Berkes Crane Robinson & Seal LLP
Steven M. Crane is a founder of Berkes Crane Robinson & Seal LLP. He has practiced for over thirty years as trial and appellate counsel, specializing in complex multi-party civil litigation. He has handled insurance and liability disputes involving environmental and toxic/mass tort law and products liability, including hazardous waste, pollution, sick buildings, asbestos, breast implants, chemical exposure, electromagnetic fields, lead, and DES. He also handles other complex insurance, commercial, contract, and bad faith litigation. He has represented clients in hundreds of cases in more than fifteen states and has been trial counsel in several of the largest environmental and asbestos related cases in the country, including: Aerojet-General Corporation v. Transport Indemnity Company(hazardous waste and toxic torts) Flintkote v. American Mutual(asbestos building claims) Fuller-Austin v. Fireman's Fund(Section 524g asbestos bankruptcy and collusion) In Re Coordinated Asbestos Proceedings(asbestos bodily injury and building claims) Lockheed Corporation v. Continental Insurance Company(hazardous waste and toxic torts) State of California v. Allstate Insurance Company(hazardous waste at Stringfellow site) Steve was trial counsel in the National Law Journal's Defense Verdict of the Year in 1991, and is listed in Chambers USA America's Leading Business Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, California Super Lawyers and California Who's Who Legal. Steve has also been appellate counsel on numerous key appellate cases involving insurance and civil litigation issues, including: Aerojet-General Corporation v. Superior Court , 211 Cal.App.3 rd 216 (1989) (involving whether CERCLA response costs are "damages" under a CGL policy) Aerojet-General Corporation v. Transport Indemnity Company, 17 Cal.4 th 38 (1997) (involving whether "site investigation" costs are defense or indemnity under CGL policy and whether defense costs can be allocated to the insured in continuous injury cases) Aerojet-General Corporation v. Superior Court, 18 Cal.App.4 th 996 (1993) (involving right to use inadvertently produced privileged materials) Aerojet-General Corporation v. American Excess Insurance Company, 97 Cal.App.4 th 665 (2002) (involving scope of res judicata/ collateral estoppel principles arising from declaratory relief judgments) Aerojet-General Corporation v. Transcontinental Insurance Company, 2002WL1425381 (involving exhaustion requirements for excess policy attachment and affect of primary insurer settlements on exhaustion) American Motorists, Inc. v. Thomson Inc., 2011 WL 380612, (involving choice of law principals as to hazardous waste sites) Armstrong World Industries Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company, 45 Cal.App.4 th 1 (1996) (involving trigger and scope of coverage for asbestos bodily injury and asbestos building cases) Continental Insurance Company v. Cota, 2010 WL 383367; 2009 WL 5088733 (N.D. CAL. 2010) (involving federal preemption of maritime law on state pilotage indemnity statute) Federal-Mogul v. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust v. Continental Casualty Company, 666 F.3d 384 (6th Cir.) (involving issues of “drop down” obligations of umbrella policies upon exhaustion of underlying insurance) Fuller-Austin Insulation Company v. Highlands Insurance Company, 135 Cal.App.4 th 958 (2006) (involving duties of excess insurers for asbestos claims under a section 524g bankruptcy plan) Hallmark Insurance Company v. Superior Court , 201 Cal.App.3 rd 1014 (1988) (involving "trigger of coverage" under CGL policy, scope of admissible evidence and burdens of proof in insurance policy litigation) Huffy Corporation v. Superior Court, 112 Cal.App.4 th 97 (2003) (involving when confidential records may be properly sealed) Kaitz v. District Court, 650 P.2d 553 (Colo. 1982) (involving right to jury trial and punitive damages in context of breach of fiduciary duty) Lockheed Corporation v. Continental Insurance Company, 134 Cal.App.4 th 187 (2005); (involving meaning and trigger of coverage for accident based liability policies, personal injury coverage, defense of administrative proceedings, burden of proof as to covered versus uncovered damage and use of prima facie hearings to determine sufficiency of evidence to meet burden of proof.) Navcom Defense Electronics, Inc. v. Continental Casualty Company, 2011 WL 3435391 (involving coverage for post-policy acquisitions) O'Brien v. Continental Casualty Company, 2013 WL 4396761 (involving application of elder abuse statute to claims of breach of contract under long term care policy) Powers v. Optical Radiation Corporation, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 485 (1995) (involving federal preemption of tort claims for investigational medical devices) Rohr Industries Inc. v. First State Interstate Company, 59 Cal.App.4 th 1480 (1997) (involving affect of good faith settlements on equitable contribution rights among insurers) Roberts Oil Company v. Transamerica Insurance Company, 113 N.M. 745 (1992) (involving application of the "voluntary payment" provision of CGL policy to hazardous waste claims) State of California v. Allstate Insurance Company, 45 Cal.4th 1008 (2009) (involving determination of relevant discharge and concurrent cause principles in context of “sudden and accidental” pollution exclusion) State of California v. Continental Insurance Company, 55 Cal.4th 186 (2012) (involving allocation of damage and availability of stacking of limits in continuous property damage claim) Thomson Inc. v. Continental Casualty Company, 982 N.E.2d 4 (2012) (involving coverage for administrative cleanup claims under umbrella policies) Travelers Casualty & Surety Company v. Superior Court, 63 Cal.App.4th 460 (1998) (involving interpretation of the pollution exclusion and burdens of proof under CGL policy) Steve acts as an expert witness and as a mediator/arbitrator. He is a member of the AAA Complex Panel. Steve advises on a variety of other insurance and reinsurance matters, underwriting, and dispute resolution. He is a frequent lecturer on insurance issues. He is a member of the California and Colorado bars and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, Third Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Tenth Circuit, Federal Courts in California, Colorado, Michigan, Texas and Arizona. He received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Colorado.