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Robert (Rob) Pohls represents insurers and corporations in various forms of complex litigation. He has litigated hundreds of cases in state and federal courts throughout California, practicing at both the trial and appellate levels. He also has litigated several cases in other states.

For more than 30 years, Rob has focused his practice on representing life, health and disability insurance companies. He therefore defends insurers in bad faith, ERISA and other forms of litigation involving life insurance and annuities, accident and health insurance, disability insurance, long term care insurance, pensions and retirement plans, and claims against agents and producers. He also counsels insurers about claims administration, insurance fraud, regulatory compliance, risk mitigation and minimizing exposure to bad faith litigation.

Prior to joining Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in September 2021, Rob managed a boutique law firm that he established to counsel and defend life, health and disability insurers in bad faith, ERISA and other complex litigation. Rob has served as a mediator and an arbitrator, providing dispute resolution services in numerous civil litigation matters involving life, health and disability insurance, ERISA and employee benefits, consumer financial services, commercial disputes, labor and employment issues, and civil rights matters.

Professional Affiliations

  • The State Bar of California
  • American Bar Association
    • Chair, Health & Disability Insurance Law Committee, 2001-2002
  • Defense Research Institute
    • National Spokesperson on Health Care Reform, 2012-2017
    • Annual Meeting Program Chair, Life, Health & Disability Law Committee, 2010-2013
  • Federal Bar Association

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized on the Super Lawyers list by Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, 2014 – 2021
  • Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability

Representative Matters

Appellate

  • Successfully defended the seller of a closely-held corporation on appeal from a post-trial order denying the buyer’s motion for attorney fees.
  • Successfully defended of a life insurer on appeal from a trial verdict rejecting a negligence claim by the applicant’s spouse.
  • Successfully defended of a broker-dealer on appeal from an order sustaining its demurrer to a complaint for negligence and fiduciary duty arising from the sale of a variable life insurance policy.

Commercial Litigation

  • Won favorable trial verdict for small business owner on claim for breach of contract involving the alleged breach of a non-solicitation provision.
  • Won summary judgment for an individual defendant accused of both trade libel and interference with contractual relations.
  • Obtained an order during trial dismissing various business tort claims against a corporation, including claims for conversion, interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair competition.
  • Successfully defended corporate and individual defendants at trial in connection with claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and under the Stored Communications Act.
  • Won favorable trial verdict for restaurant against a vendor’s claim to an ownership interest.

Insurance/Reinsurance

  • Advised and represented property and casualty insurers with respect to the investigation of suspected insurance fraud involving health care provider billing practices, the evaluation of possible claims for affirmative relief, and negotiations for resolution without litigation.
  • Advised and represented sales agents facing possible license suspension and/or other disciplinary actions.
  • Successfully defended insurance agents in a case challenging the suitability of their sale of a long term care insurance policy.
  • Won summary judgment for a long term care insurer in a rescission action.

Insurance Coverage

  • Advised and provided nationwide claim-level support to long term care insurers with respect to policies providing for benefits only in facilities licensed to engage primarily in providing nursing care.
  • Advised and provided claim-level support to fire insurers with respect to homeowners’ insurance claims involving a loss of life caused by California wildfires.

Labor & Employment

  • Won favorable trial verdict for corporation in a case alleging the wrongful discharge of its C.E.O.
  • Successfully defended a transportation company against breach of contract, negligence and unfair competition claims involving an alleged misclassification of workers and related wage and hour claims.
  • Won favorable arbitration award for insurance broker accused of sexual harassing an insurance agent.

Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Litigation

  • Won summary judgment for a life insurer and sales agent on claims for breach of contract, bad faith and negligence arising from an applicant who died before his life insurance application was underwritten.
  • Won a favorable trial verdict for a life insurer in a negligence action involving a $2 million policy issued to insure the life of a married woman in the process of getting a divorce.
  • Won a favorable trial verdict for a life insurer on breach of contract and bad faith claims under a conditional receipt given to an applicant who died before her life insurance application was underwritten.
  • Successfully prosecuted a declaratory relief action to establish that, because the insured died by suicide, the death benefit under a life insurance policy was limited to a return of premiums.
  • Successfully defended a life insurer against breach of contract, bad faith and negligence claims involving the replacement of life insurance policies.
  • Successfully defended a life insurer and sales agent against claims for breach of contract, bad faith and negligence arising from the lapse of an annuity.
  • Successfully prosecuted three declaratory relief actions in the Eastern District of Michigan involving individual disability income insurance policies and suspected insurance fraud.
  • Successfully defended a life insurer in the District of Nevada against breach of contract and bad faith claims involving a conditional receipt.
  • Successfully prosecuted a declaratory relief action in the District of Idaho involving a disputed claim for benefits under an individual disability insurance policy.
  • Successfully prosecuted multiple declaratory relief actions involving the rescission of life and/or disability insurance policies.
  • Successfully defended numerous insurers against claims for breach of contract and bad faith involving lapsed life insurance policies.
  • Successfully defended multiple insurers in litigation involving disputed benefit claims under individual and group long term disability insurance policies.
  • Won summary judgment for multiple life insurance agents by demonstrating that all claims against them were barred by the disclosed principal rule.
  • Successfully prosecuted numerous interpleader actions involving competing claims to life insurance proceeds.

