Ed Kneisel represents commercial policyholders regarding a broad range of insurance-related issues, ranging from policy review and analysis to sophisticated, commercial insurance coverage disputes that must be resolved through negotiation, mediation and litigation. He has litigated claims arising under CGL, D&O, builders risk, professional liability, first party property and other specialty policies throughout the United States. A significant portion of Mr. Kneisel's insurance practice is focused on construction-related disputes regarding coverage for bodily injury and property damage claims. He successfully argued one of the two leading cases decided by the Florida Supreme Court addressing coverage for construction defects. His work has included resolution of disputes arising under policies covering projects in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Norway, India and Portugal.
Mr. Kneisel has more than 34 years of courtroom experience in various state and federal courts, having litigated numerous commercial insurance, products liability and personal injury claims; civil rights claims, including employment-related disputes; workplace claims involving toxic torts, job-related emotional distress, invasion of privacy, defamation and workplace safety and health issues; and various other commercial disputes.
Mr. Kneisel was recognized in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law. He is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
Professional & Community Activities
American Bar Association, Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Member
Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Member
Georgia Law Review, Managing Editor
United States Navy, U.S.S. F.D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), Supply Officer
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia - Richard C. Freeman (Jul 1974-Jun 1976)
Lawsuit against insurance broker and major insurance carriers for bid-rigging and other market misconduct, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation against our client's insurance broker and several major insurance carriers, including AIG, Travelers, Zurich and ACE, alleging that various agreements between the carriers and the broker providing for payment of so-called "back end" or "contingent" commissions violated Florida law. The lawsuit included claims for breach of fiduciary duty, RICO, antitrust conspiracy and other Florida state law claims. Disagreeing with rulings (later overturned by the Third Circuit) entered by a federal court in New Jersey rejecting federal antitrust and RICO claims alleged in a putative nationwide class action, the Florida trial court issued what was the first significant ruling upholding the state law causes of action that had been alleged. After three more years of vigorous litigation and discovery involving production by defendants of more than 18 million pages of documents and 38 depositions, the case settled on terms favorable to the client.
Office Depot, Inc. v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., 21 Mealey's Litig. Rep. Ins. Bad Faith 20; 2007 WL 3339228 (Fla. Cir .Ct., Palm Beach County Sept. 24, 2007).
Wrongful termination of multi-year workers' compensation insurance program, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation alleging breach of a contract to provide three years of "guaranteed cost" workers compensation insurance coverage to our client, a large professional employer organization. At the end of the second year of the program, the insurance carrier argued that the growth of our client's payroll justified "re-rating" the program at twice the premium cost. When our client refused to pay the increased premium, the carrier canceled coverage; and our client sued for breach of the three year contract. The jury's award of more than $9,000,000 tied for the second largest verdict in a single plaintiff case tried during 2006 in North Carolina, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, "Large Verdicts & Settlements" (January 29, 2007). On appeal, the fourth circuit affirmed the jury's verdict and the trial court's rulings in favor of our client, but reduced the amount of damages awarded.
Strategic Outsourcing, Inc. v. Continental Cas. Co., 414 F. Supp. 2d 545 (W.D.N.C. 2007), aff'd in part, 274 Fed. Appx. 228 (4th Cir. 2008).
Products completed operations hazard coverage for water intrusion damage caused by negligent installation of windows, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation seeking insurance coverage for losses incurred in repairing water intrusion damage to windows manufactured by our client. After settling claims against the general contractor by obtaining an assignment of the contractor's rights to pursue insurance coverage, we filed suit to recover the costs for repair and replacement of the windows, which had been negligently installed by a subcontractor. On appeal by the carrier from a jury verdict awarding damages under the products completed operations hazard (PCOH) of its CGL policy, the Eleventh Circuit certified the coverage issue to the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida court initially ruled that damage to the "defective work" (the windows) was not covered; but on rehearing, the court concluded that PCOH coverage was available if the damage to the windows had been caused by negligent workmanship of the subcontractor who installed them. Thereafter, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment awarding compensatory damages; and on remand, the trial court ordered the carrier to reimburse our client's attorneys' fees.
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Pozzi Window Co., 984 So.2d 1241 (Fla. 2008).
D&O coverage for the costs of responding to a grand jury investigative subpoena, After our client entered into an "amnesty" agreement with the Justice Department that obligated our client and its directors and officers to cooperate with an investigation of possible Sherman Act violations involving alleged bid rigging, we filed suit against the directors and officers liability insurance carrier to recover the significant costs incurred in responding to a grand jury subpoena issued as part of the government's investigation. Following a ruling by the trial court holding that the grand jury subpoena and the ensuing investigation could be construed as an "administrative or regulatory proceeding" and hence a "claim" against the insured directors and officers of the company, the matter settled.
Servidyne, Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., No. 1:07-cv-96-TCB (N.D. Ga. November 4, 2007).
