Jonathan Small

Jonathan E. Small

Associate

Jonathan E. Small

Associate

  • Overview

    Biography

    Jonathan Small is a senior associate who represents clients in complex commercial litigation. He focuses his practice on property and liability insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, appeals, and class actions. He is a member of the firm’s Litigation Section, Insurance + Reinsurance Group, and Appellate Group.

    Property Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

    Mr. Small has extensive experience litigating and advising clients on complex property insurance coverage issues and allegations of bad faith and unfair claims settlement practices arising out of large property losses. He has won pretrial dismissal of numerous property insurance lawsuits, including lawsuits asserting extra-contractual damages, such as those available in Massachusetts under Chapter 93A and in Connecticut under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) and Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA). He also has successfully represented parties in Massachusetts reference proceedings involving large property losses. Mr. Small is adept at working with expert witnesses in connection with these cases, including structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, cost estimators, appraisers, and forensic accountants.

    Liability Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

    Mr. Small is also experienced at litigating and advising clients on complex liability insurance coverage issues and allegations of bad faith and unfair claim settlement practices involving significant liability and professional liability claims. He has won pretrial dismissals of numerous liability insurance lawsuits, including two precedent setting liability cases that were affirmed on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Appeals

    Mr. Small maintains an active appellate practice, primarily focused on insurance and unfair business practices cases. He has successfully briefed two precedent-setting liability insurance and bad faith cases in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He has also argued and won appeals in the Massachusetts Appeals Court involving Chapter 93A claims and putative class actions, and the Connecticut Appellate Court involving CUTPA/CUIPA and related unfair business practices claims. Mr. Small is a regular contributor to the firm’s Massachusetts Appellate Blog.

    Class Actions

    Mr. Small has represented insurers and other business clients in class action lawsuits in a number of substantive areas, including property insurance coverage, liability insurance coverage, and federal telecommunications statutes. In those cases, he has conducted class related discovery and defeated attempts at class certification at the trial and appellate levels.

    Pro Bono

    Mr. Small maintains an active pro bono practice. He represents victims of domestic abuse through the firm’s Domestic Violence Restraining Order program. He also represents immigrant children in deportation proceedings and coordinates the firm’s trainings and referrals on these cases from Kids In Need of Defense and the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

    Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Mr. Small was a litigator in a Boston law firm where he represented real estate developers, real estate investment trusts, large law firms, and other sophisticated business clients in complex commercial litigation. Prior to that, he completed a judicial clerkship with Judge Lynn Leibovitz at the District of Columbia Superior Court. During law school, Mr. Small represented clients through Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation, Civil Rights Division, which serves individuals and groups who are unable to obtain effective legal representation on matters that have a significant impact on issues of broad public importance.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Appeals

      • Won precedent-setting commercial excess liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case involved an assigned claim for $5 million under a commercial excess liability policy plus extra-contractual damages arising out of a wrongful death suit. On appeal, the First Circuit held that there was no coverage under the excess policy and no Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A liability because the insured defendant’s legal obligation to pay damages to the plaintiff was not triggered by the settlement agreement reached in the underlying action.

      • Won precedent-setting homeowners liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case involved an insurer’s refusal to indemnify a pre-suit settlement of $500,000 by the insured homeowner on claims involving professional and sexual misconduct. On appeal, the First Circuit held that the insurer had no duty to defend where no lawsuit had been filed against the insured, the demand letter under Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A did not trigger a duty to defend, and there was no duty to settle where the insured asserted a novel theory of liability.

      • Won professional liability and unfair business practices case in the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The case arose out of two underlying actions involving a tort judgment in excess of $400,000 and a subsequent legal malpractice action. The plaintiff claimed that his former attorney, in concert with his malpractice counsel and insurer, improperly disclosed confidential information learned in the underlying case. On appeal, the Court held that the  Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim against the professional liability insurer failed, as a matter of law, because the disclosure of confidential information in the underlying malpractice action was justified. The decision was significant in its articulation of the standard for evaluating the “case-within-a-case” proof in a legal malpractice suit arising out of an underlying litigation.

      • Won defamation and CUTPA/CUIPA case in the Connecticut Appellate Court. The case involved allegations by a former insured in connection with the insurer’s denial of coverage for a fire loss and the insurer’s subsequent testimony at the insured’s divorce proceedings concerning the basis for the denial. On appeal, the Court held that the insurer’s testimony and conduct at the hearing was protected by the absolute immunity afforded witnesses in judicial proceedings. Thus, the plaintiff’s defamation and related claims arising out of that conduct and testimony were barred. 

      • Property Coverage and Bad Faith

      • Won summary judgment in commercial property insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved extensive tornado damage to the insured’s hotel. The court granted summary judgment because the additional payments sought by the plaintiff were excluded from coverage and the plaintiff’s evidence in support of its bad faith allegations failed to support a Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim as a matter of law.

      • Won dismissal of a commercial property and unfair claims settlement practices case in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved damage to a commercial property caused by a kitchen fire. The court granted the motion to dismiss because the plaintiff’s claims arising out of the policy were barred by a two-year suit limitations provision and the plaintiff’s Mass. Gen. L. ch. 93A claim was insufficient, as a matter of law, because it involved an ordinary contract dispute and a good faith disagreement about the meaning of the policy.

      • Represented insurance company in a 7-day Massachusetts reference proceeding. The case involved claims for building damage and business income losses arising out of a multi-million dollar roof collapse at a commercial building in Massachusetts. The reference included the testimony of numerous expert witnesses, including forensic accountants on the business income loss, structural engineers on the structural integrity of the roof, and mechanical engineers and electricians on the nature of the electrical and mechanical systems in the building.

      • Liability Coverage and Bad Faith

      • Obtained judgment of no liability after a bench trial in an inter-insurer coverage dispute in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved multiple layers of commercial general liability and commercial automobile insurance policies implicated in a construction accident. The insurers disputed whether the accident arose primarily out of the use of an automobile or the conditions of the construction site.

      • Won dismissal of a professional liability and unfair business practices case in Massachusetts Superior Court. The case arose out of two underlying actions involving a tort judgment in excess of $400,000 and a subsequent legal malpractice action. The plaintiff claimed that his former attorney, in concert with his malpractice counsel and insurer, improperly disclosed confidential information learned in the underlying case. The court dismissed the claim against the professional liability insurer because it owed no duty to its insured’s adversary in the malpractice action.

      • Won dismissal of a commercial excess liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved an assigned claim for $5 million under a commercial excess liability policy arising out of a wrongful death suit. The court dismissed the claims because the settlement agreement reached in the underlying action released the insured defendants from liability and stipulated to a dismissal of the action.

      • Won dismissal of a homeowners liability insurance and unfair claims settlement practices case in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case involved an insurer’s refusal to indemnify a pre-suit settlement of $500,000 by the insured homeowner on claims involving professional and sexual misconduct. The court dismissed the claims because the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify in connection with the pre-suit settlement and the claims against the insured did not create any duty to settle.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association

      Boston Bar Association

      Connecticut Bar Association
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