Deb Vennos is a trial lawyer and a member of the Insurance + Reinsurance Group. Her extensive scientific experience (explained below) and experience in insurance coverage litigation provides a unique background for representation of insurers in complex insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, which typically involve a “case within a case.” Deb has advised and defended insurers in a wide range of coverage disputes, including, most recently, the defense of a $27 million business interruption and $150 million bad faith claim arising from Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in a voluntary dismissal after five years of litigation. She has also defended numerous multimillion-dollar coverage actions relating to corrosive imported drywall, catastrophic losses to manufacturing and industrial facilities, losses involving construction defects and mold contamination, sinkholes, fire and explosion losses, landfill business losses, and design defect claims.
Deb’s parents were strong believers of education being an important means of protection in the world, thus excelling at school was expected from her and her siblings. Deb completed college at the age of 18, graduating magna cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She then went on to complete her master’s degree in chemistry at the age of 20 from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. By the age of 22, she was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cornell. Deb’s Ph.D. in chemistry provides a solid foundation for her focus on litigation matters involving scientific and engineering principles. After earning her Ph.D., she worked as a post-doctoral fellow at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey where she performed research in the development of new materials for use as optical fibers.
After her post-doctoral work, Deb decided to take a break from traditionally academic interests, and became a professional paid firefighter in upstate New York. She became a certified fire and arson investigator in addition to her full time work as an on-line firefighter. After 6 ½ years of firefighting, she decided to move on and go to Cornell Law School where she received her J.D.
When she is not reading cases and writing briefs, she likes to be outdoors with her children. Deb also loves gymnastics, and enjoyed seeing all of the talented and dedicated young men and women compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Next up, Rio!
Wystan Ackerman is a partner in Robinson+Cole’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group and handles a diverse range of property insurance litigation, including large business interruption cases, class actions, other complex litigation, and appeals. He also has substantial experience representing insurance companies in putative class actions involving homeowners’ insurance coverage and market conduct/claim-handling practices. He has been prominently involved in high-profile property insurance litigation concerning the September 11th catastrophe and Hurricane Katrina, and Chinese-made drywall. Based in the insurance capital of Hartford, Connecticut, Wystan writes the blog Insurance Class Actions Insider, which was selected by Lexis Nexis as a top insurance blog for 2011.
Wystan grew up in Deep River, Connecticut, a small town on the west side of the Connecticut River in the south central part of the state. He always had strong interests in history, politics and baseball and his heroes growing up were Abraham Lincoln and Wade Boggs (at that time the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox). Wystan says it was his early fascination with Lincoln that drove him to practice law. As a high school senior, he was one of Connecticut’s two delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program, which further solidified his interest in law and government. He went on to Bowdoin College, where he wrote for the Bowdoin Orient and majored in government. After Bowdoin, he went on to Columbia Law School. He also interned in the chambers of then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Second Circuit. Wystan graduated from Columbia in 2001, then worked at Skadden Arps in Boston before returning to Connecticut and joining Robinson+Cole.
When Wystan’s not at his desk, flying around the country trying to save insurance companies from the plaintiffs’ bar, or attending a conference on class actions or insurance litigation he often can be found watching “Dora the Explorer” or reading or playing whiffleball with his young daughter, helping his wife with her business, Option Realty, reading a book about history or politics, or watching the Boston Red Sox.
Kip Dwyer is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Litigation Section and focuses his practice on complex property insurance coverage litigation. Admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington, Kip has a geographically expansive practice, maintaining a presence in both our firm’s New York City and Hartford offices.
Kip primarily represents insurance and financial services companies in significant litigation involving a wide variety of insurance-related activities and products, ranging from the marketing of flood insurance to the scope and availability of business interruption coverage for the terrorist attacks on September 11. He has represented major carriers in the litigation concerning Hurricane Katrina losses in Louisiana and Mississippi, and is the national coordinating counsel for a major insurer on their Chinese drywall exposures.
Kip received his A.B. in history at Colgate University and his J.D., with honors, at Gonzaga University School of Law. He then went on to received his LL.M. in International and Comparative Law, with distinction, at Georgetown University.
