Katherine L. Villanueva

Partner Philadelphia
katherine.villanueva dbr.com
Phone: (215) 988-2535
Fax: (215) 988-2757


Kate Villanueva represents clients in commercial litigation and class actions at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts nationwide. She handles all aspects of civil litigation, ranging from pre-suit counseling, to discovery and dispositive motion practice, to trial advocacy and post-trial proceedings. Kate also has extensive appellate experience, including participating in appellate arguments and drafting numerous petitions for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

Kate’s litigation practice includes the defense of companies in cases alleging business torts, consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices, and breach of contract actions. Kate focuses her insurance practice on life insurance and annuities matters and property/casualty insurance litigation and coverage issues. A significant portion of Kate's insurance-related practice involves advising life insurers on issues related to the secondary market for life insurance, fraud and agent misconduct, foreign insureds/death claims and stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI). Kate also routinely works with insurers on compliance issues related to the administration of policies, with specific focus on lapse processes and procedures. She has represented insurers in a variety of coverage matters, including disability matters, international transportation insurance coverage disputes and the defense of bad faith claims for insurers and annuity issuers. Finally, Kate is dedicated to prosecuting and defending civil actions involving Free Speech, Free Exercise and Establishment Clause claims, including a nationally-recognized case regarding the right of free speech in a public school setting.

Prior to joining Drinker Biddle, Kate served as a law clerk to Judge Morton I. Greenberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (2005-2006), and for the Supreme Court of New Jersey (2004-2005). Kate lives in Moorestown, New Jersey. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.


Kate has extensive experience with insurance litigation and coverage issues. These are highlights of some of her representative matters:

  • Dismissal of claims concerning improper designation of beneficiary, Piantone, et al. v. Estate of Paul Godlewski, et al., No. 2015-28114 (Montgomery County, PA)
  • Reversal of jurisdictional dismissal based on absence of allegations concerning identity of members of LLC defendants, Lincoln Benefit Life Co. v. AEI Life, LLC, et al., No. 14-2660 (3d Cir.)
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of insurer regarding lapse of insurance policy, Elhouty v. Lincoln Benefit Life Company, No. 14-00676 (E.D. Cal.)
  • Dismissal of bad faith claim and summary judgment in favor of insurer on breach of contract claim related to misstatement of age and age adjustment, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Lincoln Benefit Life Company, No. 13-2890 (N.D. Ga.)
  • Jury verdict in favor of insurer regarding lapsed life insurance policy, Madick v. Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 11-9214 (C.D. Cal.)
  • Summary judgment in favor of insurer in STOLI case, Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Greatbanc Trust Co., 887 F. Supp. 2d 822 (N.D. Ill. 2012)
  • Summary of judgement in favor of school district finding school board's practice of opening its public meetings with prayer or moment of silence did not constitute an establishment of religion in violation of First Amendment, Doe v. Indian River School District, 685 F. Supp. 2d 254 (Del. 2010)


Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania


  • Rutgers University School of Law - Camden, J.D., 2004
  • Lehigh University, B.S., 2002

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit


  • Association of Life Insurance Counsel (ALIC), National Litigation Section, Vice Chair
  • National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), Women in Insurance affinity group, National co-chair