2018 Hartford Legal Education Conference | May 02, 2018


Gordon & Rees attorneys and distinguished guest speakers will present a full day of stimulating and timely legal education on Wednesday, May 2 focusing on cutting-edge trends, case law and recent verdicts. Attendees will be able to earn up to 5.0 CLE & CE credits, including 2.0 ethics credits. The conference concludes with a cocktail reception, providing an additional opportunity for attendees to interact and engage with fellow attendees.


CLE credit will be provided in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California. CE credit will be provided in New York, Texas, and Florida.


Joelle Underwood

Wednesday, May 02, 2018
8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Hartford Marriott Downtown
200 Columbus Blvd
Hartford, CT, 06103

Conference Program

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Now more than ever, companies, insurers and their lawyers have an increasing myriad of ethics laws to deal with, adhere to and report on. Join us as we address real life ethical dilemmas which have arisen with the selection of counsel, covered and uncovered claims, conflicts of interests and billing guidelines. We will also address ethical considerations which arise when litigating in cyber space, including how to preserve the attorney-client privilege and communications by and with judges, lawyers, jurors and witnesses in the digital world. Practical considerations and best practices will be discussed to arm you and your company from avoiding ethical woes in an ever expanding ethical minefield.

Dion Cominos / Managing Partner, GRSM
Elizabeth Lorell / Partner, GRSM

10:40 AM - 11:40 AM

During this panel presentation, we will discuss our Top Five Rules to avoid employer liability. Our speakers will provide cutting edge advice so that well-informed employment decisions can be made to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation. We will also address new litigation trends identified in employment law and provide insightful advice on how to develop best practices to avoid liability.

Roger Mansukhani / Partner, GRSM
Debra Ellwood Meppen / Partner, GRSM
Gina Haggerty Lindell / Partner, GRSM
Jessica Fritz Aguiar / Senior Claims Analyst, Allied World Insurance Company
Ben Accardo/ Beazley

During this panel, speakers will address property & casualty as well as life, health & disability claims. They will discuss recent insurance coverage decisions on hot topic issues as well as trends impacting “best practices” for investigating and settling claims while minimizing the risk of extra-contractual exposure.

Dennis Brown / Partner, GRSM
Matt Foy / Partner, GRSM
Sarah Turner / Partner, GRSM

This panel will address, in Ted Talk style, significant regulatory/statutory and societal changes over the past year and how these changes impact business, the legal profession, your families and the nation. Join us as we discuss the new tax law, the opioid epidemic, the future of healthcare, and the ever evolving issues with the legalization of marijuana in the brave new world.

Allyson Avila / Partner, GRSM
Leslie Eason / Partner, GRSM
Peggy Kozal / Of Counsel, GRSM
Richard Bogue / Partner, GRSM

11:45 AM - 12:45 PM

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The construction industry is in another boom cycle and as a result new construction issues are abounding in all jurisdictions. This panel will address some of the hot topics hitting the construction industry including recent changes in the law on the duty of care owed by design professionals, changes in safety regulation and responses to recent construction failures, the impact of cannabis on the construction industry, and changes to the 2017 AIA form contracts. This panel will explore the insurance industries’ involvement in these issues, and how design professionals, owners and contractors can be better prepared to deal with the changes in the law impacting them.

Keith Cramer / Partner, GRSM
Thomas Cronin / Partner, GRSM
Julie Haddon / Partner, GRSM

During this panel presentation the speakers will cover three topics impacting product liability litigation.

These topics include:

  • Trying Cases Over Multiple Jurisdictions - Pitfalls and Benefits
  • Personal Jurisdiction - When, How, Why and Why Not
  • The Next Frontier - Autonomous Vehicles

Spencer Hugret / Partner, GRSM
Cullen Guilmartin / Partner, GRSM
Ann Thornton Field / Partner, GRSM

This panel will discuss how to handle claims that cannot be settled through dispositive motions, pretrial negotiations or mediation. This will include a review of common “sticking points” that make it difficult or impossible to settle certain claims; an outline of effective strategies for evaluating the potential outcome of trial; a discussion of important steps in the trial preparation process; and an exploration of trial strategies to minimize the potential verdict amount and maximize the possibility of a defense verdict.

Donald Derrico / Partner, GRSM
Michael Laurenson / Partner, GRSM
Peter Siachos / Partner, GRSM

2:10 PM - 3:10 PM

A selection of the firm's top employment attorneys will provide practical advice to in house counsel, claims representatives and general counsel on navigating sexual harassment claims, from inception to resolution. Speakers will share real life litigation, trial, and settlement secrets, war stories, and detailed advice on best practices.

Laura De Santos / Partner, GRSM
Mercedes Colwin / Partner, GRSM
Michael Lucey / Partner, GRSM

This panel will discuss cutting edge topics, both new and of note today, in both environmental and toxic tort cases. Topics will include trends with asbestos claims this year; the surge in citizen’s suits, and the dangers of and how to manage and settle these claims; food and water borne illnesses as a new “toxic” tort; and overall best case handling practices for today’s environmental and toxic tort cases.

Kristin Reyna DeHart / Partner, GRSM
Erik DiMarco / Partner, GRSM
Virginia Squitieri / Partner, GRSM
Molly Williams / Partner, GRSM

The way we communicate has forever changed. E-mail, text, social media, posts, and other forms of communication are now mainstream ways to communicate in a professional setting. The quality and quantity of communication has become more than ever the centerpiece of professional liability claims. During this interactive session, our panelists will address the issues surrounding communication in the information age. We will also apply age-old doctrines to new forms of communication, such as the attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine, and confidentiality. We will further discuss best practices in ensuring communications reduce risk rather than increase it. Finally, we will look at trends, statistics, and recent verdicts/cases to better understand the increased stakes professionals find themselves in due to today’s communication world.

Bob Bragalone / Partner, GRSM
Franz Hardy / Partner, GRSM
John Palmeri / Partner, GRSM

This presentation will be in two parts beginning with ERISA transactional matters and concluding with a discussion of developments in the litigation of employee benefit claims. Part 1 will review, in a quick-hitter style, recent legislative, regulatory and court developments that impact the design, operation and administration of employee benefit plans. Additionally, it will discuss strategies to redesign plans to take advantage of new opportunities and address new requirements. Part 2 will provide a guide to recent developments in employee benefit litigation that govern the way in which the court’s review the claims and the impact of new discovery limitations and proposed expanded regulations governing the handling of claims.

Ronald Alberts / Partner, GRSM
Barry Klein / Partner, GRSM

3:20 PM - 4:20 PM

What do you do with the uncooperative insured that refuses to settle and insists on their “day in court?” Or how do you (and can you) prevent the insured who is too eager to settle, from running towards a consent judgment which is an especially daunting prospect in certain policyholder friendly jurisdictions? What are the rights of an insurer in these situations and what are the ethical considerations when trying to prevent an insured from heading down a road that the insurance carrier disagrees with? This course will educate insurance claims professionals, in-house insurance counsel, defense counsel and coverage counsel about ethical considerations that must be considered when presented with a settlement demand.

Chris Cato / Partner, GRSM
Brandon Saxon / Partner, GRSM
Jennifer Arnett-Roehrich / Of Counsel, GRSM

4:20 PM - 5:30 PM