Property Insurance Coverage Litigation

Robinson+Cole's Insurance + Reinsurance Group has developed a national practice in the field of property insurance coverage. Our lawyers regularly handle property insurance cases throughout the United States and are at the forefront of cutting edge litigation in the property insurance field including class actions arising from property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. We have litigated leading cases involving property insurance coverage issues and business interruption claims in courts throughout the Northeast and in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, California, Oklahoma, and Texas.

We have substantial trial and appellate experience in cases involving all aspects of property insurance claims, including class actions and other complex litigation. In our work, we also routinely counsel insurers regarding coverage and claims issues, supervise fraud investigations, coordinate outside experts and consultants, take examinations under oath, provide coverage opinions, and counsel insurers participating in appraisals. Because many lawsuits involving property insurance claims also include allegations of bad faith and unfair insurance claims practices, we have developed considerable knowledge and experience in defending extra-contractual claims asserted against property insurers.

For updates on recent developments in property insurance law from around the nation, read our blog Property Insurance Coverage Insights at

    • Experience
      • Represented numerous insurers in defending class actions as well as litigation involving individual claims arising out of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the 2004 Florida hurricanes. Class actions involve challenges to the applicability and enforceability of flood exclusions. Additional class actions involve challenges to the application of the Valued Policy Laws in Louisiana and Florida. Individual claim litigation involves these issues as well as disputes over coverage for business interruption and losses of income caused by orders of civil authority. Litigation is pending in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
      • Obtained summary judgment from federal court in Atlanta in defense of civil authority claim prosecuted by owner of airport stores throughout the United States.
      • Represented insurers in defense of numerous large lawsuits arising out of claims for business losses resulting from the September 11 terrorist attack. Largest claims were in excess of $100 million, and most were in excess of $10 million. Litigation spawned many of the country's most frequently cited judicial decisions in business interruption.
      • Representation of insurer in defense of litigation from construction defects from the "Big Dig" project in Boston. Specifically, the matter involved the failed installation of an underwater tunnel segment, resulting in flooding and movement of a large concrete tunnel segment. The issues included both design and workmanship concerns.

      • Represented property insurer in a property loss claim in excess of $30 million caused by anthrax contamination of a commercial building in Florida.
      • Represented commercial property insurer in litigation involving $100 million property insurance claim by publicly traded company for claimed losses arising from arson fire and in related bankruptcy, criminal, and civil enforcement actions in New York.
      • Represented insurer in claim brought by a seller of Christian-based inspirational gift items, such as T-shirts and Bible covers, to recover business interruption losses and expenses in excess of $10 million and bad faith damages following a fire that damaged the insured's warehouse and inventory. Robinson & Cole prepared the insurer's motion for partial summary judgment on several significant issues to the litigation and in opposition to plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. The firm also assisted local counsel in preparing the joint pretrial order and provided guidance regarding settlement negotiations and drafting the settlement agreement. The case settled shortly before trial with a settlement favorable to insurer.

      • Represented insurance company against $3.75 million claim for alleged water intrusion and mold damage to home. Prevailed in motion for summary judgment on mold exclusion and faulty design exclusion.
      • Represented insurance company in multimillion-dollar lawsuit involving claim for alleged sinkhole damage to shopping center complex, where insured waited several years to notify insurer of damage and sought coverage for business income losses suffered long after the last insurance policy expired. Moved for summary judgment on common law defenses (fortuity requirement and manifestation trigger) and policy defenses (late notice, faulty design exclusion, earth movement exclusion), paving the way for extremely favorable settlement.
      • Obtained summary judgment in favor of insurer in coverage action arising from alleged hurricane damage to roof and interior of insured’s home, where insured had waited nearly two years to notify insurer of damage and instead attempted to repair damage himself.
      • Representation of insurer against claimant for extensive property loss. Claim involved separating water versus flood damage, damages versus betterment, and pricing issues.

      • Defense of insurer against claimant for demolition and hazardous materials remediation costs. Claim involved extensive overcharging.

      • Defense of insurer concerning $80 million coverage issue related to a deep rock tunnel built 100 meters underground through difficult geological conditions. The case involved issues relating to design defects, workmanship, and remedial costs as well as experts in tunnel boring, grouting, hazardous chemicals, and construction engineering/management.

      • Representation of an insurance company and its insured to liquidate $100 million in claims from approximately 70 claims against insured. Through mediation, the $100 million in claims was reduced to approximately $20 million and 100 percent of cases settled out of court.

