John H. Podesta Partner




John Podesta is a litigation attorney with national trial counsel, mediation and litigation management experience who has handled cases in state and federal courts throughout California and in Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. The primary focus of John’s practice lies in insurance coverage and bad faith, business litigation, land development, landlord-tenant and general civil litigation. His command of the business cycle, from drafting contracts and agreements to risk management and insurance advisory to construction- and post-construction-owned real estate, makes him an invaluable collaborator across industries and practice areas. In his 30-year legal career, John has handled a wide variety of litigated and transactional matters, resolving issues quickly and smoothly to help clients achieve their goals cost-effectively.

John is adept at navigating the interplay between insurance recovery and liability, giving him a perspective in the world of commercial disputes that enables him to see “outside the box” to create a litigation strategy or resolution that addresses all the clients’ needs while achieving lasting settlements. For cases involving bad faith – in which outsized damage amounts can seriously cripple a company – John mounts a particularly aggressive defense and has established an enviable record of success. Whatever the capacity, he prides himself on responsiveness, the thoroughness and quality of his work product, and his ability to provide clients with highly personalized service. 

John’s clients are located throughout the United States, and he is a member of the London Market team, representing London clients in defense and insurance coverage matters.

Areas of Focus

More than three decades of experience in the insurance field makes John aggressive and practical, with knowledge across the industry from contract language drafting, through insurance agents’ professional liability, policy underwriting and issuance, and claim handling. As a former claims supervisor for a major insurer and as an insurance investigator prior to practicing law, John brings a “bottom-line” perspective to insurance coverage and bad faith matters as well as to his commercial and defense work.

Land Development
John represents land owners and contractors in license and real estate contracts, entity formation, dispute resolution, insurance recovery, insurance for environmental contamination, personal injury, commercial and residential fire and water damage claims, construction insurance disputes involving ongoing operations, construction defect and OCIP/wrap-up matters.

John brings his insurance and construction experience to the landlord-tenant arena, where there can be issues of overlapping coverage, construction and building conditions, and contract interpretation in the context of a body of law that is unique and tailored for landlords and tenants. He has litigated and given coverage advice to landlords and their insurers in habitability claims, wrongful eviction and nuisance cases in rent-controlled San Francisco and Alameda counties.

Construction claims can have complex insurance, claims handling and professional liability overtones. John’s keen grasp of the components of the construction cycle – from drafting documents to risk management to insurance issues – makes his counsel especially valuable. John actively litigates and counsels clients in contract drafting and negotiation, construction claims and liens, construction accidents and defect claims.

Casualty defense requires a focused analytical approach and a carefully conceived resolution plan designed to determine likely exposure, identify options and ultimately conclude in outcomes that adhere to prescribed guidelines. John understands how best to take a case through trial or early resolution, and he has successfully resolved a variety of defense cases, from fire damage to construction site accidents and from slip-and-falls to habitability claims.

Representative Matters

Real Estate & Development
Represented investor-owned water company in drafting and negotiating design-build contracts for water storage tanks and vendor contracts in addition to a wide variety of licenses.

Represented local businesses with regard to a variety of license, corporate governing documents and vendor agreements, including an ambulance company and a large landmark apartment complex.

Drafted and negotiated insurance provisions in construction and operation agreements, and represented the clients with regard to disputes.

Represented property management firm in a class action challenge to residential lease in San Francisco concerning bedbugs for more than 5,000 actively managed units. Negotiated a resolution of nearly all bedbug-related claims applicable to every unit, with a total class payout of less than $100,000.

Represented carrier in contribution action after co-carrier offered an unreasonable amount in settlement on a “take it or leave it” basis. Recovered 75 percent of the indemnity payment, plus interest, overcoming continuing damage limitations in the defendant’s policies. Resulted in unpublished opinion.

Represented insurance company in closeout-related litigation involving their insureds under an OCIP policy. Resolved issues of Builders’ Risk and General Liability coverage overlaps. Matter was complicated by retentions held by the owner and mechanics’ liens filed by contractors.

Drafted new “continuous damage” and “anti-stacking” endorsement for use by a major U.S. insurer.

Represented risk retention group in a suit to establish enforceability of a demand deductible, and the application of an earth movement exclusion containing anti-concurrent cause language in U.S. District Court in Nevada. Made a successful motion to dismiss bad faith counter claim.

Represented insurer in construction defect coverage matter to obtain additional insured recovery and participation in Colorado.

Represented insurer for general contractor in additional insured recovery action resulting in two published opinions.

Represented insurer in contribution action challenging continuous damage limitation in co-carrier’s policy.