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
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
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
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
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
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.
10 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1800
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Commercial Litigation; Construction; Environmental; Insurance
Coverage; Toxic Torts
- 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
- 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,
- District of Indiana, Eastern District of Wisconsin, and
Southern District of Ohio