Gregory P. Varga

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    For more than two decades, Greg Varga has focused his practice on representing insurance companies nationally in complex insurance coverage litigation, in lawsuits seeking punitive damages and other extracontractual remedies, and in other corporate litigation.

    Insurance Coverage Litigation

    In the insurance coverage arena, Mr. Varga has successfully defended clients in numerous high-exposure cases involving a wide variety of insurance lines, including commercial property; business interruption and extra expense; builders risk, contractor's equipment, motor truck cargo, and other inland marine risks; boiler and machinery coverages; excess and surplus lines risks; and homeowner's policies issued to high net worth individuals. Mr. Varga has substantial experience defending litigation over catastrophe claims, ordinance or law coverage exposures, and complex business interruption claims involving a broad array of industries and professions. In addition, he has represented clients in coverage disputes involving layered and quota share excess insurance programs, in disputes related to underwriting, and in controversies between primary and excess insurers. Clients have relied on Mr. Varga and his team to serve as national coverage and litigation counsel for catastrophe claims, Chinese drywall litigation, and other substantial exposures. Mr. Varga has also supervised numerous arson and fraud investigations and prosecuted declaratory judgment and rescission actions based on policyholder misrepresentation and fraud.

    Bad Faith Litigation

    Mr. Varga's experience in the defense of bad faith litigation is equally significant. He has defended clients against bad faith claims in all of the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. Clients have often retained Mr. Varga and his team on the eve of trial to take over the defense of bad faith cases previously handled by other law firms. In other instances, Mr. Varga has been retained to consult on open claims to ensure compliance with good faith investigation and claim settlement practices and to avoid exposure to extracontractual liability.

    In an increasing number of states, the extracontractual remedies available to policyholders and tort plaintiffs are of far greater concern than an insurer's potential exposure on the insurance policy. In response to this alarming trend, Mr. Varga and his team have developed innovative strategies for the defense of bad faith lawsuits and have successfully applied them to reduce clients' extracontractual exposures in a wide variety of first- and third-party claim disputes. For example, Mr. Varga led a team that defended a major international insurer in a Massachusetts bad faith action in which the plaintiffs had sought $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages against our client (the primary insurer of a business auto risk) for its alleged failure to promptly settle a catastrophic personal injury claim. After a six-week trial, Mr. Varga's client was exonerated of all liability and a judgment was entered in its favor. In the ensuing two years, Mr. Varga and his team successfully defended the judgment against the plaintiffs' appeal to the Commonwealth's highest court. Mr. Varga attributes his team's success in that case to the strategies that have become hallmarks of our approach to bad faith litigation: diligence in the discovery process, careful and extensive witness preparation of company personnel for depositions and trial, effective use of trial technology, and innovative trial tactics.

    Though Mr. Varga is committed to vigorously defending each case through trial, he recognizes that protracted litigation is costly and unpredictable and is not always in a client's best interest. For this reason, Mr. Varga consults with clients at the outset of every new case in an effort to understand their unique business objectives for that controversy and works to formulate and implement innovative, practical, and cost-effective strategies for achieving those goals.

    Mr. Varga is a frequent speaker and panelist at insurance industry and insurance bar programs, including the Property Loss Research Bureau, the Defense Research Institute, and the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel. He contributes to the firm's Property Insurance Coverage Insights blog as well. Mr. Varga has also lectured on trial techniques to other members of the bar. In addition, he chaired Robinson+Cole's in-house litigation and trial skills program for four years.

    Mr. Varga has been selected to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list since 2011, and in The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Insurance Law since 2012.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Insurance Coverage Litigation and Counseling

