Jonathan E. Small

Counsel

  • Overview

    Biography

    Jonathan Small represents clients in complex commercial litigation. He focuses his practice on insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, unfair business practices claims, professional liability, class actions, and appeals.

    Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

    Jonathan litigates and advises clients on complex property insurance coverage issues and allegations of bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices arising out of large property losses. He is adept at working with expert witnesses in connection with these cases, including forensic accountants, architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, cost estimators, and appraisers. He contributes to the firm's Property Insurance Coverage Insights blog.

    Jonathan also litigates and advises clients on complex liability insurance coverage issues and allegations of bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices. He has won pretrial dismissals of numerous liability insurance and bad faith lawsuits, including two precedent setting cases affirmed on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Unfair Business Practices and Professional Liability

    Jonathan has significant experience representing clients in cases involving allegations of unfair business acts or practices and professional liability. He has a record of successful outcomes in these cases, including a dismissal affirmed on appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court in a case alleging that a lawyer improperly disclosed privileged information.

    Appeals

    Jonathan maintains an active appellate practice, primarily focused on insurance and unfair business practices cases. He has successfully briefed two precedent-setting liability insurance and bad faith cases in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He has also argued and won appeals in Massachusetts and Connecticut appellate courts in cases involving unfair business practices, class actions, and defamation claims. He is a regular contributor to the firm’s Massachusetts Appellate Blog.

    Class Actions

    Jonathan has represented insurers and other business clients in class action lawsuits in a number of substantive areas, including property insurance coverage, liability insurance coverage, and federal telecommunications statutes. In those cases, he has conducted class-related discovery and defeated attempts at class certification at the trial and appellate levels.

    Pro Bono

    Jonathan maintains an active pro bono practice. He represents victims of domestic abuse through the firm’s Domestic Violence Restraining Order program. He also represents immigrant children in deportation proceedings and coordinates the firm’s trainings and referrals on these cases from Kids In Need of Defense and the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

    Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Jonathan was a litigator in a Boston law firm where he represented real estate developers, real estate investment trusts, large law firms, and other sophisticated business clients in complex commercial litigation.
     

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Appeals

      • Won precedent-setting commercial excess liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case involved an assigned claim for $5 million under a commercial excess liability policy plus extra-contractual damages arising out of a wrongful death suit. On appeal, the First Circuit held that there was no coverage under the excess policy and no Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A liability because the insured defendant’s legal obligation to pay damages to the plaintiff was not triggered by the settlement agreement reached in the underlying action.

      • Won precedent-setting homeowners liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case involved an insurer’s refusal to indemnify a pre-suit settlement of $500,000 by the insured homeowner on claims involving professional and sexual misconduct. On appeal, the First Circuit held that the insurer had no duty to defend where no lawsuit had been filed against the insured, the demand letter under Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A did not trigger a duty to defend, and there was no duty to settle where the insured asserted a novel theory of liability.

      • Won professional liability and unfair business practices case in the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The case arose out of two underlying actions involving a tort judgment in excess of $400,000 and a subsequent legal malpractice action. The plaintiff claimed that his former attorney, in concert with his malpractice counsel and insurer, improperly disclosed confidential information learned in the underlying case. On appeal, the Court held that the  Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim against the professional liability insurer failed, as a matter of law, because the disclosure of confidential information in the underlying malpractice action was justified. The decision was significant in its articulation of the standard for evaluating the “case-within-a-case” proof in a legal malpractice suit arising out of an underlying litigation.

      • Won defamation and CUTPA/CUIPA case in the Connecticut Appellate Court. The case involved allegations by a former insured in connection with the insurer’s denial of coverage for a fire loss and the insurer’s subsequent testimony at the insured’s divorce proceedings concerning the basis for the denial. On appeal, the Court held that the insurer’s testimony and conduct at the hearing was protected by the absolute immunity afforded witnesses in judicial proceedings. Thus, the plaintiff’s defamation and related claims arising out of that conduct and testimony were barred. 

