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John M. Sylvester

Partner
+1.412.355.8617
Fax +1.412.355.6501
Mr. Sylvester is a partner in the firm’s Pittsburgh office. He concentrates his practice in commercial litigation, with an emphasis in insurance coverage litigation and counseling. Mr. Sylvester has handled major environmental insurance coverage litigation pending in the courts of Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. He has also litigated asbestos coverage and insurer bad-faith issues in the courts of the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. In addition, he has been involved in insurance coverage litigation relating to product liabilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, California, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and West Virginia. He has also handled first-party property coverage litigation, including property damage and business interruption claims, in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. He has also counseled clients regarding D&O liability issues and has litigated D&O coverage issues in court and arbitration proceedings. Mr. Sylvester has had substantial dealings with insurance coverage matters relating to Lloyd’s and the London insurance companies, in the marine, non-marine and aviation markets. He has significant trial experience in both insurance coverage actions and in general commercial matters and has argued appeals before both federal and state appellate courts. He has also handled numerous domestic and international arbitrations, including those conducted under the auspices of the AAA, the ICDR, the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution and the English Arbitration Act, among others. Mr. Sylvester has lectured and published on topics relating to commercial litigation generally and insurance issues specifically.

Professional Background

Partner with K&L Gates since 1993 and an Associate from 1985-1992.

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Mr. Sylvester served as a law clerk to the Honorable Francis L. Van Dusen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Sylvester served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. 

Achievements

  • Regularly listed in The International Who's Who of Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers
  • Regularly listed in Best Lawyers in America and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for Insurance Law

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Co-chair, International/London Subcommittee of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation

Speaking Engagements

  • Insurance Developments Across the Pond: The English Insurance Act of 2015, ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 3, 2017 (Tucson, AZ).
  • Hot Issues in Bermuda Form Arbitrations, ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 5, 2016 (Tucson, AZ).
  • Can the Arbitration Process under Bermuda Form Policies be Enhanced for Policyholders? K&L Gates International Arbitration Webinar Series, October 29, 2015 (Webinar).
  • “‘Bending the Cost Curve’ in Long-Tail Liability Coverage: The Berkshire Hathaway Strategy,” ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 6, 2015 (Tucson, AZ).
  • “Berkshire Hathaway, the New Goliath: Strategies for the Boy David,” ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 8, 2014 (Tucson, AZ).
  • “Key Issues in Marine Insurance for Global Companies,” RIMS Annual Conference, April 24, 2013 (Los Angeles, CA).
  • “The Concentration of Long-Tail Claims Handling in Berkshire Hathaway’s Resolute Management,” ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 2, 2012 (Tucson, AZ).
  • “Excess Insurer Issues,” Claims Made and Professional Liability Insurance Conference, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, December 12, 2011 (Pittsburgh, PA).
  • "Business Interruption Defined: What Your Policy Says and What It Means,” RIMS Pittsburgh Chapter Meeting, March 8, 2011 (Pittsburgh, PA).
  • “Key Issues in Bermuda-Form Arbitration Proceedings,” American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 5, 2011 (Tucson, AZ).
  • “Insurance Coverage for Global Warming Liabilities,” EEI Risk Management Committee Meeting, February 22, 2011 (Orlando, FL).
  • "Bermuda-Form Insurance Coverage Arbitrations in London: Key Issues and Practical Considerations," K&L Gates Recorded Webinar, September 30, 2010.
  • "Key Insurance Coverage Issues Under 'Energy Package' Policies for Offshore Operations," K&L Gates Co-Sponsored Seminar, October 20, 2010 (Houston, TX).
  • "Bermuda-Form Arbitrations in London: Key Issues and Practical Considerations," ABA Webinar, June 24, 2010 (London, England)
  • "The Lloyd's Part VII Transfer and Beyond," ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar, March 5, 2010 (Tucson, AZ)
  • "Assessing Global Legal Liability Risks," REBEX 2008 Conference, October 24, 2008 (Chicago, IL)
  • "Excess Insurer Issues," Claims Made and Professional Liability Insurance Conference, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, August 12, 2008 (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • "Risk Management for Global Corporations – Assessing Global Legal Liability Risks," 2008 RIMS Annual Conference, April 29, 2008 (San Diego, CA)
  • "The Equitas/Berkshire Hathaway Transaction: How Will It Affect Your Claim?," ABA Section of Litigation - Insurance Coverage Committee CLE Seminar, February 29, 2008 (Tucson, AZ)
  • "Key Issues in Property Damage and Business Interruption Coverage for Natural Disasters and Industrial Accidents," Seminar sponsored by K&L Gates and UHY Advisors, September 18, 2007 (Houston, TX)
  • "Pursuing Historical Insurance Coverage for Environmental Cleaning Costs," C-5's Advanced Conference on Environmental Liability and Insurance, July 6, 2007 (London, England)
  • "Effective Cross-Examination Techniques," KASE Summer Trial Advocacy Program, June 28, 2007 (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • "Understanding Lloyd's, Equitas and the London Insurance Market," Fundamentals of Insurance Coverage Law Conference, sponsored by Lexis/Nexis, February 8, 2007 (Washington, DC)
  • Broker Liability and Related Concepts, K&L Gates Insurance Coverage Training Series, August 10, 2006 (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • The Policyholder's Perspective on Insurer Insolvencies and Runoffs, Insurance Runoff Management Conference, sponsored by Informa, February 28, 2006 (London, England).
  • "Insurance Coverage in the UK for Products and Premises Liabilities," Maximising Returns From Your Insurance Assets: Protecting Your Company's Bottom Line, sponsored by K&L Gates, March 15 and 16, 2005 (Manchester and London, England).
  • "Understanding Lloyd’s and Equitas," Reinsurance 101 Conference: Litigation and Arbitration, sponsored by Mealey’s Publications, February 14, 2005 (Washington, D.C.).
  • "Policyholder Recourse in the Event of Equitas Insolvency," Equitas Claims and Insolvency Roundtable, sponsored by Astor Law Firm and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, March 2, 2004 (Washington, D.C.)
  • "Understanding Lloyd's and Equitas," Fundamentals of Insurance Coverage Law Conference, sponsored by Mealey's Publications, March 20, 2003 (Philadelphia, PA).
  • "Key Issues in First-Party Property Coverage for Mold-Related Claims," Mold Insurance Litigation Conference, sponsored by Mealey's Publications, September 23, 2002 (Chicago, IL).
  • "Policyholder Recourse in the Event of Equitas Insolvency," Lloyd's and Equitas 2002, sponsored by the American Bar Association, May 14, 2002 (Chicago, IL).
  • "Insurance Related Issues in the Context of Asbestos Bankruptcies," Asbestos and Mold Insurance Conference, sponsored by Mealey's Publications, March 14, 2002 (Los Angeles, CA) and April 18, 2002 (Philadelphia, PA).
  • "Litigating In The London Market:  Overview of Current Issues," Insurance Coverage in the New Millennium, sponsored by ALI-ABA.  October 12, 2001 (New York, NY).
  • "Bringing Suit Against Equitas on a Lloyd's Policy," Lloyd's and Equitas 2001, sponsored by American Bar Association, May 25, 2001 (Chicago, IL). 
  • "Lloyd's and Equitas:  Recent Asbestos Claims Strategy," Lloyd's and Equitas 2001, sponsored by American Bar Association, May 24, 2001  (Chicago, IL).
  • "The Relationship between Claims Defense and Insurance Recovery Efforts," Insurance Coverage Seminar, sponsored by DuPont Legal Department, December 1, 1999 (Wilmington, DE).
  • "Litigating Against Lloyd's in Federal Court:  Is It Still Possible?" Lloyd's and the London Insurance Market 1999:  Capitalizing on Change, sponsored by the Practising Law Institute, April 9, 1999 (New York, NY).
  • "Suing Lloyd's on a Lloyd's Insurance or Reinsurance Policy," Environmental Reinsurance Conference, sponsored by Mealey's Publications, November 19, 1998 (West Palm Beach, FL).
  • "Taking Depositions To Win," Seminar on Complex Commercial Litigation, Part II, sponsored by Duquesne University Law School, August 26, 1997 (Pittsburgh, PA).
  • "Effective Discovery Strategies In MGP Coverage Litigation: The Policyholder's Perspective," The 2d Annual Conference on Recovering Manufactured Gas Plant Cleanup Costs, sponsored by Fulcrum Information Services, Inc., January 27, 1997 (Washington, D.C.).
  • PMA Insurance Co. v. Johnson Matthey Inc. – Served as lead counsel for policyholder in successfully arguing key issues of insurance law before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (2017).

