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9/30/2020 » 10/2/2020
2020 PLDF Annual Meeting

Featured Members
G. P. HagEstadMilodragovich Dale & Steinbrenner, P.C., Missoula, MT
Jennifer HamiltonAndrews Lagasse Branch & Bell LLP, San Diego, CA

2019 PLDF Annual Meeting
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2019 PLDF Annual Meeting

9/25/2019 to 9/27/2019
When: September 25-27, 2019
Where: W Chicago Lakeshore
644 N. Lakeshore Drive
Chicago, Illinois  60611
United States
Contact: Sandra Wulf

Online registration is closed.
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Annual Meeting Quick Links


Featured Speakers

Registration Fees

CE/CLE Credit

Hotel Information


Field Trips

Sponsorship Opportunities

Annual Meeting Social & Dinner

Chicago - OUR Kind of Town!

Please join us September 25-27 for the 2019 PLDF Annual Meeting in Chicago. We are excited to offer lively discussions of developments in professional negligence claims and fantastic networking in the Windy City! 

"The professional and personal connections I have made with defense attorneys and fellow industry executives has been a wonderful experience. The annual PLDF conferences blend enjoyable activities, networking, and an opportunity to grow professionally through demonstrating one’s subject matter expertise and serving in leadership positions." Paul A. Ruiz, MBA, Adventist Health, Roseville, CA


The 2019 PLDF Annual Meeting will kick off Wednesday, September 25 with our Committee Leadership gathering, Young Professionals Reception, the Welcome Reception, and of course, our Dine-Arounds. Thursday, September 26, will find us in education sessions designed specifically for those in the professional liability community. Following our education sessions, Annual Meeting attendees are invited to tour the Windy City with friends and colleagues and then dine at one of Chicago's fantastic restaurants. Our final day of the Annual Meeting will include more great education programs and opportunities to visit with vendors and professional liability colleagues. Following is a breakdown of our Annual Meeting schedule.

 Wednesday, September 25, 2019

 3:00 - 6:30 p.m. Registration & Welcome Center
Stop by the PLDF Registration & Welcome Center to gather your badge and meeting materials.
 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Committee Leadership Meeting
Calling all PLDF volunteer leaders! Please join us for our annual Committee Leadership Meeting as we celebrate the achievements of the past year and prepare for the coming year.
 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. Young Professionals Happy Hour
Calling all young professionals – please join us for a great opportunity for you to mix and mingle with others new to the professional liability community. Whether you’ve been around for a month or just a handful of years, stop by and start your PLDF Annual Meeting off on the right foot!
 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Welcome Reception
We are thrilled to have you join us at the 10th Annual PLDF Annual Meeting and can’t wait to welcome you to the Second City. Stop by the Welcome Reception for a bit of refreshment and a lot of great networking before heading out on a Dine Arounds.

Our sincere thanks to the following firms for their generous sponsorship of the Welcome Reception.

 8:15 p.m. Dine Arounds
You can’t miss with the restaurants available to you in Chicago. And what better way is there to enjoy them than with your fellow PLDF members? Make plans to sign up for a night out on the town at one of Chicago’s exceptional eateries.

 Thursday, September 26, 2019

 7:00 a.m. Registration
 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast Buffet
 8:00 - 8:05 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Jason Jobe, 2018-2019 PLDF President, Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons, LLP
Sandra J. Wulf, CAE, IOM, Managing Director, Professional Liability Defense Federation

 8:05 - 9:00 a.m.

Defense of Opioid Malpractice and Board Discipline Complaints
SPEAKERS | Thomas D. Jensen, Lind, Jensen Sullivan & Peterson, P.A.

Opioid use and abuse permeates daily headlines and confounds physicians respectful of its analgesic benefit while fearful of its addictive reality. Primary care, surgical, pain management, addiction and other medical providers confront the choice to balance the patient’s need for pain relief against the risk of diversion to the street and overdose if supply is declined. Adverse outcomes occur and can trigger professional negligence claims and board discipline complaints, which this presentation will address. Specifically, our featured speakers will discuss opioid science; product types and delivery approaches; anti-addiction management; patient population and use control approaches; regulations; malpractice claim presentations; board discipline risks; and, claims management perspectives.

