Rob May joined Kilmer Voorhees & Laurick in 2014 after 12 years at a large insurance defense firm where he was a shareholder and practice group leader. His practice focuses on serving the needs of the insurance industry in first party insurance defense, defense of complex casualty claims, coverage and SIU/Fraud.
Rob graduated from the University of Rochester in 1990 and Willamette University College of Law in 1997. Between college and law school he worked for State Farm Fire and Casualty Company where he handled property claims and subrogation. After graduating from law school Rob worked in the entertainment industry as associate general counsel for Live Nation concerts and entertainment. Rob’s personal experience and knowledge of claims handling practices and the insurance industry gives him a unique perspective when defending insurers.
An accomplished trial lawyer, Rob has taken over 30 civil cases to verdict in both state and federal courts of Oregon and Washington. Rob also serves as defense counsel for a number of Oregon colleges and universities and spent several years as a guest lecturer at Willamette University College of Law. He is a frequent presenter for national and local insurance and legal organizations such as the the CPCU Institute, Defense Research Institute, Loss Executives Association, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel and the Multnomah Bar Association.
Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Multiple District Federal Litigation
Rob served as lead coverage counsel for one of three companies that insured the Jesuits during a 30 year period when sexual abuse was alleged to have occurred. This exceedingly complex case involved over 500 claimants from five western states represented collectively by over 100 attorneys. When this case settled for over $100,000,000 it was the largest settlement of its kind.
Rob’s client was the only insurer that successfully enforced its aggregate limit, thereby significantly limiting the company’s ultimate liability to a mere fraction of the other carriers. Further, only Rob successfully argued his client was not obligated to contribute to defense costs.
Learning from the landmark Archdioceses of Portland settlement, which did not preclude subsequent lawsuits, Rob negotiated a buy-back of his client’s policies, accompanied by a channeling injunction, to prohibit any future claims against his client’s policies.
First Party Bad Faith in Washington
Rob argued the case that ultimately set the limitation period for statutory bad faith in Washington. Plaintiffs’ home in Seattle, Washington was severely damaged by an accidental fire. The insureds immediately hired a public adjuster who, over the next 24 months, peppered the insurer with unreasonable demands in an attempt to establish the basis for bad faith and statutory violations. The insureds filed suit against Rob's client seeking damages of $681,869.00 plus attorney fees, estimated at $250,000.
The U.S. District Court in Seattle granted Summary Judgment in favor of Rob’s client, making several rulings on legal issues previously unsettled in Washington. Specifically, the U.S. District court ruled that:
- The continuing tort doctrine does not apply to bad faith; and
- An insurer that allegedly underpays a claim has not denied the claim or benefits. Underpaying, or undervaluing a claim is neither denial of coverage nor refusal to pay benefits, and therefore does not entitle plaintiff to attorney fees or a finding of bad faith.
Insurance Broker liability in Oregon
Contractor was sued alleging nearly $24,000,000 for catastrophic injuries suffered by a non-employee worker. Contractor’s insurer denied defense. Judgment was taken by the contractor who then sued its insurer, the retail agent, and our client, the wholesale broker alleging negligent procurement and breach of contract.
We moved for summary judgment alleging, among other things, that our client was the agent of the insurer, not the insured, for all matters related to procurement of the policy. Therefore, the insured cannot recover purely economic damages because there was no requisite “special relationship.” We further argued that the defendant retail agent’s knowledge of the insured’s liability insurance needs (and failure to procure adequate coverage) is not imputed to our client. The trial court agreed, granting our motion for summary judgment. The defendant insurer and the defendant retail agent proceeded to trial.
Noteworthy Articles and Publications
- Oregon State Bar: Insurance Law
- Defense Research Institute: Comparative Analysis of Regulation of Controlled Substances
- Claims Magazine: Coverage Risk of Marijuana Legalization
- Summary of Insurance Laws: Western States
- Mediating Insurance Cases in Washington and Oregon
- Preparing Witnesses for Trial and Deposition
- Effective Claim Handling and Best Practices
- Defending Bad Faith in Washington
- Washington Bad Faith
- SIU/Fraud in Oregon and Washington
- Additional Insureds and Named Insureds
- Avoiding Excess Verdicts
- Defending Attorney Fee Claims
- Ethics in Claim Handling
- Legalized Cannabis and the Insurance Industry
- Adjusting Business Income Claims
Professional & Civic Involvement
- Member, Oregon State Bar Association
- Member, Washington State Bar Association
- Member, Idaho State Bar Association
- Member, Texas State Bar Association (Texas)
- Member, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
- Member, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association
- Member, Defense Research Institute
- Associate Member, Loss Executive Association