Debevoise is an international leader in a wide variety of insurance litigation. Drawing on an extensive knowledge of the legal, financial and regulatory aspects of the insurance industry, Debevoise lawyers have acted as lead counsel for insurers in many of the industry’s largest and most complex disputes.
The Insurance Litigation Group is an integral part of the firm’s broader litigation practice, which is recognized as one of the strongest litigation practices in the United States and, increasingly, on a global scale.
The scope of our work on behalf of insurance industry clients includes:
Insurance Coverage and Reinsurance
Debevoise lawyers have represented clients in many of the largest and most complex multi-lateral coverage disputes. Whether as strategic coordinating counsel or as trial counsel on mass tort coverage lawsuits, our lawyers have been centrally involved in every major wave of coverage litigation that has faced the insurance industry. Our litigators have been lead counsel for insurers in asbestos and environmental coverage cases, drug and property damage disputes and many other kinds of mass torts. The firm has a track record of success in international arbitrations involving insurance issues for clients around the world. Debevoise has represented insurers in coverage lawsuits and arbitrations involving polybutylene piping, various medical products, a wide range of pharmaceutical claims, radiant heating systems and pollution. Our litigators also successfully handle more traditional reinsurance disputes for American, Canadian, British and Bermudian companies.
Government Investigations and Related Civil Litigation
Debevoise has represented a number of insurance companies in response to recent allegations by the Office of the New York Attorney General, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and other government agencies. These representations have included handling internal investigations and civil litigation relating to contingent broker commissions, allegations of market-timing and late-trading and non-traditional insurance products such as finite risk policies. We have also advised clients regarding changes in company practices in response to government investigations, including underwriting and antitrust policies.
Sales Practice Litigation and Market Conduct Matters
Debevoise is well known for providing successful representation to major life insurers in individual policyholder lawsuits and nationwide class actions alleging improprieties in the sale, underwriting, servicing and administration of insurance policies. Over the past decade, our lawyers have worked with several of America’s largest life insurance companies to resolve claims asserted by tens of millions of policyholders. We are also recognized for our representation of life insurance companies in the high profile class actions alleging racially discriminatory underwriting practices in the early and middle parts of the 20th century.
Hybrid Litigation and Corporate Projects
Debevoise brings to its insurance industry representations the combination of the unsurpassed experience and reputation of its transactional insurance practice and the firm’s broad involvement with litigated matters on behalf of the industry. Increasingly, Debevoise’s insurance clients are calling upon combined teams of litigation and corporate lawyers working together to creatively address highly complex issues and challenges. Recent examples of these “mixed” litigation and corporate projects include representation of a major property casualty insurer in a transaction involving the sale of several run-off operations, an analysis of corporate structure issues for another major insurer with significant A&E exposures, and a review of potential liabilities arising from a previous transaction involving a United States insurance client.
Antitrust and Other Regulatory Proceedings
Debevoise has acquired decades of experience in handling some of the most significant antitrust and regulatory proceedings for insurance industry clients. Our partners have handled most of the major US insurance transactions involving antitrust issues in recent years and obtained regulatory approvals for the demutualizations of life insurers. In support of the various demutualizations, Debevoise represented Equitable, Prudential, John Hancock, MetLife, Phoenix Life, Principal Life, Standard Insurance, Pacific Life, Manulife, State Mutual and other major insurance companies in contested proceedings before regulators and courts.