September 02, 2020 Profile

Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee

By Brandi L. Burke and Timothy M. Thornton Jr.

The Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee (ICLC) is a TIPS general committee that brings together a broad range of coverage practitioners. Our committee’s ranks include everyone from private practitioners on both the insurer and policyholder sides to brokers and claims professionals, in-house counsel, academics, consultants and experts, and mediators.

The committee’s members are enthusiastic, collegial, and committed to sharing and learning from each other and supporting one another’s career and professional goals. To that end, the ICLC prides itself on the number of past committee chairs who remain actively involved with the committee. It is not unusual to find past chairs speaking on panels, attending committee business and CLE meetings, authoring articles, mentoring fellow committee members, and working to help ensure that the ICLC continues to thrive. The ICLC also prides itself on its contributions to the Section and the broader ABA, with numerous past chairs and other committee leaders serving important leadership roles in TIPS and the broader ABA community. Another of the committee’s assets is its diverse and relatively youthful membership, which is reflected in the individuals who make up the lengthy and robust leadership chain. Many members are graduates of the TIPS Leadership Academy, and the committee is an important forum for networking and a pathway to leadership within the broader TIPS community.

The ICLC’s marquee event is our annual midyear meeting and CLE program, rapidly approaching its 30th year. For nearly 10 years now, the ICLC has held its midyear program in mid-February at the Arizona Biltmore. In 2021, the meeting will make the temporary move to the Omni Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Scottsdale, Arizona (February 11–13, 2021) before returning to the Biltmore for our 30th midyear program in 2022. The midyear meeting features two and a half days of quality and cutting-edge CLE programming, business meetings, a mentor program for first-time attendees and new committee members, a community service project, delicious food and drink, and many chances to network and socialize with colleagues, including a dine-around in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and the ever-popular post-dinner karaoke excursion. In fact, what started as one small group venturing out to a karaoke bar in Scottsdale after dinner one evening years ago has now morphed into Uber after Uber full of conference attendees filtering into the karaoke bar eagerly awaiting their turn to sing along to their favorite song while being cheered on by their colleagues. The camaraderie in the ICLC is truly unparalleled.

Another of the committee’s strengths is a deep commitment to publishing insightful articles on a wide-ranging array of insurance coverage litigation topics and in a wide array of different formats. Our committee members have contributed to two editions of The Reference Handbook on the Commercial General Liability Policy and The Handbook on Additional Insureds, along with many other excellent insurance coverage books. Committee members also work closely with the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), providing editors for the IRMI Insurance Law Reporter and content for IRMI Deep Dive articles. In addition, the committee publishes a regular committee newsletter, ably edited by Jennifer Meeker of Nossaman LLP, with each issue containing articles of interest to committee members along with a “spotlight” feature on a particular ICLC member. Recent articles have covered topics ranging from the employment practices liability wage and hour exclusion to the coverage trigger for malicious prosecution to coverage questions related to New York’s Child Victims Act. Our members also regularly contribute articles to The Brief, TortSource, and the Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, including an annual survey of significant developments in insurance coverage litigation.

The committee is committed to the strategic planning process, and its leaders and members work every day toward implementing action items identified as part of the strategic plan. As just one example, the committee made a commitment to getting more publishing and speaking opportunities to its younger and newer members. That has been reflected in the submissions selected for the newsletter, as well as in the CLE programming and toolbox roundtable sessions at the midyear meeting. Social media is another example. Last year, the ICLC set out to improve its (admittedly) woeful social media presence. Our technology vice-chair, Steven Corhern of Balch & Bingham LLP, has worked hard to put a plan into action, and the committee has watched its presence on Twitter and LinkedIn make vast strides this past year.

The ICLC meets in person and via conference call six to eight times each year. As with the rest of the ABA and TIPS, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed not only how and where we do business but also how we function as a committee. Temporarily gone are the opportunities to meet and socialize in person, but the ICLC has stayed in touch with its members through virtual meetings and Zoom roundtables. Recent roundtable discussions have included business interruption coverage for COVID-19 losses and issues related to coverage for “riot and civil commotion” claims.

If you have questions about the ICLC or are interested in becoming a member, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Brandi L. Burke

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Brandi L. Burke is a partner in Thompson Coburn’s business litigation and insurance coverage practices. She is currently the chair of the TIPS Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee.

Timothy M. Thornton Jr.

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Timothy M. Thornton Jr. is a partner with Gray Duffy LLP, where he represents insurer clients in a broad array of insurance-related matters. He is the incoming chair of the ICLC.