DRI Faculty List

2021 Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar

Swissôtel Chicago | Chicago | July 22 - 24, 2021

Michael F. Aylward
Morrison Mahoney LLP

Michael F. Aylward is a senior partner in the Boston office of Morrison Mahoney, LLP, where he chairs the firm's Complex Claims Resolution Group. For the past four decades, Mike has represented property and casualty insurers in insurance coverage and bad faith disputes around the United States. He is the past chair of DRI's Law Institute and has served earlier terms on DRI's Board of Directors and as chair of the DRI Insurance Law Committee. He is a member of the American Law Institute and was appointed by the ALI in 2014 to serve as one of the few appointed Advisers on the ALI Restatement of Law, Liability Insurance. Mike is also a founding member of the American College of Coverage Counsel and a Past President of ACCC.

Laurie C. Barbe
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

Laurie C. Barbe co-leads Steptoe & Johnson's Insurance Company Team from her firm's office in Morgantown, West Virginia. Laurie regularly represents insurance companies in West Virginia state and federal courts in response to first party insurance claims involving coverage disputes and allegations of statutory and common law bad faith. She also provides guidance to insurers writing new business in West Virginia, assists with the investigation of suspicious fire and theft claims, and provides general insurance counseling and claim handling training.

Lisa Fontana Brennan

Lisa Fontana Brennan is an Executive Claims Examiner for Markel Corporation. She handles claims in all states for a variety of professional lines including architects and engineers, accountants, dentists, directors and officers, employment practices liability, homeowners associations, miscellaneous errors and omissions, and technology services. Lisa is a licensed attorney in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and practiced law at an insurance defense firm prior to joining Markel.

Jennifer A. (Jen) Ehman
Merchants Insurance Group

Jennifer A. (Jen) Ehman is a Senior Litigation Manager at Merchants Mutual Insurance Company, where she oversees construction defect, property litigation and New York Labor Law claims. Prior to joining Merchants, she was a member of Hurwitz & Fine, P.C. located in Buffalo, New York, where she specialized in insurance coverage matters representing insurers in both federal and state court. Jen is the 2021 Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute Program Chair.

F. Lane Finch, Jr.
Swift Currie McGhee & Hiers LLP

F. Lane Finch, Jr. provides insurance coverage advice, defends bad faith claims, and litigates first and third-party claims in federal and state court. He manages the Alabama office of Swift Currie, a 150-attorney firm focused solely on insurance law and litigation. Lane is the Immediate Past Chair of DRI's Insurance Law Committee and is very active in DRI programming and leadership. He also writes and presents frequently on insurance coverage and litigation issues to national audiences of attorneys, in-house counsel and claim executives.

John M. Foley

John M. Foley is an Executive Claims Examiner for Markel, responsible for handling E&S professional liability claims and suits against physicians, hospitals, medical facilities and allied health professionals pending across the United States and its territories. Mr. Foley was an attorney in private practice in Chicago from 1992 - 2008, concentrating his practice in litigating professional liability cases involving medical professionals and attorneys. He is a 1992 graduate of the DePaul University College of Law and a 1989 honors graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Matthew M. Haar
Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Matthew M. Haar is a litigation attorney in Saul Ewing's Harrisburg office and is a member of the firm's Insurance Practice Group. He focuses his practice on corporate and commercial litigation with an emphasis on complex coverage and bad faith disputes, as well as administrative proceedings and rehabilitations and liquidations. Mr. Haar also routinely handles extra-contractual liability cases for other clients in the financial services industry, such as banks, trust companies, producers and credit card companies, as well as agents and brokers in the real estate industry. A frequent speaker on the law of bad faith, Mr. Haar is an active member of DRI's Insurance Law Committee, chair of its Bad Faith Subcommittee and previously served as co-editor of the committee's monthly e-newsletter Covered Events.

Byron P. Hansbro
State Farm Insurance Company

Byron P. Hansbro is a graduate of Jackson State University, (Jackson, Mississippi) earning a bachelor's degree in mass communications. Byron received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He also attended the University of Cambridge, International Law Program in Cambridge, England. He has practiced with the McCoy, Wilkins, Stephens & Tipton, P.A. in Jackson, Mississippi. He is currently in-house counsel at State Farm Insurance Companies where he supervises extra-contractual litigation.

Krista Horn-Watkins

Krista Horn-Watkins is a director in the Claim Legal Division of Travelers handling extra-contractual claims and bad faith litigation. In addition to providing the triage for new claims, she works with counsel to develop the strategic plan for resolution. Her extensive extracontractual claim experience spans all lines of personal and commercial property, liability and specialty coverages. Ms. Horn-Watkins began her career as a claims professional at Allstate and has worked for CIGNA, USF&G and St. Paul prior to Travelers.

