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General Liability Insurance Lawyer

Commercial General Liability

Clients turn to us for guidance with their sophisticated insurance needs related to bet-the-company lawsuits and catastrophic losses. We have assisted Fortune 500 companies, private businesses, and high net worth individuals who face third-party liabilities for bodily injury, property damage or other torts or civil claims with coverage under their commercial general liability (CGL) policies.  

Our team is experienced in helping policyholders navigate CGL insurance coverage to pay for lawsuit defense and settlement costs. We have experience obtaining a defense, convincing carriers to provide independent counsel at reasonable hourly rates, and litigating on behalf of policyholders and insureds when insurance carriers force litigation. 

We work with clients to uncover the details of their CGL policies, which are often peppered with exclusions and definitions that carriers say undercut coverage and limit the types of injury and damage that are applicable. Our experience includes getting to the heart of coverage under CGL and umbrella policies, including bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury.

Our attorneys also have provided advice and represented clients in resolving disputes in a variety of CGL insurance coverage matters related to alleged asbestos-related bodily injury claims, environmental liabilities, major property damage, and alleged personal injuries, among others.


Practice Leaders

Kevin Dreher

Kevin B. Dreher

Insurance Recovery and Counseling Group Co-Chair

Chicago, Grand Rapids, Southeast Michigan

P 312-214-8308

F 312-759-5646


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  • Represented a manufacturer in complex claims regarding long-tail environmental pollution against multiple insurers, including bad faith claims against the insurers for failure to defend and indemnify.
  • Represented a technology company in federal court litigation involving the issue of whether CGL insurance policies provide coverage for credit card data breaches and coverage for a demand letter. The demand letter asserted that the insured failed to properly protect a network that contained payment card data. The case resolved after oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Advised a manufacturer of specialty engineered products regarding the procurement of insurance and claim assistance and negotiation involving commercial general liability, fiduciary liability and D&O policies.
  • Represented a company that leased out its facility for use as a group-entertainment venue when the company was sued by a third party claiming bodily injury at its facility. Claims were submitted under the company’s CGL policy and the group renter’s additional insured coverage. Recovery of defense costs and indemnity coverage resulted.
  • Represented apparel companies in lawsuits alleging trade dress and/or copyright infringement triggering coverage under CGL policies. Represented a manufacturer that was sued by a buyer in a commercial action for supplying allegedly defective products, in negotiations to recover defense and indemnity costs for the client’s CGL carrier after the underlying lawsuit was settled with the buyer.
  • Litigated claims on behalf of a Fortune 500 energy company arising from alleged asbestos premises liability claims against numerous CGL primary and excess carriers for bad faith and declarations of defense and indemnification obligations. The court granted the policyholder client’s summary judgment motion and ruled that Pennsylvania law applies to claims including application of Pennsylvania Bad Faith Statute, all sums allocation of loss, and single occurrence.
  • Litigated CGL coverage for tens of thousands of asbestos-related bodily injury claims against insulation contractors and manufacturers, obtaining rulings regarding the application of the products hazard and aggregate limits, trigger of coverage and timing of alleged injuries, number of occurrences, and additional coverage issues, and reached numerous settlements, policy buybacks, and coverage in place agreements related to coverage, the use of defense counsel, and the duty to defend.
  • Represented a product manufacturer and obtained a duty to defend, including the use of independent defense counsel, and indemnity coverage for a putative class action alleging various bodily injuries purporting to result from the use of personal care products.
  • Represented the policyholder regarding CGL and excess insurance coverage issues in connection with a mid-nine figure demand arising out an alleged explosion and fire at a facility. We handled the insurance coverage issues through multiple mediations with the claimant and the policyholder’s entire tower of insurance carriers. Ultimately, we persuaded the insurance carriers to agree to and fully cover a settlement, which was within the limits of coverage, with five minutes to spare before the jury delivered its verdict (a verdict that would have exceeded policy limits).
  • Represented a manufacturer regarding complex long-tail environmental pollution claims against multiple insurers, including bad faith claims against one of the insurers for its scheme to move the dispute to an insurance-company favorable jurisdiction to avoid coverage. Litigation in both states resulted in the application of the proper state’s law and all insurers indemnified the client for bodily injury and property damage claims, including an additional insured claim for the time the client leased its contaminated property to another company with a lease agreement that required naming the client as an additional insured.
