Team

     
       
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Carl J. Pernicone

Partner | White Plains, NY

Carl Pernicone is co-chair of the firm’s Insurance-Reinsurance Coverage practice. Carl has extensive experience with matters involving toxic tort and environmental liability claims, including property insurance claims. He also applies the skill set he has developed in handling complicated environmental issues to assist insurers facing claims in emerging coverage areas such as climate change and clean energy technologies.

Carl adds value to his client relationships through responsiveness and regular follow up. He takes the time to get to know the issues of interest to each of his clients – including issues not related to projects Carl is handling for them– and frequently will pass along relevant news articles, email alerts or other materials to his clients. Carl also provides regular follow up on key topics of interest to attendees of educational programs he has presented.

In addition to his legal practice, Carl manages Wilson Elser’s national attorney training program and is chair of the Associate Development Committee. 

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Ricki E. Roer

Partner | New York, NY

Ricki Roer is a member of the firm’s Office of the Chair, Executive Committee and Office of the General Counsel. She is regional managing partner for Wilson Elser's New York office and the founding chair of Wilson Elser’s National Employment & Labor litigation practice. Ricki has litigated thousands of cases in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels. Her practice focuses on all aspects of labor and employment law relating to contract and collective bargaining negotiations and disputes; labor arbitrations, grievances and NLRB proceedings; and all aspects of employment transactions. Ricki represents multinational corporations, domestic companies, and nonprofit organizations from a wide spectrum of industries. A recognized authority in the industry, Ricki is consistently called upon to lecture on issues of employment discrimination and labor law.

Our clients are well aware of Ricki’s success ratio and she is regarded as a leading strategist by the Legal 500, among others. Ricki brings a business-oriented approach to her clients’ problems, employing prudent and appropriate strategies along with 24-7 availability and responsiveness. She is skilled in managing litigation, leveraging her background and industry experience in health care and insurance.

In her role as chair of the Employment & Labor practice, Ricki leads a team of more than 150 attorneys throughout the United States. Members of this national team are often recognized by clients for their high rate of court victories, early dismissals, and business-oriented resolutions of their clients’ labor and employment needs. The practice’s attorneys counsel clients in their day-to-day management of employment and labor issues and policies, regularly conduct a variety of internal investigations and audits, provide “hotline” services, and draft employment policy manuals and contracts as well as collective bargaining agreements and implementations.

Health Care Experience
In addition to her Employment & Labor practice, Ricki has knowledge in a wide variety of health care law, particularly where it overlaps with employment law. She has attracted a client roster that includes nationally renowned physicians and premier teaching hospitals.

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Lisa Handler Ackerman

Partner | Chicago, IL Lisa Handler Ackerman is a dynamic litigator who focuses on employment defense as well as insurance coverage matters. Lisa’s innate ability to communicate and connect with others has earned her the respect of clients and colleagues as well as judges and adversaries.

A significant portion of Lisa’s practice involves counseling employers on personnel issues and defending them in employment-related claims, including class actions and multiparty lawsuits. A number of her recent cases have centered on “hot button” employment issues such as invasion of privacy claims, including claims brought under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), wage and hour laws, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to employees and equal access, and whistleblower claims. She has litigated employment cases in state and federal courts and taken appeals up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the coverage area, Lisa has substantial experience representing insurance carriers in matters arising from a myriad of policy types, providing opinions on defenses and handling litigation nationwide. She also has defended clients in general litigation matters, including negligence, premises liability, wrongful death and breach of contract cases.

Lisa is the representative of the Chicago office to Wilson Elser’s national diversity and inclusion initiative, WAVE (Women Attorneys Valued & Empowered), and she is the immediate past chair of the Labor and Employment Committee of the Chicago Bar Association. Lisa regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on a variety of topics relative to her extensive labor and employment practice.
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Cav. Nicholas R. Caiazzo

Partner | New York, NY

An accomplished trial attorney, Nick Caiazzo represents a full range of companies involved in construction, contract disputes, service, maintenance and demolition. His representation involves complex cases alleging negligence, safety violations and dangerous conditions resulting from fatalities and serious personal injuries and property damage. Nick has assembled a team that defends matters related to construction, commercial and residential building services, ownership, operation, management and security of every conceivable type of premises.

