Deborah Vennos

Deborah Vennos

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!

Read Deb’s rc.com bio.

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Suit Limitation Period In Standard Flood Insurance Policy Is Not Tolled By Filing In State Court: Hurricane Irene Claim Dismissed By Fourth Circuit

The terms and conditions of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (“SFIP”) are specified by regulations promulgated under the National Flood Insurance Act (“NFIA”). One of the terms in the SFIP provides that the insured cannot sue the flood carrier unless the insured has complied with all requirements of the policy and the insured must “start … Continue Reading

Appraisal Award Unenforceable Where Suit Limitation Period Expired Prior To Filing Suit: New York County Dismisses Storm Sandy Coverage Suit

Suit limitation provisions in insurance policies shorten the statutory period of time that a plaintiff may bring a suit against an insurer for certain causes of action. A New York court recently held that an appraisal award issued a few months after the suit limitation expired was unenforceable where the insured failed to file suit … Continue Reading

Innocent or Unintentional Mistake in Application is Irrelevant: NY’s Second Department Finds Rescission Appropriate and Affirms Summary Judgment Based on Insurer’s Claim of Misrepresentation

When an insurer finds that the insured misrepresented a material fact in an application for insurance, the insurer may rescind the policy of insurance, and take the position that no coverage exists for a claimed loss. In a recent case analyzed by New York’s Second Department, Otsego Mutual rescinded its policy of insurance with the … Continue Reading

Competing Causes of Loss: Florida Supreme Court Issues Decision Applying The Concurrent Causation Doctrine

We have discussed on a number of occasions the issue of causation when there are multiple causes of loss, some covered and some not covered. Most jurisdictions apply what is known as the efficient proximate cause analysis with a minority of jurisdictions applying the concurrent causation analysis, both of which are explained on our blog … Continue Reading

Ambiguity And Ensuing Loss: The Second Circuit Affirms The Southern District Of New York’s Holdings In a $675 Million Superstorm Sandy Insurance Coverage Dispute

In National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Aspen Specialty Ins. Co., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16074 (2d. Cir. Aug. 31, 2016), Amtrak sought the entire $675 million of available coverage from a number of its insurers for damages incurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy.  Most of Amtrak’s damages resulted from flooding of tunnels under the … Continue Reading

Insurance Company Drones May Be Hitting the Skies

Back in March, our Data Privacy + Security Insider blog reported an increase in the use of commercial drones by State Departments of Transportation across the country. Now, insurance companies are also getting in the game. Using drones for underwriting, determining property values and conditions for policy issuance, inspections and risk evaluations may be more economical, may … Continue Reading

New York’s Second Department Holds That Omission of Exclusion in Declination Letter Does Not Operate As Waiver

On April 6, 2016, New York’s Second Department issued a decision in Provencal, LLC v. Tower Insurance Company of New York, 2016 N.Y. App. LEXIS 2529 (Apr. 6, 2016) holding that an insurer does not waive application of an exclusion in an insurance policy if the insurer omits the language of the exclusion in the declination … Continue Reading

Suit Limitation Is A Contractual Term, Not A Statute Of Limitations: Virginia Supreme Court Orders Allstate’s Demurrer Be Granted

The Virginia Supreme Court recently clarified that, even if the suit limitation in a standard fire insurance policy incorporates the language required by Virginia Code, the suit limitation language is not subject to statutory tolling of statutory limitation periods.  In Allstate Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Ploutis, 2015 Va. LEXIS 109 (Sept. 17, 2015), … Continue Reading

Mold Exclusion: Louisiana Federal Court Interprets Exclusion And Endorsement

Many insurance policies include exclusions that are modified by endorsement. An analysis of the specific language in both the exclusionary provision and the modifying endorsement are critical in determining whether a peril is excluded by the policy. Evonthe Hayes v. Southern Fidelity Insurance Company, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14692 (E.D. La. October 15, 2014) involved … Continue Reading

Robinson+Cole’s Insurance Practice Group Members Present At 1st Annual Bad Faith Litigation Strategies ExecuSummit

On November 4 and 5, a number of our Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group members attended the 1st Annual Bad Faith Litigation Strategies ExecuSummit, which was held near New Haven, Connecticut. Deb Vennos and Greg Varga were panelists, and presented on the topic of Unfair Trade Practice Acts nationwide. The ExecuSummit was well-attended by claims adjusters … Continue Reading

Superstorm Sandy Named Storm Deductible: Central District of California Denies Summary Judgment to Insurer Based on California Law

As we reported in March the issue of whether Named Storm deductibles apply will likely be the subject of Sandy litigation. As a reminder, many state insurance departments issued bulletins indicating that insurance companies should not impose hurricane deductibles on homeowners, mainly because the classification of Sandy shifted from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm as … Continue Reading

Extra-contractual Claims Dismissed In Hurricane Sandy Cases: Two Eastern District of New York Judges Issue Decisions Sua Sponte