Published Decisions

  • Keller v. Albertson's Inc., 589 F.Supp.2d 1205 (C.D.Cal. 2008)
  • Mhadbi v. Jefferson Pilot Financial, 255 F.Supp.2d 1109 (N.D.Cal. 2003)
  • Davenport v. Blue Cross of California, 52 Cal.App.4th 435 (1997)
  • AMEX Life Assurance Co. v. Superior Court, 14 Cal.4th 1231 (1997)
  • Damascus v. Provident Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 933 F.Supp. 885 (N.D. Cal. 1996)
  • Tool v. Nat’l Employee Benefit Services, Inc., 957 F.Supp. 1114 (N.D. Cal. 1996)
  • Kentucky Central Life Ins. Co. v. Marin Bay Park Trust, 958 F.2d 377 (9th Cir. 1992)
  • Kentucky Central Life Ins. Co. v. LeDuc, 814 F.Supp. 832 (N.D. Cal. 1992)
  • LeDuc v. Kentucky Central Life Ins. Co., 814 F.Supp. 820 (N.D.Cal. 1992)
  • Johnson v. Minnesota Mutual Life Ins. Co., 799 F.Supp. 75 (N.D. Cal. 1992)

Presentations

• "Litigation and Long-Term Care," ICA Annual Meeting, September 2015
• "Complex Life Insurance Claims," ICA Annual Meeting, September 2014
• "Utilizing the Two-Year Contestable Period," ACI 2nd National Advanced Forum on Life Insurance and AD&D Claims and Litigation, July 2013
• "Constitutional Arguments About the Affordable Care Act," DRI, Webcast, March 2012
• "Proving Insurance Fraud," Western Claim Conference, September 2011
• "Health Care Reform: The Grand Design," Eastern Claim Conference, March 2011
• "Health Insurance Law Update," DRI ERISA/Life, Health & Disability Claims Seminar, April 2013
• "Rescission is Not a Four- Letter Word," ICA Annual Meeting, October 2010
• "Proving Insurance Fraud," ICA Annual Meeting, October 2010
• "The Anatomy of a Bad Faith Case," ABA Annual Meeting, 2007

Publications

• "Long Term Care Insurance Caselaw Digest," author of presentation given at International Claim Association Annual Meeting, September 2015
• "The Affordable Care Act Upheld: Now What For Our Clients?" author of presentation given at Defense Research Institute Webcast, July 2012
• "What Do Health Insurance Litigators Face in 2012 and Beyond?" author of presentation given at Defense Research Institute Webcast, December 2011
• "Overview of the Affordable Care Act," author of presentation given at Defense Research Institute Annual Meeting, October 2010
• "A History of Health Care Reform in America," author of presentation given at Defense Research Institute Annual Meeting, October 2010
• "National Survey of Life Insurance Case Law," author of presentation given at International Claim Association Annual Meeting, 2009
• "The Effective Use of the Advice of Counsel Defense,"  Defense Research Institute, The Voice, 2008
• "Litigating Subjective Disability Claims," ALI-ABA, The Practical Litigator, 2008
• "Enforcing Exclusions and Limitations in Life, Health & Disability Insurance Policies," author of presentation given at Defense Research Institute’s ERISA/Life, Health & Disability Claims Seminar, 2003
• "Long Term Care Insurance: Selected Considerations for Insurers, Agents, Regulators and Litigators," American Bar Association, The Brief, 2001

Personal

Rob is a long-time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys hiking and being outdoors. When he is not traveling or spending time with his family, Rob often plays golf or rides his motorcycle.

J.D., University of California Davis School of Law, 1987

B.A., Bucknell University, 1984