Nick honed his trial skills as an assistant district attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted high-profile cases ranging from homicide and sexual assaults to economic crimes and arson. At Wilson Elser Nick uses his vast experience as a former prosecutor in the defense of civil litigation matters. His professional background provides invaluable experience in representing security companies against claims of inadequate security, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

The growth of his representation over the years in defending the real estate and construction industries has allowed Nick to develop a particular proficiency in defending elevator liability cases, ranging from fatal accidents involving workers and passengers to working closely with his clients in dealing with all levels of government enforcement agencies. Nick’s representation extends to transportation companies responsible for the removal and hauling of construction debris, waste and recycling from premises and construction sites. He is a member of the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA NY) and has participated on its Codes & Regulations/Government Affairs Committee.

In the role of full-service designated counsel accommodating companies locally and nationally, Nick and his team defend claims in the interrelated areas of construction liability, elevator liability, security liability, premises liability, general causality and property damage subrogation cases on behalf of property owners, real estate management companies, construction companies, service contractors and building managers. His approach to collaborating with his clients allows Nick to become familiar with the people, policies, procedures and paperwork of client organizations to form a deep understanding of their legal needs. He provides personalized service to each client to develop risk management and crisis response programs and initiate processes to mitigate the impact of claims on insurance costs.

Nationally, Nick works closely with the firm’s regional attorneys across the country to provide consistent and uniform representation to clients that operate in multiple jurisdictions. Nick's advice and guidance is sought by colleagues throughout the firm and his approach to representation has developed into best practice standards.

Distinguished Service & Recognition
Nick has been publicly recognized for his commitment to giving back to the community, providing legal counsel and serving as a board member for a number of nonprofit organizations. He is passionate about his heritage and the immigrant experience. Nick is a recipient of the 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of his leadership in the legal profession and his mission to share his knowledge in fostering the values of the American way of life through diversity, tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups.

Nick serves on the board of directors of Cristo Rey High School in Brooklyn, which is part of a national network of Catholic college preparatory schools serving students in disadvantaged neighborhoods. He received the Marco Polo Humanitarian Award for his work with Hamilton Madison House, which assists immigrants with citizenship, employment, child and elder care, medical care and other social services. Deeply passionate about his own heritage, Nick serves on the board of directors and as regional vice president of the National Italian American Foundation, which awards grants and scholarships to qualified students.

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J. Price Collins

Partner | Dallas, TX

Price Collins, regional managing partner for the firm’s Dallas office, has the background, legal knowledge and practical management skills required to efficiently and effectively help insurers resolve coverage issues arising under any number of insurance policies. Price is a co-chair of the firm’s Insurance & Reinsurance Coverage practice.

The majority of Price’s career has been devoted to advising insurance companies in coverage-related matters, including coverage determinations, claims handling, settlement negotiations and bad faith avoidance. He also handles litigation in both federal and state courts involving contractual and extra-contractual claims on a nationwide basis. 

Clients often retain Price to handle their most complex negotiations given his extensive knowledge of insurance coverage law, his thorough analysis of the facts of each case, and his persuasive presentation skills. In preparing coverage opinions for his clients, Price focuses on important issues that impact the bottom line and provides recommendations that address specific needs and concerns.

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Mary Jean Geroulo

Of Counsel | Dallas, TX

Mary Jean Geroulo has worked in health care her entire career and appreciates the regulatory and operational challenges faced by providers in this dynamic field.

In her legal practice, Mary Jean focuses on health care reimbursement, regulatory compliance and transactional issues. Her clients include individual hospitals and multi-hospital corporations, physician groups and solo practitioners, home health agencies, nursing homes, and a variety of other health care providers. Mary Jean is accessible to her clients at all times, providing immediate responses to their questions regarding the legal and regulatory implications of various situations that arise. Clients rely on Mary Jean to provide them with clear, concise answers that offer the necessary legal support while being comprehensible to their business personnel.

As a former hospital CEO, Mary Jean has first-hand knowledge of the impact the law has on the operation of a health care business and understands the nuanced relationships that exist between participants throughout the health care system. Her passion for the science of health care led Mary Jean to her first job as a research assistant and continues to inspire her practice of health care law.

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Steven J. Joffe

Partner | Los Angeles, CA

Steve Joffe is an experienced trial lawyer known for his skillful cross-examination techniques. As a co-chair of Wilson Elser’s national Employment & Labor Practice and the Los Angeles Employment group, he defends and advises companies that have workplace-related matters, including but not limited to sexual harassment claims, wrongful termination claims and workplace discrimination claims. Steve has brought more than 60 cases to jury trial, involving most areas of civil litigation and has the unique ability and knowledge to adapt his strong litigation and trial skills to catastrophic personal injury claims in the area of Complex Tort & General Casualty.

