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A singular focus on policyholder rights continues to drive the lawyers at Anderson Kill P.C., winner of the Legal Team of the Year award, part of Business Insurance’s inaugural U.S. Insurance Awards.
For example, the New York-based firm has represented California in lengthy litigation involving the state’s efforts to recover the costs of cleaning up a hazardous waste site from various insurers — litigation pending since 1993 that has been to the California Supreme Court twice, according to State of California v. Continental Insurance Co. et al.
In the latest twist, a California appellate court in September affirmed the state was entitled to mandatory prejudgment interest for a total award of $13.9 million.
“Our legal team is a good legal team … but it is so sad that we have to overcome that (insurer) mindset: that we’re going to hold on to the policyholder’s money until the policyholder forces us to give it up,” said Robert Horkovich, a partner with Anderson Kill. “Policyholders need to understand that their contract rights are valuable and they need to keep pursuing them — not to give up when the insurance industry tells them to give up, not to give up when the broker gives them 100 excuses to give up.”
In December, Anderson Kill scored another victory when a New York judge ruled that an American International Group Inc. unit must defend the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and several contractors against scores of asbestos claims brought by construction workers on the original World Trade Center, according to American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey et al.
“Asbestos and environmental liabilities have plagued policyholders for far longer than expected,” Mr. Horkovich said. “We have defeated the insurance industry on the major defenses to asbestos, so I see the insurance companies now going back to a slice and dice defense where they’re trying to limit the amount of exposure they have. And that really makes a mockery of the promise of the commercial general liability policy.”
• Mayer Brown L.L.P.
• Squire Patton Boggs
• Wiley Rein L.L.P.
• Zurich North America
Business Insurance recognized achievements by outstanding executives and teams of professionals working in the field of risk management and commercial insurance at its inaugural U.S. Insurance Awards presentation in New York on March 8.