Robert Engel practices in the areas of toxic tort and product liability litigation, with a focus on the defense of asbestos exposure claims. He is an experienced litigation attorney admitted to practice in California and Oregon and has handled pre-trial and trial work in cases venued in San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles counties and Multnomah County (Portland, OR).
For more than 20 years, Robert has represented a broad base of clients, including manufacturers, suppliers, premises owners, general contractors, mining companies and railroads. Prior to joining Wilson Elser in 2012, Robert represented plaintiffs and defendants in a range of cases, including personal injury, wrongful death, toxic tort, construction defect, defamation, antitrust and discrimination. He also has experience with appeals in state, federal and bankruptcy courts.
On all matters he handles, Robert takes a hands-on approach that emphasizes responsiveness and efficiency to ensure each client is receiving maximum results at a reasonable cost.
Wilson Elser Obtains Dismissal in Asbestos Case Following $3.0 Million Demand
November 8, 2013
Plaintiff Concedes Rather than Oppose Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
November 6, 2013
Recent U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Supports Forum Selection Clauses in Interstate Contracts
Forum Selection Clauses in Interstate Contracts
December 9, 2013
California Cities and Counties Can Allow, Restrict, Limit or Exclude Facilities that Distribute Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana Dispensary Challenges Zoning Laws
June 6, 2013
The California Supreme Court has concluded that actions by the State Legislature do not expressly or impliedly preempt the authority of California cities and counties - under their traditional land use and police powers - to allow, restrict, limit or exclude facilities that distribute medical marijuana.
CA Supreme Court to Decide If Insurance Companies Can Be Sued under the Unfair Competition Law
CA: Can Insurance Companies Be Sued under the UCL?
May 23, 2013
On May 8, the Supreme Court of California heard oral arguments in a case that could decide whether an insured can bring a cause of action against its insurer under the Unfair Competition Law and if previous case law bars such an action.
California Supreme Court Holds That Trial Court Must Bar Expert Testimony on Speculative Lost Profits
California Supreme Court
December 4, 2012
In a case of great import to business litigators, the California Supreme Court held that a court of appeal incorrectly overturned a trial court decision excluding plaintiffs expert testimony regarding lost profits as speculative.
Sandy's Perilous Aftermath
November 1, 2012
As businesses and families that were caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy begin to survey the damage, insurers are feeling the first surge of many claims to come. Now's the time to confer with Wilson Elser's knowledgeable and adept insurance attorneys to be certain you've got all contingencies covered.
This is the first in a series of alerts designed to provide you with clarity and understanding of the important and significant issues raised by this unprecedented crisis.
California Supreme Court Rules Policyholders in Long-tail Environmental Claims Can “Stack” Coverage Limits over Multiple Policy Years and Take “All-sums” Approach to Indemnity Allocation
Long-Tail Environmental Claims
August 10, 2012 California Supreme Court Rules Policyholders in Long-tail Environmental Claims Can “Stack” Coverage Limits over Multiple Policy Years and Take “All-sums” Approach to Indemnity Allocation
On August 9, 2012, in the State of California vs. Continental Insurance Co. et al. the California Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court decision on the “all-sums-with-stacking” default allocation rule regarding commercial general liability policies purchased by California from multiple insurers over several years.
Chartis's Legal Insights Publishes Article Written by William Enger on the Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Arbitration Clauses in Credit Repair Contracts
May 23, 2012 Legal Insights, the Chartis Insurance Company's internal newsletter, has published an article written by William K. Enger entitled “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arbitration Clause in Credit Repair Contracts and Overrules Ninth Circuit.”
On Rehearing, Virginia High Court Again Finds No “Occurrence” in Global Warming Case
April 26, 2012 The Virginia Supreme Court rejected an insured's rehearing bid and again ruled that the damages in a global warming suit allegedly stemming from the intentional emission of greenhouse gases did not arise from a policy-defined “occurrence.”
U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arbitration Clause in Credit Repair Contracts and Overrules Ninth Circuit
January 11, 2012 The 8-1 decision upholds arbitration clauses over a customer's right to file a lawsuit. The decision therefore reinforces the Supreme Court's view that contractual arbitration does not conflict with the statutory right to file suit.
Virginia's High Court Finds No “Occurrence” in Global Warming Case
October 2011 In The AES Corp. v. Steadfast Ins. Co., the Virginia Supreme Court focused its opinion on what constitutes an accident and what are the “natural and probable consequences” of actions. The Court may have chosen a high-profile litigation theme such as global warming to clearly articulate that, at least in Virginia, liability insurance is designed to cover only losses caused by “true accidents.”
U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Decision, Dismissing Federal Climate Change Claim
June 2011 On June 20, 2011, the United States Supreme Court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in American Electric Power Co. Inc., et al. v. Connecticut et al., and dismissed the federal common law nuisance climate change claim brought by several states, the City of New York and three land trusts against four private power companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
9th Circuit Case Limits Owner Liability under CERCLA
April 2011 The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a dispute over who should pay the costs of cleanup of hazardous substances in a berth in Los Angeles Harbor. The case centered on the definition of an owner.
