David S. Sheiffer Partner




David Sheiffer, a member of Wilson Elser's Executive Committee, represents leading insurers nationwide in high-profile, high-value complex coverage matters. In addition, he defends professionals in liability matters and handles the direct defense of employment claims. Keeping his practice current with technology and the way business is conducted, David also is involved in the dynamic field of insurance and litigation defense for all forms of media and cyber liability. Notably, he has extensive experience in privacy, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and software developer matters. His practice entails trial and appellate work before various federal and state courts and arbitrations.

David’s definitive style and persona helped create Wilson Elser’s national reputation in the insurance coverage space, and he continues to be an influencer within the industry as well as across the firm and the legal community. Through various leadership positions at Wilson Elser, including being a founder of the Insurance coverage practice and former chair of the Directors & Officers practice, David has extensive involvement in a wide range of errors and omissions practices as both coverage and defense counsel, including in class actions litigation. He often is brought in to assist on particularly difficult insurance coverage and liability matters, often being retained as special negotiation counsel, and he is adept at guiding insurance carriers through the underlying case while negotiating or otherwise working to resolve coverage issues. David has been published in a number of journals on issues of importance to the insurance industry on a variety of topics, including claims handling, bad faith, coverage, and arbitration and mediation. He keeps close tabs on the state of the insurance industry, making him an important resource for colleagues and clients. He also acts as counsel for the firm on Medicare-related issues.

Areas of Focus

Insurance Coverage
A founding member of the firm’s Insurance Coverage practice, David set a firmwide example and continues to set the pace. He handles the lion’s share of special counsel positions in the Insurance practice and has an extensive background in financial lines coverage matters involving a variety of insurance policy types. Particular areas of interest include directors and officers (D&O) liability, errors and omissions (E&O), cyber/media insurance, professional liability, employment practices liability (EPL) and contract surety matters. David has been extensively involved in a variety of insurance coverage and reinsurance disputes, including domestic and foreign arbitrations, and has litigated matters in various state jurisdictions. In addition, he represents sureties in bankruptcy matters and in construction contract bond matters in a variety of disputes, including completion and project takeovers. David often is retained to negotiate and resolve cases involving Fortune 2500 companies with respect to coverage issues and underlying liability. Recognizing the substantial relationships his carrier clients have with their insureds, he works to resolve coverage matters through mediation and other means short of litigation.

Professional Liability
David’s practice includes the defense of liability actions against a variety of professionals, including lawyers, accountants, hedge fund administrators and other financial industry professionals, real estate agents and appraisers, and design professionals, among others. He also represents professionals in general business disputes and municipalities in miscellaneous E&O claims.

Focusing on directors and officers liability and insurance coverage, David is a former chair the firm's Directors and Officers Liability practice, which brings together multiple disciplines with experience in insurance coverage, D&O defense, commercial litigation and bankruptcy.

Cyber Liability
While most media policies offer cyber components, insurers provide cyber insurance coverage with a media component, data security and privacy protection, and coverage for technology errors and omissions. David assists insurers in developing cyber liability forms and managing related claims. In addition, David serves both as special settlement counsel to the insurance industry and as defense counsel of record in privacy, TCPA, and software disputes.

With a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations and experience as a personnel manager, David frequently is retained as special settlement counsel in employment class actions. His roster of high-profile cases ranges from representing professional athletic associations engaged in employment actions to the defense of a wide variety of professionals in liability actions, including design and miscellaneous professionals such as real estate agents, appraisers, bankers and other in addition to general business disputes.

Sureties / Construction Industry
David has represented sureties in construction contract bond matters in a variety of disputes, including completion and project takeovers as well as in bankruptcy matters. Additionally, he has extensive experience handling D&O liability, insurance coverage, professional liability, employment practices, and construction-related litigation, including the defense of design professionals.

Representative Matters

Insurance Coverage

Represented an insurer in connection with a legal malpractice claim against a law firm that had represented a media client in antitrust and unfair business practices matters that settled for $500 million. David was brought in due to the gravity of the case and the lack of cooperation by the insured law firm, which would not allow the insurer to exercise its typical investigation and defense obligations to assess and review the case. The insured ultimately agreed to settle for $2 million, but was compelled to pay nearly $1 million out of pocket due to its lack of cooperation with the insurance carrier.

Acted as lead defense counsel in a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act where the client faced exposure in excess of $250 million that was ultimately resolved for approximately $5 million. Has acted as lead settlement counsel in more than a dozen similar actions nationwide.

Acted as coverage counsel for a second-layer excess carrier in connection with more than 100 lawsuits brought by municipal tax authorities around the country seeking to recover hotel occupancy taxes from online travel services. Despite the fact that the gross loss exceeded the client’s limits and the primary and first excess carriers had paid full limits, successfully negotiated settlement at less than 50 percent of the client’s limit.

Recovered $1.1 million in defense costs paid by an insurer by successfully prosecuting an action for recission as well as proving under the Buss doctrine in California that the insurer properly reserved rights to recover costs paid and there was no coverage from inception..

Negotiated and resolved multimillion-dollar insurance coverage claims involving the viatical insurance settlement industry, in which third-party investors take over payment of premiums on life insurance policies in exchange for the legal right to be the beneficiary of the policies upon the death of the policy holders.

Published Decisions

Stephens v. National Distillers & Chem. Corp., 69 F.3d 1226 (2nd Cir., 1995)

Upper Deck Co. v. Endurance Am. Specialty Ins. Co., U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148668 (S.D. Cal. December 15, 2011)

Clarendon Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Health Plan Adm'rs, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88135, (S.D. N.Y. September 24, 2009)

Schwartz v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 492 F. Supp. 2d 308 (S.D.N.Y. 2007)

Sys. & Computer Tech. Corp. v. Columbia Cas. Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30432 (E.D. Pa. April 25, 2007)

National Chiropractic Mut. Ins. Co. v. Doe, 23 F. Supp. 2d 1109 (D. Alaska 1998)

Aldrich v. National Chiropractic Mut. Ins. Co, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23729, (W.D.N.Y. September 30, 1997)

Greenberg v. National Chiropractic Mut. Ins. Co., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9179, (S.D.N.Y. July 2, 1996)

Canron Corp. v. City of New York, 89 N.Y.2d 147; 674 N.E.2d 1117; 652 N.Y.S.2d 211 (NY 1996), appeal from 214 A.D.2d 115; 631 N.Y.S.2d 642

Andre v. City of New York, 47 A.D.3d 602; 850 N.Y.S.2d 148; subsequent appeal at Andre v City of New York, 47 AD3d 605, 850 NYS2d 146 (NY. App. Div. 2008)

Conrad R. Sump & Co. v. Home Ins. Co., 267 A.D.2d 415; 701 N.Y.S.2d 103; (N.Y. App. Div. 1999)

Rubino v. Fisher Reese W.P. Assocs., 262 A.D.2d 297; 689 N.Y.S.2d 643 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999) prior appeal at 243 A.D.2d 620; 663 N.Y.S.2d 237

Franklin v. Jaros, Baum & Bolles, Inc., 257 A.D.2d 600; 684 N.Y.S.2d 282 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999)

Brown v. New York City Economic Dev. Corp., 234 A.D.2d 33; 650 N.Y.S.2d 213 (N.Y. App. Div. 1996)

Edouard v. Ginsberg & Broome, P.C., 229 A.D.2d 559; 645 N.Y.S.2d 865 (N.Y. App. Div. 1996)

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