Keith McKenna has a diverse general commercial litigation background, with a particular emphasis on insurance coverage litigation and counseling for corporate policyholders. He regularly represents large corporate policyholders in federal and state court actions around the country seeking damages, declaratory judgments, and other reliefs against prominent American and European property and casualty insurers. Keith also has represented large corporate clients in a wide range of commercial litigation involving contract disputes, alter-ego and veil-piercing claims, securities and shareholder claims, antitrust violations, patent infringement, and employment discrimination. Keith was recognized as an “up and coming” lawyer in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA for "Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder" in New York, then in 2015 was among the ranked lawyers in that category. Additionally, he was highlighted as having “tremendous skills, dedication, and experience” in the 2013 and 2015 editions of The Legal 500 in the area of "Insurance: Advice to Policyholders." Keith is rated AV Preeminent (4.9 out of 5.0) by Martindale-Hubble Peer Review Rating, which illustrates that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence. He also clerked for the Honorable Stewart G. Pollock, former Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1997 to 1998.
Representation of Verizon Communications Inc., Verizon Financial Services LLC, and GTE Corporation (collectively, “Verizon”) in securing a victory before the Delaware Superior Court, which ruled that the company's insurers must provide coverage for tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and costs incurred in successfully defending against a $14 billion lawsuit filed against Verizon in connection with the spin-off of its directories businesses, which later filed for bankruptcy. The court granted summary judgment to Verizon, finding that the policy’s “Securities Claim” provision could be read to encompass a lawsuit alleging a violation of any statute or rule, including a common law rule, that must be followed to properly engage in a securities transaction, and that the lawsuit against Verizon contained such allegations.
Representation of Warren Pumps LLC in a case seeking coverage from more than a dozen insurance companies for thousands of asbestos-related claims. The firm’s lawyers have secured several high-profile courtroom victories for Warren, including a decisive jury verdict worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and landmark decisions from the New York Court of Appeals on the allocation of long-tail claims and the Delaware Supreme Court on critical issues, including assignment of policy rights and the trigger of coverage, which have allowed Warren to access more than $500 million dollars in asbestos insurance coverage limits.
- Representation of Pella Corporation and various of its subsidiaries against numerous insurance companies in several Iowa federal court actions in which Pella is seeking insurance coverage for underlying lawsuits pending against Pella, including more than 20 class action lawsuits which allege that certain Pella windows and doors were defective and, as a result, leaked and caused water damage. On November 1, 2016, McKool Smith’s lawyers obtained a summary judgment ruling holding that various of the pending lawsuits against Pella alleged a covered “occurrence,” defined as an “accident,” despite insurers’ contention that “foreseeable” damage caused by an insured’s defective work cannot give rise to an “occurrence” under applicable Iowa law. Because the existence of an “occurrence” was a threshold issue that Pella must establish in order to obtain insurance coverage, this ruling is significant to Pella’s pursuit of insurance coverage.
Prior to joining the firm:
- Representation of multibillion-dollar window manufacturer and its subsidiaries in various insurance coverage actions against their general liability insurance carriers. These actions collectively seek to recover millions of dollars in defense and indemnity costs that the window manufacturer and its subsidiaries incurred in connection with underlying class action and individual lawsuits.
- Representation of Warren Pumps LLC in insurance coverage actions involving dozens of insurance policies sold by nearly 20 different insurance carriers. In August 2011, Keith helped secure the pump company’s dismissal from a coverage action brought against the insured in New York Supreme Court. Keith also successfully argued against the insurers’ appeal from that dismissal, resulting in a June 2013 affirmance of the dismissal by the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division. In November 2012, Keith participated in a three-week trial in Delaware Superior Court that resulted in a decisive jury verdict finding that the pump company was entitled to defense and indemnity coverage for thousands of asbestos claims. This verdict followed an unprecedented 88-page Delaware legal ruling in October 2009 that allowed the pump company to access excess-layer insurance coverage and to allocate liability among those policies on an "all sums" allocation basis. This was the first decision to apply an "all sums" allocation methodology under New York law.
- Representation of a private investment firm that was being investigated by the SEC and DOJ and sought coverage for the costs associated with defending against the investigation, including costs to respond to numerous subpoenas. As a result of this representation, the investment firm procured coverage for almost all of its defense costs.
- Representation of another window manufacturer seeking insurance coverage for two underlying class action lawsuits pending against it in California state court, which resulted in a successful settlement in April 2010.
- Representation of Philips Electronics North America Corporation and its subsidiary, TH Agriculture & Nutrition LLC, in an insurance coverage action brought in Cook County, Illinois, against more than 20 insurance companies for coverage of asbestos related liabilities. Plaintiffs ultimately recovered hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rankings & Honors
- Ranked in Chambers USA in New York for Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder (Band 3). The 2018 edition notes that he is "very well-spoken, articulate and very perceptive advocate."
- Recognized by The Legal 500 as a recommended lawyer in the United States for Insurance: Advice to Policyholders, 2015
Media & Events
- McKool Smith Recognized as a 2017 Leading U.S. Firm for Insurance and Patent Litigation by The Legal 50006.01.2017
- The Wall Street Journal: Seven Trial Lawyers Led by Robin Cohen Join McKool Smith to Launch Insurance Recovery Practice02.02.2016
- "Government Investigations: Are You Covered?," Co-author with Robin Cohen, Corporate Board Member (February 25, 2011)
- Co-author, "Coverage for Defense Costs in Consumer Fraud Actions," Co-author with Robin Cohen and Sheri Hametz, New York Law Journal (August 12, 2010)
J.D., Rutgers School of Law, 1997
- Order of the Coif
B.A., Rutgers University, 1993
- U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1997
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 1999
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 1999
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 2005
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 2010
- American Bar Association
- New York Bar Association
- New Jersey Bar Association