Jessica E. La Londe is a partner in Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group and member of the Firm’s Partners Board. Jessica’s practice focuses on civil litigation and appeals, with an emphasis on insurance coverage and commercial litigation and appeals. She has counseled and represented insurance companies in complex disputes for almost 20 years. This includes counseling and representing insurance companies throughout the life of a claim – including advice with respect to coverage issues, claims handling, bad faith risks (including policy limits settlement demands), and contribution and subrogation opportunities or risks, and any necessary litigation on these issues. She has experience with several lines of insurance, including general liability, environmental pollution, various forms of professional liability, excess liability, auto liability, project liability, and directors and officers liability. These matters have involved a wide array of claims, including pollution, sexual abuse, asbestos, health hazards, construction defects, and medical malpractice. Jessica also has litigated cases involving business contracts, employment disputes, products liability, California Proposition 65, environmental law, and consumer class actions.
Jessica is on the Firm’s Steering Committee for WINS (Women’s Impact Network for Success) and the Firm’s Professional Standards Committee, which evaluates attorneys for promotion to Special Counsel and Partner.
Jessica is admitted to practice in California, Washington, and the District of Columbia. She is a 2003 graduate, with honors, of the George Washington University Law School, where she was articles editor of The Public Contract Law Journal.
Represented commercial general liability insurer in coverage lawsuits related to coverage for dozens of sexual abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Church and related religious entities, including issues related to lost policies.
Assisted insurer in obtaining dismissal of putative class action complaint in lawsuit alleging improper valuation of totaled vehicles.
Obtained favorable decision from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals enforcing New York choice of law clause as a limit on our client's policy obligations with respect to contribution and reimbursement claims by and against a co-insurer and enforcing "excess" other insurance clause as relieving our client's pollution liability policy from owing any amounts for defense or indemnity where CGL insurer had overlapping coverage.
Obtained order from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (affirming summary judgment in insurer's favor) that New York's common law strict "no-prejudice" rule barring coverage for late notice applies to policies with New York choice of law clauses that are not subject to NY Ins. Law s. 3420(a)(5) (which creates a prejudice requirement for certain policies) because those policies were issued and delivered outside of New York; therefore, insurer with policy issued and delivered outside of New York had no duty to defend or indemnify insured as a matter of New York law with respect to $10 million coverage for $40+ million in claims that were tendered to the insurer months and years late, and the insurer did not need to demonstrate prejudice.
In California federal court, obtained summary judgment that the New York choice of law clause of an insurance policy applied and precluded coverage based on the insured's late notice of a pollution claim and failure to obtain the insurer's consent prior to incurring $2 million in remediation costs. Court also found that policy was not subject to NY Ins. Law s. 3420(a)(5) (which creates a notice-prejudice requirement for certain policies) because the policy was issued and delivered outside of New York.
Represented excess general liability insurer in litigation related to various insureds and pollution sites, involving numerous issues, including the pollution exclusion and exhaustion.
Represented excess general liability insurer in litigation related to the insured’s extensive asbestos liabilities, including the applicable aggregate limit, exhaustion of limits, defense obligations, contribution issues, and bankruptcy issues.
Represented pollution insurer in contribution action related to defense and indemnity incurred with respect to pollution sites.
Regularly advise clients (and represent them in litigation) with respect to a variety of coverage issues, including pollution, asbestos, pharmaceuticals, professional liability for architects, food contamination, copyright infringement, violations of housing code, product liability and construction defect.
Provide advice and analysis to insurers related to potential pollution, asbestos, and health hazard liabilities.
Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 8 Cal.5th 93 (2019) (pollution coverage) – Represented pollution liability insurer with respect to appeal of summary judgment considering enforceability of choice of law clause with respect to defenses of late notice and lack of consent.
- Ameron Corp. v. American Home Assur. Co., 625 F. App'x 803 (9th Cir. 2015) (product liability coverage) – Obtained reversal of summary judgment against client CGL insurer on its defense cost contribution claim against non-defending insurer, and entry of duty to defend determination against non-defending insurer, with respect to Canadian lawsuit alleging coatings failures and resulting corrosion to offshore and onshore energy production facilities.