Steve was a senior shareholder with his previous firm, where he built his commercial litigation business along with a stellar commercial litigation department that he brought with him to Wilson Elser. Known for his insightful ability to critically evaluate a client’s case, Steve can precisely determine a client’s liability and damage exposure. He also considers communication the most critical aspect of the client relationship. He believes that no matter how well you are defending a client’s interests, it can become lost in the process unless the client is involved every step of the way during litigation.

View Steve's exemplar trial experience.

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Bruno W. Katz

Partner | San Diego, CA

Bruno Katz maintains a diverse business litigation practice with an emphasis on labor and employment, corporate litigation and complex multi-party litigation. Bruno represents a wide variety of clients, including hospitality, transportation, pharmaceutical/ health care and construction companies, as well as insurance brokers and agents, attorneys and utilities. He is a strong litigator, trial attorney and advocate.

Bruno believes in resolving cases quickly. He partners with his clients to understand the facts and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each case, advancing to trial only when it is mutually agreed that this represents the best approach. He moves proactively to put the plaintiff on the defensive, always respecting his client’s bottom line.

A captain in the Navy Reserves with the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG), Bruno has nearly 30 years of service in both an active and a reserve capacity. Currently serving as a Pre-Trial Hearing Officer, Bruno’s past duties include serving as the Staff Judge Advocate for Commander, Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command (NRSW RCC), which is the headquarters command for approximately 12,000 selected reservists administered by 19 Navy Operational Support Centers throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and the Territory of Guam. He also served as Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General for Reserve Affairs and Operations. Bruno has been the commanding officer of two reserve legal units, both of which were awarded the Rear Admiral Gilbert Cup as the best reserve unit in the nation. He also is the 2010 recipient of the Judge Advocate Generals Association's Outstanding Senior Officer Award.

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Jonathan E. Meer

Partner | New York, NY

Jonathan Meer focuses his practice on insurance coverage, including monitoring and coverage determinations, with a concentration on directors and officers (D&O), professional errors and omissions (E&O), lawyers’ (LPL), employment practices and cyber liability programs. Jonathan represents the interests of primary and excess insurers based in the United States, China, London and Bermuda in high-exposure claims against directors and officers of public and private companies, nonprofit boards, financial institutions and insurance companies. He has addressed claims related to shareholder class actions seeking multimillion-dollar damages against public companies and their directors and officers, as well as other high-profile fraud cases involving a variety of issues.

In addition, Jonathan’s litigation practice focuses on commercial litigation and professional liability. He has experience with matters arising under E&O policies covering attorneys, co-op boards, software developers, engineers, consultants, agents and other professionals. Jonathan’s practice also includes employment matters involving all types of discrimination and harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination claims.

Jonathan is active in firmwide development activities, including serving on Wilson Elser’s Associate Focus Committee and the firm’s Peer Mentor Committee.

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Yoora Pak

Partner | McLean, VA Yoora Pak has extensive experience handling complex employment-related litigation matters. In addition to her litigation practice, Yoora provides counseling to human resources staff and in-house counsel of diverse companies on various employment matters. Yoora also has broad experience conducting internal investigations of complaints of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and other violations. Prior to her private practice, Yoora worked at the U.S. Department of Labor as a trial and appellate attorney, where she handled matters arising under the various statutes enforced by the DOL.

Yoora also has extensive experience with fair housing litigation and counseling matters. She has defended property owners, managers and boards of association in agency investigations and lawsuits asserting claims of discrimination under local, state and federal fair housing laws. Yoora also advises clients on fair housing issues, such as FHEO training, disability assessments and compliance reviews.

Yoora has a very genuine and effective way of establishing rapport with her clients and colleagues. Her openness and ability to grasp nuances help her move quickly from discovery to strategy in even the largest and most complex matters.
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Michelle R. Press

Partner | Los Angeles, CA

Michelle Press focuses her practice on complex insurance coverage, litigation and transactional matters.  She is a seasoned trial attorney who has been lead trial counsel in numerous insurance-related cases that resulted in favorable judgments or verdicts and she has been published by several California Courts of Appeal as well as the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to defending her insurance company clients from extra-contractual and related claims, Michelle has extensive experience in prosecuting and trying complex mass recovery actions and handling general civil litigation on various topics. 

Michelle is an experienced attorney who is comfortable handling highly complex insurance and defense matters, and she is known for her focus on achieving efficient, creative resolutions to litigated and non-litigated matters that protect her clients and avoid the time and expense of protracted litigation.  Michelle has been selected to present the California Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations to the London (Re)insurance Market at the Old Library at Lloyd's in conjunction with the LMA for the past four years based on her unconventional seminar presentation style.

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Mathew P. Ross

Partner | White Plains, NY

Mat Ross is one of Wilson Elser’s senior New York trial partners who has extensive experience in state and federal courts and increasingly is brought in to serve as trial counsel on potentially high-exposure cases previously handled by other firms for insureds, insurers and excess insurers. Mat has tried approximately 115 cases and taken more than 35 verdicts. He focuses on the defense of construction accident claims under New York Labor Law and other high-exposure premises liability claims. Mat has a growing coverage practice representing insurers in connection with a variety of specialty risk insurance policies. In addition, he has experience defending professional liability, premises liability, premises security, toxic tort, employment and police/municipal liability matters.

In his areas of practice, Mat frequently lectures to domestic and London insurers, brokers and their insureds on topics such as “Overview of Construction/Labor Law Claims and Defenses,” Defending Economic Loss Claims,” “Underwriting Disability Policies for Professional Athletes” and “Overview of Product Contamination Recalls.” As a value-added service, Mat also presents frequently to construction site superintendents, safety personnel and others working in the field on strengthening risk management.

Prior to joining Wilson Elser, Mat served as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps at Fort Eustis, VA, where he was chief of the military justice branch as a criminal prosecutor and also handled cases in the labor/employment law branch.

View Mat's exemplar trial experience.

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Scott R. Schaffer

Partner | New York, NY

Scott Schaffer has practiced in the insurance coverage area throughout his legal career, with a current focus on claims under directors and officers liability, professional liability and employment liability policies. As a founding member of the firm’s Insurance-Reinsurance Coverage practice, Scott is a coordinator of the national Directors & Officers and Employment teams.>

On behalf of insurance carriers, Scott provides counseling and opinions in coverage matters arising from business disputes and corporate insurance defense, with a concentration on directors and officers (D&O), lawyers (LPL) and other professionals’ errors and omissions (E&O), employment practices (EPL) and cyber liability programs. He serves as national counsel and claims coordinator for D&O, LPL, E&O and EPL programs originated in the United States, Bermuda and London, including programs targeting lawyers, financial institutions, non-profit organizations, franchise businesses, and small to mid-sized “hard to place” for-profit corporations. In his role as national program counsel, Scott is responsible for drafting policies and endorsements, preparing claims bordereaux, and providing guidance to underwriters on various issues. He is a frequent speaker at seminars in the United States, Canada, Bermuda and Europe, and has written numerous articles on D&O, LPL, E&O and EPL liability. For the past fifteen years, the New York City Bar Association has published annual editions of Scott’s “Directors and Officers Liability/Insurance Handbook.”

Scott’s client service approach emphasizes a high level of professionalism and responsiveness to client needs, with a focus on cost-effective management and resolution of claims through the balanced use of internal and external resources. Scott is particularly adept at advocating his clients’ positions at mediations and settlement conferences, hundreds of which he has attended all across the United States over the years. Throughout his career, Scott has represented insurers in numerous civil claims arising from financial crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and foreign corruption. Presently, Scott is heavily involved in the representation of insurers, along various product lines, with continuing exposures to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

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Lori Rosen Semlies

Partner | White Plains, NY

Lori Semlies, a co-chair of the firm’s Medical Malpractice & Health Care Practice, defends medical and nursing home malpractice claims in state and federal courts, including all phases of litigation through trial. She also formed the firm’s Coronavirus Task Force for the defense of health care claims. Lori is a member of Wilson Elser's Executive Committee and sits on several other firm committees.

A frequent lecturer at conferences across the country, Lori speaks on best practices in documentation in a medical institution. She also assists clients with drafting admission agreements and protocols and helps them manage crisis situations.

Lori is active in Wilson Elser’s Women Attorneys Valued & Empowered (WAVE) initiative, which exemplifies the firm’s enlightened approach to advancing the professional and personal well-being of its women attorneys. She also assists with the firm’s mentoring programs.

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Ian A. Stewart

Partner | Los Angeles, CA

Ian Stewart is the regional managing partner of Wilson Elser’s Los Angeles office. He has defended complex litigation in state and federal courts for 25 years with a diverse practice that includes product and professional liability, cannabis law, data privacy and cybersecurity, complex general casualty and intellectual property litigation. 