 9:00 - 9:55 a.m.

Lions, Tigers and Technology, OH MY! New LPL Risks Associated with the Use of Technology
SPEAKERS | January D. Allen, Overturf McGath & Hull, P.C. and Laura Zaroski, Gallagher

This panel will discuss the pitfalls involved with a lawyer’s use or misuse of technology (or the ignorance of technology), and the associated professional liability issues raised. Our speakers will discuss new ABA Opinion 483; storing information in the cloud; social engineering claims; data analytics and artificial intelligence; apps for clients and online tools; and, the potential impact on LPL coverage.

 9:55 - 10:10 a.m.

Refreshment Break and Exhibitor Networking Opportunities
Take a break, grab a drink and take time to visit with one of our exhibitors:

 10:10 - 11:05 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions:

  • Real Estate E&O: Working With Experts – Tackling the Bad News
    SPEAKERS | Karen Angelbeck, JDDWF Claims, Allison Chaplick, The Hanover Insurance Group, and Nicole Ehrhart, Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin

Expert testimony is required for a plaintiff to meet its burden of proof in a professional negligence action. So, what happens when you retain an expert and the news is not what you expected? This program will feature a panel discussion with industry professionals and counsel discussing the impacts on defense strategies and how to restructure a defense when faced with bad news from your own expert. The panel will also address various issues when dealing with experts generally.

  • Bankruptcy Pitfalls for the Collection Lawyer – The Discharge Injunction and the FDCPA
    SPEAKERS | Jennifer Groszek, ProQuest, a Division of Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. and James Sipchen, Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered

    Lawsuits against attorneys these days are not limited to just malpractice claims filed by their clients. Attorneys who do collection work are especially susceptible to a number of claims brought by adversaries they faced in prior litigation. Specifically, debtors are increasingly filing claims against their creditor’s attorney for violating their rights. This presentation will cover some of the less-known potential claims that face the collection attorney who attempts to collect from a debtor who previously filed for bankruptcy, including claims brought in the bankruptcy court itself for violation of a discharge injunction and/or the automatic stay provision, and civil lawsuits brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The anatomy of these suits, how to defend them, and perhaps most importantly, how to avoid them, will be discussed.
 11:05 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. When the Bubble Bursts: What Happens When the Longest Bull Market in U.S. History Hiccups?
SPEAKERS | Peter J. Biging, Goldberg Segalla LLP, Atea Martin, Esq., Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, Melissa Tarentino, Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc., and Barry Temkin, Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass; Adjunct Professor, Fordham University School of Law

The Millennial Generation came of age during the longest bull market in U.S. history. While many investors and financial advisers still bear the scars and trauma of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the ensuing Great Recession, the markets have rebounded with unprecedented vigor. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has quadrupled over the past 10 years, from a low of 8,000 in 2009 to nearly 26,000 today. With the halcyon days of easy money upon us, claims against financial advisers and broker-dealers are at an all-time low, and many securities litigators are brushing up on their golf games, or learning how to handle real estate closings. However, nothing lasts forever, and the next market cycle undoubtedly will bring new losses and unanticipated claims against financial advisers. This panel will look at changes in the regulatory environment under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, and the status of the Security & Exchange Commission’s Best Interest Regulation. We will also look at efforts by individual states to impose a uniform fiduciary standard on investment advisers and registered representatives and will analyze industry-wide movements such as the flight of financial advisers from the traditional wire-houses to the independent broker dealer model. We will also consider the possible ramifications of New York’s new cybersecurity regulations, promulgated by the New York Department of Financial Services. Finally, we will analyze new products that have been introduced to the market in recent years in order to anticipate the next market downturn, in what ways we expect it to be different from the market debacles of the past, and the trends among insurance carriers in writing and anticipating the next financial crisis.
 12:00 - 12:15 p.m. Annual Membership Meeting and Election of Directors 
 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Luncheon and Committee Discussions

Join your PLDF Committee leaders as they dive into lunch and a discussion on recent trends in the law and what to expect from your committees for the coming year.

Our sincere thanks to Collins Einhorn Farrell PC for their generous sponsorship of the Luncheon.

 1:10 - 2:05 p.m.

