Brian A. Kelly


  • Brian A. Kelly
  • Phone: +1 415 957 3213

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  • Duane Morris LLP
    Spear Tower
    One Market Plaza, Suite 2200
    San Francisco, CA 94105-1127

Brian A. Kelly is vice-chair of the Insurance division of Duane Morris' Trial Practice Group and serves as a team lead for the firm's Insurance/Reinsurance industry group. Mr. Kelly represents clients in connection with commercial, environmental and insurance matters. Mr. Kelly is a trial attorney with extensive jury and court trial experience. His practice involves counseling clients in all stages of risk, and he is frequently retained before a lawsuit is filed in an effort to manage risk. Mr. Kelly has extensive experience representing clients in arbitrations, mediations and all other types of alternative dispute resolution. In all engagements, Mr. Kelly works closely with his clients to achieve defined goals in the most cost-effective manner.

Mr. Kelly advises and represents clients in a wide range of issues and lawsuits from contractual issues and insurance coverage to toxic torts and environmental claims. He is regularly retained as trial and appellate counsel in complex litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country. Mr. Kelly also represents product manufacturers, industry groups and their associations in administrative, state and federal court proceedings relating to environmental impacts, product use restrictions and compliance with state and federal environmental regulations, including NEPA, CEQA, Clean Water Act and CERCLA, among others.

Mr. Kelly is a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco and American Bar Association. Admitted to practice in California and Louisiana, he is a 1984 graduate of Loyola University School of Law and a graduate of California State University, Chico.

Representative Matters

  • Truck Insurance Exchange v. Kaiser Cement, et al.  Acted as lead trial and appellate counsel representing London Market Insurers, obtaining a significant trial victory that was affirmed in full by the court of appeal, which rejected a primary insurer’s arguments that London Market Insurers and other excess insurers were required to drop down and equitably contribute to hundreds of millions of dollars spent to defend and indemnity asbestos bodily injury lawsuits against Kaiser Cement and its affiliate, Kaiser Gypsum, applying horizontal exhaustion of primary insurance to this dispute. 

  • Kaiser Cement & Gypsum Corp. v. Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 210. Appellate counsel on issues relating to horizontal exhaustion of primary insurance and stacking of primary limits.
  • Walnut Creek Manor LLC v. Mayhew Center LLC, et al. (2009). Successfully prosecuted CERCLA and related state claims regarding industrial solvent contamination; obtained a substantial jury verdict in favor of client.
  • London Market Insurers v. Superior Court, (2007) 146 Cal. App 4th 648 (as lead trial and appellate counsel for London Market Insurers successfully argued key "number of occurrence" issue in asbestos insurance coverage matter involving more than one hundred million dollars of alleged liability)
  • Pacific Rivers Council v. United States Forest Service, 2005 WL 2671404 (E.D. Ca. 2005) (represented industry association in NEPA and NFMA challenges by environmental groups and the state of California) to 2004 Sierra Framework.
  • Personal Watercraft Coalition v. Board of Supervisors, (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 129. (represented industry association and manufacturers in challenge to county use prohibition of personal watercraft)
  • J.H. Baxter & Co. v. Central National Ins. Co. (2001) 20 P.3d 967 (prevailed in forum battle in complex coverage case)
  • Lake Tahoe Watercraft Recreation Association v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 24 F. Supp.2d 1062 (1998) (challenge to bi-state agency's emission regulation regarding watercraft and two-stroke engine technology)
  • Aerojet-General Corporation v. American Excess Ins. Co., (2002) 97 Cal.App. 4th 387 (application of res judicata to prior judgment in favor of clients)
  • Aerojet-General Corporation v. Transport Ind. Co., (1998) 17 Cal.4th 38 (served as trial and appellate counsel in upholding defense verdict on multimillion-dollar coverage dispute following a several-month jury trial)

Areas of Practice

  • Trial
  • Insurance Coverage and Risk Management
  • Environmental
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Insurance and Reinsurance


  • California


  • Loyola University School of Law, J.D., 1984
  • California State University, B.A., 1980


  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partner, 2006-present
  • Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP
    - Partner, 1993-2005
    - Associate, 1986-1992
  • Courtenay, Forstall, Grace & Hebert
    - Associate, 1984-1986

Professional Activities

  • Bar Association of San Francisco
  • American Bar Association

Honors and Awards

  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, 2021-2023
  • Referenced in Legal 500 U.S.- Leading Lawyers for Insurance: Advice to Insurers 2015
  • Named a 2014 Top Rated Lawyer in Insurance Law by Martindale-Hubbell
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

Selected Publications

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • "Young Lawyer Track—'Bending the Cost Curve' in Long-Tail Liability Coverage: The Berkshire Hathaway Strategy," 2015 Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, Tucson, AZ, March 4-7, 2015
  • "Expert Depositions," Practising Law Institute's Taking and Defending Depositions 2011, San Francisco, June 8, 2011
  • "Complex Litigation," University of California, Berkeley School of Law, International Executive Legal Education Program, Berkeley, Summer 2010
  • "Expert Depositions," Practising Law Institute's Taking and Defending Depositions 2010, San Francisco, June 9, 2010
  • "Real World Consequences of Number of Occurrence Determinations," Mealey's 5th Annual Advanced Insurance Coverage Conference, Philadelphia, January 22-23, 2007