      • Representation of insurer in complex dispute in federal court, Eastern District of Virginia, over coverage for Chinese drywall involving $5 million in claimed damages.
      • Representation of Fortune 500 insurer in threatened litigation pursuant to property policy where insured claimed an over $4 million loss because of an ammonia leak. Claim was resolved in one-day mediation session, avoiding litigation costs altogether.
      • Representation of insurer in $250,000 dispute in federal court, Eastern District of Virginia, involving mold and water damage, where plaintiff withdrew the action after a motion for summary judgment was filed.
      • Representation of insurer in $2.9 million lawsuit in federal court, Eastern District of New York, involving water and mold damage, which settled for less than 15 percent of original demand.
      • Knowles v. Standard Fire Insurance Company 133 S. Ct. 1345 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2013)— This appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States and resulted in a 9-0 opinion in favor of our client. Our petition for certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court after the Eighth Circuit had declined to hear a discretionary appeal and after the Supreme Court had denied a petition for certiorari on the same issue the year before. This is the first case in which the Supreme Court granted review under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The issue on appeal was whether a named plaintiff in a putative class action can defeat federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 by stipulating to limit damages to $5 million or less even if the amount potentially recoverable by the putative class would exceed the federal jurisdictional amount in the absence of the stipulation. The Supreme Court accepted our argument that the federal court jurisdiction could not be defeated by such a stipulation. The underlying case involved the alleged failure to pay the general contractor overhead and profit as part of the settlement of property insurance claims and was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff after the case was remanded to the federal district court.

      • Represented property insurer in $30 million coverage action pending in Houston involving insured's loss of permit for California landfill due to alleged contamination of groundwater.
      • Represented insurer in litigation in federal court in Iowa arising out of extra expense claim in excess of $25 million.
      • Successfully represented property insurer in trial of coverage case in Oklahoma involving claims in excess of $30 million for mold and other contamination.
      • Represented property insurer in Florida and Louisiana litigation arising out of $19 million contractor kickback scheme arising out claims by owners of subsidized housing for damage caused by Hurricane Andrew.
      • Significant Reported Decisions

      • Travco v. Ward 468 Fed. Appx. 195 (4th Cir. 2012) and 284 Va. 547 (Va., 2012) – This was the nation's leading case on the question of whether coverage existed under property insurance policies for losses caused by the presence of Chinese Drywall. We brought this declaratory judgment action on behalf of the insurer, which was a Travelers subsidiary. We successfully obtained summary judgment from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On appeal, after briefing and argument, the US Fourth Circuit certified most of the coverage issues to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Virginia Supreme Court then affirmed the rulings of the federal district court, and the US Fourth Circuit subsequently affirmed the judgment in its entirety. Steve Goldman argued the motion for summary judgment before the district court and the appeals in both the US Fourth Circuit and the Virginia Supreme Court.

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    • News
      • December 11, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Elects New Partners

      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

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      • August 27, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Provide Commentary in Law360

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      • August 22, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Announces Annual Pro Bono, Mentor, and Community Service Awards

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      • June 27, 2013

        Robinson & Cole’s Insurance and Reinsurance Group Welcomes Dominic Spinelli

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      • June 5, 2013

        Insurance Lawyer Rebecca Levy-Sachs Named a 2013 Florida Super Lawyer

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      • April 19, 2013

        J. Tyler Butts Pens Hurricane Sandy Article for DRI’s For The Defense

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      • October 18, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Launch New Property Insurance Blog

      • March 8, 2012

        Insurance Partner Updates Claims Personnel and Counsel on Building Code Changes in Florida

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      • February 10, 2012

        Rebecca Levy-Sachs Presents at 2012 Windstorm Conference

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      • December 22, 2011

        Rebecca Levy-Sachs Presents on Sinkhole Coverage and Changes to FL Insurance Statutes

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      • August 12, 2011

        Rebecca Levy-Sachs Elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation

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      • August 2, 2011

        Insurance Partner to Lead Property Insurance Section for Third Year

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      • June 15, 2011

        Eugene Murphy Speaks at Insurance Seminar on Litigating Coverage Claims

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      • September 17, 2010

        Robinson & Cole LLP Receives Most Connecticut First-Tier Rankings in Inaugural U.S.News - Best Lawyers Survey

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      • August 12, 2010

        Providence Business News Names Dana Horton As “40 Under Forty” Recipient

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      • May 14, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Host Green Building and Insurance Seminar in Four Offices

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      • April 27, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Present On Chinese Drywall at Meeting of New England Claim Executives Association

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      • March 17, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Speaks at Insurance Coverage Litigation Conference

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      • December 29, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Author Article for Connecticut Law Tribune on Chinese Drywall

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      • March 30, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Partners Speak at Annual PLRB Claims Conference

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      • October 30, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Insurance Attorneys Speak at PLRB/FDCC Seminar

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • "Recent Developments Concerning the Faulty Work Exclusion in the Construction Defect Context," published in New Appleman on Insurance, co-authored by J. Tyler Butts and Gerald P. Dwyer Jr. (Fall 2013)

      "The Scope of Civil Authority Provisions in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy," published in For the Defense, authored by J. Tyler Butts, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (April 2013)

      UPDATE: New York Department of Financial Services Appoints AAA in New York as the “Designated Organization” to Handle Storm Sandy Mediations (03/04/2013)

      NY Department of Financial Services Adopts Mandatory Mediation Program for Hurricane Sandy Losses (02/28/2013)

      "Class Actions and Bundled Coverage Actions," at HarrisMartin Litigation Conference on Storm Sandy, co-presented by Wystan M. Ackerman and Seth A. Schmeeckle and Richard L. Fenton (2/26/2013)

