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August 17, 2022 Book Review

Property Insurance Litigator’s Handbook, 3d Edition

Reviewed by Kati Sanford Goodner

Edited By: Andrew B. Downs, Heidi Hudson Raschke, and Jay M. Levin

Whether you’re a seasoned litigator or a first-year associate, the Third Edition of Property Insurance Litigator’s Handbook (the Handbook) is an excellent step-by-step guide to litigating first-party property insurance claims. Broken down into chapters that reflect the life cycle of litigation, the Handbook is a road map to not only understanding the ins and outs of first-party litigation but also provides practical checklists and drafts of everything the reader may need to prepare, from discovery requests to jury instructions.

The first two chapters cover all things pre-suit. These chapters review important details ranging from policy-specific analyses to dealing with adjusters to the duties of the insured. Whether read as a comprehensive text or used as an issue-specific reference, readers will be well-prepared for understanding whether or not the groundwork has been laid correctly to proceed with filing suit. Chapters 3 through 5 cover the drafting of the policy holder’s complaint, as well as affirmative defenses available to the insurer, including an in-depth analysis of how the contract language can affect defenses available to insurers.

In what may be the most frequently referenced portions of the Handbook for most practitioners, Chapters 6 through 8 dive into the ins and outs of discovery and lay and expert witnesses, which is often the portion of litigation that makes or breaks a claim or defense. These chapters guide the reader with templates of sample discovery requests, suggested witnesses, and outlines of questions for the depositions of each type of witness. The chapter on expert witnesses provides key reminders for laying the foundation for qualifications, as well as setting experts up for Daubert challenges. These chapters also prepare the practitioner well for Chapter 9, which covers dispositive motions and the options to resolve the litigation pre-trial.

The remaining two chapters cover the trial, appeal, and sample jury instructions. In Chapter 10, the Handbook begins with Voir Dire and goes through everything from opening statements to preserving the record on appeal. Chapter 11 goes into great detail on ways to ensure that jury instructions are prepared to define properly the claims and defenses at play at trial. Finally, Appendix A provides a series of tables covering everything from deadlines to file suit to determinations of bad faith. Appendix B provides sample forms and letters for practitioners to use. Similar to the checklists provided in the various chapters throughout the Handbook, these forms and letters are an excellent resource to avoid reinventing the wheel and to also make sure that the reader hasn’t forgotten to include or consider certain elements of a particular claim or defense.

The Third Edition of Property Insurance Litigator’s Handbook is the perfect one-stop shop for first-party property insurance litigation. If you or your firm handle property insurance claims, this edition is a must-have for your firm library and should be a mandatory reference for young lawyers learning how to handle a property insurance file from start to finish.

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Reviewed by Kati Sanford Goodner

Kati Sanford Goodner practices in the Business & Commercial and Tax Practice Groups of the Knoxville, Tennessee office of Lewis Thomason, P.C., where she focuses on business litigation, tax controversy, and representation of small to mid-sized businesses in a variety of commercial matters. She is a member of the TortSource editorial board and may be reached at [email protected].