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HarrisMartin Reinsurance Conference Postscript

September 28th, 2011 Events, Evident Partiality, Grounds for Vacatur, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Comments Off on HarrisMartin Reinsurance Conference Postscript By Philip J. Loree Jr.

On September 22-23, 2011, a number of experienced reinsurance industry executives and  in-house counsel, and a small group of outside counsel (yours truly included), spoke at the HarrisMartin Publishing-sponsored reinsurance conference, “Reinsurance Summit:  Fresh Perspectives on the Reinsurance Front,” which took place at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.  (Our pre-conference, August 22, 2011 post (here) sets forth the conference program agenda.)

As expected attendance was modest – no doubt the result of the cost-cutting mandated by economic conditions, coupled with reduced reinsurance-dispute frequency and severity — but the conference was nevertheless a great success.  The presentations were thoughtful, interesting and professionally useful, and the smaller group of attendees not only facilitated robust – and sometimes, spirited – discussions during the program, but also provided a relaxed atmosphere conducive to networking during the breaks.  I, for one, returned home with “fresh perspectives” on a number of reinsurance-related issues, and those perspectives have proved to be good fodder for brainstorming.

Conference co-chairs Edward K. Lenci (Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, New York, NY), Leslie J. Davis (Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, Gen Re; Senior Vice President & General Counsel, United States Aviation Underwriters, Inc.), and Wendy R. Taylor (Vice President and Associate Counsel, Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Company), outdid themselves on this one.  All three devoted a great deal of time and effort into organizing and implementing the conference over a several month period.  Ed spearheaded the effort and was the event’s chief moderator, while Wendy did double duty as a co-manager and faculty member.   Wendy also had the honor of introducing the keynote speaker, Commissioner Thomas B. Considine of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (Commissioner Considine also chairs the National Association of Insurance Commissioners‘ Reinsurance Task Force).  Ed’s, Wendy’s and Leslie’s hard work and devotion paid great dividends to all who attended.

Conference-sponsor HarrisMartin Publishing likewise did a superb job organizing, implementing, and promoting the event, and handling all of the administrative, technical, and CLE-related details.  The three key players were Conference Director Vicki Gilbreath; Reinsurance Report Editor Marcy Kowalchuk, whom I’ve known since she was a Mealey’s Reinsurance Reports editor some years back; and Editorial Director Jeff Andrus.  All three worked diligently and intensely on the project, and demonstrated their impressive editorial, publishing, promotional and event-management skills in the process.  They were quick with an effective solution whenever there was a problem.

Of course, the conference might have been a rather mind-numbing and painful way to earn CLE credit were it not for the superb faculty, all of whom delivered and facilitated interesting and thought provoking discussion and debate on several diverse reinsurance-related topics, and did so with great enthusiasm, skill and aplomb.  Their credentials and reputations speak for themselves:

A. Lindsay Doering Principal, Law Office of A. Lindsay Doering, Philadelphia, PA
Ali E. Rifai General Counsel, Zurich Insurance CMB Division, and former Interim General Counsel, Zurich Insurance Middle East Region
Anthony Vidovich Vice President & Assistant General Counsel, Director of Reinsurance Law, The Hartford, Hartford, CT
Bina T. Dagar Ameya Consulting, LLC, Livingston, NJ
Daniel E. Tranen Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Boston, MA
Daniel Schelp Managing Attorney, National Association of Insurance Commissioners
David A. Silva  Partner, Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass, New York, New York, NY
David N. Kragseth Senior Contract Wording Specialist, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc., Princeton, NJ
Fritz K. Huszagh  Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Chicago, IL
Jeanne M. Kohler Partner, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, New York, NY
Matthew T. Wulf Vice President, State Relations and Assistant General Counsel, Reinsurance Association of America, Washington, D.C.
M. Machua Millett Senior Vice President, Senior Advisory Specialist and Global GPL Team Leader, Marsh USA Inc., Boston, MA
Michael Zeller Vice President, Reinsurance Services Division, AIG, Inc., New York, NY
Myra E. Lobel Managing Director, Guy Carpenter & Company LLC, New York, NY
Patrick H. Cantilo Cantilo & Bennett LLP, Austin, TX
Peter W. Ambler Managing Director, Towers Watson (Re)Insurance Brokers Ltd., London, England
Scott P. Birrell Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Travelers Insurance Co., Hartford, CT
Steven Agosta General Counsel, XL Re America, Stamford, CT
Stuart S. Carruthers Stikeman Elliott, Toronto, Canada
Susan Grondine-Dauwer General Counsel, R&Q USA, Boston, MA
Thomas Freudenstein COO, GLOBAL Reinsurance Corporation of America and Director and Attorney at GLOBALE Rückversicherungs-AG, New York, NY and Cologne, Germany

Finally, I’d like to thank Richard D. Faulkner, a name partner at the Richardson, Texas-based firm of Blume, Faulkner, Skeen & Northam, who traveled all the way from the Dallas, Texas area to join me as a co-panelist on “The Judicial Scrutiny of Arbitration Awards” panel.   Rick — who was recently appointed Fifth Circuit appellate counsel for Michael Motor Company, Inc. in Dealer Computer Svcs., Inc. v. Michael Motor Co., No. H-10-2132, slip op. (S.D. Tex. December 29, 2010), appeal pending No. 11-20053 (5th Cir.) — is an experienced commercial litigator who handles commercial and insurance arbitrations here and abroad, a Chartered Institute of Arbitrators certified arbitrator in commercial and insurance cases, a frequently sought-after mediator, a member of the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee’s Arbitration Advisory Group, and a member of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (“CPR”)’s Arbitration Committee.  He was a contributing author to the American Bar Association publication, Elkouri & Elkouri, How Arbitration Works (6th Ed.), served as a trial judge in Louisiana, and is a former professor of Alternative Dispute Resolution law who has taught in Texas, England and Asia.

At the conference Rick and I discussed, among other things, some of the key differences between Scandinavian Reinsurance Co. v. Saint Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 732 F. Supp.2d 293 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), appeal pending No. 10-910-cv (2d Cir.), and Dealer Computer, both of which concern arbitrator nondisclosure of alleged conflicts of interest (Dealer Computer also raises arbitrator qualification issues governed by Section 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act.)

We were very happy with the presentation, which was well-received by attendees and other faculty members.  It was quite an honor to share the podium with Rick, and I hope we’ll collaborate on future projects.

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