R. Steven DeGeorge interviewed by Law 360 on his Insurance Coverage PracticePDF
Q&A With Robinson Bradshaw's Steven DeGeorge
Law360, New York (June 12, 2013, 1:00 PM ET) -- At Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA., R. Steven DeGeorge handles complex commercial litigation, with experience in insurance coverage matters. DeGeorge also provides counsel on commercial transactions presenting product liability, toxic tort and environmental liability issues.
Q: What is the most challenging case you have worked on and what made it challenging?
A: I represented a policyholder in an insurance coverage lawsuit arising from a Chinese computer hacker who somehow placed him/herself in the line of email communications between our client and its actual vendor. The computer hacker, posing as our client’s actual vendor, instructed our client to pay for products purchased by wiring funds to a Chinese bank account owned by the hacker.
This matter was especially difficult to resolve because the fraud occurred in China, and our client’s money ended up in a Chinese bank, so access to important evidence was virtually impossible. Despite these difficulties, we secured insurance coverage for our client.
Q: What aspects of your practice area are in need of reform and why?
A: I would like to see the insurance industry as a whole develop explanatory literature to help policyholders better understand the scope of coverage of various commercial liability policies. Even the most sophisticated policyholders are frequently unable to decipher policies to evaluate possible coverage for a given loss. Ambiguities in policies force policyholders to engage coverage counsel and all too often, result in costly and protracted litigation.
Q: What is an important issue or case relevant to your practice area and why?
A: Important to my insurance coverage practice is the scope and application of the so-called “absolute pollution exclusion” in commercial general liability insurance policies. I represent several policyholders to whom this question is important. Courts across the country are split on the issue, and we are awaiting a decision by the federal court in Charlotte, N.C.
Q: Outside your own firm, name an attorney in your field who has impressed you and explain why.
A: J. Mark Langdon, in Raleigh, N.C. Mark is highly capable like many attorneys, but he also displays uncommon professionalism and integrity. I wish Mark were on the other side of every case I handle.
Q: What is a mistake you made early in your career and what did you learn from it?
A: Early in my career, I was unnecessarily aggressive with opposing counsel. With time and mentoring by more senior attorneys, I came to understand the difference between assertive advocacy and unnecessary aggression. Civility is now a central focus of my practice. Because of this, my relationships with opposing counsel have been uniformly more pleasant and constructive.
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