Dawn Williams defends insurance companies in complex civil litigation and class actions in federal and state courts across the country. Combining a thorough knowledge of class action procedure with an understanding of current regulatory developments, Dawn counsels clients in disputes and about legal issues pertaining to life insurance and annuity products.
A dedicated adviser to insurance industry clients, Dawn has particular experience in cases related to the adequacy of disclosures in illustrations and marketing materials; sales practices; grace, lapse and other notices; and the administration of life insurance and annuity policies.
Most recently, she has secured the following for her clients:
- Denial of class certification in a putative nationwide class action involving an auto insurer’s subrogation of medical payments
- Dismissal at the pleading stage in a case regarding representations made during the sale and premium financing of a multi-million dollar whole life policy
- Dismissal at the pleading stage of a business interruption case seeking insurance coverage for losses due to the impact of COVID-19 on business operations
- Dismissal at the pleading stage of a putative nationwide class action involving allegedly improper calculation of GAP insurance on personal vehicles
- Denial of class certification of a putative nationwide class alleging improprieties in the way the insurer calculated nonguaranteed benefits
- Summary judgment for an insurer in lawsuits alleging improper lapse notifications
Dawn also represents insurers in local and regional matters, such as individual consumer and agent sales practice actions. She has a keen interest in insurance-related issues in the District of Columbia and is an active member of the D.C. Insurance Federation.
A thought leader, Dawn frequently writes and speaks about hot-button topics in the industry. Her recent articles have covered indexed universal life insurance litigation, lapse notifications, elder abuse, cybersecurity and defeating class certification. Dawn shares her industry insight with clients to help them reduce risk and avoid costly disputes. She also serves as the Leader for the Thought Leadership initiative of the Insurance Industry Group.
Dawn clerked for the Honorable Johanna L. Fitzpatrick, Chief Judge at the Court of Appeals of Virginia (2005-06).
- Keister v. Allstate Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 2023 WL 2930296 (W.D. Mo. Mar. 21, 2023) (order denying plaintiff’s motion for certification of a nationwide class in case alleging the insurer improperly subrogated medical payments made following an auto accident).
- Zoulias v. MassMutual Life Ins. Co. (Va. Cir. Ct., 2022) (order sustaining insurer’s demurrer with prejudice in case involving suitability and alleged misrepresentations in sale and premium financing of multi-million dollar whole life policy).
- Madera Group LLC v. Mitsui Sumitomo Ins. USA, Inc., 545 F. Supp. 3d 820 (C.D. Cal. 2021) (order dismissing business interruption lawsuit claiming that insurance policy should cover losses due to the impact of COVID on business operations).
- Small v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2020 WL 5884757 (C.D. Cal. 2020) (order staying putative California class action claiming that the life insurer was required to comply with California’s grace and lapse statutes that post-dated the issuance of their policies).
- Terry v. Corporate America Family Credit Union, et al., No. 19-1065 (D. Md. 2019) (order granting motion to dismiss without leave to amend on behalf of insurer in putative nationwide class action involving allegedly improper calculation of GAP insurance on personal vehicles)
- Thompson v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2019 WL 337587 (D. Minn. Jan. 2019) (order declining certification in a putative nationwide class alleging improprieties in the way the insurer calculated nonguaranteed benefits)
- Leiner v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 15-cv-05876 (N.D. Ill. 2017) (final approval of nationwide class settlement of purchasers of J&J’s child toiletry products who alleged misrepresentations in the labeling of the product)
- Logan v. Union Security Ins. Co., 2015 WL 3745047 (C.D. Cal. 2015) (order dismissing ERISA section 1132(a)(3) claim and other claims against insurer in putative class action concerning payment of accidental death and dismemberment benefits)
- Negrete v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2013 WL 6535164 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2013) (granting key motions in limine in insurer’s favor in nationwide annuity sales practices class action)
- Ostrow v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 2009 CA 007621 B (D.C. Superior Ct. 2011) (dismissal of representative action alleging consumer protection claims against insurer)
- Mooney v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2010 WL 419962 (D. Minn. 2010) (defense jury verdict following three week trial in 350,000-member sales practices class action)
- In re Am. Investors Life Ins. Co. Annuity Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., 2008 WL 2246989 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (dismissal of nationwide beneficiary class in sales practices class action)
- Blau v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2018 WL 949222 (E.D.N.Y. 2018) (summary judgment for insurer in lawsuit alleging improper lapse notification provided to owner)
- Jakobovits v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2017 WL 3049538 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) (partial summary judgment for insurer in case involving allegations of improper grace notification for long-lapsed life insurance policies)