Ian has achieved a national reputation as a distinguished cannabis attorney and has been named to the prestigious Chambers USA 2020, 2021 and 2022 Guides in Cannabis Law.  As co-chair of the firm’s national Cannabis Law Practice, Ian leads a national multidisciplinary team of lawyers who serve all aspects of the cannabis and hemp industries, as well as financial institutions and insurance companies that service those industries.

Ian also is co-chair of the national Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice. He regularly defends data privacy class-action litigation and matters involving invasion of privacy, right of publicity and statutory consumer claims that impact privacy rights.

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Dean A. Rocco

Partner | Los Angeles, CA Dean Rocco is a pragmatic, results-oriented attorney who leverages the firm’s geographic reach and strength across multiple disciplines to the benefit of clients. He takes great pride in building longstanding partnerships with clients through responsive communication and positive outcomes consistent with their business philosophies and objectives.

Dean is the Western Region Chair of the firm’s national Employment & Labor Practice. In that capacity, he maintains a significant practice working with clients on transactional matters, providing advice and counsel and representing employers and management in a wide range of employment litigation. In addition, Dean develops award-winning e-learning solutions for clients, including online harassment prevention training programs, and serves as a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Dean also serves as a chair of the firm’s national Cannabis Law Practice. Dean works with clients inside and outside the cannabis industry to navigate the complex and quickly evolving framework of adult-use and medical marijuana laws impacting their businesses.

As a distinguished attorney and recognized authority in his field, Dean has been ranked in Chambers USA, recognized by publications and asked to serve in leadership positions of boards and committees of several organizations. He is asked routinely by media outlets, business organizations and professional associations to share his perspectives on evolving legal issues
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Paul S. White

Partner | Los Angeles, CA

Paul White focuses his practice on complex insurance coverage and bad faith litigation and represents defendants in commercial litigation. Paul's insurance coverage practice includes advising and representing insurers in bad faith litigation and insurance policy disputes, including first-party property policies, general liability coverage, errors and omissions insurance, and media liability insurance. He also advises and represents insurers in subrogation actions on property losses. In addition, Paul has litigated and arbitrated disputes throughout the United States involving domestic and foreign insurance agents and brokers in all lines of coverage. He has broad experience in the business practices of all types of insurance intermediaries, including brokers at every level in the broking process, from producers to managing general agents to London Market brokers.

In his litigation practice, Paul focuses on commercial business litigation, including professional liability actions brought against insurance agents and brokers. In addition to his insurance practice, Paul advises entertainment and technology companies on the management of intellectual property risks.

Paul regularly speaks and publishes for groups such as DRI, the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS), Property & Liability Resource Bureau/Liability Insurance Research Bureau (PLRB/LIRB), the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, and the National Business Institute on insurance coverage issues, including, among others, intellectual property, bad faith, professional liability, employment, environmental and construction defects. In 2016, Paul received the Outstanding Presenter award from PLRB.

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Michael J. Duffy

Partner | Chicago, IL

Michael Duffy has nearly 30 years of experience representing insurers in insurance coverage matters, extra-contractual liability, bad faith and reinsurance matters. He regularly advises clients with respect to insurance coverage issues, drafts insurance policy language, and litigates coverage and bad faith cases for general and specialty lines insurance and reinsurance companies. He is a co-chair of the firm’s Insurance & Reinsurance Coverage practice. 

Michael also has experience handling class action matters, particularly against insurers. He draws on the firm’s national resources and collective experience to realize desired legal outcomes for his clients based on their individual reputational challenges and financial objectives.   

Michael is involved with several nonprofit organizations, including Friends of the Orphans, which is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned children in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Gateway Foundation, which provides treatment for indigents addicted to drugs and alcohol. He also served as the DePaul University College of Law Alumni Liaison and as a lector for St. Mary of Vernon Catholic Church. 

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Siobhán A. Breen

Associate | New York, NY

Siobhán A. Breen represents primary and excess professional liability insurers and drafts coverage opinions with respect to complex insurance coverage matters involving directors and officers liability, errors and omissions liability, miscellaneous professional liability, lawyers professional liability, and employment practices liability.

Prior to joining Wilson Elser, Siobhán’s practice consisted of insurance coverage and insurance defense litigation. Siobhán has experience in securities class actions, shareholder derivative actions, cyber/privacy actions, and professional malpractice actions for public and private companies. She also is experienced in civil litigation, acting as defense counsel and plaintiff’s counsel to insurers in coverage dispute actions, personal injury actions, and bad faith actions.