Robert M. Forni

Robert M. Forni: Attorney with Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley A Professional Corporation

Biography

EXPERIENCE

Robert M. Forni, Jr. is a partner in the Firm’s San Francisco's office, with extensive litigation experience and expertise in ERISA, insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. He specializes in the representation of insurers, employee welfare benefit plans, claims administrators, insurance agents and brokers in all phases of litigation, including trials and appeals, in actions arising from ERISA and insurance coverage disputes in state and federal court as well as NASD arbitrations. He has also provided services as insurer-selected counsel for insureds, and independent representation of insureds as Cumis counsel. His litigation and appellate practice includes prosecuting and defending complex tort and contract actions for breach of contract, bad faith, fraud, declaratory relief, unfair competition, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, specific performance and reformation on behalf of insurers and corporate clients. He has a special interest in counseling insurers and employee welfare plans in the handling of claims and actions in which insurance fraud is suspected. He is experienced in preparing comprehensive coverage opinions and providing coverage advice throughout the claims process. His expertise extends to commercial and personal lines of insurance including disability, commercial general liability, commercial property, homeowners, and automobile. He is a frequent speaker on topics of interest to insurers and employers sponsoring employee welfare plans, including the duty to defend, settle, and initiate settlement negotiations, as well as discovery in bad faith litigation.

Mr. Forni is the author of articles of interest to insurers on issues that arise in ERISA and insurance bad faith litigation, including, Healthy San Francisco's Tradeoffs: Will the Costs of Implementing the City's Health Care Ordinance Ultimately Fall on Workers?, “Policy Interpretation in the Disability Insurance Claim,” “Reviving Stale Insurance Claims When the Contractual and Statutory Limitations Periods Have Run: If You Snooze, Do You Always Lose?,” “Discoverability of Insureds’ Tax Returns in Disability Actions Venued in California: A Three-Step Analysis to Compel Their Disclosure,” and “Off the Clock and on the Hook: A Primer on Employer Liability for the Acts of Employees Committed Away from Work.”

Mr. Forni obtained his J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated cum laude with honors in history. He is admitted to practice before all state and federal courts in California, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the California Bar, the Defense Research Institute, the Association of Defense Counsel (ADC) of Northern California and Nevada, and the American Bar Association. In his “free time,” Mr. Forni is an avid cyclist, wine enthusiast and amateur chef.

News

•Robert M. Forni, Jr., obtained a verdict in favor of the defendant-insurer, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston. January 20, 2017
Robert M. Forni
On January 13, Ropers Majeski Partner, Robert M. Forni, Jr., obtained a verdict in favor of the defendant-insurer, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, following a bench trial in a federal lawsuit arising from the termination of the plaintiff’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
•Robert M. Forni, Jr., obtained a judgment in favor of the defendant-insurer, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston January 20, 2017
Robert M. Forni
On December 20, 2016, Ropers Majeski partner, Robert M. Forni, Jr., obtained a judgment in favor of the defendant-insurer, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, in a federal lawsuit arising from the termination of the plaintiff’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.
•The Voice of the Defense Bar
DRI - December 2, 2009
Pamela E. Cogan, Robert M. Forni
DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar featured a RMKB appellate win in it’s “And the Defense Wins!” column.

Publications

•The Exhaustion Doctrine: Asserting And Surmounting The Prohibition Against Stale Claims Under ERISA
MEALEY’S LITIGATION REPORT: ERISAedited by Joan Grossman, Esq.The Report is produced monthly by LexisNexis - December 1, 2017
Robert M. Forni
•Case Alert - Michael Bock, et al. v. Craig Hansen April 16, 2014
Robert M. Forni
California Court of Appeal Limits Scope of Agent's Immunity Rule Based on Special Relationship Between Insurers and Insureds.
•Health San Francisco’s Tradeoffs
The Recorder - November 19, 2008
Robert M. Forni
•Discoverability of Insureds’ Tax Returns August 30, 2008
Robert M. Forni
•Off the Clock and on the Hook: A Primer on Employer Liability for the Acts of Employees Committed Away from Work August 30, 2008
Robert M. Forni
•Reviving Stale Insurance Claims When the Contractual and Statutory Limitations Periods Have Run: If You Snooze, Do You Always Lose? August 30, 2008
Robert M. Forni