  • Served as lead insurance coverage counsel for a payment card-based cyberattack litigating whether CGL policies provided coverage for the losses, and reached favorable settlements with CGL and umbrella carriers for the matter.
  • Represented numerous contractors on construction projects in negotiations with CGL carriers regarding defense and indemnification obligations for claims made by the owners of construction projects for alleged defective work by the contractors and/or subcontractors.
  • Represented numerous companies – a waste management company, many manufacturers, and innocent purchasers of contaminated property – whose insurance companies initially denied them coverage for environmental property damage and bodily injury claims against CGL policies, resulting in litigation, and ultimately payment by the insurance companies for the clients’ defense and indemnity coverage.
  • Represented a food service/food packaging manufacturer regarding the recovery of defense and indemnity costs incurred in connection with numerous individual claims of bodily injury and/or property damage against historic liability carriers.
  • Represented an apartment complex in pursuit of CGL coverage for defense and indemnity of a law suit filed by a tenant against the apartment complex for bodily injury coverage due to a claim of lead poisoning.
  • Represented a restoration contractor whose CGL insurer was on the way to botching the contractor’s defense of a high-value industrial damage claim. The contractor had done a seven-figure job to remediate a chemical plant after a major fire and had allegedly made serious mistakes that caused damage outside its scope of work. While the job was still in progress, the contractor’s CGL insurer hired an attorney to investigate the potential claim by the plant owner. Later, when the owner filed suit, the insurer agreed to defend under a reservation of rights and appointed the same lawyer to defend the contractor. Under applicable state law, the lawyer was required to obtain the contractor’s informed consent to his representation in the so-called tripartite relationship among insurer, insured, and defense counsel, and the lawyer was required to explain the insurer’s reservation of rights. He did neither. When the damage case went to meditation, he refused to share his analysis with the contractor he represented, and he made a settlement offer so low that the mediator suspended the mediation. The contractor then hired Barnes & Thornburg’s insurance recovery group. We first demanded the insurer replace the purported defense lawyer with other counsel of the contractor’s choosing. The insurer agreed and accepted another law firm we recommended. As the new firm got up to speed and provided an independent evaluation of the case, we separately analyzed the CGL coverage issues and emphasized that the lawsuit alleged that nearly all the damage was outside the contractor’s scope of work and therefore not subject to the “your work” exclusion, as well as the insurer’s duty to settle. We negotiated with the insurer so that it eventually paid the vast majority of the cost to settle the lawsuit with the owner of the chemical plant.
  • Represented an engineering firm in a high-stakes lawsuit with its CGL insurer regarding the purported “professional services” exclusions in the policy. Our client was a design subcontractor on a construction project to reconfigure several highway intersections. During construction, an automobile accident occurred and left a child with permanent, devastating injuries. The primary CGL insurer agreed to defend the lawsuit under a reservation of rights. Almost a year into the case, the plaintiffs’ counsel made a settlement demand that exceeded the primary CGL limits. The CGL insurer responded to plaintiffs’ counsel by rejecting the demand because the insurer believed its professional services exclusions applied, the CGL insurer filed a declaratory judgment action, and the CGL insurer refused to provide any settlement authority at a mandatory mediation. The engineering firm hired Barnes & Thornburg insurance recovery attorneys, who helped the client’s professional liability insurers to settle the injury case and who also defeated the CGL insurer’s motion for summary judgment regarding the professional services exclusions.
  • Represented a packaging manufacturer in connection with multiple claims by its food industry customers that the packaging was contaminated and causing foul odors and flavors. The claims involved complex CGL coverage issues, including whether there was “property damage” as defined by the policies, whether any such property damage was in the nature of loss of use of “impaired property,” and the extent to which the claims alleged damage to our client’s product. Although experts had determined the food was safe for human consumption, our client and its food manufacturer customers understandably wanted to avoid public litigation. Our attorneys represented the packaging supplier in a multi-party mediation that resulted in settlements of the customers’ claims, funded substantially by our client’s CGL and umbrella insurers.
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