Barclay Damon
Barclay Damon

Laurence J. Rabinovich

Laurence J. Rabinovich

Partner

p: 212-784-5824

f: 212-784-5771

icon_email lrabinovich@barclaydamon.com
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New York Office

Suite 600
1270 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10020

Newark Office

One Gateway Center
Suite 2600
Newark, New Jersey 07102


p: 973-242-0399
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Laurence Rabinovich has been representing insurance companies throughout the United States and elsewhere, and in various contexts, for more than 25 years. He prepares opinion letters, drafts reservation of rights or declination letters, monitors tort litigations, and engages in negotiations to resolve claims. Larry consults with underwriters and offers advice about the implications of federal and state statutes or regulations on the coverages being written; he also assists in the drafting of manuscript forms and endorsements. Larry also represents insurance companies in regulatory proceedings and in declaratory judgment actions in state and federal courts around the country. He is also often called upon to handle the appeals of such actions even if he was not involved at the trial level.

Larry has litigated many of the leading cases on federal trucking law including decisions on the MCS-90 endorsement, the U.S. Department of Transportation leasing regulations, and the scope of non-trucking policies. His work also focuses on coverage issues arising out of construction accidents, professional liability and Directors and Officers complaints, and a full range of commercial auto claims.

Representative Experience

  • In a matter pending in the federal district court in New Hampshire, we represented an insurer of a small fleet of delivery vans used by the insured for package deliveries. Unbeknownst to the insurer, the insured also maintained a fleet of tractor-trailer rigs, leased from Ryder, for pallet deliveries. Our client’s policy provided hired auto coverage for which a small charge was made; the underwriters had been told that occasionally during busy season some additional vans were leased. But a straight reading of the policy language could have led to the conclusion that our client was liable on a (co)primary basis for the insured’s liability arising out of a tractor-trailer loss. That is precisely what Ryder and its insurer argued. The district court, in a decision later affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, held that the clear intent of our client and the insured was not to provide primary coverage for the leased tractors. Accordingly, under New Hampshire law, the Ryder policy alone provided primary coverage. The concurring opinion in the appellate court reached the same conclusion on the basis of a post-policy endorsement added to the policy at our suggestion with the consent of the insured. Separately, the court certified to the New Hampshire Supreme Court a question regarding the responsibility of an excess insurer to contribute on a co-primary basis for defense costs. The New Hampshire Supreme Court clarified state law finding that excess insurers do not contribute to the defense on an equal basis with primary insurers. Accordingly, our client was not required to pay defense costs in the underlying matter.
  • Shipper/claimant whose oil rig was damaged in transit made claim against trucker, and insurer offered its $250,000 cargo limit. Shipper filed suit for bad faith against cargo handler, and made further claim against the trucking company's trucker liability policy. Working with Texas counsel we successfully argued that the loss was not covered by the auto policy in light of the "care, custody and control" exclusion (the court rejecting the novel theory that the cargo was in the control of the driver but not of the trucking company), and summary judgment was awarded to our client Southern County. We also sought summary judgment on behalf of our client Northfield (a related company) on the bad faith action and won summary judgment on that motion as well.
  • Matter arose out of a collision in South Carolina, in which a truck rolled through an intersection and struck plaintiffs' car causing a knee fracture to husband and injury to wife. Plaintiffs initially sued only truck driver and secured default verdict. While plaintiffs had been in touch with insurer's TPA prior to filing of action, TPA, which had offices in lower Manhattan was forced to relocate as a result of 9/11 and for months had difficulty getting to its files. The default occurred during those months. Attempts to have the default opened were unsuccessful and the court, in a decision drafted by plaintiff's counsel, and signed on to by judge to, as he said, sends a message to “those folks up in New York,” assessed damages of about $1 million in compensatory damages over $2.5 million in punitive damages. Ultimately, TPA was found not to have acted in bad faith.
  • 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of our client on appeal from United States District Court in Ohio. Illinois National had issued truckers policy to motor carrier while Ohio Casualty had issued non-trucking policy to truck driver. Driver had been dispatched over the course of the week from one pickup and delivery to another. On Friday morning, after delivering a load in West Virginia, he was told to pick up a load in Ohio about an hour away from his home. He intended to pick up the load, take it home for the weekend, then head out on Sunday evening to begin the trip to the delivery point in Florida. Once the load was tied down, the shipper decided to keep the loaded trailer in a covered area on its premises as it did not want the load getting wet over the weekend. The driver detached the trailer and bobtailed home, stopping once in an unsuccessful attempt to find a truck wash. He got back on the highway and struck another vehicle (causing serious injury to its occupant) just a few miles from his home. Since he was not yet home, the court agreed with Ohio Casualty that the driver remained in the business of the motor carrier and that, therefore, the Ohio Casualty policy did not apply.
  • Through the machinations of an attorney who simultaneously was representing another insurance company as well as a trucking company (in a tort action) and its driver (in the tort action and in a declaratory judgment action without letting him know), a consent judgment was entered against the driver in the amount of $5.5 million. (The driver was never told about the consent judgment either). The trucking company was dismissed as part of a settlement in which the other insurer paid only a portion of its limits. Sentry received a demand to pay its policy limits, as well as a claim for bad faith for declining to defend the driver in the tort action. We successfully moved to disqualify the attorney for representing parties with conflicting interests. A separate motion to quash the consent judgment was pending when the judge called a settlement conference and, seeing the handwriting on the wall, the other parties resolved the remaining claims.
  • Clarendon had issued a non-trucking policy to a truck driver who was using the rig at the time of the loss in the business of the motor carrier which had leased the vehicle. That triggered Clarendon's exclusion under the plain terms of the non-trucking policy. The estate of the victim, though, argued that the driver, who had executed the lease agreement, lacked the authority to enter into the lease because the tractor was registered in the name of his wife. We were able to convince the District Court, and then the 7th Circuit on appeal, that the driver was properly authorized by the owner to execute the lease and that, accordingly, the Clarendon exclusion was applicable.
  • We successfully guided our client through a threatened suspension of its operating license by working with the client and with the USDOT to ensure that the client was in compliance with the Department's requirements.