  • Ashland, Inc., et al. v. National Indemnity Co., et al. – Served as lead trial counsel for policyholder in tortious interference case against the Berkshire Hathaway entities, National Indemnity Company and Resolute Management, Inc., as well as in related asbestos coverage arbitrations against Underwriters at Lloyd’s and AIG Insurers (2014).

  • Northwest Natural Gas Company v. Underwriters at Lloyd’s – Served as lead trial counsel for policyholder in bench trial involving the issuance and terms of missing insurance policies (Oregon Cir. Ct. 2012)

  • Astra Oil v. Underwriters at Lloyd’s – Served as lead counsel for policyholder in marine insurance coverage action arising from explosion and property loss at seaport terminal (C.D. California, 2011).

  • Ashland Inc. v. London Market Companies – Served as lead trial counsel in arbitration regarding asbestos product liability coverage dispute (AAA Arbitration, Boston, MA, 2011).

  • E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company v. Stonewall Insurance Co. – Served as lead counsel during jury trial, and successfully on appeal to Delaware Supreme Court, in pursuing policyholder’s coverage claim for product liabilities relating to polybutylene plumbing systems (Delaware Super. Ct., 2010).

  • Quest Diagnostics, Inc. v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co. – Served as lead counsel for policyholder pursuing coverage for property damage and business interruption losses arising from Hurricane Katrina (E.D. Louisiana, 2009).

  • Allegheny Energy v. AEGIS, et al. – Served as lead counsel in appraisal hearing for policyholder seeking coverage for first-party property loss relating to a damaged electrical generator (Appraisal Hearing, Pittsburgh, PA, 2008).

  • Linde Gas LLC v. Zurich American Ins. Co. – Served as lead counsel in arbitration trial regarding dispute over coverage for losses arising out of a mechanical breakdown at a syngas facility (Arbitration, Houston, TX, 2007).

  • Ashland Inc. v. Underwriters at Lloyd’s – Served as lead counsel in arbitration trial arising from insurer’s breach of an asbestos coverage-in-place agreement (AAA Arbitration, Washington, DC, 2005).

  • Ebensburg Power Co. v. Zurich American Ins. Co. – Served as lead counsel during jury trial for policyholder seeking coverage for losses arising from failure of a steam turbine (W.D. Pennsylvania, 2005).

  • Forest Oil Corp. v. AEGIS – Served as lead counsel in arbitration trial in coverage dispute arising under a directors and officers liability insurance policy (CPR Arbitration – Philadelphia, PA, 2004).