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James M. Westerlind

Counsel
New York, NY
James M. Westerlind

James M. Westerlind

Counsel
New York, NY

James Westerlind has recently focused on cyber risk issues, including insurance coverage and potential data breach liability for companies and their board members.

James has also currently been focusing on representing auto dealers in franchise disputes with auto manufacturers in various federal and state actions and administrative proceedings. He recently first-chaired a termination case, prevailing on behalf his dealer client after a two-week trial before the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Division of Safety and Business Hearings in Beck Chevrolet Co., Inc. v. General Motors LLC, Case No. FMD 2013-02. A copy of the Administrative Law Judge’s decision in the Beckmatter can be viewed by clicking here.

James’ practice also focuses on resolving insurance and reinsurance disputes, including insurance and reinsurance coverage issues on behalf of policyholders and carriers. James has also represented brokers, agents, and MGAs in disputes with insurance and reinsurance carriers.

James has substantial litigation experience in both state and federal trial courts within and outside of New York, representing plaintiffs and defendants in insurance and noninsurance disputes. In addition to insurance litigation, he has defended a number of prominent US companies in product liability actions. He has also defended toxic tort cases. He has first-chaired applications for emergency relief, evidentiary hearings for emergent relief, and contempt hearings. He tried a major jury trial in the Southern District of Florida, obtaining a jury verdict finding that a life insurance policy was valid and enforceable, despite the jury finding that the trust that owned the policy made material misrepresentations in the policy’s application and engaged in a civil conspiracy to defraud the insurance company and engage in a stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) scheme. He has also defended a number of well-known tire manufacturers and large domestic retailers in product liability actions commenced in New York state and federal courts by alleged injured product users.

James has also taken the lead in a number of appeals in the New York State Supreme Court, First and Second Judicial Departments, and the Second and Eleventh Circuits of the US Courts of Appeals.

James has devoted a substantial portion of his time to pro bono matters, including not-for-profit public interest endeavors and family court litigation. In fact, James is a recipient of the Arent Fox Albert E. Arent Award for outstanding pro bonoachievement (Fall 2013) and the Commitment to Justice Award (February 2014) from Her Justice, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping women in need. In addition, he is a member of the Insurance Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, where he assists in shaping New York insurance law and public policy in an effort to help the public and the profession.

Client Work

James’ recent matters have included:

  • Representation of a life insurance trust in a lawsuit against an insurer to recover a multimillion dollar death benefit and success in obtaining a jury verdict in Florida federal court, finding that the policy had requisite insurable interest and that the insurer did not reasonably rely upon, and was not injured by, material misrepresentations in the policy’s application and conspiracy by the trust to engage in a STOLI scheme.
  • Representation of products manufacturers and retailers in defending product liability lawsuits.
  • Representation of a school that employs teachers abroad in an action against an insurer that provided insurance coverage for the school’s employee benefits package, where the insurer misrepresented its financial ability to underwrite the insurance program, abruptly stopped paying health insurance claims made by the teachers under the insurance program and absconded with millions of dollars in premiums paid under the program.
  • Representation of a Long Island co-op in a lawsuit by one of its tenants / shareholders alleging bodily injuries and property damage from exposure to toxic mold in her unit.
  • Representation of numerous investors and secured lenders in life settlements litigation in state and federal courts across the United States.
  • Representation of agent and insurance company in workers’ compensation reinsurance fronting arrangement.
  • Representation of Fortress Re, a reinsurance pool managing general agent, and its principals in a $1 billion fraud action and arbitration commenced by its Japanese pool members.

Representative cases litigated by James include the following:

  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., Nos. 10–15846–GG, 11–10595–GG, 2012 WL 5199262 (11th Cir. Jan. 6, 2012)
  • Fondation Dixhuit v. Pruco Life Ins. Co. of N.J., No. 14-CV-2165 (VEC), 2014 WL 4230586 (S.D.NY. Aug. 27, 2014)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2012 WL 5635590 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 15, 2012)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2012 WL 4936054 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 17, 2012
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2012 WL 5192265 (S.D. Fla. Jul. 25, 2012)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2012 WL 5192599 (S.D. Fla. Jun. 6, 2012)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2011 WL 9362401 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 13, 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2011 WL 9352076 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 4, 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2011 WL 9360209 (S.D. Fla. Jul. 14, 2011)
  • Sciarretta v. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, No. 9:11-cv-80427 (S.D. Fla. 2011) (favorable jury verdict)
  • Sciarretta v. The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, No. 9:11-cv-80427, 2012 WL 5195944 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 15, 2011)
  • Pacific Employers Ins. Co. v. AXA Belgium, S.A., 785 F. Supp. 2d 457 (E.D. Pa. 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2011 WL 915692 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 16, 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2011 WL 9357633 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 18, 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2010 WL 9004379 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 30, 2011)
  • Int’l Schools Services v. AAUG Ins. Co., Ltd., No. 10-62115-CIV., 2010 WL 4810847 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 19, 2010)

Previous Work

Prior to joining Arent Fox, James was an associate in the New York office of a large law firm.

Publications, Presentations, and Recognitions

James' recent presentations include:

  • Panelist in the Expert Webcast discussion “Cybersecurity Issues in M&A" on February 4, 2016

James’ recent published works include:

  • Captive Insurance Companies: An Alternative Risk Transfer Vehicle, Financier Worldwide, Mar. 2016.
  • Cyber Insurance: What Are You Buying?, Mealey's Emerging Insurance Disputes, Jan. 2016
  • District Court Finds Lack of Standing for Cyber Data Breach Victims, Jun. 2015
  • Protecting Your Interest from Competing Liens, Apr. 2015, co-authored with Julius A. Rousseau, III and Rodrigo Sanchez
  • Caveat Manufacturer: A Basic Guide for Non-U.S. Manufacturers and Distributors to Understand the Judicial System and Products Liability Law in the United States, 2014
  • Survey of Damage Laws of the 50 States including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 2012, co-authored with Elliott M. Kroll
  • “Insurance Coverage For Lanham Act Claims Under Section B Of Standard CGL Policies,” Mealey’s Emerging Insurance Disputes; Aug. 2011
  • “The Preclusive Effect Of Arbitration Awards,” Mealey's Litigation Report Reinsurance; Aug. 2010
  • “Blowing the Cobwebs Off Trademark Infringement Insurance,” INTA Bulletin; Sept. 2008, co-authored with Barry Werbin