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insurance

Conrad O’Brien attorneys are highly experienced in complex insurance matters.

  • Conrad O’Brien represented an international chemical company seeking insurance recoveries for environmental liabilities at Superfund and other sites around the country.  We handled jury and non-jury trials and appeals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and ultimately recovered more than $300 million for our client. 
  • Conrad O’Brien’s lawyers represented a general contractor seeking insurance coverage for wrongful death and personal injury claims arising out of a serious construction accident at the Tropicana Casino in New Jersey.  On motions for summary judgment, the court ruled that the contractor had coverage under two general liability insurance policies, each in the amount of $25 million.  These rulings were instrumental in settling more than 30 cases that had been filed concerning the accident. 
  • The firm represented the insured in fire insurance coverage litigation in state court in New Jersey.  In 2010, the firm’s lawyers moved successfully for partial summary judgment on the ground that the insurer improperly named as its fire insurance “appraiser” the head of a company that was acting simultaneously as the insurer’s “adjuster” on other aspects of the same fire insurance coverage claim. The insurer moved for reconsideration, which was denied.  Conrad O’Brien’s lawyers also obtained a ruling that, pending the outcome of the litigation, the insurer must continue to pay the insured’s “additional living expenses” incurred in renting and furnishing a temporary home.  Joseph v. Bay State Ins. Co., No. CAM-L-4005-09. A settlement was reached in May 2011, ending the litigation. 
  • Conrad O’Brien’s lawyers regularly advise and represent businesses and individuals in government investigations with respect to coverage issues for pre-claim investigation costs under professional liability, D&O, and other commercial insurance policies. 

Conrad O’Brien’s lawyers represent insurance companies in a broad range of matters, with special emphasis on class actions.  

  • Represented an insurance holding company against three separate putative class actions asserting direct and derivative claims in state and federal court in connection with a proposed merger valued at approximately $220 million. Each of the lawsuits sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the shareholder vote and prevent the merger from closing.  Filed motions to dismiss the state actions and negotiated a standstill agreement with the federal plaintiff pending the results of the state lawsuits.  Negotiated a favorable global settlement of all three lawsuits that did not alter the merger consideration and allowed the merger to go forward on its original timetable.
  • Represented three AEGON companies in long-running putative consumer class action suits in New Mexico state court in which plaintiffs sought nationwide certification for alleged breach of contract and failure to disclose modal premium charges.  Achieved success for our clients in all three cases. The plaintiffs in two of the cases voluntarily dismissed the nationwide putative class action after initial motion practice, Cadigan v. Transamerica Occidental Life Ins. Co., No. D-101-CV-99-2619, and after we filed a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, Wodzinski v. Peoples Benefit Life Ins. Co., No. D-101-CV-2000-2816.  In the third case, after extensive briefing and multiple oral arguments on the issues related to nationwide class certification, the parties agreed to a settlement of the case, limiting the class to a small pool comprising only New Mexico residents.  Romero v. J.C. Penney Life Ins. Co., No. D-101-CV-2001-270.
  • Represented People’s Benefit Life Insurance Company in Pennsylvania state court in a national consumer class action.  The putative class claimed the insurer had breached contractual and fiduciary duties when it calculated the death benefits owed on variable annuity products.  Class certification denied. 
  • In a series of four nationwide consumer class actions brought against AEGON/Transamerica companies in state and federal courts in Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky alleging abusive practices and misrepresentations in the sale of universal and variable universal life policies, defeated class certification, secured dismissal, and obtained summary judgment in our clients’ favor.
  • Represented an insurer in a putative national class action in federal district court in Iowa against our client and a national brokerage firm alleging claims of misrepresentation in the sale of variable annuities.  Case dismissed pursuant to the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA), with dismissal affirmed by the Eighth Circuit. 
  • Conrad O'Brien was retained by Truck Insurance Exchange as lead defense counsel in two putative class action lawsuits that are currently pending in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, challenging practices concerning the payment of general contractor’s overhead and profit to insureds under Farmers homeowners policies.

Additionally, Conrad O'Brien has successfully represented the Progressive Group of Insurance Companies for the past twelve years in a number of class actions raising significant issues, including:

  • Brentwood Pain & Rehab. Serv. v. Allstate Ins. Co. Conrad O'Brien took the lead on behalf of a group of insurer defendants in a class action involving reimbursements for multiple MRIs conducted at a single patient session.  The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all claims. 508 F. Supp. 2d 278 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). Pending the plaintiffs’ appeal to the Second Circuit, a favorable settlement was reached.
  • Keiper v. Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. In another successful defense, a class action complaint seeking to recover on behalf of a class of Pennsylvania massage therapists was dismissed on the basis that the plaintiffs were required to hold the equivalent of a physical therapist’s license in order to seek insurance benefits. That ruling was affirmed on appeal. 2007 WL 3236702 (Com. Pl. 2007), aff’d, 968 A.2d 802 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2009).
  • In a pending putative class action in Philadelphia against Progressive Group of Insurance Companies and other insurers, concerning insurance discounts for automobile antitheft devices, Conrad O'Brien argued a summary judgment motion and motion for class certification on behalf of defendants. When a similar case was filed against Progressive and other insurers in Federal court in Minnesota, Conrad O'Brien took the lead on a joint motion to dismiss and argued on behalf of all four defendants. The trial court granted the motion, dismissing plaintiffs’ claims. Hara v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., 820 F. Supp. 2d 1004 (D. Minn. 2011). That ruling was appealed to the Eighth Circuit, where Bob successfully argued the appeal on behalf of all defendants. 666 F.3d 1081 (8th Cir. 2012) (affirming dismissal).
  • Glick v. Progressive Northern Ins. Co. This long-pending class action concerned the meaning of “reasonable proof” under Section 1716 of the Pennsylvania MVFRL. In 2003, the trial court accepted the plaintiffs’ position that receipt of a completed standardized billing form constituted reasonable proof of the amount of the insurance benefits due in all cases, and on that basis certified the class. Conrad O'Brien took over the case in 2009 and, in January 2014, convinced the Superior Court to reverse and decertify the class. 64 Pa. D. & C. 4th 533 (Com. Pl. 2003) (class cert.), 2009 WL 3805116 (Com. Pl. 2009) (summary judgment), reversed and vacated, No. 2145 EDA 2010 (Pa. Super. Ct. Jan. 24, 2014). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to review the case, effectively ending 12 years of litigation in Progressive’s favor. 2014 Pa. LEXIS 2728 (Pa. Oct. 15, 2014).