understand that the speedy resolution of a dispute is often the primary goal of litigation. With this in mind, we regularly seek out alternative means of bringing closure to business conflicts—through arbitration, mediation and settlement. We have crafted complex negotiated settlements of insurance disputes designed to further our clients' business interests. However, when litigation is necessary to resolve coverage disputes, we act aggressively, using every tool at our disposal. When litigating insurance claims on behalf of our clients, quality service is the unshakeable foundation of our relationship-based business model—we think like a client and respond with the commitment of an owner.
With adaptive, customized business counseling at the core of our problem-solving approach, we frequently partner with our clients on creative, sensible fee arrangements.