Our Attorneys

James J. Berdelle

Jim has a long track record of having achieved significant results on behalf of insurance company clients in the handling of insurance coverage disputes.  Over the past twenty years, Jim has successfully counseled and litigated in regard to all dimensions of third-party liability insurance coverage disputes, including, construction defect claims, pollution claims, mass tort claims, premises liability claims, auto liability claims, professional liability claims, errors and omission claims, advertising injury liability claims, personal injury liability claims, and other third-party general liability claims.

Jim has represented both primary and excess carriers alike and understands the unique aspects and potential pitfalls of both positions and has successfully charted a safe course of action on behalf of clients facing difficult decisions.  Jim has successfully litigated and tried high-stakes, multi-million dollar insurance coverage claims to verdict or judgment.  Jim has also used his extensive knowledge, experience and skills in the insurance coverage arena to his clients' best advantage in the negotiation of extremely favorable settlements in cases of significant exposure.  Jim is comfortable practicing both within and outside the courtroom.

Jim is a Member of the Federal Trial Bar in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  While he is an Illinois trial lawyer, Jim has also handled insurance coverage disputes in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.  

Jim has also litigated and counseled extensively on pollution-related and asbestos coverage matters.  The current focus of Jim's insurance coverage practice includes construction defect, auto liability, environmental, mass tort, and other general liability claims.

His case results include:

  • Lexington Ins. Co. v. Discount Ramps.com LLC, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36031 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Wis.). In this multi-million dollar intellectual property dispute, the District Court found that several exclusions precluded the duty to defend and indemnify.

  • BASF AG v. Great American Assur. Co., et al., 522 F.3d 813 (7th Cir.).  In this multi-million dollar coverage case which was first tried to a jury, the Seventh Circuit held that excess/umbrella insurers had no duty to defend or indemnify a pharmaceutical company regarding dozens of lawsuits brought by consumers and health insurers seeking economic damages for claims of monopolization, racketeering, fraud, and deceptive business practices.  Underlying lawsuits did not involve defamation or disparagement of third parties and therefore advertising injury and personal injury coverages were not implicated.

  • Grey Direct, Inc. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26759 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill.), affirmed, 460 F.3d 895 (7th Cir.).  The District Court found that a million dollar error or omission loss by the policyholder was a known loss that voided the policy ab initio.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

  • AAA Disposal Systems, Inc. v. Aetna, et al., 355 Ill.App.3d 275 (Ill. App. Ct.).  Continuing loss multi-million dollar pollution coverage action successfully tried to judgment.  Represented both a primary carrier and an umbrella carrier with favorable findings including late notice, horizontal exhaustion, pro rata allocation, and policyholder is responsible for uninsured and insolvent periods.

  • Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Ehlco Liquidating Trust, et al., 186 Ill.2d 127 (Ill.).  Successfully represented excess carrier in this continuing loss multi-million dollar priority of coverage pollution case.

  • Walsh Construction Co. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11492, affirmed, 153 F.3d 830 (7th Cir.).  The District Court found that this multi-million dollar construction defect coverage action was barred by the doctrine of issue preclusion.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed on the separate basis of claim preclusion.

  • Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. International Ins. Co., et al., 288 Ill.App.3d 69 (Ill. App. Ct.).  In this multi-million dollar mass tort continuing loss coverage action the court held that the policyholder must horizontally exhaust and satisfy its periods of self-insurance before the excess insurer had any obligation to respond.

  • Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. American Re-Insurance Co., et al., 286 Ill.App.3d 129 (Ill. App. Ct.).  In multi-million dollar mass tort continuing loss coverage action court held that the cessation from work clause in certain policies precluded coverage.

  • National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA v. Walsh Construction Co., et al., 282 Ill.App.3d 1114 (Ill. App. Ct.).  In multi-million dollar construction defect coverage action court found no coverage based on the "no occurrence" defense and based on the business risk exclusions.

  • Industrial Coatings Group, Inc. v. American Motorists Ins. Co., et al., 276 Ill.App.3d 799 (Ill. App. Ct.).  Continuing loss pollution coverage action in which court found untimely notice of an occurrence, claim or suit.

Other Interests:

Jim is a regular speaker and presenter of legal topics to clients and client groups, including on matters pertaining to insurance coverage.  He also performs pro bono work and volunteers for several charitable organizations.

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10 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1800

Chicago, Illinois 60603


Email: James.Berdelle@ruberry-law.com

Practice Area:

Commercial Litigation; Construction; Environmental; Insurance Coverage; Toxic Torts

Professional Affiliations:

  • Chicago Bar Association;
  • Defense Research Institute, Member, Insurance Coverage Committee and Commercial Litigation Committee


  • Southern Methodist University School of Law, Juris Doctor;
  • Southern Methodist University, Bachelor of Business Administration


  • Bar of the Supreme Court of Illinois;
  • Member of the Federal Trial Bar, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois;
  • Admitted to practice before the following U.S. District Courts: Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Illinois, Northern
  • District of Indiana, Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Southern District of Ohio