Gregory Schopf leads Nixon Peabody’s Insurance Industry team and is a key member of the Complex Commercial Disputes, International and Trade Secret teams. Greg focuses on complex disputes and represents clients in a wide array of litigations. He also counsels clients on trade secret rights, protection methodologies and enforcement issues. He has significant experience litigating trade secrets cases in California courts.
What do you focus on?
I focus my practice on two main areas of litigation and dispute resolution. I rely on more than 25 years of experience and my understanding of my clients’ businesses to manage their most complex and difficult problems.
Complex Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation
I’ve represented dozens of U.S. and international insurers in claims involving fraud, asbestos, bankruptcy, technology protection, data privacy, professional liability, construction defects, fiduciary liability, environmental contamination, advertising liability, employment issues, catastrophic first-party losses and other matters. In a novel case, a team I led devised the successful defense of a bad faith suit arising from class action habitability coverage claims where we turned the tables and obtained a $2m+ trial verdict for our insurer client.
Domestic and International Business Disputes
I have resolved contract disputes and indemnity claims of all kinds and disputes over unfair competition, trade secret theft and fraudulent conveyances through efficient negotiations, mediations and arbitrations. My record in matters requiring injunctive relief and/or trial in state and federal courts is equally strong. Recently, my team successfully re-negotiated contract terms for an overseas client in a contentious dispute with a large U.S. defense contractor over costs and timeliness of performance.
What do you see on the horizon?
I have been closely watching how insurance coverage, bad faith and commercial litigation liabilities are evolving as the world economy changes. In the future, I see developments in the law of unfair competition and data privacy having major impact on litigants and insurers.
- “Best Practices to Most Efficiently Resolve Coverage Disputes (It’s Not Personal; It’s Business),” ABA Litigation Section, Insurance Coverage Committee Conference, Tucson, AZ, March 4–March 7, 2015 (Presenter)
- “Energy Industry Claims Update,” AEGIS Claims Seminar, Miami, FL, Oct 20 - 22, 2014 (Presenter)
- “All Sums—Gold or Brass?,” ABA Litigation Section, Insurance Coverage Committee Conference, Tucson, AZ, March 5 - March 8, 2014 (Presenter)
- “Political Risk Insurance,” ABA Litigation Section, Insurance Coverage Committee Conference, Tucson, AZ, February 28-March 2, 2013 (Presenter)
- “Will Insurance Be In Place When You Need to Settle? Top Ten Traps for Careful ADR Preparation,” 2010 ABA Spring Conference.
- “Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar” (Presenter), 2008 ABA Conference, February 28–March 1, 2008.
Representative Business Litigation Experience
- Represented Japanese company as minority shareholder in trial in federal court in San Francisco in fraudulent conveyance action against a restaurant following bankruptcy filing. Recovered complete control and all shares of restaurant for client.
- Represented franchisor of rock music schools in actions to confirm arbitration award arising from unfair competition activity and in fraudulent conveyance action to unwind efforts to shield assets from recovery by our client.
Representative International Business Experience
- Represented a high-tech company in Japan that was acting on behalf of a major education institution in the re-negotiation of a contract for the manufacture and purchase of experimental and cutting edge research equipment from a large U.S. defense contractor. Despite claims by the defense contractor of millions of dollars in financial losses incurred in production of the equipment and threats to invoke onerous terms in the original purchase contract, we were able to negotiate new and favorable terms to save the project, obtain guarantees of timely performance, and avoid liability our client faced in the event of untimely delivery or a failure to perform under the contract.
Representative Trade Secret Litigation Experience
- Represented prominent medical device manufacturer in actions in Massachusetts and California to enjoin former employee group’s theft of trade secrets including customer lists and business information, preventing the group from marketing competing products and recovering the theft of additional trade secrets, including source code used in key product and for theft of ideas and research developed for new products including patentable claims. We were successful in all aspects of case for client.