Steve Goldman is a nationally recognized trial lawyer with 30 years of experience litigating and trying a diverse range of cases throughout the United States. During that time, Steve has served as counsel for insurers in many of the country’s most significant property insurance coverage cases, including, most recently, Sher v. Lafayette Insurance Company (upholding the flood exclusion in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina), Landry v. Louisiana Citizens Insurance Company (holding Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law inapplicable to certain Katrina-related claims), and Streamline Capital v. Hartford Insurance (refusing to adopt the time necessary to rebuild the World Trade Center as the “period of restoration” for WTC tenants). As an advocate and advisor for international and domestic insurance carriers and insurance industry organizations, he has handled numerous high-impact cases arising from catastrophes such as Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the anthrax scare in 2001.
Steve is a prolific speaker on insurance coverage, litigation, and ethics matters and has published numerous papers on these subjects. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Wesleyan University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Greg Varga is a trial lawyer and the immediate past chair of Robinson+Cole’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group. For nearly two decades, his practice has focused on the representation of insurance companies nationally in complex insurance coverage litigation, in lawsuits seeking punitive damages and other extra-contractual remedies, and in other corporate litigation.
Greg is a frequent speaker and panelist at insurance industry and insurance bar programs, including the Property Loss Research Bureau, the Defense Research Institute, and the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel. He has also lectured on trial techniques to other members of the bar.
Greg earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School where he was on Moot Court and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Boston College in History.
Dan Sullivan has 25 years of experience litigating and trying a diverse range of cases on behalf of corporate and institutional clients. He represents insurance companies in complex insurance coverage and extra-contractual claims litigation. He has been counsel for insurers in significant cases arising from the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and catastrophic fires and explosions. He has litigated cases involving losses to residences and businesses arising from mold contamination and construction defects, as well as claims under boiler and machinery and builders risk policies. He currently coordinates coverage advice and litigation regarding claims for damages associated with Chinese-made drywall for a major insurer. He represented a commercial property insurer in litigation involving a $100 million property insurance claim by a publicly traded company for claimed losses arising from an arson fire. He also served as part of the trial team in a multimillion-dollar Hurricane Katrina coverage and bad faith case tried to verdict in federal court in New Orleans, and represented an insurance carrier in coverage litigation initiated by a major Roman Catholic archdiocese seeking coverage for a multimillion-dollar settlement with alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Dan was a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Connecticut School of Law for ten years, where he developed and taught a graduate-level course in property insurance law. He speaks on insurance and litigation-related issues to bar and industry organizations and provides in-house training sessions to insurance company personnel on coverage issues and trial tactics.
Dan received his J.D., with high honors, from The George Washington University Law School, where he was in the Order of the Coif and his B.A. in history, with distinction, from The George Washington University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Rhonda Tobin is co-chair of Robinson+Cole’s Litigation Section and a member of the firm’s Managing Committee. She concentrates her practice in the areas of insurance and reinsurance coverage, insurance bad faith and extracontractual liability, directors and officers liability, professional liability, and complex commercial litigation.
Rhonda’s insurance coverage practice includes the arbitration and litigation of a broad range of coverage issues under commercial, professional, directors and officers, and miscellaneous errors and omissions policies, including claims for insurance bad faith or extracontractual liability. She has substantial experience in property claims-related litigation, including high-profile insurance coverage litigation arising out of the September 11 catastrophe. She also has reinsurance experience, including the arbitration and litigation of reinsurance disputes related to property and casualty and workers’ compensation reinsurance.
Outside the office, Rhonda is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She received her J.D., with honors, from Duke University School of Law and her B.A., cum laude, Duke University in economics and Spanish.
Gene Murphy concentrates his practice in liability and property insurance coverage matters, as well as products liability defense. He has focused on the evaluation, litigation, and resolution of a diverse range of coverage disputes, including mediations, arbitrations, and trials. In addition to his work in Florida, he has appeared before various state and federal courts throughout the country, including courts in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
Gene is a member of the Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar Association, the Defense Research Institute, and the New York State Bar Association.
Gene received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, his LL.M. in environmental law from Pace University, and his B.A. in political science from Queens College, CUNY.