      • Served as lead counsel for an excess insurer in a coverage dispute over a $122 million builders risk insurance program for construction of 320-unit condominium complex in Florida. After construction was completed, the insured developer claimed property damage associated with the presence of defective Chinese-manufactured drywall throughout the complex and sought more than $30 million in remediation and repair costs. After our client disclaimed coverage for the loss, we filed a declaratory judgment action and aggressively pursued discovery to undercut the plaintiff's position. We also worked closely with the scientific experts and developed a winning strategy that forced the plaintiff to withdraw its claim. The case was resolved before depositions on terms that were extraordinarily favorable to insurance market.
      • Successfully represented a property insurer in a coverage and bad faith dispute involving claims for more than $30 million in damage for mold and other contamination of apartment complex. The case was tried before a federal court jury in Oklahoma City. After a week of trial, the case settled for considerably less than had been offered before trial commenced.
      • Represented a builders risk insurer in connection with its response to a construction defect claim for damage to a specialized, high-containment plumbing system in a research facility. The damage resulted from a subcontractor's erroneous application of a chemically incompatible fluid to the piping system. Our client disclaimed coverage based on its faulty workmanship exclusion, and we initiated a federal declaratory judgment action to defend its coverage position. Ultimately, our strategy caused liability for the damage to be placed where it belonged: at the feet of the subcontractors who performed the negligent work.
      • Represented a commercial property insurer in connection with its investigation and adjustment of a claim for the replacement of a 220,000-square-foot, preengineered steel building that had collapsed under the weight of snow. This high-value claim presented a number of complex issues, including the proper measure of the property's actual cash value and the priority of salvage rights, and required innovative strategies to avoid appraisal and litigation.
      • Successfully defended a commercial property insurer in a Florida lawsuit seeking nearly $10 million in contract damages and attorneys' fees due to its alleged underpayment of a claim for Hurricane Wilma damage to an office tower. The dispute centered on whether posthurricane events involving the county building department triggered the policy's ordinance or law coverage and coverage for claimed rental value losses. Our defense of the case required a mastery of several Florida building codes, including the Florida Building Code, Existing Building, and the Florida Accessibility Code.
      • Represented a builders risk insurer in a coverage action arising from massive water damage to a luxury condominium under construction on Florida's Gulf Coast. The defense, based in part on the policy's exclusion of interior damage caused by rain, required an in-depth analysis and understanding of tens of thousands of construction project documents and collaboration with construction experts. The case went to trial in January 2011 but settled during jury selection when the plaintiff reduced its demand by more than 85 percent.
      • Defended a commercial property insurer in a Missouri lawsuit arising from the client's denial of a $15 million claim for structural and roof damage to 22 shopping centers in Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, allegedly caused by the weight of snow and ice from a single storm. Working with engineers and other experts, we developed evidence proving that each building had suffered damage due to wear and tear and inadequate maintenance.
      • Served as lead counsel for property insurers in a number of high-exposure coverage and bad faith actions in Louisiana arising from property damage and business interruption losses associated with Hurricane Katrina.
      • Represented a group of property and casualty insurers in a coverage and bad faith lawsuit in Houston, Texas, in which insureds sought more than $100 million for alleged business interruption losses, costs associated with defense of toxic tort suits, and Superfund project costs, all arising from the plaintiff's operation of a California landfill deemed to have polluted a key source of drinking water for the Los Angeles area.
      • Served as lead counsel to commercial property insurers in major claims and lawsuits arising from business interruption and property damage caused by terrorist attack of 9/11.
      • Obtained summary judgment for an insurer in Georgia federal court in an action involving a claim under civil authority business interruption coverage. The insured operated gift shops and newsstands in 60 airports and sought coverage for income losses incurred during the duration of the FAA's order grounding aircraft nationally following terror attacks of 9/11.
      • Advised and assisted a commercial property insurer in its response to a $30 million claim for property damage and business interruption attributed to the contamination of a Florida office building with anthrax in October 2001.
      • Insurance Bad Faith Litigation

      • Defended a bad faith lawsuit in federal court in Detroit, Michigan, arising from a dispute under a motor truck cargo policy. The insured alleged that our client extinguished the insured's right to pursue recovery for uninsured losses from at-fault parties and sought a seven-figure compensatory and punitive damages award. The client retained us to replace another law firm just three weeks prior to trial. In that short time period, we completed a number of important depositions that had been overlooked, retained and secured a report from a critical construction expert, and worked closely with that expert to develop essential defenses to the damages claim. Our attack on the damage claims required an in-depth understanding of a highway and bridge construction project and a detailed analysis of the cost impacts of construction project delays. Ultimately, we were able to resolve the case through settlement on terms that were extremely favorable to our client.
      • Successfully defended an insurer in a multimillion-dollar bad faith action arising from the insurer's denial of claim of physical damage to vast quantities of enterprise hardware, loss and corruption of millions of dollars in proprietary software, and loss of sensitive medical data. After six days of contentious depositions that clearly exposed the plaintiff-insureds fraud, the case was voluntarily dismissed without any payment by our client.
      • Defended a commercial property insurer in action alleging violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, Mass. Gen. L. c. 93A. Plaintiff-insured alleged that the insurer knowingly and willfully underpaid the claim for fire damage and rental value loss and sought to recover more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees. We developed and executed a highly aggressive defense strategy, which ultimately caused the plaintiff to withdraw the lawsuit and sign a release of all claims against the insurer in exchange for no payment.
      • Served as lead trial counsel for a major international insurer in a Massachusetts statutory bad faith action in which the injured plaintiffs sought more than $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages against our client (primary insurer on business auto policy) for its alleged failure to promptly settle a catastrophic personal injury claim. Following two years of contentious litigation and a six-week trial, the court found that our client's effort to settle the underlying tort case was both prompt and reasonable, and entered judgment in its favor. In 2011, the judgment was affirmed on appeal by Massachusetts's highest court; however, the co-defendant excess insurer (which had a $50 million policy) was ordered to pay a record $22 million in punitive damages and attorneys' fees for its violation of the Consumer Protection Act, in addition to the $9 million it paid to satisfy the underlying tort judgment.
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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Foundation
      Fellow

      Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel

      Defense Research Institute

      Property Loss Research Bureau
      Affiliate Member

      Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association

      New England Claims Executives Association

      Boston Association of Claims Executives

      Honorable Order of the Blue Goose, Hartford Chapter
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell™ (Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings is a trademark. AV Preeminent is a certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc.)

