Founder of Anderson Kill Law Firm, Who Built Career Suing Insurance Companies, Dead at 82

The founder of the national law firm Anderson Kill & Olick — who
built a career based on suing insurance companies — died July 30 after
complications from pneumonia. Eugene R. Anderson was 82.
“the dean of policyholder’s attorneys” by BusinessWeek, he pioneered
influential approaches to insurance coverage litigation on behalf of
policyholders — corporate and individual, according to Anderson Kill.
founded the New York-based firm in 1969. Perhaps one of his most
notable cases was the landmark victory in 1981 on behalf of Keene Corp.,
which sought insurance coverage for millions of dollars in asbestos
Anderson started “the modern era” of insurance
coverage litigation by bringing the Keene case, said Thomas W. Brunner,
chairman emeritus of the insurance practice at Wiley Rein LLP,
Washington, D.C., which represents insurance companies. Brunner told
BestWire that Anderson was “a stalwart and aggressive advocate for
policyholders for several decades.”
Others “gradually moved to the
forefront” on the side of policyholders, but Anderson was the pioneer
in bringing policyholder litigation, he said. Anderson was known
primarily for asbestos and environmental cases, Brunner said.
he also pegged Anderson “as a bit extreme in many of the positions” he
took. “I was always struck by how he was able to say outrageous things
about my clients, and then immediately turn around and be gracious to me
and my colleagues,” Brunner said.
Anderson began his career in
insurance-coverage law in 1981 in Keene v. Insurance Co. of North
America, then a member of the Cigna Group Best’s Review, March 1998).
He won a verdict that forced the corporation’s insurers to cover
millions of dollars in losses due to personal-injury claims from
asbestos production.
“Gene was the champion of the victim against
the powerful, the individual policyholder against the well-financed
insurance industry,” wrote Robert M. Horkovich, managing partner of
Anderson Kill, in a letter to the firm’s employees.
companies, at the very least, wished Anderson — and others like him —
would just go away Best’s Review, March 1998).
“We extend our
sympathy and condolences to the Anderson family for their loss,” said
the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, in a statement.
took on many clients pro-bono, or without compensation.
with United Policyholders, a nonprofit advocacy group, Anderson led the
firm to file more than 250 “friend of the court” briefs for
policyholders in key insurance coverage cases, the firm said. Among them
was a brief cited in the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Humana v.
Forsyth, which subjected the insurance industry to liability under the
federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and had been
the largest class-action lawsuit ever filed in Nevada. In the 1989
lawsuit, Nevada patients alleged a subsidiary of health insurer Humana
Inc. secretly negotiated a rebate with a hospital then failed to pass
the discount on to members. The plaintiffs sued under federal RICO,
which triples the damages that could be awarded in a case BestWire,
Jan. 20, 1999).
At that time, a spokesman for Humana said the company “committed no
“When insurance companies denied treatment to women
diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, he fought the issue state by
state to prove it was not ‘experimental’ as the insurance industry
alleged — just expensive,” wrote Horkovich. “Now those medical benefits
are being provided throughout the country.”
Attempts to get
comment from America’s Health Insurance Plans were unsuccessful.
authored many articles on insurance-coverage matters, and a two-volume
reference for insurance-recovery attorneys, “Insurance Coverage
He was a member of the New York City Mayor’s Task
Force on Automobile Insurance, chairman of the Amicus Committee of
United Policyholders and director of Citizens Against Unfair Insurance
He is survived by his wife, Jenny Morgenthau; his son,
Matthew R. Anderson; and three grandsons.

By Fran Matso
Lysiak, senior associate editor, BestWeek: