Wystan M. Ackerman

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Wystan Ackerman chairs the firm's Class Action Team. He has defended class actions in a variety of substantive areas and industries, including insurance, products liability, financial services, consumer contracts, and securities. Based in the insurance capital of Hartford, Connecticut, Mr. Ackerman's practice has a major focus on insurance. He writes the blog Insurance Class Actions Insider at www.insuranceclassactions.com, which was selected by LexisNexis as a top insurance blog. He also contributes to the blog Property Insurance Coverage Insights at www.propertyinsurancecoverageinsights.com, published by the firm's Insurance and Reinsurance Group.

    Mr. Ackerman regularly serves as national counsel for various insurance companies in class actions, complex coverage litigation, and appeals. He currently represents insurance carriers across the country in various putative class actions involving insurance coverage and market conduct/claim-handling practices.

    Mr. Ackerman has extensive experience with respect to issues of federal jurisdiction for class actions under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). He successfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari and served as co-counsel on the merits in Standard Fire Insurance Company v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013), in which the Court rejected a plaintiff's attempt to evade federal jurisdiction by stipulating that the amount sought would not exceed the $5 million threshold under CAFA.

    He has served on the defendants' steering committee and as a lead author of trial and appellate briefs on behalf of numerous insurers in high-profile class actions arising from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, such as In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation (flood exclusion), the Louisiana attorney general's class action against the insurance industry involving the Road Home program, and the class action litigation involving the Louisiana Valued Policy Law.

    Mr. Ackerman also has substantial experience advising insurers with respect to complex coverage issues and litigating coverage cases at the trial and appellate levels. He has advised insurers with respect to homeowners, commercial property, and builders risk claims for Chinese-made drywall and was counsel for the insurer in TravCo Ins. Co. v. Ward.

    Mr. Ackerman serves as national coordinating counsel and appellate counsel to insurers and to a major insurance industry association (as amicus curiae) in cases involving important coverage issues. He has litigated appeals in the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits, as well as in various state appellate and supreme courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Mr. Ackerman is also regularly asked to consult on important insurance cases in which he collaborates with lead counsel and in-house counsel on briefing and preparing for oral arguments, including participating in moot courts. He regularly works with lawyers across the country in this role.

    Mr. Ackerman has been listed as a Second Circuit Litigation Star in Benchmark Appellate (2013) and as a Future Star in Benchmark Litigation (2013). He was listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers ® in 2013 in the area of Class Action and from 2009 to 2012 in the area of Insurance Coverage Law (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.). Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Mr. Ackerman was associated with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where his practice focused on complex business litigation, including insurance and securities class actions and litigation involving commercial contracts and corporate governance.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Appellate

      • Successfully represented insurer in the Supreme Court of the United States (lead counsel on petition for certiorari and co-counsel on merits) in Standard Fire Insurance Company v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013) (invalidating stipulation by named plaintiff attempting to limit amount in controversy to below $5 million).
      • Other Experiences

      • Defended manufacturers in putative class actions involving alleged defects in consumer products in Connecticut and Illinois federal courts.
      • Served on the defendants' steering committee, taking a lead role in a putative class action filed by the Louisiana attorney general against over 200 insurers involving the Louisiana Road Home program.
      • Member of trial team for $100 million Hurricane Katrina commercial property case. First Hurricane Katrina case the client insurance company allowed before a New Orleans jury. Tried to verdict and settled on appeal for less than 2 percent of the claim.
      • Represented an affiliate of a national insurance company in a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that there is no coverage under property insurance policies for the cost of replacing and remediating the effects of Chinese drywall. After oral argument before the federal district court for the Eastern District of Virginia, summary judgment was entered in favor of our client in the first federal court case in the country deciding coverage issues for Chinese drywall under homeowners policies. On appeal, the coverage issues were certified to the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in favor of our client's position.
      • Defended a major insurance company in a case brought in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in which the plaintiff sought to bring a class action involving two classes of allegedly aggrieved policyholders. The first class was allegedly deprived of payment of general contractor overhead and profit as a part of its damages. The second class was allegedly deprived of payment of sales tax as a part of its damages. After extensive discovery and motion practice, the class action allegations were voluntarily dismissed and the case was resolved on favorable terms.
      • 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 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.
      • Currently representing insurer in a series of putative class actions involving market conduct/claim handling practices. Successfully obtained dismissal or denial of class treatment in many of these cases. Successfully conducted a three-day evidentiary hearing on class certification in a Florida state court in 2010.
      • Represented a web-based application service provider, including private and venture capital financing, agreements with executives, key employees, third party consultants, technical advisory board members, and other third parties providing advice and services to the company, agreements with technology consulting companies for infrastructure design and systems, testing and rollout of project club sites, and agreements with third-party content licensing vendors for customized news, photographs, video images, and information.
      • Represented a major insurance industry association as amicus curiae in Sher v. Lafayette Ins. Co., 988 So. 2d 186 (La. 2008), in which the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed a state appellate court and ruled that the water damage exclusion used in most homeowners insurance policies was applicable to the flooding that occurred in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina.
      • Represented commercial property insurers in several multimillion-dollar cases involving business interruption and property damage losses sustained due to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Successfully briefed Daubert motion to exclude testimony of insured's proposed damages expert (2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4566) and motion for summary judgment on the "period of restoration" and consequential damages (2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5389).
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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel

      Connecticut Bar Association
      Insurance Law Section, Executive Committee
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Class Action in 2013 and Insurance Coverage Law from 2009 to 2012 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell™ (Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings is a trademark. AV Preeminent is a certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc.)

      Listed as a Future Star in Benchmark Litigation for 2013 and 2014

      Listed as a Second Circuit Litigation Star in Connecticut in Benchmark Appellate, 2013

      Connecticut Law Tribune, 2012, recognized in New Leaders in the Law Yearbook

  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Class Action Fairness Act Interlocutory Appeals," published in In-House Defense Quarterly, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (Fall 2012)

      "Recent Developments in Insurance Class Actions," published in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (May 2012)

      "Class Actions Against Insurers? No Sure Thing," published in Connecticut Law Tribune (11/2011)

      "Does Daubert Apply at Class Certification? Eighth Circuit Tries to Find Middle Ground," published in The Business Suit, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (9/2011)

      "Defending Class Actions on Coverage Issues," published in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (5/2011)

      "Recent Developments and Anticipated Trends in Defending Products Liability Class Actions," published in Inside the Minds: Litigating Products Liability Class Actions, published by Aspatore Books/Thomson Reuters (2011)

      "The Supreme Court's 2011 Class Action Decisions: Their Impact on Insurance Class Actions," published in New Appleman on Insurance, article is forthcoming (2011)

      "Handling the Flood Coverage Litigation: Lessons Learned from Katrina," published in Coverage, co-authored with Seth A. Schmeeckle, a partner at Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard, an American Bar Association insurance litigation publication (May/June 2010)

      Chapter entitled "Property Insurance Under Homeowners' Policies: Structure, Recent Changes, and Emerging Issues," published in CAT Claims: Insurance Coverage for Natural and Man-Made Disasters, edited by Steven Plitt, Dennis J. Wall, and John K. DiMugno (2008), published by West

      "The Connecticut Supreme Court on the Creation of a Constitutionally Distinct Judicial Department in the 1818 Constitution," published in Connecticut Supreme Court History (December 2007)

      "Property Insurance Litigation Arising from Hurricane Katrina: The Battle Moves to the Appellate Courts," published in Claims Quarterly, co-authored with Gregory P. Varga and Daniel F. Sullivan (December 2007)

      "Does Vandalism Include Arson?" published in ABA Property Insurance Committee, Tort and Insurance Practice Section (Fall 2006)

      "Using Daubert Effectively in Business Interruption Cases," published in Committee News, a newsletter published by Property Insurance Law Committee of the American Bar Association's Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section (Fall 2005)

      "Precluding Defendants from Relitigating Sentencing Findings in Subsequent Civil Suits," published in Columbia Law Review, Note, 101 Colum. L. Rev. 128 (2001)
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      "Recent Developments in Insurance Coverage" (Fall 2012), published in ABA Tort & Insurance Law Journal, Class Actions Section, co-author

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Class Action Settlement Structures," at Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Winter Meeting, co-presented with Christopher DePhillips, Tiffaney Janowicz, and Joel Fineberg (3/6/2013)

      "Class Actions and Bundled Coverage Actions," at HarrisMartin Litigation Conference on Storm Sandy, co-presented with Seth A. Schmeeckle and Richard L. Fenton (2/26/2013)

      "Superstorm Sandy: Causes of Loss — Key Issues," at HB Litigation Conference, New York, NY, co-presented with Jan Larson (12/12/2012)

      "Class Actions on Insurance Coverage Issues," at American Bar Association's Litigation Section, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, CLE Seminar, co-presented with Raoul Cantero, Jeff Leon, and Barbara Frederick (3/2/2012)

      "The Supreme Court's 2011 Class Action Decisions: How Will They Impact the Insurance Industry," presented to insurance industry association (7/2011)

      "Business Interruption Claims Arising out of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan," presented to an insurance industry association (4/2011)

      "Insurance Coverage Class Actions," at American Bar Association's Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Meeting (2/2011)

      "Business Interruption Insurance," at Connecticut Bar Association, Insurance Section meeting (1/2010)

      "Property Coverage Legal Update: Hurricane Katrina Litigation," at New England Claims Executives Association, co-presented with Gregory P. Varga (2/12/2008)

      "Recent Changes and Emerging Issues in Homeowners' Insurance Policy Forms," at Annual CLE Program of the Property Insurance Law Committee of the American Bar Association's Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (4/2006)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • May 14, 2014

        Robinson+Cole's Appellate Group Wins Connecticut Law Tribune's Litigation Department of the Year Award

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      • January 2, 2014

        Robinson+Cole's Business Litigation Group Receives Top Ranking in Benchmark Litigation 2014

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      • March 21, 2013

        U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Standard Fire Insurance Company v. Knowles, A Class Action Fairness Act Case

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      • February 12, 2013

        Robinson & Cole’s Appellate Group Receives Top Rankings in National Publication

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      • December 10, 2012

        Wystan Ackerman, Ed Heath, and Jeff White are New Leaders in the Law

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      • June 28, 2012

        Wystan Ackerman Analyzes Georgia Supreme Court Ruling in Law360 Story

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      • December 29, 2011

        Wystan Ackerman Authors Book Chapter on Defending Products Liability Class Actions

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      • December 14, 2011

        “Insurance Class Actions Insider” Recognized as a Top Blawg

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      • September 1, 2011

        In Wake of Hurricane Irene: Five Tips for Insurance Carriers

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      • May 9, 2011

        Insurance Class Actions Blog Analyzes Impact of Recent Supreme Court Cases

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      • March 3, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Amicus Brief Analyzes Controversial Loss of Consortium Claim

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      • June 8, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Coauthors Article Published in American Bar Association Insurance Litigation Publication Coverage

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      • April 6, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Quoted in Hartford Business Journal on Recently Announced Southern Connecticut Bancorp, Inc. Merger

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      • January 21, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Partner Participates as Panelist During Connecticut Bar Association Program on Business Interruption

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      • November 12, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Announces New Partners

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      R+C News Releases

      • October 22, 2012

        Super Lawyers® Names 49 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2012 List and Recognizes 26 as Rising Stars

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