FOUR DECADES DEFENDING INSURERS AGAINST COVERAGE CLAIMS
John Bennett has defended and tried cases on behalf of insurance companies for almost 40 years in Oregon, Washington, and other western states. He speaks their language, understands their protocols and pressures they face, and what they need to resolve claims. His practice predominantly involves insurance coverage and defense of claims for extra-contractual, or bad faith, damages. Clients seek his guidance on what a claim is worth, what jurisdictions are like, and their chances of success.
Though John has made a living trying cases, he recognizes that most lawsuits are resolved without trial and settlement. A trial can be expensive and disruptive to an organization. John has used all forms of ADR to resolve cases short of trial, including direct negotiation with opposing counsel, mediation, arbitration, and mini-trials. His goal is to find the most effective and efficient way to solve the client’s legal problem.
John’s career started in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, the largest prosecuting office in the state of Oregon, where he tried every type of criminal case, including murders, and was the Chief Deputy District Attorney when he moved to private practice.
Property Insurance Coverage
- Commercial and Personal Lines
- Builders Risk
- Progressive loss claims
- Boiler & Machinery
- Business Income/Extra Expense
- Commercial and Personal Lines
- Claims of sex abuse
- Personal and advertising injury issues
- Additional insured issues
SIU / Fraud Claims
- Defending insurers against allegations of Consumer Protection Act (CPA) violations, Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act violations, common law “bad faith” claims handling, torts of intentional interference with business relations, and outrageous conduct.
- Representation of insurers regarding policy forms in non-standard lines and allegations of noncompliance with regulatory statutes.
- Has represented insurers in alleged national class actions, including recent COVID litigation, acting as part of team with national counsel. Also, has represented an insurer in state-wide actions seeking class certification
- Oregon, 1975
- Washington, 2002
- U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
- Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College – J.D., 1975 (Member, Law Review)
- University of Oregon – B.A., 1972
Representative Published Decisions
- Campbell Global et al v. American States Ins. Co. et al, 784 Fed. Appx.543 (Mem 2019) (upholding trial court decision that no duty to indemnify existed for the underlying arbitration award).
- Safeco Ins. Co. of Oregon v. Masood, 264 Or. App. 173, 330 P.3d 61 (2014) (enforcing insurer’s right to cooperation from insured and rejection of attempt to impose conditions on cooperation).
- Safeco Ins. Co. of America v. Burr, Geico General Ins. Co. v. Edo, 551 US ______, 127 S Ct. 2201 167 LEd 2nd 1045 (2007), (reversing 9th Cir., 435 F.3d 1081 (2006) (finding that client’s interpretation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, though incorrect, was objectively reasonable, and thus not willful).
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Gulf Ins. Co., 250 Fed. Appx. 221, 207007 WL 2915603, CA9 (OR) October 4, 2007 (faulty workmanship exclusion enforced in first party damage action).
- Harrington v. American Economy Ins. Co., 131 Fed. Appx. 573, 2005 WL (1140488) C.A. 9 (OR) (claim under crime coverage provision of insurance contract for loss from employee theft; court upheld assertion of contractual period of limitation for all claims beyond those acknowledged by carrier).
- Strader v. Grange Mutual Ins. Co., 179 Or. App. 329, 39 P.3d 903 (2002) (establishing that there is no “special relationship” between insured and the first party insurer to support a tort claim, thus limiting claims for relief to breach of contract).
- Lewis-Williamson v. Grange Mutual Ins. Co., 179 Or. App. 491, 39 P.2d 947 (2002) (establishing that a captive agent is the agent only of the insurer, not the insured, foreclosing a claim for failure to procure insurance).
- American College of Trial Lawyers (Fellow, 2013-Present)
- Defense Research Institute (Member)
- Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Retired Member; Former Chair, Property Insurance Section)
- Co-Author, “Fringe Science Put to the Test in ‘Collapse’ Case,” King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin (2013)
- Co-Speaker, “Insurance in the Construction Industry,” The Seminar Group (2012)
- Co-Editor, “Insurance Law: The Basics (2011 Ed.),” Oregon State Bar Legal Publications (2011)
- Author, “Fundamentals of Property Insurance,” Washington State Bar Association Insurance Law Primer CLE (2010)
- AV® Preeminent™, Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- Selected for inclusion in Oregon Super Lawyers (2006-2021 — Insurance Coverage)
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© (2013-2023 — Commercial Litigation; 2010-2023 — Insurance Law)
- Named the Best Lawyers® 2020 Portland-OR Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year”
- Named as a “Local Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation (2015-2018 — Insurance)
- First recipient of Bullivant Houser ‘s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for defense verdict in The Mckee Owners Assoc. v. The Travelers Indemnity Co. of Am., King County Superior Court, Washington (first party claim seeking coverage for construction defects)
ENJOYING TIME WITH THE FAMILY
John grew up in eastern Oregon in the town of Condon where he played in all school sports. Today, he has fun spending time with his grandchildren and his beloved miniature schnauzer, Tony, who has worked by his side through the pandemic.