- Gemini Ins. Co. v. Indian Harbor Ins. Co., 608 Fed.Appx. 479 (9th Cir. 2015) (pollution coverage) — Obtained reversal of adverse summary judgment against client pollution liability insurer on both CGL insurer's defense cost contribution claim and client's settlement reimbursement claim, based on NY choice of law clause and "excess" other insurance provision.
- Indian Harbor Ins. Co. v. City of San Diego, 586 Fed.Appx. 726 (2d Cir. 2014), affirming 972 F.Supp.2d 634 (SDNY 2013) (pollution coverage) — obtained affirmance of summary judgment that a New York choice of law clause was enforceable against a California policyholder and required application of the New York common law strict notice rule, such that the policyholder's late notice barred coverage for $40+ million in claims.
- Bruns v. E-Commerce Exchange, Inc., 51 Cal. 4th 717 (Cal. 2011) (class action) — Obtained for a group of businesses the dismissal of a $96 million class action alleging that they violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending unsolicited advertisement via fax machine on the basis of plaintiffs' delays in prosecuting the case and bringing it to trial. Obtained a unanimous decision from the California Supreme Court that established the statutory five-year period for bringing a case to trial is stayed only when the stay encompasses all proceeding in the action, and that partial stays do not automatically toll the running of the limitations period. On remand, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of the class action.
Obtained lawful permanent residency status for two young immigrants, overcoming prior removal orders and establishing they were eligible for relief under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA).
Represented an international energy company in a wrongful death product liability case.
Represented a company against allegations of violations of California's Proposition 65.
Represented a company with foreign affiliates in a contract dispute with a former officer and director.
Represented a company regarding alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.
Represented a city regarding property rights.
Represented company in compelling arbitration of an employee dispute regarding wrongful termination and discrimination.
Represented company in an appeal of a consumer class-action claim.
Represented developer in breach of contract dispute by general contractor.
Represented company in a personal injury lawsuit brought by parents of a child injured on company's public premises.
Business and Other Litigation
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
- The George Washington University Law School, J.D., with honors, 2003
- University of California, Davis, B.A., 2000
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2012-present
- Associate, 2006-2011
- Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP, San Francisco, California
- Associate, 2004-2005
- Jackson & Campbell
- Associate, 2003-2004
- American Bar Association
- Section of Litigation
- Section of Tort & Insurance Practice
- The Bar Association of San Francisco
- Queen's Bench
- IADC Trial Academy, 2009
Honors and Awards
- Listed in The Legal 500, Next Generation Partner, Insurance – Advice to Insurers, 2021
Named a Northern California Rising Star, 2010-2018
- Referenced in Legal 500 U.S.- Leading Lawyers for Insurance: Advice to Insurers 2014
- Listed in The Top Women Attorneys in Northern California, 2012
Civic and Charitable Activities
- Volunteer for the Project Homeless Connect, San Francisco
- Co-author, "Pandemic B.I. Claims: After the Sound and Fury, Where Are We Now?," PropertyCasualty360, June 18, 2020
- Co-author, "Legislating Construction Accidents: The Trend of 'Occurrence' Statutes to Create Insurance Coverage for Construction Defect Lawsuits," Chapter in Aspatore Thought Leadership: Insurance Law 2012, February 2012
- Co-author, "Stemming the Tide: The Lesson of Steadfast v. AES and Terminating the Duty to Defend Climate Change Lawsuits," Going Green Hot Topic feature on the American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee website, April 2010
- Co-author, "Keep it Cool: Potential Coverage Defenses to ''Global Warming'' Lawsuits," Coverage, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Committee on Insurance Coverage Litigation, July/August 2009
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "The Tale of Two Costs: Are Environmental RI/FS Costs Defense or Indemnity?" FETTI Annual Conference, September 29, 2023
Speaker, "Ethical Advocacy in Mediation. As Distinct From What You May Be Doing?" ABA 2019 Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, Tucson, Arizona, February 28, 2019
- Speaker, "Don't You (Forget About Me): The Purpose, Force, and Effect of Insurance Policy Conditions (Notice, Voluntary Payments, and Cooperation) and Case Law Updates," American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Seminar, Tucson, Arizona, March 5, 2016
- Speaker, "Keeping the (Good) Faith: California Law on Insurer Bad Faith in Third Party Liability Cases," West LegalEdcenter, September 13, 2012