In a series of recent sua sponte decisions in six Superstorm Sandy cases, Judges Seybert and Feuerstein dismissed extra contractual claims and dismissed all but the first named plaintiffs’ claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 20. The cases involve up to two hundred and seventeen named plaintiffs (perhaps in an attempt to avoid separate filing … Continue Reading

Suit Limitation Provision Does Not Apply To Intervenor: Connecticut Supreme Court Finds Motion To Intervene Relates Back To Date Of Complaint

In Austin-Casares v. Safeco Ins. Co., 2013 Conn. LEXIS 409 (Dec. 3, 2013), the Connecticut Supreme Court, in a case of first impression, reversed a trial court’s decision, which held that the suit limitation provision unambiguously precluded a mortgagee from intervening in a suit when the motion to intervene was filed after the suit limitation … Continue Reading

Failure To Establish A Violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act Renders A Claim For Violation Of The Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act Meritless

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision reaffirming that a CUTPA claim against an insurance company (or agent or broker) must be strictly limited to alleging improper practices that are in violation of CUIPA will be particularly helpful to insurers in defending lawsuits asserting unfair trade practice and other bad faith claims. State of Connecticut v. … Continue Reading

Connecticut Property Insurance Mediation Law Enacted: Insurance Department Authorized To Implement Mediation Program For Catastrophic Losses

Last week, Connecticut’s Governor signed into law Public Act 13-148, titled “An Act Establishing A Mediation Program For Certain Insurance Policy Claims and Concerning Requirements for Persons Performing Repairs, Remediation or Mitigation Pursuant to a Loss” (“PA 13-148” or “Act”). Applicability PA 13-148, which will become effective on October 1, 2013, allows Connecticut’s Insurance Department … Continue Reading

Boston Bombings: Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance Issues Bulletin Regarding Procedures for Insurance Claims

On April 25, 2013, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance (“DOI”) issued a bulletin offering “guidance and recommendations” regarding the handling of insurance claims, premium payments, and underwriting of coverage related to the April 15, 2013 bombings in Boston. Of note, the DOI indicates that insurers are required to promptly investigate all claims, and “encourages” insurers … Continue Reading

New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance Unveils Mandatory Mediation Program for Sandy Claims

New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance Unveils Mandatory Mediation Program for Sandy Claims On March 26, 2013, New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance (“Department”) issued a significant new Hurricane Sandy-related order that will affect nearly all insurers doing business in the State of New Jersey.  Order No. A13-106 (“Mediation Order”) requires insurers to participate … Continue Reading

Sworn Proof of Loss Is a Condition Precedent, and Presumption of Prejudice Applies: Florida’s 3rd DCA Reverses Summary Judgment for Insurer

As we have indicated in prior blog posts on the Soronson and Slominski cases, late notice issues have been cropping up consistently in the Florida appellate courts in the context of Hurricane Wilma claims being reported years after the storm.  Cooperation clauses requiring prompt notice and sworn proof of loss are implicated, and the issue, at … Continue Reading

When is an Appraisal Demand Premature? Southern District of Florida Addresses a Post-Litigation Appraisal Demand

When is an Appraisal Demand Premature?  Southern District of Florida Addresses a Post-Litigation Appraisal Demand Biscayne Cove Condominium Association, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5194 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 14, 2013), involved a Hurricane Wilma property coverage dispute at a condominium complex. In this case, the court denied the insurer’s (“QBE’) motion to dismiss … Continue Reading

Missouri Valued Policy Law Inapplicable to Tornado Losses: Missouri Federal Court Issues Decision of First Impression

Some jurisdictions have what is known as a valued policy law (“VPL”), which typically provides that in the case of a total loss, the insurer is required to pay the full policy limit regardless of the actual replacement cost value or actual cash value of the property at the time to the loss. Most of … Continue Reading

Storm Sandy: Delaware Requires Insurers to Submit Claim Reporting Form

On December 10, 2012, the Delaware Department of Insurance issued Bulletin No. 59, which requires all admitted, non-admitted and surplus lines carriers, including flood insurance carriers, to submit a claim reporting form on a periodic basis. The first report is due December 18, 2012 for the reporting period of October 26, 2012 through December 4, … Continue Reading

Insurers Issuing Residential Policies in Delaware Must Include Specific Notice Provision Regarding Hurricane Deductible as of January 1, 2013

On December 7, 2012, the Delaware Department of Insurance issued Bulletin No. 58 reminding insurers writing residential policies incepting or renewing on or after January 1, 2013 that policies must include a prominent and specific notice regarding applicable hurricane deductibles. The Bulletin indicates that in the wake of Hurricane Irene and storm Sandy, many Delaware … Continue Reading

Policy Language Determined Ambiguous Despite Anti-Concurrent Causation Provision: Oregon Court of Appeals Issues Decision of First Impression

Most states enforce anticoncurrent causation provisions, as we have described in our summary of such provisions. Recently, the Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon determined that a policy was ambiguous despite the fact that the insureds stipulated that collapse caused the damage, and the policy excluded loss caused by collapse with anticoncurrent preamble … Continue Reading
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