- Represented semiconductor testing equipment manufacturer and supplier in California action to prevent former employee's use of trade secrets, including customer information and business opportunities to lure business and to recover for theft of trade secrets, including technical formulae for design and production of products. The case also involved defense of cross-claims by former employee for defamation, interference with prospective business advantage and breach of contract and application of statutory privilege to such claims. Obtained successful settlement for client.
Representative Insurance Litigation Experience
- Secured a victory in a $4 million coverage and bad faith insurance action against our client involving a business owners liability policy. In a case with some very tough facts, Judge White of the Northern District of California cancelled oral argument and issued rulings for our client and against the plaintiffs on cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs subsequently agreed not to appeal in exchange for a waiver of our right to recover costs.
- Obtained a judgment in excess of $2 million in Los Angeles Superior Court for an insurance company client. The judgment was based on an initial summary adjudication finding of concealment and misrepresentation by a Los Angeles landlord in procuring insurance coverage for an apartment building that was the subject of a class action habitability suit. After obtaining the summary judgment, we tried the remaining issues in the LA Superior Court and recovered all costs that were expended by our client to defend the landlord under a reservation of rights and employed a novel use of California’s unfair competition statute, Business & Prof. Code Section 17200, to recover fees expended in coverage litigation which also involved bad faith claims by the landlord. We prevailed on virtually all issues.
- Defended a casualty insurer in a high stakes coverage and bad faith action venued in Santa Clara Superior Court. The claim involved wrongful death and serious injury actions that arose from a politically charged newspaper strike. The plaintiff sought defense and indemnity for the claim under the additional insured provisions of the policy and argued that the acts of the security force it hired during the strike were within the scope of the coverage afforded. The plaintiff further claimed that our client was bound by the $10 million in damages established in an uncontested trial for which our client did not provide a defense. We prevailed on a motion for summary judgment that neither defense nor indemnity for the claim fell within the coverage and withstood an attack on the summary judgment on appeal.
- Won summary judgment against a lawyer who sued our insurance company client in Federal court in Los Angeles for her fees expended in acting as the insured's defense counsel and bad faith counsel. We prevailed on basis that her claims were barred because no contract was formed with her and because no quantum meruit claim could be supported based on determination as matter of law that our client did not benefit from her services.
- Successfully mediated a high profile multi-million dollar complex coverage matter venued in a California Superior Court that involved decades of governmental involvement in serious contamination. On behalf of our liability insurer client, we convinced a retired California Court of Appeal Justice sitting as mediator of the applicability of an untested exclusion leading him to issue a confidential opinion upholding our position in the mediation and our ultimate settlement on very favorable terms.
- Represented a primary carrier in a coverage action brought by a refractory contractor with substantial asbestos bodily injury liabilities. The coverage issues included missing policy issues and critical classification issues affecting the available limits of the policies, and claims by the insured for replenishment of previously exhausted policy limits. Our work involved extensive analysis of issues and impact of the potential bankruptcy of the insured.
- Represented a liability insurer in a coverage dispute involving a dissolved insured corporation with significant silica exposure claims. The silica claimants’ attorneys allegedly obtained authority form the bankruptcy court to pursue claims directly against the dissolved corporation’s insurers, but complex issues of procedure, allocation regarding SIR’s, questions regarding choice of law and application of dissolution statutes under Texas, Florida and other law allowed us to defeat the claimants and other insurers’ claims.
- Represented a professional liability insurer in a coverage dispute in Los Angeles among a law firm, several of its insurers, and its broker arising from claims against the firm based on the firm’s representation of its client in a complicated condemnation action brought against various governmental agencies. The coverage disputes concerned notice and disclosure provisions in the policy, application, and correspondence with the broker.
- Won a motion to dismiss for a casualty insurer in coverage action venued in New Hampshire arising out of a disclaimer under a broker-dealer policy based upon late notice. The underlying claim related to the alleged failure to timely place a life insurance policy.