#Misconduct: Ethical Considerations of Social Media & the Jury
SPEAKERS | John G. Browning, Passman & Jones, Jan L. Jacobwitz, University of Miami School of Law, Danielle Parry, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, Kelly A. Putney, Bassford Remele, and Dan Wolfe, J.D., Ph.D., DecisionQuest

Social media has had a dramatic impact on how people communicate with each other, and what people disclose about themselves. This course will cover the ethical issues surrounding the impact of social media on jury trials. We will cover the ethical considerations and guidelines for uncovering what social media can tell you about your potential and petit jurors, your obligations if you find a juror has violated the judge's admonishments regarding social media or other disclosures, and tools that could help reduce the number of such violations.

 2:05 - 3:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

  • Sex, Drugs & The Workplace: The Treacherous EPL Landscape Presented in the Aftermath of the #MeToo Movement, a Newly "Woke" Body Public, and the Increasing Use of Medical and Recreational Marijuana at Work
    SPEAKERS | Caroline J. Berdzik, Esq., Goldberg Segalla LLP, Seth Brickman, Business Risk Partners, Ashley Grater, Ironshore, Alyssa Pianelli, Beazley, and Pandora Pounds,Hanover Insurance Group

The employment litigation landscape has changed dramatically with the rise of the #MeToo movement, the growing appreciation of the need to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities associated with pain management and mental health issues, and the expanded use and availability of medical marijuana, among a number of other issues in a much more "woke" public landscape. In this presentation, we will examine the continuing reverberations being felt as a result of the #MeToo movement, beyond just the rise in sexual harassment claims, to look at how it is impacting the valuation of cases across the board, how it is impacting the insured-claims handling dynamic, how it is expected to have ripple effects on other EPL claims (such as gender discrimination), and how it has now made the manner in which public and private companies address sexual harassment and gender discrimination into a significant and still evolving D&O risk. We will also look at the risks presented by the rising awareness of opioid addiction, concerns about how to make accommodations for those suffering from mental health issues, the increasing use of medical and recreational marijuana at work, and how this creates new layers of complications for employers, increased EPL risks, and the need for evolving strategies for handling and defending EPL claims arising from same.

  • Runaway Jury Verdicts in Professional Malpractice Trials: Why They Happen, and How to Prevent Them
    SPEAKERS | Frank EnglishSwiss Re Corporate Solutions and Bryan D. Scholnick, Tyson & Mendes

It may seem like astronomical jury verdicts are the new normal. Runaway verdicts make national news and many applaud the courage and strength of plaintiff and his or her counsel for holding wrongdoers accountable. But why have jury awards skyrocketed over the last decade? While many attribute the rise in runaway jury verdicts to a broken jury system, we believe defense attorneys have the wherewithal to solve the problem. Over the last five years, the plaintiff’s bar has increasingly developed new, creative arguments to frame and justify requests of the jury for high damage awards. While their tactics take many forms, their methods boil down to the following elements: get the jury angry, and creatively argue noneconomic damages. This interactive panel will discuss the psychology behind runaway jury verdicts including the Reptile Theory defense strategies to defuse juror anger, and how to mitigate noneconomic damages to a jury. Attendees will walk away with concrete tools to discuss with their defense counsel to significantly lower their exposure at trial.

 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Field Trips
Enjoy a late afternoon excursion on one of our complimentary field trips:

3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Chicago Crime Tour
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady

 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Annual Meeting Social & Dinner

Our sincere thanks to the following firms for their generous sponsorship of the Annual Meeting Social and Dinner:

     Friday, September 27, 2019

     7:00 - 8:00 a.m. Buffet Breakfast
     7:00 - 8:00 a.m. PLDF Board of Directors Meeting
     8:00 - 8:10 a.m. Remarks from 2019-2020 PLDF President Lisa Tulk, Kessler Collins, P.C.
     8:10 - 9:10 a.m.

    Interrupting Racial and Gender Bias in the Legal Profession
    SPEAKERS | Erin HigginsConn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLPJoanna RotgersMarsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. and Carla Varriale, Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP

    The objectives of this presentation are to initially foster a frank conversation about conscious and unconscious bias in the profession and its impact on women and to provide guidance and training about showing leadership on these issues. We will provide suggestions to produce changes in the workplace. The panel will discuss ways that women in the profession (legal and insurance) can become “success partners” for other women (and particularly, diverse women). We will also discuss suggestions to produce changes in behaviors, including eradicating implicit bias to the greatest extent possible in our workplaces, and beyond.

