DRI Faculty List

2021 Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Virtual Seminar

April 15-16, 2021

Michael H. Bernstein
Robinson & Cole LLP

Michael H. Bernstein is a partner in the New York office of Robinson & Cole LLP. Mr. Bernstein is chair of the firm's Managed Care and Employee Benefits Practice Group and practices in the areas of ERISA and non-ERISA life, health, and disability benefits litigation, managed care litigation, and related insurance coverage issues. He counsels employee benefit plan administrators and fiduciaries concerning ERISA, employee benefits, and health care issues and has successfully defended life, health, and disability claims brought against plan administrators, employers, and managed care organizations. After obtaining his B.A., cum laude, at the State University of New York at Albany, Mr. Bernstein earned his J D. at Pace University School of Law. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, , and a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the American Health Lawyers Association, and the Defense Research Institute. Mr. Bernstein is a prolific writer on topics concerning ERISA, employee benefits, and legal issues facing the health care industry. He is also frequently called upon to be a speaker or panelist at legal and health care industry events.

Kristen S. Cross
Sirote & Permutt PC

Kristen S. Cross is a shareholder with Sirote & Permutt, PC in Birmingham, Alabama. She has 20 years of general litigation experience with a focus on defending insurance companies in the area of life, health, disability and ERISA litigation. Her work for insurers has included not only benefits litigation, but also defensive litigation where insureds claim fraud in the marketing and sale of insurance products. Kris also represents insurance brokers and IMOs in various types of disputes. Additionally, she is a member of Sirote's appellate practice group and handles appeals in both state and federal courts.

Michelle Thurber Czapski
Bodman PLC

Michelle Thurber Czapski is a member with Bodman PLC, where she specializes in the defense of life, health, disability and ERISA cases, insurance coverage matters, class actions, and commercial litigation. Ms. Czapski is based in Bodman PLC's Troy, Michigan office, where she serves as Litigation Practice Group Chair and leads the firm's Insurance Practice. She has served as lead trial counsel in matters across the country and has appeared in courts in numerous jurisdictions. Ms. Czapski is the current Vice Chair of the DRI Life, Health, and Disability Committee. She also served as Program Chair of the 2016 Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Seminar.

Sarah J. Delaney
Goldberg Segalla LLP

Sarah J. Delaney is a partner in Goldberg Segalla LLP's Global Insurance Services Practice. Her coverage experience is diverse, including life, health, and disability; bad faith; rescission; and fraud. Sarah is an active member of DRI's Life, Health, and Disability Committee, and is currently the vice-chair for the 2019 LHD seminar, as well as a frequent publication contributor. She is one of the editors of the DRI treatise, The Law of Life Insurance: Key Issues in Each State and the forthcoming "Insurance Policy Rescission," a joint project between DRI's Insurance Law and Life, Health and Disability Committees. Sarah is the Program Chair for the 2021 Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Virtual Seminar.

Elizabeth G. Doolin
Chittenden Murday & Novotny LLC

Elizabeth G. Doolin is an equity member of Chittenden, Murday & Novotny LLC. She has 28 years of experience representing insurance and financial services industry clients nationwide in ERISA litigation, life insurance litigation, insurance coverage disputes, healthcare contract litigation, insurance tax litigation, commercial disputes, securities fraud and RICO claims, employment discrimination matters, and regulatory issues. Elizabeth has significant trial and appellate experience, and is a frequent author and speaker on insurance and litigation issues. She has also been recognized as one of the Top 10 Women Civil Appellate Lawyers in Illinois by the Leading Lawyers Network. She is a member of DRI's Life, Health and Disability, Data Management and Security, and Women in the Law Committees. Elizabeth is the Second Vice Program Chair for the 2021 Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Claims Seminar.

Daniel W. Gerber
Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady LLP

Daniel W. Gerber is a founding Partner of Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady LLP. Mr. Gerber chairs the firm's Insurance Solutions Practice Group. He maintains an international practice in complex insurance coverage and reinsurance matters. He has served as an expert witness in insurance disputes all over the United States. In addition, he advises insurance and reinsurance companies on regulatory risks and compliance. Among his many leadership roles, Mr. Gerber is a former member of the DRI Board of Directors and is a current member of the Law Institute for DRI. Mr. Gerber is a former Chair of the Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Committee.

Kristina N. Holmstrom
Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC

Kristina N. Holmstromhas a national practice representing large insurers with a heavy focus on the Southwest—both in trial court and on appeal. She serves as lead counsel in defending insurers and employers against claims for ERISA benefits, claims for breach of fiduciary duty, and state-law claims for bad faith and breach of contract for all types of insurance policies. She also assists insurers in pursuing claims for rescission and interpleader. This nationwide practice allows Ms. Holmstrom to provide valuable counseling to her clients on maintaining a consistent strategy regionally and nationally.

Jeaneen J. Johnson
Semmes Bowen & Semmes PC

Jeaneen J. Johnson is Counsel to the law firm of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes in its Baltimore, Maryland office. She focuses her practice in general civil litigation, concentrating on life, health, and disability insurance defense and ERISA claims, disability/pension benefit claims, administrative claims before insurance regulators, insurance coverage, and general liability defense. Ms. Johnson has also represented clients in EEOC matters and employment law cases. She practices in the state and federal courts of Maryland and the District of Columbia and is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. She is an experienced mediator. She is a member of several national and state professional associations and is also a member of DRI's Center for Law and Public Policy – Judicial Task Force as well as the Diversity Subcommittee for DRI's Life, Health, and Disability Committee.