      • Property Coverage and Bad Faith

      • Won summary judgment in commercial property insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved extensive tornado damage to the insured’s hotel. The court granted summary judgment because the additional payments sought by the plaintiff were excluded from coverage and the plaintiff’s evidence in support of its bad faith allegations failed to support a Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim as a matter of law.

      • Won dismissal of a commercial property and unfair claims settlement practices case in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved damage to a commercial property caused by a kitchen fire. The court granted the motion to dismiss because the plaintiff’s claims arising out of the policy were barred by a two-year suit limitations provision and the plaintiff’s Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim was insufficient, as a matter of law, because it involved an ordinary contract dispute and a good faith disagreement about the meaning of the policy.

      • Represented insurance company in a 7-day Massachusetts reference proceeding. The case involved claims for building damage and business income losses arising out of a multi-million dollar roof collapse at a commercial building in Massachusetts. The reference included the testimony of numerous expert witnesses, including forensic accountants on the business income loss, structural engineers on the structural integrity of the roof, and mechanical engineers and electricians on the nature of the electrical and mechanical systems in the building.

      • Liability Coverage and Bad Faith

      • Obtained judgment of no liability after a bench trial in an inter-insurer coverage dispute in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved multiple layers of commercial general liability and commercial automobile insurance policies implicated in a construction accident. The insurers disputed whether the accident arose primarily out of the use of an automobile or the conditions of the construction site.

      • Won dismissal of a professional liability and unfair business practices case in Massachusetts Superior Court. The case arose out of two underlying actions involving a tort judgment in excess of $400,000 and a subsequent legal malpractice action. The plaintiff claimed that his former attorney, in concert with his malpractice counsel and insurer, improperly disclosed confidential information learned in the underlying case. The court dismissed the claim against the professional liability insurer because it owed no duty to its insured’s adversary in the malpractice action.

      • Won dismissal of a commercial excess liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved an assigned claim for $5 million under a commercial excess liability policy arising out of a wrongful death suit. The court dismissed the claims because the settlement agreement reached in the underlying action released the insured defendants from liability and stipulated to a dismissal of the action.

      • Won dismissal of a homeowners liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved an insurer’s refusal to indemnify a pre-suit settlement of $500,000 by the insured homeowner on claims involving professional and sexual misconduct. The court dismissed the claims because the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify in connection with the pre-suit settlement and the claims against the insured did not create any duty to settle.

      • back to top
    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association

      Boston Bar Association

      Connecticut Bar Association
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Listed as a Rising Star in the 2018 Connecticut Super Lawyers list.

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2018

  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "When is a Breach of Contract really a Breach of Contract?" co-authored with Joseph A. Barra, published in BSCES News, a publication of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section/ASCE (March 2018)
      • » more info
      • View article

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Choice of Law Principles in Disputes Arising Under Insurance Contracts," co-presented with J. Tyler Butts, webinar (12/11/2018)
      • » more info

      "Common Coverage Issues Arising from Catastrophes," presented during the 2018 Eastern Regional Adjusters Conference, hosted by the Property & Liability Resource Bureau, in Hartford, Connecticut (10/30/2018)
      • » more info

      "Flood, Wind, and Concurrent Causation," at HarrisMartin's Hurricanes Irma & Maria Conference in Miami Beach, Florida (11/14/2017)

      "Unique Insurance and Class Action Litigation Following Irma and Maria," at HarrisMartin's Hurricanes Irma & Maria Conference in Miami Beach, Florida (11/14/2017)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • November 27, 2018

        Tyler Butts, Jessica Hamilton, and Jonathan Small Present During 2018 Eastern Regional Adjusters Conference

        • » more info
      • October 18, 2018

        51 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 25, 2018

        Joe Barra and Jon Small Co-author Article on Breach of Contract Published in BSCES News

        • » more info
        • View article
      • June 1, 2018

        Jess Hamilton and Jon Small Recognized by the Center for Children’s Advocacy

        • » more info
        • View article
      • November 21, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Participate at HarrisMartin's Hurricanes Irma & Maria Conference

        • » more info
      • November 12, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Hosts Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program for Lawyers

      R+C News Releases