William J. Baron


  • William J. Baron
  • Phone: +1 415 957 3151

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

William J. Baron is a Certified Appellate Specialist and practices in the areas of insurance coverage claims and litigation

Mr. Baron has 30 years of experience in insurance coverage matters, with a focus on claims involving environmental liability.  He has been involved in more than 80  appellate matters, including insurance and other cases, in state and federal courts, including the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Mr. Baron is a 1983 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and a 1980 graduate of Stanford University.

Representative Matters

  • APL Co. v. Valley Forge Ins. Co., 2013 U.S.App. LEXIS 20347 (9th Cir. Cal. Oct. 4, 2013); Briefed and argued Ninth Circuit appeal from an adverse summary judgment ruling concerning an insurance claim for remediation costs. Obtained a reversal of the District Court's $1.6 million adverse judgment, and the Ninth Circuit ordered judgment for the firm's clients.
  • Starpoint U.S.A. v. DAEWOO Motor Co., Ltd. (Cal. Ct. App. May 22, 2013). Briefed and argued an appeal from an adverse J.N.O.V. and new trial order concerning the scope of a contractual indemnity provision. Obtained reversal of the trial court’s J.N.O.V. order, and the California Court of Appeal ordered a new trial.
  • Airis SFO, LLC v. The City and County of San Francisco (California Court of Appeal, First District, Division One, unpublished opinion dated Sept. 22, 2010). Briefed and argued an appeal from an adverse J.N.O.V. and new trial order. Obtained reversal of the trial court’s rulings, and the California Court of Appeal reinstated a million dollar jury verdict in favor of a developer of air-cargo facilities against the City of San Francisco and its airport.
  • American Casualty Co. of Reading, Pa., et al. v. International Creative Management, et al. (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, order dated Sept. 10, 2010). Obtained a summary judgment order on behalf of insurers that required their insured to reimburse a $2.25 million settlement payment insurers had advanced to settle an underlying action age-discrimination action.
  • Olin Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, et al. (2nd Cir. 2006) 468 F.3d 120. Briefed Second Circuit appeal from an adverse $25 million judgment entered after a jury trial concerning insurance coverage issues. Obtained reversal of the judgment, and the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial.
  • CreAgri, Inc. v. USANA Corp. (9th Cir. 2006) 474 F.3d 626. Briefed Ninth Circuit appeal concerning trademark infringement claims.
  • Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Watts Industries, Inc. (7th Cir. 2005) 417 F.3d 682. Briefed Seventh Circuit appeal in which the Court of Appeals affirmed an order concerning a petition to compel arbitration and remanded certain issues to the district court.
  • GATX Capital Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, et al. Retained to serve as appellate counsel before and during trial of a complex action involving claims against aviation insurance policies. The case settled shortly before trial.
  • Cotter Corp. v. American Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co. (2004) 90 P.3d 814. Briefed and argued appeal in the Colorado Supreme Court, which addressed coverage issues involving the application of the pollution exclusion and the scope of the duty to defend.
  • Rosen v. State Farm General Ins. Co. (2003) 30 Cal.4th 1070. Submitted an amicus curiae brief to the California Supreme Court, which reversed the Court of Appeal decision and held that courts cannot override express insurance policy wordings for reasons of public policy.
  • Gray v. Underwriters at Lloyd's, London (California Court of Appeal, First District, Division One, unpublished opinion dated July 17, 2002, review denied). Briefed appeal in which the Court affirmed judgment for insurers, ruling that a Judge's Professional Liability Policy did not apply to the claim in question.
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. Superior Court(Powerine Oil Company) (2001) 24 Cal.4th 945, briefed appeal in the California Supreme Court, which affirmed summary adjudication for insurers, ruling that the term "damages" in liability insurance policies means money ordered by a court, and does not permit coverage for the costs of complying with government orders.
  • Alpha Therapeutic Corp. v. The Home Insurance Company, et al. (2001). Retained after an unfavorable appellate decision affirmed an adverse ten million dollar judgment. Submitted a petition for review to the California Supreme Court, which accepted review of the insurance coverage issues presented, including the question whether "all sums" allocation applies to an insurer’s duty to indemnify. The case settled after review was granted.
  • Procter and Companies v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (Santa Clara County Superior Court). In various orders between 1997 and 2001, the trial court dismissed $600 million in indemnity claims and $60 million in defense-cost claims on demurrer, summary adjudication, and a pre-trial Cottle proceeding.
  • Successful depublication requests in Melton v. Industrial Indemnity Co. (ordered depublished on May 2, 2001), and Commercial Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (ordered published on February 14, 2001).
  • Amicus curiae briefs in various other appeals and writ proceedings, including Aydin Corp. v. First State Ins. Co. (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1183, and Travelers Casualty and Insurance Co. v. Superior Court (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1440.


  • California
  • Washington
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California


  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1983
  • Stanford University, A.B., with distinction, 1980


  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partner, 2006-present
  • Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP
    - Partner, 1996-2005
    - Associate, 1983-1989, 1991-1995

Professional Activities

  • Certified Appellate Specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

Selected Publications

  • Contributing Author, The Practitioner's Guide to Appellate Advocacy, American Bar Association, 2010
  • "Henkel Corp. v. Hartford: Applying the Insurance Policy and the Public Policy of Enforcing Contracts," ABA Annual Meeting, August 2005
  • Co-Author, "State Insurance Law Trumps Government Contractors' FAR-Fetched Preemption Theory," Journal of Insurance Coverage, Autumn 2002
  • Co-Author, "Eye-Balling It: 'Cottle' proceedings are powerful pretrial tools to focus on the merits of claims, defenses or issues," The San Francisco Daily Journal, May 9, 2001
  • Co-Author, "The California Appellate Process: A Non-Lawyer's Guide," January 2000.
  • Co-Author, "Builder's Risk Insurance," Insuring Real Property (Matthew Bender & Company).

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • "Preserving and Presenting Appellate Issues in California," West-Thomson webinar, September 13, 2012
  • Speaker, "What's Hot in Asbestos," Forum For Environmental and Toxic Tort Issues Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 5-6, 2006
  • Issues Arising from Henkel Corp. v. Hartford," American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, August 5, 2005
  • "Insurance Case Law Update," 17th Annual Environmental Law Super Symposium, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Omni Hotel, Los Angeles, California, March 27, 2003
  • "Solving Difficult Allocation Problems: Part I," Mealey's Insurance Allocation Conference, The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel, Pasadena, California, January 24-25, 2002