Law360 (December 4, 2018, 3:51 PM EST) -- Anderson Kill PC's insurance recovery specialist Robert Horkovich has scored big wins over the past year for policyholders in major environmental and asbestos cases, earning him a spot among Law360's 2018 Insurance MVPs.
His biggest challenge this year:
Horkovich said his biggest challenge was representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in its attempt to get coverage from an American International Group unit for asbestos claims.
"AIG has fought very hard and continues to fight very hard," he said.
In November, the court found the AIG unit must defend the Port Authority and several contractors against scores of asbestos claims brought by construction workers on the original World Trade Center.
One of the key issues was determining whether a claimant's injury had to occur during the policy period for coverage to be available, and, thanks to some unique wording in the policy, they were able to persuade the judge to see it the Port Authority's way, he said.
"We're looking forward to the appellate court affirming," he said.
His proudest moment:
He said the firm has been "pushing the envelope" with its cases, and there were a number of moments he was proud of, but one that stood out was a July summary judgment on an exclusion of "expected or intended" pollution in an AIG policy written to silicon wafer company Siltronic.
Siltronic, which was seeking coverage for the cleanup of land it said it bought without knowing it had been contaminated by a prior owner, argued the exclusion was about the policyholder's expectations and intentions, and the court agreed, he said.
"The court agreed the focus had to be on the policyholders' decision, not some other previous owner," he said.
What motivates him:
He said he finds it "very rewarding" to help clients use their insurance coverage to solve their problems.
"I come in every day and I have clients that are pulling their hair out of their head," he said. "To sit down with them and go over their existing insurance assets and solve their problem, it's great to come into the office and be able to do that."
Advice he has for junior attorneys:
Horkovich's main piece of advice is don't be the punchline of one of the "millions" of lawyer jokes.
"People don't like lawyers because they don't think lawyers are truthful, they don't think lawyers are straightforward," he said, adding it's "amazing and unfortunate" how many attorneys he's seen live down to that expectation.
His solution? Be "candid and respectful" with both the court and with your adversaries.
"Don't play games and be cute with the truth," he said. "It's going to come out."