Deborah A. Vennos

Counsel

  • Overview

    Biography

    Deborah Vennos's Ph.D. in chemistry from Cornell University provides a solid foundation for her focus on complex litigation matters involving scientific and engineering principles. She is a member of the firm's Insurance + Reinsurance Group and its Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group.

    Property Insurance Coverage Litigation

    Deb handles property insurance coverage claims and litigation involving complex scientific and engineering issues. She has defended numerous multimillion-dollar coverage actions relating to corrosive imported drywall, catastrophic losses to manufacturing and industrial facilities, losses involving construction defects and mold contamination, sinkholes, and landfill business losses. Deb handles disputes involving business interruption and property damage, including coverage related to natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. She recently defended a $27 million business interruption and $150 million bad faith claim arising from Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in a voluntary dismissal after five years of litigation. She served on the Defense Counsel Steering Committee for the Consolidated Docket in the Eastern District of New York for Superstorm Sandy litigation.

    Fire and Explosion

    Deb’s background also serves clients well in cases involving fires, arson, and explosions. She has 10 years of experience as a firefighter, including six years as a paid professional firefighter in upstate New York. She is also certified as a New York State Level II fire/arson investigator. She has successfully defended numerous fire and arson cases.

    Environmental Litigation and Enforcement

    Deb represents clients in cases involving the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund sites, across the nation. Prior to joining the firm, she interned for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

    She helped secure a favorable settlement in a Colorado class action case involving claims of indoor air, groundwater, and soil contamination. She also successfully represented a client against a consumer group’s claim which appealed a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection decision to allow dentists to use mercury fillings.

    Deb has extensive business litigation experience counseling clients in more than 13 states, including federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings and class action litigation. She also is well versed in various methods of resolving disputes, including through arbitration, mediation, and court trials. She has substantial experience in expert witness selection, preparation, and examination.

    Pro Bono

    Deb has represented clients on a pro bono basis, including handling a civil action which alleged Constitutional rights violations. She also represented a non-profit organization which was the victim of theft by an outside contractor.

    She frequently writes on insurance-related topics, and is the editor in chief of the firm's Property Insurance Coverage Insights blog.  

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

      • Representation of insurers in complex insurance dispute in federal court, Eastern District of Louisiana, involving Hurricane Katrina property damage and business interruption claim for over $27 million and bad faith claims of over $100 million, where bad faith claims were dismissed based on summary judgment briefing and expert was precluded from testifying as to damages included in initial report based on motion in limine.
      • Representation of Fortune 500 company in $250 million, 400-member class action in Colorado state court involving claims of indoor air, groundwater, and soil contamination. Matter settled for less than 10 percent of original claim.
      • Representation of Fortune 500 insurer in $28 million dispute in federal court, Middle District of Florida, involving design defect claims, where matter was settled for less than 15 percent of initial demand after motion for summary judgment was filed.
      • Representation of insurer in complex dispute in federal court, Eastern District of Virginia, over coverage for Chinese drywall involving $5 million in claimed damages.

      • Representation of Fortune 500 insurer in $6 million dispute in federal court, Middle District of Florida, involving sink hole claim, where matter was settled for 10 percent of the initial demand after motion for summary judgment was filed.
      • Representation of client against claim in Connecticut state Superior Court by consumer group appealing the ruling by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection allowing dentists to use mercury fillings. Claim was dismissed after aggrievement hearing.
      • Representation of insurer in $250,000 dispute in federal court, Eastern District of Virginia, involving mold and water damage, where plaintiff withdrew the action after a motion for summary judgment was filed.

      • Representation of insurer in $2.9 million lawsuit in federal court, Eastern District of New York, involving water and mold damage, which settled for less than 15 percent of original demand.

      • Representation of Fortune 500 insurer in threatened litigation pursuant to property policy, where insured claimed an over $4 million loss because of an ammonia leak. Claim was resolved in one-day mediation session, avoiding litigation costs altogether.
      • Representation of insurer in $10 million fraud claim in New York State Supreme Court, where plaintiff withdrew action against insurer.
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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Connecticut Bar Association
      Intellectual Property Section, Co-chair (2015 - present)

      New York State Bar Association (2003 - present)
      Environmental Law Section

      American Bar Association
      Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
      Young Lawyers Division

      American Chemical Society
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Selected as a Rising Star to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list in 2010.

  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Superstorm Sandy Litigation Is as Fierce as the Storm," published in Insurance Law Committee Newsletter (Fall 2014)

      "Remaining Risks of Open Communications with Experts Under the New Federal Rules," published in DRI Today (5/16/2012)

      "Green Building and Property Coverage," published in Florida Investor's Greenbook, co-authored with Rebecca Levy-Sachs (2010)

      "Property Damage Claims for Environmental Contamination: The Problems Inherent in Attempting to Bring Them as Class Actions," published in The Urban Lawyer, co-authored with James P. Ray, Vol. 38, Number 1 (Winter 2006)

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "The Role of the Defense Attorney – Thoughts on Cross Examination of a Fire Expert," co-presented with Daniel F. Sullivan, at the Connecticut Fire Academy's 2018 Advanced Fire Investigation School (5/2/2018)
      • » more info

      "Please Raise Your Right Hand—Preparing the Insurance Claim Professional and Corporate Designee for Deposition," co-presented with J. Tyler Butts and Gerald P. Dwyer Jr., as part of the Insurance In-House Counsel CLE Series (3/22/2018)
      • » more info

      "The Impacts and Dangers of Unfair Trade Practices Acts – The Need to Be Aware!," at First Annual Bad Faith Litigation Strategies ExecuSummit, co-presented with Gregory P. Varga, panelist (11/5/2014)

      "Mastering Homeowners, Bad Faith, and Commercial Insurance Law," moderated, along with two others, a telephonic seminar (4/23/2014)
      • » more info

      "Green Building and Insurance," at Robinson and Cole's Sustainability and Climate Change Seminar, co-presented with Rebecca Levy-Sachs and Jonathan Held (5/4/2010)
      • » more info

      "Chinese Drywall: The Next Asbestos or the Next Y2K?" at New England Claims Executives Association Meeting, co-presented with Gregory P. Varga (4/2010)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • May 3, 2018

        Dan Sullivan and Deb Vennos Present at 2018 Advanced Fire Investigation School

        • » more info
      • April 9, 2018

        Tyler Butts, Kip Dwyer, and Deb Vennos Present on Preparing the Insurance Claim Professional and Corporate Designee for Deposition

        • » more info
      • December 3, 2014

        Deb Vennos Pens Lead Article in ABA Insurance Newsletter

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      • November 24, 2014

        Hartford Insurance Lawyers Speak at ExecuSummit

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      • May 13, 2014

        Deb Vennos Moderates Insurance Seminar

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      • June 11, 2012

        Attorney’s Article on Discovery of Expert Communications Published in DRI Today

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      • December 14, 2010

        Parkville Elementary Students Learn Financial Literacy with Robinson & Cole Attorneys

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      • April 27, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Present On Chinese Drywall at Meeting of New England Claim Executives Association

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      • January 28, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Coauthor Article on Green Building and Property Coverage for the Green Book

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      • June 27, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Associate Publishes Article in CONNstruction Magazine

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      R+C News Releases

      • September 3, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Co-Chair Intellectual Property Section of Connecticut Bar Association

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        • View article
      • June 21, 2013

        Local Organizations Recognize Robinson & Cole’s Pro Bono Service

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        • View article
      • December 16, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Elevates Six New Counsel