      Selected to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list from 2011 to 2017.

      Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Insurance Law since 2012

      Robinson & Cole Mentor of the Year Award Recipient, 2013

      Hartford Business Journal, 2007, "40 Under Forty" Inductee

  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Q&A with Robinson & Cole's Greg Varga," published in Law360 (4/1/2013)

      "Property Insurance Litigation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: The Early Results," published in CPCU Society Claims Quarterly, co-author (12/2006)

      "Property Insurance Litigation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: The Early Results," published in CPCU Society Claims Quarterly, co-authored with Daniel F. Sullivan and Christopher F. Girard (11/2006)

      "Insurance Coverage Litigation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," published in CPCU Society Claims Quarterly, co-author (12/2005)

      "Insurance Coverage Litigation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," published in CPCU Society Claims Quarterly, co-authored with Daniel F. Sullivan and Christopher F. Girard (12/2005)

      Chapter 39, "Cancellation of Insurance Policies" of Law and Practice of Insurance Coverage Litigation (2000)
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      "The Lawyer as Superadjuster: Erosion of Protections for Privileged Communications," published in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute, co-author

      "The Lawyer as Superadjuster: Erosion of Protections for Privileged Communications," published in Defense Research Institute
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    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Commercial Claims: Business Interruption, Lost Profits & More," at the Hurricane Claims Forum in Orlando, Florida (11/3/2017)
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      "The Impacts and Dangers of Unfair Trade Practices Acts – The Need to Be Aware!," at First Annual Bad Faith Litigation Strategies ExecuSummit, co-presented with Deborah A. Vennos, panelist (11/5/2014)

      "Property Coverage Developments Following Superstorm Sandy," co-presented with J. Tyler Butts, at New England Claims Executives Association Meeting (4/8/2014)

      "Property Coverage Legal Update 2012: When Buildings Move, An Examination of the Earth Movement and Settling Exclusions," at New England Claims Executives Association, co-presented with Stephen O. Clancy (4/10/2012)

      "The Erosion of Borders in Insurance Claims," at Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel's Insurance Industry Institute, Manhattan (11/18/2011)

      "Obstacles to Resolution of Complex Property Insurance Claims and Litigation Arising from Damage to Condominiums," at Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel's Annual Meeting in Hot Springs, Virginia (8/2009)

      "Complex Hardware and Software Losses," at Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB) Claims Conference in Seattle, Washington, where Mr. Varga and his copresenters imparted practical advice for the investigation, analysis, and adjustment of complex electronic data processing (EDP) claims. (March 2009)

      "Discoverability of attorney-client communications and attorney work product generated during the course of an insurance claim investigation," at 17th Annual Aviation & Insurance Law Symposium in Orlando, Florida, sponsored by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Winter 2006)

      "Property Coverage Legal Update 2006: Hurricane Katrina and Beyond," at New England Claims Executives Association, co-presented with Daniel F. Sullivan (11/14/2006)

      "Weathering the Storm: An Update on First-Party Coverage Litigation Arising from Hurricane Katrina," at annual meeting of the CPCU Society, Connecticut Chapter (November 2006)

      "Discoverability of attorney-client communications and attorney work product generated during the course of an insurance claim investigation," at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's 17th Annual Aviation & Insurance Law Symposium in Orlando, Florida (1/2006)

      "Hurricane Katrina: New Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry," at New England Claims Executives Association (11/2005) and the Boston Association of Claims Executives (3/2006)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • November 13, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Present at Hurricane Claims Forum

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      • November 24, 2014

        Hartford Insurance Lawyers Speak at ExecuSummit

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      • July 9, 2012

        Article by Insurance Attorneys Featured on Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel Website

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      • May 9, 2012

        Gregory Varga and Stephen Clancy Present on Earth Movement and Settling Exclusions for Property Insurance

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      • December 21, 2011

        Insurance & Reinsurance Partner Presents at FDCC Insurance Industry Institute Program

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      • August 29, 2011

        Attorney Delivers Presentation on Insurance Considerations for Historic Buildings in Williamsburg

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      • September 28, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Deliver Presentation on Insurance Impacts of New Condominium Legislation

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      • April 27, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Present On Chinese Drywall at Meeting of New England Claim Executives Association

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      • March 30, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Partners Speak at Annual PLRB Claims Conference

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      • October 9, 2008

        Robinson & Cole Insurance and Reinsurance Partner Elected Member of FDCC

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      R+C News Releases

      • October 17, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • August 15, 2017

        Fifty-Nine Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

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      • October 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • August 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017

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      • October 19, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • August 18, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016

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      • October 17, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers

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      • August 19, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • August 22, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Announces Annual Pro Bono, Mentor, and Community Service Awards

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      • August 16, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • October 22, 2012

        Super Lawyers® Names 49 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2012 List and Recognizes 26 as Rising Stars

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      • August 28, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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