- LincolnWay Community Bank v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2015 WL 7251931 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (granting summary judgment for insurer and finding that STOLI policy was void at inception for lack of insurable interest)
- Blau v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 2015 WL 4911168 (E.D.N.Y. 2015) (court dismissed complaint alleging failure of insurer to comply with statutory notice provisions when life insurance policy lapsed)
- Patel v. Specialized Loan Servicing, 2016 WL 1663827 (S.D. Fla. 2016) (dismissal with prejudice of lender-placed insurance class action complaint on grounds of fixed-rate doctrine)
- Klika v. Capital One Bank, N.A., No. C15-0107 (W.D. Wash. 2016) (dismissal at pleading stage of lender-placed insurance allegations)
- Meyer v. One West Bank, FSB, 2015 WL 1222402 (C.D. Cal. 2015) (order dismissing at pleading stage insurer in lender-placed insurance class action involving RICO and state statutory and common law violations)
- Perryman v. Litton Loan Servicing, LP et al., 2015 WL 895638 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (order granting motion to stay putative nationwide class action alleging improprieties in the placement of lender-placed insurance)
- Wahl v. Am. Sec. Ins. Co., 2010 WL 1881126 (N.D. Cal. 2010) and 2009 WL 1766620 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (dismissal of all but one claim in class case concerning lender-placed insurance)
- Office Depot, Inc. v. AIG Specialty Ins. Co., 2016 WL 6106408 (C.D. Cal. 2016) (judgment in favor of media liability insurer holding that insurer had no duty to reimburse $15 million in defense expenses or to indemnify $77.5 million settlement of a whistleblower suit)
- Giorvas v. Grow, No. 115CV285323 (Cal. Super. Ct., Santa Clara County) (jury verdict in favor of insurer after month-long trial concerning the suitability of fixed deferred annuities)
- Athene USA Corp. v. Horsey, No. 3:16-CV-00051 (E.D. Va. 2016) (temporary restraining order for insurer against former life insurance agent using copycat website)
- Marlow v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 09CV7756 (D. Colo. 2011) (dismissal on eve of trial of agent's breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims against insurer)
District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Court of Appeals of Virginia, Hon. Johanna L. Fitzpatrick, 2005-2006
University of Richmond School of Law
J.D. magna cum laude (2005)
University of Virginia
Insights & Events
- Although Largely Deflated, IUL Illustration Statute Lawsuit Rolls On (Insurance News Net, July 27, 2018)
- Investors’ Attempts to Breathe Life Back into Long-Lapsed Life Insurance Policies Fail (DRI LHD Newsletter, October 23, 2017)
- Financial Elder Abuse Litigation Against Insurers (DRI, For the Defense, August 1, 2017)
- Insurers and Brokers May Face UCL Liability for Violations of Insurance Statutes (California Broker, July 1, 2017)
- Shareholders Stake Shaky Claim in Unclaimed Property Cases (Insurance News Net, December 1, 2016)
- Five Steps to Heading Off a Potential Lawsuit (Insurance News Net, November 7, 2016)
- Ninety-Nine Problems but a Breach Ain’t One: Cybersecurity Lessons for Insurers (Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Law Report, October 24, 2016)
- Defeating Class Certification, Lessons from Recent Life Insurance and Annuity Cases (DRI In-House Defense Quarterly, February 1, 2016)
- Misrepresentation in the Life, Health, and Disability Insurance Application Process: A National Survey, Second Edition (ABA, February 1, 2015)
- “The Hottest Litigation Topics – A Year in Review,” Insured Retirement Institute’s Action 18 Conference (May 10, 2018)
- “Hot Topics in Elder Abuse and Annuity Claims and Litigation,” ABA Tips Midwinter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits (January 12, 2018)
- “Recent Developments in Annuity and Life Insurance Litigation,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) Webinar, Washington (May 11, 2016)
- “Insurance and Securities Litigation Trends,” LIMRA / LOMA 2016 Regulatory Compliance Exchange (March 31, 2016)
- “Class Action Issues in Life and Disability Insurance,” ABA TIPS Midwinter Symposium (January 15, 2016)
- “Preservation and Spoliation; Common Law Standards or Federal Rules on the 'Duty to Preserve,'” American Law Institute's 2013 Conference on Life Insurance and Financial Services Litigation (December 5, 2013)
Firm Blog Contributions
- LTCi Summit – a forum dedicated to a range of issues impacting the long-term care insurance community, including litigation, regulation and public policy
Leadership & Community
Dawn recently secured an order awarding asylum to Eritrean citizen fleeing severe prosecution on the basis of her religion. She is frequently involved in obtaining adoption and/or guardianship for underprivileged youth.
Dawn was awarded the ACLU of Southern California’s Educational Equity Award for her participation in obtaining a temporary restraining order for students in the L.A. area, requiring that they attain meaningful learning time in school.
The Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment in favor of the victims of “foreclosure rescue” fraud, represented by Dawn in the trial court and appellate court, following a three-week trial.
- American Bar Association
- Association of Life Insurance Counsel
- DRI: The Voice of the Defense Bar — Life, Health, Disability Committee
- District of Columbia Insurance Federation
- Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020-21
- Virginia — Pro Bono Service Honor Roll, 2020-21
- ACLU of Southern California — Educational Equity Award, 2016
- D.C. Access to Justice Commission — Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2014, 2017
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.