Stephen Johnson
Consultant & Expert Witness

Stephen Johnson is a claims consultant and expert witness with 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. Following law school and private practice, he was hired by national insurers to manage complex litigation including bad faith actions and claims compliance, and to recommend claims handling procedures. He later became chief claims executive at two national insurance companies with all claims personnel and functions reporting to him. His deep and long experience in developing and implementing best industry standards provides him with an edge in his current role as claims consultant and expert witness.

Karen K. Karabinos
Drew Eckl & Farnham LLP

Karen K. Karabinos of Drew Eckl Farnham in Atlanta, GA, has been litigating cases for more than 33 years, with the last 22 primarily focused on the complexities of property insurance law. She has successfully handled more than 75 trials and hearings and annually conducts more than 50 depositions and examinations under oath. She partners with her clients in the investigation and adjustment of property damage claims, including defending them in coverage, bad faith, arson, cyber, fraud and property damage cases and pursuing subrogation on her clients' behalf.

William J. Kobokovich, Jr.

William J. Kobokovich, Jr. is Vice President and Associate Group General Counsel for Travelers. Mr. Kobokovich graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976 and obtained his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1979. From 1979 to 1994, he was in the private practice of law with a Baltimore, Maryland law firm, specializing in insurance defense litigation. Mr. Kobokovich went in-house to USF&G Insurance Company in 1994 and after USF&G's acquisition by St. Paul in 1998, was asked to lead the group that manages all of St. Paul's extra contractual litigation nationwide. Since the merger of St. Paul and Travelers in April 2004, Mr. Kobokovich's responsibilities include management of commercial lines and personal lines extra contractual litigation nationwide. He is A.V. rated by Martindale Hubbell.

Seth D. Lamden
Blank Rome LLP

Seth D. Lamden has focused his practice exclusively on helping policyholders understand and enforce their rights to insurance coverage for more than 20 years Through litigation and negotiation, Seth has helped policyholders recover hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds in connection with a broad array of claims and losses, including consumer class actions, professional liability claims, environmental claims, course-of-construction property damage and delay claims, construction defect claims, toxic tort claims, product liability claims, directors and officers liability claims, employment practices claims, ERISA fiduciary liability claims, property damage, cyber claims, and business interruption losses. In addition to his litigation practice, Seth offers strategic advice to his clients through all stages of the insurance life cycle, from policy negotiation and drafting contractual insurance requirements through counseling policyholders and claimants on how to maximize insurance recovery. Seth is a frequent speaker on insurance coverage issues, and he has written dozens of articles and nine book chapters on topics relating to insurance recovery.

Roman Lifson
Christian & Barton LLP

Roman Lifson is a partner with Christian & Barton LLP in Richmond, Virginia. He has tried cases in federal and state courts across the country and focuses his practice on motorsports law, product liability and catastrophic injury litigation. Mr. Lifson is the past chair of DRI's Automotive Specialized Litigation Group and past chair of the Virginia Bar Association's Civil Litigation Section. Mr. Lifson has served as Chair of DRI's Product Liability Conference and DRI's Strictly Automotive seminar. Mr. Lifson devotes time to car racing at race tracks across the country. He is the Law Institute liaison of this conference.

Samrah Mahmoud
Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders

Samrah Mahmoud is a partner at Troutman Sanders LLP in Irvine, California, who has experience representing insurers in coverage and bad faith cases involving a variety of underlying claims including product defect, construction defect, environmental, and mass tort.

Kathleen J. (Kathy) Maus
Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP

Kathleen J. (Kathy) Maus is a Partner of Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP, is active in her firm's bad faith, casualty, and first/third party insurance coverage practices. She is a recognized Super Lawyer in Insurance Coverage and a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. Her memberships are varied, including Past Board Member of DRI and current DRI Insurance Law Committee Chair. Kathy is an author and served as a speaker at numerous seminars on issues including first and third party coverage and bad faith.

R. Brandon McCullough
Houston Harbaugh PC

R. Brandon McCullough is a director and shareholder at Houston Harbaugh, P.C., where he focuses his practice on insurance coverage and bad faith litigation and commercial and business litigation. Mr. McCullough represents insurers in a wide array of coverage and bad faith disputes involving numerous types of commercial and personal lines policies, including disputes over coverage for construction defects, environmental contamination, latent and progressive injuries, first-party property losses, and auto liability. Mr. McCullough is a member of the Insurance Law Committee of DRI, where he currently serves as Compendium Chair and Vice Chair of the Commercial General Liability Subcommittee.