Edna Sybil Kersting
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP

Edna Sybil Kersting is a Partner in the Chicago office of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP and co-vice chair of the firm's Life, Health, Disability and ERISA practice group. She represents life, health and disability plans and their insurers in ERISA and bad faith and punitive damages litigation matters throughout the United States in both state and federal courts. She further counsels and represents insurers in matters involving claims and coverage issues. Edna has published numerous articles on topics of interest in the Life, Health, Disability and ERISA practice area. In addition, she has been a speaker at various insurance industry events. She is one of the vice chairs of the Life Insurance law Committee of the ABA Tips Section and active in DRI's Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Committee.

Jamie L. Moore
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Jamie L. Moore is a partner at the Bradley firm. Her practice is focused on insurance litigation and class actions nationwide. She also advises her clients on best business practices, regulatory matters, and ways to avoid future litigation. Jamie particularly enjoys partnering with her clients to fully understand their objectives and to meet them efficiently and cost-effectively. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America and the Mid-South Super Lawyers. Jamie's family includes six former street dogs and a rescue horse. Jamie is the Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Committee 2021 Program Vice Chair.

Jodie L. Ousley
D'Arcambal Ousley & Cuyler Burk LLP

Jodie L. Ousleywith D'Arcambal Ousley Cuyler Burk, has a background in fraud investigation and has represented companies in actions against providers, insureds, and plan members regarding fraudulent claims for life, health and disability benefits. She specializes in litigation involving life insurance rescission, disability benefits, STOLI issues, mistaken or overpaid benefits, and interpleaders throughout the country. She attended Oxford University and Southern Methodist University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude in 1997. She received a B.A. degree in 1992 from the University of Texas.

Daniel K. Ryan
Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Daniel K. Ryan has a diverse commercial litigation practice. He is recognized and distinguished for his strategic ability to successfully and aggressively resolve business disputes, particularly in matters tried in federal courts and through arbitration. His technical background includes a unique combination of capabilities in class action lawsuits, health care litigation, employee benefits litigation, consumer fraud, bad faith, biometric privacy acts, corporate disputes, employment discrimination, IT software implementation disputes, securities fraud, and corporate dissolutions. Dan's business litigation practice is nationally focused, with his cases venued throughout the countryDan has tried numerous cases, both jury and non-jury. His practice also entails a substantial number of matters involving alternative dispute resolution, both mediation and arbitration. Dan devotes a significant part of his practice to managed care disputes and employee benefits litigation, both ERISA and non-ERISA. He has represented employee benefit plans and fiduciaries in court litigation and arbitration, including trials and appeals. Dan's employee benefits litigation experience in this area includes the defense of health, life and disability claims, annuity, suitability, and related disputes, long term care coverage disputes, provider disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, fraudulent billing, and reporting and disclosure claims. Dan also possesses a substantial capability in the area of "special remedies." He has obtained injunctive relief in business disputes involving hospitals, health care plans, limited liability companies, and corporate dissolutions. Dan concentrates a significant amount of his practice in the areas of non-competition agreements.

Mark E. Schmidtke
Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC

Mark E. Schmidtke is a shareholder in Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., an international employment/labor/employee benefit law firm. In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, he has represented employee benefit plan sponsors, insurers, administrators, and fiduciaries in litigation matters in every state in the U.S. He is a frequent speaker at national seminars, has authored numerous books and articles on employee benefit topics, is a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, and is a former chair of the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Council on Welfare and Pension Employee Benefit Plans.

John T. Seybert
Assistant General Counsel
Dearborn National Life Insurance Company

John T. Seybert, serves as Senior Associate General Counsel to Dearborn Life Insurance Company, where he has served for over three years. In that role, he advises and counsels the company on claim administration, contracting and regulatory issues and manages litigation. Prior to joining Dearborn, he defended clients with respect to life, health and disability claims. He has more than twenty years of litigation experience, handling benefits litigation, class action complaints and contracting issues affecting the insurance industry. John is a graduate of Lehigh University and St. John's University School of Law.

Caitlin Piccarello Strauss
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Caitlin Piccarello Strauss is a partner with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr and a leader of the Employee Benefits and ERISA Litigation team. Insurance companies rely on her to defend them in coverage disputes particularly involving claims for benefits under group employee benefits policies. Her experience includes defense of more than 100 group and individual life, health and disability cases (both ERISA and non-ERISA) for the country's leading insurers. Caitlin is co-editor of the Firm's monthly Friday Five communication, which keeps the industry apprised of developments in ERISA litigation.

Scott M. Trager
Funk & Bolton PA

Scott M. Trager has a practice covering a broad spectrum of general litigation matters in the state and federal courts of Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as the Maryland Insurance Administration and Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings. He focuses his practice on the defense of life, health and disability insurance claims (ERISA and non-ERISA), as well as administrative claims before insurance regulators. He also has extensive experience with policy rescissions and interpleaders. He is the Committee Chair of DRI's Life, Health and Disability Committee, and previously served as Program Chair of the 2017 DRI Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Seminar. He was selected as a Maryland "Rising Star" by Baltimore Magazine and Maryland Super Lawyers in 2011 and 2012. Mr. Trager has achieved an A/V rating, the highest possible peer review rating for ethics and legal ability, from Martindale Hubbell.

Julie F. Wall
Chittenden Murday & Novotny LLC

Julie F. Wall is a member of Chittenden, Murday & Novotny LLC in Chicago. She has nearly 20 years of experience representing clients in ERISA litigation, life and disability insurance litigation, insurance coverage disputes, healthcare litigation, commercial disputes, and regulatory matters. She regularly writes and speaks on litigation issues, in particular those impacting life, health, and disability insurers. Julie is an active member of DRI's Life, Health & Disability Committee, as the Committee's Annual Meeting Chair and Philanthropic Activities Liaison.