     9:10 - 10:10 a.m.

    Unplugging to Recharge: An Ethical Discussion on the Benefits and Pitfalls of Today’s Technologies
    SPEAKERS | Jim Hunter, Collins Einhorn Farrell P.C., Scott Neckers, Childs McCune LLC, and Alice M. Sherren, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company

    Do you feel like you are expected to always be available? Do you feel as though you will be penalized if you disconnect? Being connected 24/7 is the norm today and fully removing yourself from your job can be difficult. Rule 1.3 directs us to be diligent and prompt, but Comment 2 advises that “a lawyer’s workload must be controlled so that each matter can be handled competently.” Rule 1.4 directs prompt and reasonable communication. What does this all really mean? This program will focus on the importance of disconnecting, yet doing it in a way that is both practical and ethical.

     10:10 - 10:25 a.m.

    Refreshment Break and Exhibitor Networking Opportunities
    Take a break, grab a drink and take time to visit with one of our exhibitors:

     10:25 - 11:20 a.m.

    Concurrent Sessions:

    • Emerging Risks for Agents & Brokers; Know Thyself and What You Sell/Buy
      SPEAKERS | Ben Andrews, Esq., Pennington P.A., Michelle Arbitrio, Esq., Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP, Jess Moller, Sompo International, and Barbara SerafiniWestern Litigation

    Our panelists will discuss the emerging issues of: 1. The evolving definition of "special relationship" as pertains to Agents and Brokers 2. The impact of the absolute exclusion on coverage in general and more specifically on Agents and Brokers.

    • Professional Liability Insurance Coverage Trends Update
      SPEAKERS | Anthony Burrows, Sompo International and Michael D. Handler, Cozen O’Connor

    This presentation will focus on the most intriguing developments of the last few years, including (1) policy periods and coverage gaps; (2) recoupment rights for defense costs and more; (3) the coverage case within the broker-malpractice case; (4) the real meaning of a "cyber" loss; and (5) the Restatement of Liability Insurance.

     11:20 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

    Mediation - 2's Company, 3's a Crowd, Tripartite Relationship in PL Mediation
    SPEAKERS | Traci Gill, Markel Service, Inc., Jennifer L. Hamilton, Andrews Lagasse Branch + Bell LLP, Jeffrey N. Labovitch, Nicolaides Fink Thorpe Michaelides Sullivan LLP, and Traci S. LagasseAndres Lagasse Branch & Bell LLP

    The panel will discuss the following topics: 1. Impediments to settling professional liability matters; 2. Strategies for breaking impasse; 3. Getting away from the "two-day" mediation mentality and getting efficient settlements for clients and carriers; 4. Navigating the murky tripartite relationship. The panel will also briefly role-play typical mediation scenarios with attorneys playing role of claims professionals and vice versa. Also, the panel will discuss the inclusion of coverage counsel and how that issue creates additional considerations in a traditional mediation scenario.

     12:15 - 12:20 p.m.

    Closing Remarks

    Registration Information

    The PLDF 10th Annual Meeting and CLE/CEU Presentation offers great education and social events at a great value. Registration fees are:

     Attendee Category Early Bird Registration
    Through August 31
    Standard Registration
    From September 1 
     Claims Professionals, Risk Managers & Insurance Producers
    $449* $449*
     Attorneys in Practice 10 Years or More

    (Non-Members $749)

    (Non-Members $799)

     Attorneys in Practice Up to 10 Years

    (Non-Members $649)

    (Non-Members $699)


    (Non-Members $749)

    (Non-Members $799)
     Guest $229  $229
     *Be sure to login to the website to secure your PLDF member registration rate.

