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June 22, 2022 PROFILE

Editorial Board Member: Timothy M. Thornton Jr.

Timothy (Tim) M. Thornton Jr. is a partner in the Encino office of Gray Duffy LLP. He is primarily an insurance coverage lawyer, though he started out as a tort defense lawyer. Tim recalls, “When I started a firm with my former partners Romain Nelsen, Phil Thompson, Stephen Tang, and Jaymeson Pegue, we originally envisioned ourselves doing an even split of defense and coverage work. We all felt that understanding one helped us do a better job on the other. However, the coverage work took over and squeezed out most of the defense work. Our firm began in the time of the advertising injury coverage debates, and we became very involved in opinion work and litigation on that particular area of insurance law. As that became relatively settled and as the policy language was amended to remove areas of dispute, our coverage work shifted to other types of matters.” For many years, Tim worked on coverage disputes arising from claims against religious entities alleging sexual abuse of minors.

Tim has “always belonged” to the American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), but he only became actively involved about 10 years ago at the behest of his good friend Judi Goodman. He has been most involved in the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee; the Excess, Surplus Lines and Reinsurance Committee; and the Self-Insurers and Risk Managers Committee. “I remain affiliated with TIPS because of the people more than anything else,” says Tim.

“My most fulfilling experience at TIPS was serving as the program chair for the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee’s 25th Annual Midyear Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Since it was the 25th annual meeting, a significant milestone, we invited all of the past chairs to come back, and we hosted an additional reception to welcome them and honor them.” Tim was chair of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee for the 2020–2021 bar year. Leadership in that committee has tried to involve a lot of younger members in the activities of the committee, including by urging them to publish articles and make presentations, to promote the committee through social media, and to develop a mentorship program. Tim believes mentorship is an important part of TIPS.

Tim has also been a member of the TIPS Book Publishing Board for a number of years and coedited a book with Lyndon Bittle and Diane Bucci titled Reasonable Expectations: Interpreting Insurance Policies in Common Law Jurisdictions. He publishes on insurance topics from time to time in the newsletters for the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee; the Excess, Surplus Lines and Reinsurance Committee; and the Self-Insurers and Risk Managers Committee and has had articles published in The Brief. Tim joined The Brief editorial board in August 2021.

He is also a member of the ABA Litigation Section and Law Practice Management Section, primarily benefiting from their publications, as well as the California Lawyers Association, the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, and the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.

Tim grew up east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley. He studied history at Stanford University. After that, he went overseas and worked in a group called Volunteers in Asia, teaching English as a second language at Airlangga University and the Health Research Institute in Surabaya, Indonesia. When he returned, he attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and continued his volunteer work. “For about 22 years, I was a volunteer in the public benefits department of AIDS Project Los Angeles, counseling individuals who were disabled by AIDS about what their options were with regard to state and federal disability insurance and supplemental security income. I also was involved in Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles for about 12 years until my ‘little brother’ reached the age where Big Brothers stops its involvement. He and I are still in touch. And I recently went to his wedding in South Carolina.”

Tim is married to Kathi. “She has two kids, Joe and Kara, my stepkids, and both are grown up. Joe has a son, Emmett, who is a delight.”

As for hobbies, Tim likes gardening, but he has done little of that since downsizing and moving into a condo. He also likes baking, camping, and hiking. “I hike in Joshua Tree every year on my drive home from the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Meeting in Phoenix,” he shares. Tim may be reached at [email protected].

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