DRI Faculty List

2021 Life, Health, and Disability Lawyers Virtual Boot Camp Seminar

Virtual | November 5, 2021

Joshua Bachrach
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP

Joshua Bachrach is the chair of Wilson Elser's Life, Health, Disability & ERISA practice. Josh represents clients in state and federal courts throughout the United States in litigation involving ERISA and non-ERISA life, health and disability disputes, as well as disputes over pension benefits. Josh also represents insurers in coverage and bad faith litigation and has experience with disputes involving managed care issues. He is a frequent speaker at national seminars on ERISA-related subjects and has written numerous articles on ERISA and related topics. Josh is a partner in Wilson Elser's Philadelphia office.

Patrick W. Begos
Robinson & Cole LLP

Patrick W. Begos is a partner at Robinson & Cole LLP in Stamford, Connecticut and New York City. His practice is focused on employee benefit claim defense, and he has represented plans, employers and fiduciaries in courts throughout the Northeast. In addition, Patrick represents companies and individuals in a wide array of commercial disputes, and has 30 years of litigation, arbitration, mediation, and negotiation experience in those matters. Patrick has written and presented extensively on employee benefits, and is a founder of the blog at ERISAClaimDefense.com.

Bryan D. Bolton
Funk & Bolton PA

Bryan D. Bolton has over 30 years of complex civil litigation experience, including serving as lead trial counsel in multiple jury and bench trials in Federal and State court. Bryan represents and advises employers, insurers, corporations, welfare plans, retirement plans, broker-dealers, financial professionals, and individuals. Bryan provides counsel in a wide array of matters, including ERISA actions, fiduciary advice, plan design, contract disputes, employment disputes, intellectual property, regulatory proceedings, arbitration, and other complex litigation.

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.

Byrne J. Decker
Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC

Byrne J. Decker is the managing shareholder in the Portland, Maine office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Mr. Decker has a nation-wide practice that specializes in the defense of employee benefits/ERISA litigation. He has defended benefits cases in federal courts in every federal judicial circuit. Mr. Decker is the Chair of DRI's Life, Health and Disability Committee.

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.

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, Gerber is a former member of the DRI Board of Directors and is a current member of the DRI Law Institute. Gerber is a former Chair of the Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA Committee.

D. Larry Kristinik, III
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

D. Larry Kristinik, III is a partner with the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP in Columbia, South Carolina where he serves as the Chair of the firm's insurance industry practice group. Mr. Kristinik's practice focuses on the defense of life, health, and disability insurers in matters involving alleged bad faith denials, total disability claims, rescissions based on misrepresentations, ERISA, AD&D, agent misconduct, interpleaders, and regulatory matters before the Department of Insurance. He also defends broker dealers and investment advisors in claims brought by securities investors. Mr. Kristinik was the Program Chair of the 2018 DRI Life Health Disability & ERISA Seminar in Boston and currently serves as the Chair of the Strategic Planning Subcommittee of the DRI Life Health Disability and ERISA Committee.

Eric B. Myers
General Counsel
ELCO Mutual Life & Annuity

Eric B. Myers is General Counsel for ELCO Mutual Life and Annuity in Lake Bluff, Illinois. He provides strategic legal advice to ELCO's executive management and is responsible for ELCO's legal, compliance and corporate governance functions. Prior to joining ELCO, Eric was an in-house attorney with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc., AIG, Aetna Inc. and Broadspire Services, Inc. Before going in-house, Eric litigated life, health, disability, ERISA matters and commercial disputes in private practice. He was also a law clerk for the Honorable Deborah S. Eyler (retired), Associate Judge of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1997.

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.

Gary Schuman

Gary Schuman is an independent Claims/Litigation Consultant to the life and health insurance industry. Previously, he was Senior Counsel-Claims and Litigation- for Combined Insurance Company of America, a supplemental life and health insurer based in Chicago, IL. Mr. Schuman is an active member with the Defense Research Institute, having served as Chair of its Life, Health and Disability/ERISA Committee (2010-2012). He has lectured at numerous national and regional legal and claims conferences and is widely published in a number of law journals and treatises on a variety of life, health and disability topics.

E. Ford Stephens
Christian & Barton LLP

E. Ford Stephens is a partner at Christian & Barton LLP in Richamond, VA and a member and former Chair of DRI's Life, Health and Disability Committee, and is Vice Chair of DRI's Insurance Roundtable Steering Committee. He is a contributing author to several DRI and ABA publications, and is a frequent seminar speaker, on insurance. Stephens is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Virginia Law Foundation, and is listed in Best Lawyers in America (Insurance Law, Litigation-Insurance, 2015-2020) and Virginia Super Lawyers (Insurance Coverage, 2013-2019), he also a member of the DRI Board of Directors.

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.