Practice Areas

Education

  • New York University School of Law, J.D., 1985
  • Yeshiva University, B.A., 1982

Admitted To Practice

  • New Jersey, 1987
  • New York, 1986
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th Circuits
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois

Memberships & Affiliations

  • New York State Bar Association 
  • New Jersey Bar Association 
  • Transportation Lawyers Association 
  • Trucking Industry Defense Association
  • Claims & Litigation Management Alliance 

Civic Activities

  • Jewish Law Association, Treasurer (2006-present) and Vice-Chairman (2010-present) 
  • Little League and Softball Coach, Queens, NY (1993-2009)

Speaking & Publications

  • Presenter, "Is a Truck Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor of a Motor Carrier?," General Star, December 14, 2016
  • Speaker, "Law and Technology," Jewish Law Association Conference: Impact of Technology, Science and Knowledge on Jewish Law and Ethics, Tel Aviv, July 12, 2016
  • Presenter, "Insurance Coverage Snares and Snafoos for Transportation Brokers: How to Reduce Liability Exposure," DRI Trucking Law Seminar, April 2016
  • Speaker, "Transportation-There's Something About Owner-Operators," CLM Annual Conference, April 2016
  • Presenter, "Insurance Issues Related to Commercial Motor Vehicles and Maximizing Coverage: Risk Management and Available Options for Trucking Companies," ACI Conference Institute's National Forum on Defending and Managing Truck Litigation, March 31, 2014
  • "Leaks, Spills & Unloading Accidents: Liability Issues, Policy Coverage and the MCS-90," Thinking About Insureds Who Transport Waste Water Resulting from Fracking Operations Seminar, November 12, 2013
  • “Coins and Money in Jewish Law and Literature,” in A. Levine, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics, Oxford University Press, 2010 
  • “Rashi’s Metrology: Money, Coins and Currency from Cologne, Constantinople and the Classical Past,” Jewish Law Association Studies, 2010 
  • “The Judge as Educator?: Codes, Commentaries and Court Decisions,” Jewish Law Association Studies, 2007 
  • In-house client presentations on the following: The differences between the truckers coverage form and the motor carrier coverage form; The UIIA Agreement and the expanding scope of the UIIE endorsement; Developments in MCS-90 law; Developments in statutory and case law relating to uninsured and underinsured motorists coverages; and Non-trucking coverages: new forms, new challenges.

Honors

  • Martindale-Hubbell “AV” Peer Review Rated for Very High to Preeminent Ethical Standards and Legal Ability

Prior Experience

  • Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, Partner
  • Schindel, Farman, Lipsius, Gardner & Rabinovich, LLP, Partner

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