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition in Climate Change Case
March 2011 Recently, the U.S. high court denied a request for review in Comer, et al. v. Murphy Oil U.S.A., et al. That denial, in essence, reinstated the District Courts dismissal of Comer. For all practical purposes, therefore, the Comer case is dead, without the prospect of further appellate review.
U.S. Supreme Court Will Review Climate Change Nuisance Case
December 2010 In our November 2010 Environmental Alert, we reported on the three nuisance-based climate change lawsuits that have been proceeding in the federal courts. On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review one of those cases - American Electric Power Co. v. State of Connecticut (AEP).
California court rules on equitable contribution in Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. Century Surety Co.
April 2010 In Scottsdale Insurance Company v. Century Surety Company - B204521, the California Court of Appeal recently ruled that an insurance company seeking equitable contribution must establish that it paid more than its fair share, the proof of which would determine the amount of damages recoverable in such an equitable contribution action. The Court of Appeal also ruled that when an insurer contests a claim for equitable contribution based on a prior work exclusion in its policy, the insurer must prove that the exclusion is conspicuous, plain and clear.
Oregon court allows discovery of confidential reinsurance reports in bad faith litigation: The Regence Group v. TIG Specialty Insurance Co.
April 2010 In a much watched decision regarding the discoverability of reinsurance information, the District Court of Oregon recently denied a motion for reconsideration of its prior order finding such material discoverable and not cloaked by the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine. The Regence Group v. TIG Specialty Insurance Co. Case no 07-1337-HA (USDC D. Or. Feb. 4, 2010). This ruling has troubling implications for cedents and their reinsurers, and it is a departure from well established precedent in other jurisdictions, notably California.
Fifth Circuit grants en banc review in Comer, but recent administrative and legislative developments increase risk of climate change nuisance lawsuit
March 2010 In several recent alerts, we have advised our clients of two federal appellate decisions, Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., Inc. (582 F.3d 309 [2d Cir. 2009]) and Comer v. Murphy Oil USA (585 F.3d 855 [5th Cir. 2009]) that have allowed lawsuits seeking damages for global warming based on the federal common law of nuisance to go forward, and one district court decision, Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp. (663 F.Supp.2d 863 [N.D.Cal. 2009]) that has dismissed such a claim.
First-in-the-nation statewide mandatory green building standards code; expected to generate future construction and design claims
March 2010 On January 12, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that the California Building Standards Commission unanimously adopted the first-in-the-nation mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN). These mandatory building regulations will apply to all new construction in California including, but not limited to, all residential and commercial buildings. The CALGREEN Code will take effect on January 1, 2011, and will become the baseline for regulating green construction statewide.
Supreme Court upholds the nerve center test to determine a corporations principal place of business for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction and rejects the Ninth Circuits amount of business activities test
March 2010 On February 23, 2010, the United States Supreme Court in Hertz Corp. v. Friend, et. al., unanimously held that a corporations principal place of business for the purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction shall be determined by the nerve center test. This refers to the corporations center of direction, control and coordination, as opposed to the business activities test used in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere.
Global warming litigation: Native Village of Kivalina
Following our December 2009 advisory, The Application of Nuisance Law to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, this is the latest in a series of client advisories concerning climate change-related liability.
Plaintiffs who had made claims for alleged global warming damages received a recent setback in the Northern District of California U.S. District Court. In Native Village of Kivalina et al vs. ExxonMobil Corporation et al. ((2000 N.D. Cal) 2009 U.S. Dist Lexis 99563), Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong granted a motion to dismiss the complaint filed against 24 oil, energy and utility companies alleging that their greenhouse gas emissions created a public nuisance and contributed to climate change brought on by global warming. This decision focuses on the fundamental problems with such claims and foretells a potential split between federal circuits and an issue that will ultimately need to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.
Californias Fourth Appellate District upholds land subsidence exclusion in a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy
A recent decision by the Fourth Appellate District of the California State Court of Appeal, City of Carlsbad v. Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania (2009 Cal.App. LEXIS 2025), has upheld a land subsidence exclusion to a CGL insurance policy, finding that the exclusion, which precludes coverage for property damage arising out of land subsidence for any reason whatsoever, is not ambiguous and does not violate Insurance Code Sec. 530. This published decision should prove to be extremely useful to insurers seeking to assert such exclusions upon tender of a third-party landside claim.
California Supreme Court rules on the effect of concurrent causation in coverage cases involving indivisible damage from pollution
May 2009 In its March 9, 2009 ruling in State of California v. Underwriters at Lloyds London et al. (S149988) ( Underwriters ), the California Supreme Court, which is the highest court in that state, handed down a significant ruling for insurers and insureds litigating coverage for environmental pollution.
“Supreme Court Upholds Arbitration Clause in Credit Repair Contracts and Overrules Ninth Circuit,” Legal Insights, Chartis Issue Management Group, Spring 2012
“First in the Nation: California's Mandatory Green Building Standards,” For the Defense, DRI, June 2010