Alastar S. McGrath
Kozacky Weitzel McGrath PC

Alastar S. McGrath is the co-managing partner of KWM. His practice involves business-related litigation, including employment and professional liability defense. He has tried cases in federal and state courts representing corporate entities, insurance companies, government entities and high net-worth individuals in industries including insurance, construction/housing, transportation, healthcare and technology. He has experience in a wide variety of complex litigation matters, ranging from the successful defense of a wage and hour class action that was upheld by the Illinois Appellate Court, to the successful defense of a public entity against a $300 million commercial disparagement claim. He is a member of the Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar and is active in providing pro-bono services.

Sarannah L. McMurtry
First Acceptance Insurance

Sarannah L. McMurtryis Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Acceptance Insurance in Nashville, TN. Ms. McMurtry manages all extracontractual claims and suits filed against the company. She began her tenure at Acceptance as Claims Counsel in 2006. Prior to joining Acceptance, she was in private practice as an insurance defense attorney for eight years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and an additional seven years in Tennessee primarily handling coverage and bad faith matters. Ms. McMurtry is a member of DRI and is the Industry Co-Chair for the Bad Faith and Extra Contractual Liability Seminar for 2021. Ms. McMurtry is also a frequent speaker and lecturer on topics involving insurance coverage, bad faith and litigation management.

Julia A. Molander
JAMolander Consulting

Julia A. Molander has represented clients in virtually all aspects of the insurance business, including insurance coverage litigation, insurance counseling, crisis management, extra-contractual (bad faith) liability, insurance fraud, underwriting matters, policy drafting, regulatory compliance, brokerage and agency liability, insurance insolvency, reinsurance matters and legislative issues, in her role as a partner at Cozen O'Connor, Meckler Bulger Tilson, the Sedgwick firm, and Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon. She has acquired deep insurance policy knowledge and claims experience in CGL, excess, D&O, E&O (brokers and agents, lawyers, accountants, architects and engineers), commercial and individual property, food liability, products liability, trucking and transportation, auto and cyber liability, written by US and European insurers. Since August 2019 she has served as an expert consultant and witness in insurance litigation. Julia is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Coverage Counsel. She served as the first woman to chair the 1400-member Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada (1995 – 1996); she was chair of the California State Bar Insurance Section (2003-2005); she served as DRI California Representative (1998-2000) and headed DRI's Insurance Law Committee (2006-2008); she was elected a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America in 2009. For more than 25 years she has been rated AV Pre-eminent by her peers and has been recognized as a "Super Lawyer" since 2004 and a "Best Lawyer" since 2011. She is one of 14 people in the United States selected from 2007 to present for the International Who's Who in Insurance and Reinsurance law.

E. Todd Presnell
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

E. Todd Presnell is a partner in Bradley's Nashville office where he maintains an active trial practice, serves in discovery-counsel roles, and leads and advises on internal corporate investigations. Mr. Presnell has tried 28 cases to verdict and argued before the Tennessee Supreme Court, Tennessee Court of Appeals, and the 6th, 7th, and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Mr. Presnell also counsels and advises in-house legal departments on the attorney–client and other evidentiary privileges, and authors the popular legal blog Presnell on Privileges, which the ABA Journal named to its 2016 Top 100 Blawg list. He has been interviewed and quoted on privilege issues by The Wall Street Journal, Politico, Bloomberg news, and various legal-news outlets.

Susan R. Snowden
Jackson Kelly PLLC

Susan R. Snowden practices in the area of employment and insurance law with an emphasis on class action defense. Her experience includes litigation of employment and wage issues, contract disputes, and representation of both individual and corporate clients. She litigates employment matters with a particular emphasis on defending wrongful dismissal, discrimination, and employment-related litigation.

John S. Vishneski III
Reed Smith LLP

John S. Vishneski IIIfocuses his practice on complex insurance coverage litigation. His experience is broad and includes coverage disputes concerning toxic torts liability, mortgage defaults, real property title defects, environmental liability, intellectual property liability, commercial property damage and business interruption. He is both a trial lawyer and an advisor. John has litigated insurance coverage disputes involving diverse types of insurance, including First Party Property policies, Title Insurance policies, General Liability policies, Directors & Officers Liability policies, Mortgage Insurance policies, Credit Insurance policies and Employment Practices Liability policies and has extensive knowledge of insurance policy drafting history. John advises clients regarding negotiation of new and renewal policies with respect all coverages purchased by commercial businesses. He has represented clients in many jurisdictions, including the Supreme Court of Illinois and the Supreme Court of Connecticut. His practice is nationwide and also involves Lloyds and the London Market. John also acts as both neutral and party-appointed arbitrator in complex insurance coverage disputes.