James E. Fitzgerald

Senior Counsel

Overview

Jim Fitzgerald is an experienced trial lawyer who represents insurance companies and other major corporations in complex commercial litigation matters, including coverage disputes, bad-faith claims, fraud claims, professional liability claims and commercial business disputes. He also advises major corporations in connection with internal investigations concerning civil and criminal liability. Jim handles the direct defense of professionals and directors and officers and represents insurers on coverage aspects of claims.

Jim has varied and vast experience in high-stakes insurance and reinsurance coverage cases. He also prosecutes cases on behalf of insurers in which damages arise from fraudulent actions, if not outright scams, by insureds, managing agents, independent adjusters and other third parties. Many of these cases arise out of catastrophic claims from natural disasters (earthquakes, storms, etc.), environmental catastrophes and financial crises, with losses in the millions or billions of dollars.

In addition, Jim assists property and casualty insurers and brokers in underwriting through drafting insurance policies and endorsements and creating manuscript policy language and revised policy forms. Jim also assists corporate officers and boards in reviewing their insurance coverage and navigating claims while dealing with their insurers in the process.

Over the course of his career, Jim has first-chaired more than 40 jury cases in federal and state courts around the country and has handled dozens of arbitrations before JAMS, the American Arbitration Association, the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

As an instructor at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Jim has taught trial and litigation skills for 30 years. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at CLE programs (outside and in-house) on the topics of general litigation and trial skills, insurance coverage, bad faith and claims handling, and general litigation and trial skills.

Jim is a member of ARIAS•U.S. and is a certified ARIAS arbitrator.

Representative Experience

  • Prosecuted California federal action involving multiple defendants engaged in issuing fake workers’ compensation insurance coverage to hundreds of companies/purported insureds; obtained temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to shut down the fraud; recovered millions of dollars for insurer while assisting various states’ agencies in their investigations of this nationwide fraud
  • Represented reinsurer in reinsurance arbitration of coverage dispute with cedent captive insurer for large commercial bank arising out of defense and indemnification for securities class action lawsuits alleging fraud, breach of contract, violation of securities statutes and misfeasance/malfeasance in bank’s management of its residential mortgage-backed securities book of business
  • Acted as lead counsel in defense of major bank in $200 million claim brought by film distributor over the financing of 12 films resulting in seven-week arbitration before the Independent Film and Television Alliance; achieved a defense verdict and $10 million attorneys’ fee award in favor of client bank
  • Defended major insurers in $1.4 billion first- and third-party coverage and bad-faith environmental insurance coverage litigation in Texas state court, and companion California state action, arising out of waste management company’s exposure at California superfund sites for property damage
  • Represented major insurer in connection with prosecuting its Program Manager and Claims Servicing Agent for a Collateral Asset Protection Program (automobile GAP coverage), and ultimate judgment for $7.5 million in favor of insurer, while also representing the insurer in federal rescission and fraud action against major auto manufacturer selling GAP insurance through insurer’s MGAs
  • Prosecuted federal fraud cases (on behalf of major insurer) against independent adjusters, engineers and contractors arising out of fraudulent damage claims for earthquake-affected homes; achieved judgment of millions of dollars, including punitive damages, for insurer; assisted federal authorities in securing indictments and ultimate incarceration of same defendants
  • Coordinated defense of several hundred bad-faith lawsuits against insurer arising out of Northridge earthquake; tried eight such cases, all of which resulted in defense verdicts
  • Defended class action lawsuits alleging discrimination on grounds of race and national origin on behalf of major insurer
  • Successful 19-year prosecution of insurance coverage case on behalf of policyholder drug manufacturer for coverage of 3,000 DES product liability cases, which resulted in California Supreme Court decision, Dart v. Commercial Union Insurance Co., 28 Cal. 4th 1059 (2002)
  • Routinely assist property and casualty insurers and brokers in drafting insurance policies and endorsements, as well as revising and creating policy forms

Credentials

Bar Admissions

California
New York

Education

Fordham University School of Law
J.D. (1979)

Georgetown University
B.S.B.A. (1976)

Leadership & Community

Professional Associations

  • AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society (ARIAS•U.S.), Certified Arbitrator

Honors

  • Chambers USA, Insurance, 2014

Awards Methodology

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