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. John focuses his practice in the areas of insurance coverage and bad faith, business litigation, land development and general civil litigation. His command of the business cycle, from drafting contracts and agreements to risk management and insurance advisory to construction and wrap-up matters, makes him an invaluable collaborator across industries and practice areas. In his 25-year legal career, John has handled a wide variety of litigated and transactional matters, resolving issues quickly and smoothly and helping clients achieve their goals cost effectively.

John seeks resolutions to coverage cases through early assessment and negotiations, alternative dispute resolution and other innovative means. 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. 

Areas of Focus

With more than three decades of experience in the insurance field, John is an aggressive and practical advocate with knowledge across the industry from contract language to insurance agents’ professional liability. 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.

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 has worked on some of the most complex issues of overlapping lines of coverage for the insured as well as contributions between co-carriers and insurer insolvency problems. John also defends contractors and owners on job-site accidents, including injury and property damage litigation and construction 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.

Representing 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.

Has 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.

Representing 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.

Representing 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.