James E. Fitzgerald represents insurance companies and major corporations around the country in complex commercial litigation matters, including coverage disputes, bad faith claims, fraud claims and commercial business disputes, and defense of claims against professionals, including directors and officers.
James has tried more than 40 jury cases in federal and state courts around the country, and has handled numerous arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association, Independent Film and Television Alliance, National Association of Securities Dealers, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
James also advises major corporations in connection with internal corporate investigations concerning both civil and criminal liability.
James serves as an instructor at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, where he teaches trial and litigation skills. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at CLE programs and other presentations on the topics of insurance coverage, bad faith, claims handling, and general litigation and trial skills.
- Prosecuted California federal action involving multiple defendants engaged in issuing fake workers’ compensation insurance coverage to hundreds of companies/purported insureds; obtained temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to shut down the fraud; recovered millions of dollars for insurer while assisting various states’ agencies in their investigations of this nationwide fraud.
- Represented reinsurer in reinsurance arbitration of coverage dispute with cedent captive insurer for large commercial bank arising out of defense and indemnification for securities class action lawsuits alleging fraud, breach of contract, violation of securities statutes and misfeasance/malfeasance in bank’s management of its residential mortgage-backed securities book of business.
- Acted as lead counsel in defense of major bank in $200 million claim brought by film distributor over the financing of 12 films resulting in seven-week arbitration before the Independent Film and Television Alliance; achieved a defense verdict and $10 million attorneys’ fee award in favor of client bank.
- Defended major insurers in $1.4 billion first- and third-party coverage and bad-faith environmental insurance coverage litigation in Texas state court, and companion California state action, arising out of waste management company’s exposure at California superfund sites for property damage.
- Represented major insurer in connection with prosecuting its Program Manager and Claims Servicing Agent for a Collateral Asset Protection Program (automobile GAP coverage), and ultimate judgment for $7.5 million in favor of insurer, while also representing the insurer in federal rescission and fraud action against major auto manufacturer selling GAP insurance through insurer’s MGAs.
- Prosecuted federal fraud cases (on behalf of major insurer) against independent adjusters, engineers and contractors arising out of fraudulent damage claims for earthquake-affected homes; achieved judgment of millions of dollars, including punitive damages, for insurer; assisted federal authorities in securing indictments and ultimate incarceration of same defendants.
- Coordinated defense of several hundred bad-faith lawsuits against insurer arising out of Northridge earthquake; tried eight such cases, all of which resulted in defense verdicts.
- Defended class action lawsuits alleging discrimination on grounds of race and national origin on behalf of major insurer.
- Successful 19-year prosecution of insurance coverage case on behalf of policyholder drug manufacturer for coverage of 3,000 DES product liability cases, which resulted in California Supreme Court decision (Dart v. Commercial Union Insurance Co., 28 Cal. 4th 1059 (2002).)
- Routinely assist property and casualty insurers and brokers in drafting insurance policies and endorsements, as well as revising and creating policy forms.
- Regularly provide in-house training on insurance issues, handling claims and bad faith avoidance.
Awards Methodology (www.drinkerbiddle.com/content/awards)
- New York
- Fordham University School of Law, J.D., 1979
- Georgetown University, B.S.B.A., 1976
- Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS), Member
- ARIAS, Member
- Center for Civic Mediation, Executive Committee Director (2010-2015)
- American Bar Association
- New York State Bar Association
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- L.A. Superior Court, Settlement Officer