      Check out our new blog Property Insurance Coverage Insights (10/17/2012)

      "Class Actions on Insurance Coverage Issues," at American Bar Association's Litigation Section, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, CLE Seminar, co-presented by Wystan M. Ackerman and Raoul Cantero, Jeff Leon, and Barbara Frederick (3/2/2012)

      "Recent Developments in Property Insurance Law," published in Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, published by the American Bar Association, vol. 47, issue 1 (Fall 2011)

      "Tangible vs. Intangible Damage: What Does First-Party Property Insurance Cover?" published in Covered Events, 2011, issue 8, an online publication of the Defense Research Institute (9/16/2011)

      "A Primer on New Hampshire First-Party Property Insurance," published in New Hampshire Bar Journal, vol. 52, no. 3 (Fall 2011)

      "Repairing National Treasures – Overview of Issues Involved in Repair of Historic Buildings," co-authored by Rebecca Levy-Sachs and William Bracken, SECB, CFM, StS2; and Gregory P. Varga, published in FDCC midyear conference materials; the paper addresses identification, classification, repair, and insurance coverage issues related to the repair and restoration of historic buildings. (7/28/2011)

      "Property Coverage Legal Update 2011: Business Interruption Claims Related to 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami," at New England Claims Executives Association, co-presented by Stephen O. Clancy and Greg Varga (4/12/2011)

      "Green Construction, LEED & Liability, A Primer for Counsel," at Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Winter Meeting in Indian Wells, California, presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs, Panelist (3/2/2011)

      "Insurance Coverage Class Actions," at American Bar Association's Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Meeting, presented by Wystan M. Ackerman (2/2011)

      "Green Building and Insurance," presented at Robinson and Cole's Sustainability and Climate Change Seminar, co-presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs, Deborah A. Vennos and Jonathan Held (5/4/2010)
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      "Green Building Property Coverage," published in Florida Investor's Greenbook, co-authored by Rebecca Levy-Sachs and Deborah Vennos, update of green building organizations and green insurance endorsements (1/20/2010)

      "The City Made Me Do It," at LEA Annual Meeting, Tampa, Florida, co-presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs and Charles Bibbs, Jon Held, William Bracken (1/2010)

      "The Emergency of Chinese Drywall Claims: A Look at First-Party Property Coverage Issues," published in Covered Events, vol. 1, issue 25, an online publication of the Defense Research Institute (12/2009)

      "The Multijurisdictional Litigator: Word from the ABA," authored by Taylor L. Archambault, Esq., presented by Stephen E. Goldman, Esq., and Carlos Del Carpio, Esq., at the FDCC "20/20" Insurance Symposium (9/2009)

      "Defending Against Lost Profit Claims in Business IP and Insurance Litigation," published in FDCC Website, co-authored by Rebecca Levy-Sachs and Wystan Ackerman; Howard Zandman, CPA/CFF; and Adam Boston (7/2009)
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      "Hypothetically Speaking ... Defining and Measuring the Hypothetical Rebuild in the Emerging Age of Sustainable Building," at Loss Executives Association 2009 Annual Spring Meeting, Portland, Maine, co-presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs and Roger Branigan, Lisa Enloe, and Susan Stein (6/2009)

      "First-Party Insurance Coverage Issues Arising Out of Faulty Workmanship Exclusions," at New England Claims Executives Association, presented by Gregory P. Varga (2/5/2009)

      "Mounting a Daubert Attack Against Damage Experts," at FDCC 2009 Winter Meeting, presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs (2/2009)

      "Litigation Holds – How to Protect Your Company," at FDCC/PLRB 2008 Critical Issues in Property Law Symposium, Chicago, Illinois, presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs, chair and speaker (9/2008)

      "Contingent Business Interruption: Basics and Beyond" (2/2008), coauthored by Taylor Archambault and Rececca Levy-Sachs, presented by Rececca Levy-Sachs at the 2008 Windstorm Conference

      "Survivor's Guide to E-Discovery," at FDCC 2007 Annual Meeting, presented by Rebecca Levy-Sachs, paper and presentation (7/2007)

      "Property Coverage Legal Update 2006: Hurricane Katrina and Beyond," presented at New England Claims Executives Association, co-presented by Daniel F. Sullivan and Gregory P. Varga (11/14/2006)

      "Weathering the Storm: An Update on First-Party Coverage Litigation Arising from Hurricane Katrina," at CPCU Society, Connecticut Chapter, co-presented by Daniel F. Sullivan and Gregory P. Varga (11/9/2006)

      "Property Insurance Litigation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: The Early Results," published in CPCU Society Claims Quarterly, co-authored by Daniel F. Sullivan, Gregory P. Varga and Christopher F. Girard (11/2006)

      "It Isn't Easy Being Green: Green Construction Risks and Insurance Coverage Issues," at 20th Annual Midyear Program of the American Bar Association's Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section; Phoenix, Arizona (2/17 to 2/18/2012)

Our Team