Insurance coverage for mold contamination at a hotel, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation seeking coverage under an all risk property policy for the cost of remediating and repairing mold damage at a Savannah hotel. Our client also claimed several million dollars in damages for diminished occupancy and diminution in value of its hotel. The insurance carrier invoked exclusions for repairing construction or design defects and for "wear and tear" and also sought to reform the policy to include a mold exclusion that the carrier asserted had been mistakenly omitted from the policy. The district court denied the carrier's motion for summary judgment and issued multiple orders granting our client's motions to compel discovery, including discovery of opposing counsel's pre-litigation claims adjusting files. Thereafter, the case settled.
NUCO Investments, Inc. v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33350 (N.D. Ga. 2005).
Employment practices and directors and officers liability coverage issues, The firm served as lead counsel on behalf of Miller Industries and its subsidiary, Road One, in litigation seeking recovery of attorneys fees and costs incurred in defending and settling numerous underlying cases, filed in Florida, Tennessee and elsewhere. The plaintiffs had alleged a variety of employment-related claims, including breach of employment contracts and tort claims brought by the former owner of a towing company that our client had acquired. The insurance carriers either denied coverage or refused to contribute the full amounts necessary to settle the underlying claims and reimburse all defense costs incurred. We filed a lawsuit alleging various insurance claims, including the contention that the carrier's "outside counsel guidelines" unduly restricted the discretion of independent defense counsel in violation of Tennessee ethics rules. The claims were promptly resolved during an early mediation.
Indemnity and insurance coverage dispute regarding damages caused by failure of power boilers installed at a 185 megawatt cogeneration plant in the Dominican Republic, We represented construction company in negotiating and resolving indemnity claims by the owner of a 185 MW cogeneration plant constructed on barges in Texas and transported for installation in the Dominican Republic. The owner alleged that the power boilers had failed and produced significantly reduced output as a result of excessive slag buildup allegedly caused by negligent design of the boilers for which the contractor had assumed responsibility. After lengthy negotiation, the owner, the contractor, and the subcontractor who designed and built the boilers settled by agreeing to replace the damaged boilers with boiler designed to accommodate the high vanadium, slag-prone fuel specified by the owner and by sharing the proceeds of any insurance recovery. The contractor's professional liability carrier paid a significant portion of the loss and then filed a subrogation action in Texas state court in the name of a successor to the contractor and in the name of the owner against London-based insurance carriers who had issued an all risk builders risk policy insuring against construction-related property damage that diminished the value of the plant. Our firm participated in part in the litigation against the builders risk carriers.
Coverage for mis-delivery of a valuable painting by the insured warehouse, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation to recover insurance proceeds under a warehouse liability (inland marine) policy for mis-delivery of a $3,000,000 painting. Our client had financed the purchase of the painting by a New York art dealer. When the borrower failed to pay the seller and in violation of a letter agreement prohibiting release of the painting without our client's consent, the insured warehouse returned the painting to the original owner. After our client obtained a judgment against the warehouse company, which later declared bankruptcy, we sued the warehouse's insurance company to enforce the judgment. Resolving the matter on cross motions for summary judgment, the district court awarded full policy limits and prejudgment interest to our client.
AB Recur Finans v. Nordstern Ins. Co., 130 F. Supp. 2d 596 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).
Insurance coverage dispute in the UK regarding property damage caused by negligent construction of a multi-million distribution center in Manchester, England, We assumed the representation of Office Depot after the London High Court allowed Office Depot's insurance carriers to pursue litigation seeking a declaration of "no coverage" for significant damage to Office Depot's warehouse and distribution center in Manchester England. The damage had been caused by negligent foundation work by Office Depot's general contractor. Because the policy had been issued in Florida and was governed by Florida law, we filed suit in Florida for breach of the insurance contract. The carriers then filed an "anti-suit injunction" to bar Office Depot from litigating the insurance claim in Florida rather than in London. Applying rulings of a recently decided EU case affording absolute primacy to the first filed lawsuit, the Lord Justice ruled in favor of the carriers and issued the requested injunction. Thereafter, Office Depot settled with the carriers during mediation.
CNA Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Office Depot International (UK) Ltd., 2005 WL 1033527 Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court) (Apr. 22, 2005).
