Joseph A.H. McGovern Partner



Joe McGovern practices in the general liability area and has extensive experience litigating high-exposure personal injury claims in New York and Connecticut, state and federal trial and appellate courts. Joe has tried civil actions in New York State Supreme Court and New York Civil Court, and he has argued before the Appellate Division, First and Second Departments, and the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Joe’s practice currently is focused on the defense of property owners, condominiums, cooperatives and their managing agents in premises liability cases. He also has extensive experience defending contractors and subcontractors in personal injury claims arising under the New York Labor Law and involving construction and renovation accidents. He has done significant work in defending automobile and trucking accident cases, including catastrophic injury cases, and in defending vicarious liability claims against motor vehicle leasing and rental companies. Other areas in which Joe has experience include replevin actions, employment discrimination cases and antitrust matters. In addition to defending insureds, Joe frequently provides coverage opinions, analyzes policies and defenses, and monitors litigation on behalf of excess carriers.

Joe began his professional life as a reporter, editor and commercial writer, including a 10-year position with PepsiCo’s public affairs department. Prior to that, he served on active duty in the U.S. Army (Air Cavalry) from 1981 to 1984, including service on the East/West German Border. Joe's tenacity and his ability to find, organize and present information in its clearest form has been a key asset in his legal career. This is evidenced by the numerous successful summary judgment motions and appellate briefs he has written and argued. For example, Joe wrote the prevailing appellate brief submitted to the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Wesley v. Schaller Subaru, Inc. (277 Conn. 526 [2005]), an important case on contract reformation and the law of agency. He also wrote the prevailing brief and argued the case of Bayles v. Manns (2006 US App LEXIS 2728, 2006 WL 249560) in which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the owner of a leased motor vehicle could not be held vicariously liable for injuries arising from the purposeful, criminal conduct of the driver of that vehicle. He has 42 published appellate decisions.

Representative Matters

Bermajo v. Empire Builders: Represented the defendant in a Labor Law case brought on behalf of a plaintiff construction worker who was crushed to death by a falling beam. We identified coverage issues that made it difficult for plaintiff to recover damages and were able to resolve the claim for a small fraction of the amount sought.

Budgell v. NY Presbyterian Hospital: Represented the defendant in a Section 240 Labor Law claim in which the trial court initially granted summary judgment on liability to the plaintiff. We perfected our appeal on behalf of the defendant and were able to reach a reasonable settlement with one of the top plaintiff’s firms.

Dombrowski v. Metropolitan Property and Casualty: Represented an insurance company defendant in a lawsuit brought by a women-owned business alleging that our client’s severing of its relationship with plaintiff’s agency was sexually discriminatory because the defendant held the plaintiff to a different standard than other agencies. The trial court denied our motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed with all of our arguments on behalf of the defendant and dismissed the claim.

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