J. Tyler Butts
J. Tyler Butts is an associate in Robinson+Cole’s Litigation Section and an active member of the firm’s Appellate and Insurance + Reinsurance Groups. He focuses his practice on insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, white-collar defense, class action litigation, and antitrust litigation.
Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Tyler worked with a national law firm on securities and probate litigation as well as on complex class action matters. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Connecticut Bar Association, and Hartford County Bar Association.
Stephen Clancy is an attorney in Robinson+Cole’s Litigation Section and a member of the firm’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group. He focuses his practice on insurance coverage litigation, professional liability defense, commercial litigation, and products liability. He is also experienced in representing insurers in complex litigation involving allegations of bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices.
Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Stephen was an associate at Morrison Mahoney LLP and a judicial clerk for the Honorable Barry R. Schaller of the Connecticut Appellate Court in Hartford, Connecticut.
Sharone Kornman brings 19 years of litigation experience to Robinson+Cole’s Insurance and Reinsurance Group where she focuses on the representation of insurance companies in complex first-party coverage disputes involving property damage claims, business interruption claims, and extracontractual bad faith claims. Her knowledge in the insurance arena is complemented by her substantial experience advising insurance companies on their duty to defend and indemnify insureds, and by her defense of property owners, manufacturers, health care providers, and attorneys in litigation in state and federal courts.
Ray DeMeo focuses his practice on insurance litigation and class action lawsuits, and has extensive experience supervising complex and high-exposure property and general liability insurance claims and litigation, including class action suits, domestically and internationally.
Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Ray was Assistant Vice President and Managing Counsel at Travelers Property Casualty Company, where he oversaw all commercial property insurance litigation nationwide, including bad faith lawsuits arising from property insurance claims. He directly supervised the World Trade Center property insurance litigation and oversaw all litigation arising from Hurricane Katrina.
Laura Farach focuses her practice on liability and property insurance coverage matters, as well as products liability defense. Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Laura served as a litigation associate, representing numerous clients in complex litigation actions in federal and state court. Laura also clerked for the Honorable Gill S. Freeman, Circuit Court Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida Complex Business Litigation Division. She served as a legal advisor to U.S. Senator Mel Martinez during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Laura taught financial literacy seminars at the University of Miami and in several schools throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties. She received the Ford Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute award and was a Presidential Merit scholar.
Jessica Hamilton focuses her practice on representation of commercial insurers in complex coverage matters, insurance bad faith and extracontractual liability cases, and other corporate litigation. She is also an active member of the firm’s Appellate Group. Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Jessica served as a law clerk to the Honorable Bethany J. Alvord of the Connecticut Appellate Court and to the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court.
Jonathan Small focuses his practice on complex litigation in federal and state courts. He has defended class actions in a variety of substantive areas; represented insurers in coverage, unfair claims settlement practices, and bad faith litigation; defended law firms in professional liability cases; and represented developers in litigation concerning real estate transactions and land use disputes.
Carrie Turner is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group, where she focuses her practice on breach of contract, first- and third-party insurance coverage disputes, coverage analysis, cyber liability, property damage claims, environmental and contamination loss, breach of fiduciary duty, bad faith, and other extracontractual claims litigation.
Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Ms. Turner clerked for the Honorable Boyce F. Martin, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Turner has experience litigating and advising insurers and reinsurers on a broad range of coverage issues, including litigation arising from 9/11. She has litigated from inception to settlement numerous Superstorm Sandy claims regarding flood exclusion issues. Her additional litigation experience includes general commercial, corporate and partnership disputes, attorney malpractice, and a broad range of contract disputes at both the trial and appellate levels. She has authored appellate briefs in various state and federal courts.
Timothy Larsen is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group. He focuses his practice on liability and property insurance coverage matters as well as complex insurance and reinsurance issues.
Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Mr. Larsen was a certified legal intern in the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice, Danbury Judicial District, where he assisted with cases involving insurance fraud, assault, murder, and larceny. He was also a summer associate at Robinson+Cole. While attending law school, Mr. Larsen served as articles editor of the Connecticut Law Review and represented clients as a member of the University of Connecticut’s Intellectual Property Clinic.