Whether the former parent of a sold subsidiary must assume the post-divestiture obligations of the subsidiary to pay a $5 million per claim self-insured retention after the subsidiary declared bankruptcy, We represent the former parent of a bankrupt, former subsidiary, in connection with disputes with the former subsidiary's general liability insurance carrier regarding whether or not our client must assume responsibility for paying the $5 million self-insured retention regarding civil liability claims against the former subsidiary that had been discharged by as a result the former subsidiary's Chapter XI bankruptcy. In accordance with a separate settlement between the carrier and the subsidiary, the carrier assumed the defense of the underlying claims, agreeing in effect with the claimants that the bankruptcy of the insured subsidiary had not discharged the carrier's obligation to pay insured claims, even though 100% of the first $5 million of very claim was selfinsured by the bankrupt company. The carrier then took the position that our client, also a named insured under the policies insuring the former subsidiary, had agreed in a separate Payment Agreement effectively to guarantee the obligations of the subsidiary to pay the SIR. When our client refused to reimburse the costs incurred by the carrier in defending the pre-bankruptcy claims against the former subsidiary, the carrier drew down a letter of credit place by our client to obtain reimbursement of the carrier's costs and then successfully moved to compel arbitration of the Payment Agreement dispute. The arbitration is pending.
Data security matter for Recall Total Information Management, We represented Recall Total Information Management, Inc., a major document and data storage provider, in defending claims for indemnity by the owner of computer tapes containing private data regarding hundreds of thousands of employees that were stolen as a result of the negligence of a subcontractor hired to transport the tapes. The owner demanded millions of dollars from our client to indemnify against the costs incurred in notifying the persons affected about the loss of their private data and in providing credit monitoring to persons who requested it. In addition, we participated in efforts to obtain insurance coverage for the loss from our client's general liability carrier. The claims of the customer and claims for recovery of insurance proceeds were resolved by a settlement that reserved the rights of Recall to pursue claims against its subcontractor and its subcontractor's insurers for the losses incurred.
Claim by receiver of insolvent insurer for additional workers compensation premiums, The firm served as lead counsel in litigation brought by the receiver of a insolvent company to recover workers' compensation premiums allegedly owed by our client. The receiver argued that a premium payment agreement negotiated by an agent of the carrier was illegal and unenforceable, thereby triggering our client's obligation to pay to pay more than $3 million in additional premiums. The payment agreement at issue was part of a nationwide program established by the carrier and the agent, who set up an offshore company that was supposed to reinsure the insolvent company against any extraordinary losses. The offshore company was a sham, and losses paid on other programs eventually rendered the insolvent company insolvent. On cross motions for summary judgment, the district court rejected the receiver's claims, concluding that a ruling to the contrary would "encourage insurance companies to negotiate illegal contracts... knowing that they could void the contracts if they turned out badly."
Lewis R. Crist, Acting as Receiver for Transit Cas. Co. v. Lynchburg Foundry Co., 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18402 *21 (W.D. Va. Dec. 28, 1988).
Insurance for defense of a job-related heart attack claim, The firm served as lead counsel in defending litigation filed by a CGL carrier seeking a declaration that it did not owe a duty to defend a lawsuit seeking damages for a heart attack and ensuing heart transplant surgery. The plaintiff, an employee of our client, claimed that his heart attack had been caused or worsened by our client's alleged gross negligence in failing to provide appropriate medical attention after the worker complained of chest pains. The plaintiff sought to avoid the exclusive remedy (and limited damages) of the Virginia workers' compensation law by arguing that the heart attack did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. On cross motions for summary judgment, the federal trial court ruled that the carrier had breached its duty to defend and had to reimburse the attorneys fees incurred in successfully defending the underlying action.
City Ins. Co. v. Lynchburg Foundry Co., 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18205 (W.D. Va. April 25, 1989).
Indemnity and insurance claims for the costs of remediating environmental contamination, The firm served as lead counsel for Raytheon Engineers & Constructors, Inc. in litigation brought by the owner of an experimental solvent refined coal plant to recover damages for the costs of remediating environmental contamination caused by TCA contamination. The TCA had leaked from numerous drums buried at the site by a predecessor company that our client had purchased about ten years earlier. Following a negotiated settlement of the owner's claims, our client pursued a cross-claim for contractual indemnity against the former owner of the company that had buried the drums. After a seven day trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding more than $8,500,000 in damages and attorney's fees to our client. Following a post-trial settlement, our client pursued insurance claims against the property insurer of the predecessor company, which were promptly settled.
Priority of other insurance coverage for death and bodily injury following a refinery explosion, After the trial court ruled on summary judgment that Citgo, as an "additional insured" under our client's GLC policy, could obtain $5 million in self-insured insurance proceeds for losses Citgo had incurred in settling underlying claims, the firm assumed the role of lead counsel for the defendant contractor. The matter arose out of an explosion and fire that killed or seriously injured numerous employees of the contractor while working at Citgo's refinery. The Louisiana appellate court reversed the summary judgment ruling; and on appeal from a subsequent $9 million jury verdict for Citgo, the appellate court ruled that Citgo's own, self insured policies should contribute to the loss, thereby reducing our client's liability exposure by more than $6 million.
Citgo Petroleum Corp. v.Yeargin, Inc. 690 So.d. 154 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1997).
*Experience gained by attorney prior to joining Kilpatrick Townsend