Primary Industries

Industry Associations

  • Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada
  • Professional Liability Underwriting Society

Bar & Court Admissions

  • State Bar of California

Professional Affiliations

American Bar Association 

Community Involvement

Temple Isaiah (Financial Board)

Anti-Defamation League (Past Board Member)

Education

University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D.

University of California at Davis, B.A.

Photo of Robert N. Berg

Robert N. Berg

Partner
San Francisco
T: 415.882.7770
F: 415.882.1570
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Full Bio

An insurance industry authority with over three decades of experience, Robert Berg principally represents clients in large, complex disputes involving coverage issues. He also has extensive experience with contractual commercial litigation and toxic torts, and handles matters involving the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); maritime law; and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  

Mr. Berg began his contract litigation work in the insurance field. He has handled numerous additional insured cases, which led to his expertise in litigating indemnity clauses in commercial contracts. Over the years, Mr. Berg has litigated many types of insurance coverage and bad faith disputes, including commercial general liability, professional liability, first party coverage and admiralty. He spent several years developing his coverage expertise while litigating large toxic tort matters.

He has been involved in complex real estate disputes, in which he has litigated liability and damage issues pertaining to the cleanup of pollutants from land and water. He also navigates clients through federal court actions in which property owners have brought claims against numerous parties to determine response costs, and he has counseled chemical manufacturers and machine manufacturers. In addition to his experience in the insurance and real estate industries, he has also represented retail industry clients in matters typically involving obligations owed by vendors to retailers or by retailers to landlords.

In 2015, Mr. Berg's chapter, "Bodily Injury Damages in Admiralty Cases," published in the treatise, Understanding Maritime Law.

Community Involvement

Mr. Berg spent a number of years serving the community through his work on first amendment issues while on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League.

Education 

Mr. Berg received his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. During law school, he worked as a research intern at the California Court of Appeal where he researched both civil and criminal appellate assignments. He earned his B.A. in History, with High Honors, from the University of California at Davis. While attending college, he worked at the Solano County Public Defender’s Office.

Representative Matters

  • Appellate: Represented an insurance company against Aerojet General in a complex case involving coverage issues, including trigger, effect and application of self-insured retentions, in addition to obligations of insurers to pay insureds’ investigative costs. The case resulted in three appellate decisions favorable to our client.
  • Bad Faith: Our client, an insurance company, approached us with an unusual coverage dispute. Our client’s insured had been sued with a judgment entered against it for several million dollars. However, when the judgment was entered, the insured received a covenant not to execute, so the judgment could only be enforced against our client. We bifurcated the trial under Insurance Code Section 11580, negating claims of bad faith. We proved the policy was not applicable to the terms of the judgment and, as a result, without any breach of contract, we won as a matter of law on bad faith, saving our client several million dollars.
  • CERCLA Litigation: Litigated liability case between various defendants regarding cleanup costs associated with alleged perchlorethylene (PCE) spills.
  • CERCLA Summary Judgment: Our client was sued for water pollution in federal court under various theories. We succeeded in arguing that our client could not be considered a proper “arranger” under CERCLA, and that it could not be liable under the law of nuisance, which had never previously been done in the Northern District.
  • Contamination Coverage Dispute: Represented an insurance company in the seminal Shell Oil case that resulted in appellate decisions on important coverage issues, including obligations of insurers to pay investigative costs and the trigger, effect and application of self-insured retentions.
  • Contract Coverage Dispute: Provided counsel and representation in many coverage disputes involving contract interpretation and application, including a large bad faith case that emanated from a dispute over the parameters of a $5 million judgment. We bifurcated the judgment, enabling us to put forth our coverage defenses first, upon which we were able to prevail at trial.
  • Contract LitigationOur client, a major retail chain, retained us in a large case involving a severely injured party. As a result of an accident at the facility owned by our client, the plaintiff became paralyzed. Prior counsel withdrew, concerned with the potential exposure of the case, which could be as high as $20 million. After reviewing the contracts between the client and the other defendants, our clients prevailed at trial based on written indemnity provisions, and paid no damages. 
  • Environmental Response: Litigated an environmental response matter arising out of mandated cleanup costs for toxic chemicals allegedly disbursed by a dry cleaning business. Convinced the plaintiff that other parties were responsible for the polluted water, thereby avoiding cleanup payments.
  • Maritime Insurance: Represented a maritime insurance company in a dispute involving the high seas disappearance of a very prominent high tech executive. Faced with a $10 million demand, we devised and implemented a successful strategy that resulted in exposure being approximately 10 percent of the initial demand.
  • Multi-layer Insurance Dispute: Represented insurance company in the insurance components of a $650 million Los Angeles Archdiocese class action molestation case.
  • Toxic Tort: Litigated a large $500 million water contamination case. Developed a multi-party strategy to reduce the number of exposed wells, due to the lack of evidence of pollutants exceeding the government maximum concentration levels (MCL). After numerous successful motions, the amount was reduced by 90 percent and the number of affected water wells was cut from 244 to 14.

Media Mentions

Publications

Past Speaking Engagements