With wins under his belt representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in an asbestos coverage suit against AIG and obtaining Superfund site coverage for Siltronic Corp., Anderson Kill PC's Raymond Mascia has been named one of the insurance attorneys among Law360's 2020 Rising Stars.
THE BIGGEST CASE OF HIS CAREER:
Mascia told Law360 that the biggest case he's been a part of was defending the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in an insurance coverage dispute with AIG over asbestos claims last year. AIG had sued the Port Authority, saying it no longer had an obligation to cover the agency for asbestos injury claims stemming from the construction of the original World Trade Center, but Mascia and his team secured a summary judgment in the Port Authority's favor.
"That case was challenging because the stakes were very high, because it involved AIG's continuing obligation to provide coverage for claims that are going to keep coming in," he said. "Our adversary is very capable. AIG fought us very hard every step of the way, and they continue to do so."
During the case, Mascia's team won a number of favorable rulings leading up to the summary judgment and successfully defended the claims when AIG first appealed. The insurer has one more shot to ask for leave to appeal, he said.
The crux of the case, he said, was whether the injuries had to be diagnosed within the policy period or not, which was tricky because injuries and illness from asbestos can show up years or decades later. Mascia said he was able to find an argument in the unique policy language and prevail on the case.
ANOTHER BIG CASE:
In 2018, Mascia and his team represented Siltronic Corp. as it sought coverage for environmental liabilities stemming from an Oregon Superfund site. The insurers had argued that a pollution exclusion barred coverage, but Mascia leaned on an exception for sudden or accidental releases.
Mascia argued that whether the release of pollution was sudden or accidental should be based on the perspective of the policyholder, not that of a previous tenant on the site who was not part of the policy.
"That was an issue of first impression in Oregon, and it was a pretty major victory for policyholders who are facing similar environmental liabilities at that Superfund site, and really, at other sites across the country," he said.
WHAT MOTIVATES HIM:
Mascia said helping clients solve problems with their existing insurance is his biggest motivation, saying the firm represents people who have just been through large and catastrophic losses.
"Sometimes insurance is really the only way to make them whole," he said. "So it's great to be able to go into the office every day and try to help those clients solve those problems."
He added that the most gratifying moments are when he's able to secure coverage for a client without even going to court, saying it's a "huge relief" for policyholders. He recalled one instance where all it took was a letter from him for the insurance company to reverse its denial of coverage and promise to defend his client, calling it a "really great result."
WHY HE'S AN INSURANCE ATTORNEY:
During law school, Mascia hadn't really considered being a policyholder attorney, he said. But when he began working at Anderson Kill, he gravitated toward that practice area because he was impressed and inspired by how the attorneys pushed the envelope for their clients.
He said the firm's founder, Eugene R. Anderson, had broken ground on arguments for novel and new risks at the time, like asbestos and toxic waste claims, and that too inspired him to step into the field.
"It's always been inspiring and rewarding to see that legacy continue on in cases that I've had the opportunity to work on," he said. "That's really why I am where I am today."
HOW THE PRACTICE WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS:
While Mascia said there will always be policyholders facing liabilities and losses, there are new types of losses and liabilities cropping up all the time, so policyholder attorneys need to stay ahead of the game.
He pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the slew of business interruption coverage suits that have been filed in the last few months, saying that while there are some similarities to disasters like Superstorm Sandy, the pandemic presents its own wrinkles that attorneys have to adapt to.
"You need to be able to roll with the punches and innovate as much as possible," he said.
— As told to Mike Curley
Law360's Rising Stars are attorneys under 40 whose legal accomplishments belie their age. A team of Law360 editors selected the 2020 Rising Stars winners after reviewing more than 1,300 submissions. Attorneys had to be under 40 as of April 30, 2020, to be eligible for this year's award. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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