Speaking Engagements

•Sacramento Claims Professionals Luncheon
September 10, 2015
Presenters: Jennifer E. Acheson, Pamela E. Cogan, Robert M. Forni, Enrique Marinez
•Top Ten Cases Affecting Third Party Liability Claims
February 12, 2015, Lions Gate Hotel & Conference Center
Presenters: Pamela E. Cogan, Robert M. Forni, Enrique Marinez
•ACI - 29th National Forum on Bad Faith
November 18-19, 2014
Presenter: Robert M. Forni
•ACI - 28th National Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Claims & Litigation
July 29-30, 2014
Presenter: Robert M. Forni
•ACI - 27th National Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Litigation
March 31-April 1, 2014, Union League, Philadelphia
Presenter: Robert M. Forni
•ACI - 25th National Advanced Forum on Bad Faith Litigation
July 29-30, 2013
Presenter: Robert M. Forni

Areas of Practice (6)

  • Appellate
  • ERISA
  • Insurance Services
  • Bad Faith
  • Life, Health & Disability
  • Insurance

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
415-543-4800  Phone
415-972-6301  Fax
www.rmkb.com
University Attended:
University of Pennsylvania, B.A., cum laude, 1992
Law School Attended:
Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 1995
Year of First Admission:
1995
Admission:
USDC: Southern District of California; 1995, California; USDC: Northern District of California; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; USDC: Central District of California; United States Supreme Court; USDC: Eastern District of California
Memberships:

Memberships & Associations

•Defense Research Institute (DRI)
•American Bar Association (ABA)
•Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada (ADCNC)

