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TonyPiazza

Partner

"I'm fortunate to work with a team of high-quality, motivated attorneys. Together, we effectively solve problems for clients and maintain a high level of communication."

Overview

Biography

Tony is Barclay Damon’s Insurance Coverage & Regulation Practice Area chair and co-team leader of the insurance and reinsurance team. He previously served on the firm’s Management and Compensation Committees. A seasoned attorney who has successfully tried cases to verdict, Tony primarily concentrates his practice on complex insurance coverage, appellate law, and commercial-litigation matters.

Tony has prepared hundreds of coverage analyses and actively litigates declaratory judgment actions throughout the United States, some of which involve extracontractual claims. His extensive experience handling insurance matters has prompted clients to retain him on regional, statewide, and national levels. He has successfully represented clients in some leading decisions, including Fuller v. USF&G (relating to insurance coverage and a significant construction-defect suit) and a NYS Court of Appeals decision, Edwards v. Erie Coach Lines which is featured in Aaron Twerski’s and Neil Cohen's Choice of Law casebook.

Additionally, Tony frequently advises insurers, brokers, third-party administrators, self-insured entities, and other parties in claims-handling procedures and practices; addresses complaints with state insurance departments; and litigates matters arising from claims-handling practices. He also counsels insurance agents, brokers, adjusters, consultants, and related entities on licensing, company formation, policy drafting, compliance, and disciplinary issues.

Bar Associations

  • New York State Bar Association
  • Monroe County Bar Association, Judiciary Committee Member

Selected Memberships & Affiliations

  • ARIAS-US
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance
  • Defense Research Institute
  • NYS Department of Financial Services, Approved Continuing Education Instructor for Insurance
  • US District Court for the Western District of New York, Appointed Federal Court-Certified Mediator
Experience

Representative Experience

  • Involved in significant declaratory-judgment lawsuits pending in California, including NFL concussion cases and numerous child molestation suits involving the Los Angeles Unified School District.
  • Represents numerous parties in litigation and regulatory issues resulting from the failure of various NYS workers’ compensation self-insured trusts.
  • Successfully defended an insurance company being sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York by a plaintiff alleging the insurer owed coverage under an insurance policy issued to a roofing contractor who performed allegedly defective work. Obtained summary judgment from the court on all claims against the insurer by utilizing the “no direct action” defense (Steiner v. Anbrook Indus.).
  • Successfully handled an appeal before the NYS Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of the client, the owner of a Canadian bus coach line, in a significant “choice of law” case. The matter centered on a tragic accident in New York State involving 30 members of a Canadian women’s hockey team. The court agreed to apply a Canadian “cap” on non-economic damages in favor of the client, and the court declined to apply that cap to the co-defendant tractor-trailer. The decision resulted in a reduction of the client’s exposure by several million, and the case was ultimately resolved by mediation.
  • Successfully handled appeal before the Pennsylvania Superior Court in which a suit against a client seeking additional insured coverage was dismissed for the plaintiff’s failure to name the necessary party.
  • Successfully represented a Rhode Island insurance association pursuing complex breach-of-fiduciary-duty and contract claims against an insurance service conglomerate, obtaining a favorable result through early mediation.
  • Represented a successful litigant in a nationally cited NYS construction-defect appellate insurance-coverage decision holding that, without alleged damage outside the scope of the insured's work product, faulty workmanship claims do not allege an “occurrence” as contemplated by a comprehensive general liability policy.
  • Successfully handled a motion for summary judgment and the subsequent appeal involving a claim for additional insured coverage in conjunction with a shooting at a New York City Housing Authority apartment building. The court agreed that the client did not have a duty to defend the Housing Authority, since the shooting did not arise out of the insured's ongoing operations.
  • Represented a successful insurer in a leading NY appellate decision that applied the bodily injury expected or intended by the insured exclusion to a negligence claim where the underlying facts pertained to sexual molestation, since the harm was inherent in the nature of the insured’s acts.
  • Successfully handled an appeal involving a priority-of-insurance-coverage dispute between two insurers with regard to a serious underlying construction-accident claim and coverage for contractual and common-law indemnification claims. Convinced the court that the client’s excess general-liability policy was inapplicable, resulting in a recovery of $800,000 for the client.
  • Represented a large private university in Upstate New York on its rights to insurance coverage with regard to multiple sexual harrassment claims. 

Prior Experience

  • Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, Partner
  • Firemans Fund Insurance Company, In-House Counsel

Selected Community Activities

  • Hochstein School of Music and Dance, Board of Directors Member, Advisory Board Member, and Former Board Chair
  • Volunteer Legal Services Project, Board Member, Program Committee Chair, and Former President
  • State University of New York at Binghamton Harpur Law Council, Steering Committee Member
  • Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation, Former Ethics Award Judge

Selected Honors

  • The Best Lawyers in America®: Insurance Law, 2013-2020
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Rochester Lawyer of the Year: Insurance Law, 2014 and 2019
  • Selected to Super Lawyers Upstate New York: Insurance Coverage, 2007-2019
  • Martindale-Hubbell, Top Rated Lawyer in Litigation, 2015
  • New York State Bar Association, Empire State Counsel Honoree, 2013
Knowledge

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • New York State Bar Association, Torts, Insurance and Compensation Law Section Fall Meeting, Program Chair
  • RIMS Risk Management Society, “Additional Insured coverage, Certificates of Insurance, and Indemnification”
  • New York State Bar Association, “Law School for Insurance Professionals”
  • New York State Bar Association, “Construction Defect Coverage”
  • New York State Bar and Ontario Bar Associations’ One Legal System + Two Jurisdictions = Infinite Opportunity Legal Summit, “Conflicts of Law in Cross-Border Litigation,” Panelist

Selected Publications & Media

  • Couch on Insurance 3d, Forms Vol. 1-3, Co-Author
  • New York State Bar Association Insurance Law Practice, Contributing Author

Selected Alerts & Blog Posts

Featured Media

Alerts

Courtroom Battles Ahead for Emergency Regulations Addressing Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illnesses

Alerts

Court of Appeals Green Lights Associational Discrimination Lawsuit Under the ADA

Alerts

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Contractual Limitation Period for Title VII Claims

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