    Registration for Claims Professionals, Risk Managers & Insurance Producers and Attorneys includes:

    • CLE/CEU presentations designed specifically for those working in the professional liability community
    • Meals and Refreshments during Annual Meeting Programming
    • Young Professionals Happy Hour (for those in practice fewer than 10 years)
    • Welcome Reception
    • Complimentary Field Trip (pre-registration required)
    • Thursday Evening Social and Dinner at Cite

    Guest Registration is also available and includes:

    • Welcome Reception
    • Complimentary Field Trip (pre-registration required)
    • Thursday Evening Social and Dinner at Cite

    If you have a guest that is interested in attending only the Thursday Evening Social and Dinner at Cite, please contact the PLDF office at 309-222-8947 to secure a ticket ($140 each).

     "The PLDF annual meeting is my favorite networking and educational event of the year. The CLE is always timely and well-presented, and the networking opportunities are numerous and meaningful because of the smaller size of the conference. There also are some excellent dancers in PLDF, and they have been known to bust a move after the member dinner on Thursday night." Erin K. HigginsConn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP, Boston, MA


    Sponsorship Opportunities

    If your company or firm is interested in having the opportunity to interact with attorneys and insurance professionals handling professional malpractice matters from across the country, the PLDF Annual Meeting is a perfect fit for you. We have many sponsorship opportunities available, and at all price points. Please contact the PLDF today at 309-222-8947 or  to learn more.


    Continuing Education and Continuing Legal Education Credit

    PLDF will be offering CLE credit for attorneys and CE credit for adjusters in the following states.

    • Attorney CLE: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, VA, DC, WI, WY
    • Adjuster CE: AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IN, LA, MN, MS, MT, NC, OK, TX, WY

    All states are currently pending. Hours approved are determined by the state boards. We have partnered with CEU Institute as our CLE/CE provider to manage all credits: Should you have questions, please contact


    Hotel Information

    The Annual Meeting will be held at the W Chicago Lakeshore, located at 644 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 (not to be confused with the W Chicago - City Center, which is located at 172 W Adams Street). The hotel may be reached at (312) 943-9200.

    We have secured a block of rooms for our guests on Wednesday, September 25 and Thursday, September 26. A small block of rooms is also available Friday, September 27. Rooms are $244 single/double for standard rooms. "Spectacular Lakeview" rooms are $274 single/double . Rooms must be reserved by 5:00 p.m. (Central) on August 25, 2019. After this date, it is at the hotel's discretion whether to accept additional reservations, which will be subject to prevailing rates and availability.

    Click Here to Book Your Hotel Room

    “The PLDF Annual Meeting is like an island of sanity amid the ocean of day-to-day professional liability claims. It’s a unique venue to share our experience, identify developing trends, and work together to improve professional liability claims management and defense litigation. It’s also hella fun.” Louie Castoria, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck LLP, San Francisco, CA

    Featured Speakers

      January D. Allen is a Partner with Overturf McGath & Hull, P.C. in Denver. Her practice focuses on the defense of professionals in complex construction, environmental, products liability, and intellectual property matters. She is a past Board member of the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, and a current committee chair and columnist for the Professional Liability Defense Quarterly. She may be reached at
      Ben Andrews is a civil trial lawyer with Pennington P.A., located in Tallahassee, practicing in Florida and Georgia. He practices in the areas of professional malpractice defense with special emphasis on insurance agents and brokers and medical malpractice defense. He also handles construction defect claims, insurance coverage claims, and general insurance defense. He is currently the co-chair of the Insurance Agents and Brokers Committee for PLDF, and actively presents educational topics for Florida continuing education credit to insurance agents and adjusters. Ben may be reached at

    Karen Angelbeck, JD, is Vice President of DWF Claims. Karen began her career in the private practice of commercial litigation in Chicago where she garnered eleven years of litigation experience. She has represented clients in a variety of litigation issues, but with particular focus on employment litigation, corporate tax litigation, and commercial real estate litigation. Karen’s work at DWF Claims (USA) includes investigation, liability analysis, defense and resolution of both litigated and non-litigated professional liability claims. Since 2004, Karen has worked exclusively in the management and administration of professional liability claims. Karen may be reached at

    Michelle Arbitrio is a Partner in Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP’s New York office. She litigates, tries and appeals complex professional, commercial, directors and officers (D&O), life insurance, ERISA and employment disputes in state and federal courts and defends securities arbitrations before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Michelle may be reached at