Reported Cases:
Representative Experience: Duty to Indemnify, Coverage, Property Damage, Insurable Interest, Commercial, Landlord, Tenant; Sonoma County Superior Court; Defendant Insurance Company; Bad Faith, Coverage, Insurance Services; A rain storm damaged part of a strip mall and the improvements that had been made to it that several tenants had leased. When these damages occurred, the owner of the building was an insured under a policy issued by our client, Insurer No. 1. Additionally, the tenants were insured under a policy that a second insurance company, Insurer No. 2, issued to them. Insurer No. 2 paid the tenants for the damages to their improvements. The tenants then vacated the building and sued the owner. Insurer No. 1 defended the owner in this lawsuit until Insurer No. 2 assumed its defense. In response, the owner sued Insurer No. 2 alleging claims for breach of contract and bad faith for withdrawing from its defense in the tenants' lawsuit. While this action was pending, the tenants, the owner, Insurer No. 1 and Insurer No. 2 reached a global settlement of any and all claims and causes of action arising out of the events giving rise to the tenants' lawsuit in exchange for Insurer No. 1's contribution to the settlement.; The trial court granted our client's motion for summary adjudication concerning the owner's causes of action for breach of contract and bad faith based on its claim for indemnity for the damaged tenant improvements. The court held the owner had no insurable interest in this property at the time of loss for the same reasons the insurer denied the claim (i.e., the owner did not use, own, or control this property, and did not suffer any direct pecuniary loss when it was damaged.); ERISA; insurance; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Defendants employee welfare benefit plan, and insurance company; Appellate, ERISA, Insurance Services; This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits. The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by Continental Casualty Company. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company (Hartford) later acquired the policy, and thereafter assumed responsibility for administering claims under the plan. Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that Hartford did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff's benefits even though Hartford had a structural conflict in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.; The trial court entered judgment for the defendants, which is on appeal.; ERISA, employee welfare plan, appeal, arbitration; United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; Appellate, ERISA; A former employee submitted a claim for disability benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan three months after she ceased working for the plan sponsor. The employee did not advise the insurer and claim administrator for the plan that she had been terminated and on a leave of absence since August 28, 2001, or that she had released her claims for disability benefits under the plan pursuant to a severance agreement that she had previously signed. The insurer determined she was not eligible for disability benefits because she was not disabled as of August 29, 2001 and throughout the plan's ninety-day elimination period. The employee sued the insurer and plan to recover disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The district court granted the employee's petition to dismiss her entire action and compel the binding arbitration of her claims against the insurer under the Federal Arbitration Act and her employment agreement with her former employer. She then submitted all claims to the jurisdiction of the arbitrator.; The arbitrator convened a hearing counsel argued the merits of the parties' claims and defenses. The arbitrator subsequently issued a written ruling in the insurer's favor. In doing so, the arbitrator found that the employee had knowingly and voluntarily released her right to plan benefits under the terms of the severance agreement, and that the agreement barred her claims against the insurer. The district court granted the insurer's petition to confirm the arbitration award, and entered judgment in the insurer's favor. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment on appeal.; ERISA; insurance; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Defendants employee welfare benefit plan, and insurance company; Appellate, ERISA, Insurance Services; This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits. The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston. Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that Liberty did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff's benefits even though Liberty had a structural conflict in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.; The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed judgment for the defendant.; ERISA; bad faith; breach of contract; employee welfare plan; disability; employee benefits; claim determination; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; Defendant employer and its insurer; Appellate, ERISA; This ERISA action arose from the termination of long term disability benefits. The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by an insurance company. Following a bench trial, the trial court entered judgment for the plan, concluding that the insurer did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff's benefits even though the insurer had a structural conflict in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan.; Judgment for employer/insurer affirmed.; ERISA; Insurance; Bad Faith; Breach of Contract; Employee Welfare Plan; Disability; Employee Benefits; Claim Determination; US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court; USDC: Northern District of California; Defendants Employee Welfare Benefit Plan; Insurance Carrier; Appellate, Bad Faith, ERISA, Insurance Services; Defended an insurance carrier and an employee welfare benefits plan in an ERISA action which arose from the termination of long term disability benefits. The employee welfare benefit plan was insured under a group disability policy issued by an insurance carrier. Following a bench trial, the trial court remanded the case to the claim administrator for further investigation. On remand, the claim demand was again upheld and the plaintiff filed suit again.; The trial court entered judgment for our client concluding that the insurer did not abuse its discretion under the plan in terminating the plaintiff's benefits even though they had a structural conflict in that it both funded and decided claims under the plan. The ninth circuit affirmed on appeal.; declaratory relief, covered auto, insurance coverage, bad faith, med-pay, underinsured motorist, rental car,; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; Plaintiff Automobile Insurance Company; Bad Faith, Coverage; Prosecuted declaratory relief action on behalf plaintiff automobile insurer against claimant arising from the denial of his claim for underinsured motorist (UIM) and medical payments (med-pay) benefits under the insured's policy. The insured submitted his UIM and med-pay claim following an accident in June 2003, in which he was injured while occupying a rental car driven by the insured in Florida. At the time of the accident, the claimant was as neither an insured nor injured in an insured in a covered auto, he did not reside with the insured. The insured alleged that the rental car was a temporary substitute for the insured's Lexus, which was operated and garaged in California, where the insured and the claimant resided. The insurer denied the claims on the grounds that the claimant was not an insured under the policy, because the rental car in which he was injured was not a temporary substitute for the insured vehicle. Thus, the central issue of the case was whether the claimant was entitled to UIM and med-pay benefits even though neither he nor the rental car was covered by the policy.; The district court granted our client's motion for summary judgment and denied the insured's cross motion for partial summary judgment on grounds that the rental car was not a covered auto under the insurance policy. The court concluded that California's uninsured/underinsured motorist statute, California Insurance Code 11580.1 and 11580.2, did not expand coverage beyond the terms stated in the policy. The court then held that the rental car was not a temporary substitute for the insured's vehicle under the terms of the policy, because the claimant failed to meet his burden to prove both that the insured vehicle was inoperable, and that the insured vehicle's normal use involved the same use in Florida as the rental car.
ISLN:
911389430

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San Francisco, California

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