Rising Star: Blank Rome's Jared Zola
August 8, 2017
Blank Rome LLP’s Jared Zola has racked up another year of successful representation of insurance policyholders, including representing Petroterminal de Panama after a pier collapse and seeking coverage on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth for sex abuse claims, earning him his fourth consecutive year as one of the insurance law practitioners under age 40 honored by Law360 as Rising Stars.
His proudest moment as an attorney:
Zola had a leading role serving as insurance coverage counsel to the Diocese of Duluth, relating to 125 claims of sexual abuse against the bankrupt diocese for millions in damages. In one case, he won a finding that the claims were not barred by a professional acts exclusion, and in another, that each instance of sexual abuse was a separate occurrence and implicated a separate "per occurrence" limit of liability.
“I’m proud of work that gets money to the victims, especially when the insurance proceeds are the only source of funds to the claims,” he said.
The biggest case of his career:
Zola was lead counsel in a successful Southern District of New York case seeking millions in dollars of coverage for damage incurred by Petroterminal de Panama when a pier holding one of the company’s oil storage and shipping facilities collapsed into the ocean. A judge ruled in January that the pier's construction was sturdy enough that its collpase was an unexpected event that quaified for coverage. The case involved a deep dive into maritime law, Zola said.
“My challenge was to simplify the issues and present them to the court in plain English,” he said.
His biggest defeat and what he learned:
He said his biggest loss also involved Petroterminal de Panama, when after he was brought in to handle an appellate case, the Second Circuit found in September that the company had to pay back $2 million in defense costs to insurers after winning a suit that was triggered by an oil spill because the losses claimed were actually excluded from coverage.
“It was difficult framing the appellate issues and argument based on the record. It was an incredibly difficult legal issue,” he said. “What I learned from it is you have to craft the best arguments from the facts in front of you.”
What motivates him:
Zola said he is motivated by the feeling of getting clients the insurance coverage they paid for and have every reason to expect.
“I feel like when we represent policyholders, we’re on the right side.”
Advice for young attorneys:
He advised junior associates to be willing to admit to both senior colleagues and clients when you don’t immediately have the answer to a question.
“Clients and colleagues will respect a colleague who’s willing to say what he doesn’t know,” he said.
To read the profile online, please click here.
“Rising Star: Blank Rome's Jared Zola,” by Rick Archer was published in Law360 on August 8, 2017.