    Caroline J. Berdzik, Esq. is an AV rated attorney admitted to practice in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and is the chair of the Goldberg Segalla LLP employment and labor practice group. She devotes her practice to helping companies and their executives navigate the panoply of employment law issues and human resources concerns, from proactive counseling through dispute resolution and trial. She may be reached at

    Peter J. Biging of Goldberg Segalla LLP in New York is an accomplished trial and appellate attorney with more than 30 years of experience as a litigator in the state and federal courts of New York. His practice focuses on litigation involving directors and officers and defense of management and professional liability claims, including the defense of a variety of professionals against errors and omissions claims, labor and employment practices litigation, commercial litigation, municipal liability litigation, and professional liability coverage work. His E&O work includes defending insurance agents and brokers, securities brokers, lawyers, and miscellaneous professionals. Peter may be reached at

    Seth B. Brickman, CPCU, RPLU is currently product manager for the Management Liability department at Business Risk Partners (BRP), a Windsor, CT based managing general agency , in business since 2000. Seth first joined BRP in 2007, helping them get their D&O programs launched and filed in all 50 states. After some time away, Seth re-joined BRP in 2012 to manage their portfolio of multiple Management Liability products. He currently oversees writings with Validus Specialty, Great American, Beazley and other Lloyds syndicates. Seth is currently involved with the Hartford chapter of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS.) A regular panel contributor and article writer, Seth is a self-described “insurance geek” with a passion for placing tough risks. Seth may be reached at

    John G. Browning is a partner in the Dallas law Firm of Passman & Jones, where he handles a wide variety of civil litigation, including professional liability defense, in state and federal courts. He is the author of four books and numerous articles on social media and the law, including 2017’s “Legal Ethics and Social Media: A Practitioner’s Handbook.” His work has been cited in over 350 law review articles, practice guides in 11 states, and by courts in New York, California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. John may be reached at

    Anthony Burrows is Assistant Vice President and Claims Counsel at Sompo International where he is the Supervisor of the SompoPro Commercial E&O team. His team oversees claims involving insurance agents/brokers, design professionals and all miscellaneous classes of professionals. Anthony has over 15 years’ experience handling claims and has worked as Claims Counsel for four other leading insurance carriers. His legal career began at a law firm located in Buffalo, New York where he handled large commercial loan transactions. He can be reached at

    Allison L. Chaplick is an attorney and Manager of Specialty Claims in the Professional Liability Claims Department at The Hanover Insurance Group. Prior to joining Hanover, Allison was a Claims Attorney at Monitor Liability Managers where she was responsible for managing professional liability suits filed against attorneys and accountants, and Employment Practices Liability Claims. While in private practice, Allison handled cases in both state and federal court, focusing mainly on employment law. She may be reached at
    Nicole M. Ehrhart is a shareholder with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in its Camp Hill, Pennsylvania office. She defends attorneys and other non-medical professionals. Nicole regularly represents the interests of attorneys, architects, engineers, land surveyors, real estate professionals, including agents, brokers, appraisers, home inspectors and insurance agents and brokers. She may be reached at

    Frank English is Vice President and Lawyers Claims Team Leader with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions in Chicago. He has worked in the insurance industry for 19 years. Prior to joining Swiss Re, Frank was a practicing insurance defense lawyer for 3 years. Frank received his J.D. from DePaul University School of Law in Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Frank can be reached at
    Traci Gill is an Executive Claims Examiner for Markel Service, Inc. She handles claims in all states for a variety of professional lines including architects and engineers, accountants, dentists, directors and officers, employment practices liability, homeowners’ associations, miscellaneous errors and omissions, and technology services. Traci is a licensed attorney in Illinois and California and practiced law prior to joining Markel. Traci may be reached at

    Ashley Grater is a Senior Claims Specialist with Ironshore in the management liability department where she handles and provides oversight for claims involving employment practices liability. Prior to joining Ironshore, Ashley was an associate at Goldberg Segalla LLP. During her time as an associate attorney, Ashley litigated matters involving premises liability, the New York State labor law, and personal injury. Ashley may be reached at

    Jennifer Groszek is a Vice President at ProQuest, a division of Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. Jennifer provides risk management, consulting, and claims management and resolution services to a broad array of clients across the U.S. Jennifer has more than 15 years’ experience as an attorney, claims specialist, and business consultant. Prior to joining ProQuest, Jennifer was a Claims Consultant and Attorney managing high-exposure D&O and E&O liability claims for a broad range of clients. Jennifer, who began her career as an Assistant State's Attorney, also has extensive experience with toxic tort and environmental law. Jennifer may be reached at

    Jennifer L. Hamilton is a partner with Andrews Lagasse Branch + Bell in San Diego, where she specializes in the areas of construction, professional liability and general civil litigation. Ms. Hamilton represents design professionals in a variety of actions arising from the design and construction of all types of structures, including mixed-use high-rises, commercial buildings, public facilities, and mass residential developments. She also represents real estate professionals, including real estate brokers and agents, mortgage brokers and escrow agents, related to the purchase and sale of residential and commercial buildings. Jennifer may be reached at
    Michael D. Handler is a member attorney at Cozen O’Connor, in Seattle where his insurance coverage advice and litigation experience has helped his insurer clients assess risks, and to advance and resolve their positions on professional liability claims and other complex claims nationwide, for approximately 20 years. He has also defended Pacific Northwest healthcare providers, lawyers, and insurance agents and brokers. Michael may be reached at

    Erin K. Higgins is a trial partner at Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford LLP, in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a “lawyers’ lawyer,” representing lawyers in defending against malpractice claims and in disciplinary action, and advising on ethics and risk management issues. Ms. Higgins also acts as national counsel for an agents and brokers’ E&O program. She regularly writes and speaks on ethics issues and strategies for defending against professional liability claims. Ms. Higgins recently served as President of PLDF’s Board of Directors. She is a 1987 graduate of Georgetown University, and a 1991 graduate of Boston College Law School. Erin can be reached at
    Jim Hunter is a member of the Collins Einhorn Farrell P.C. Professional Liability and Trucking & Transportation Liability practice groups. As a member of the Professional Liability practice group, Jim is dedicated to protecting the rights and livelihoods of professionals serving the community. He has successfully defended claims against attorneys, architects, real estate professionals, and others. Jim may be reached at
    Jan L. Jacobowitz is a Lecturer in Law and the Director of the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP) at the University of Miami’s School of Law. Prior to devoting herself to legal education, Jan practiced law for over twenty years. She began her career as a Legal Aid attorney in the District of Columbia; prosecuted Nazi war criminals at the Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Department of Justice; was in private practice in Washington, D.C. and Miami; and served as in-house counsel for a large Miami based corporation. She may be reached at
    Thomas D. Jensen is a shareholder with Lind Jensen Sullivan & Peterson, P.A., in Minneapolis. Certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and licensed in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, Tom defends physicians, lawyers, accountants and insurance agents in malpractice and board discipline matters. He blogs at and may be reached at

    Jeffrey N. Labovitch joined Nicolaides Fink Thorpe Michaelides Sullivan LLP shortly after its doors opened and established the firm’s San Diego office. Applying his 14 years of experience to assist insurers on litigated and non-litigated matters, Jeff assists his clients on a variety of different claims, including environmental, toxic torts, sport-related concussions, construction defects, products liability, class actions and professional liability. He is licensed in California and Nevada, and practices in federal and state courts and at the appellate level. Jeffrey can be reached at

    Traci Lagasse of Andrews Lagase Branch & Bell LLP focuses her professional liability practice on the defense of architects and engineers in construction defect and delay claims. She spends a significant part of her practice providing advice to her clients of their contractual obligations, such as insurance, indemnity, defense, and other liability issues. The balance of her professional liability practice includes the representation of real estate professionals, accountants, inspectors, pharmacists, health care providers, and insurance agents. Traci can be reached at
    Atea Martin is the Vice President of Life Agent Broker Dealer Claims at Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. Atea has 29 years of claims and litigation experience with a particular focus on broker dealers and insurance agents. She was most recently Director, Life Agents Broker Dealer Claims, at CNA Specialty Claim. Before that, she was a Complex Claims Director, Financial Institutions/National Accounts, at AIG. She was also Assistant Director of Litigation at an independent broker-dealer, Investec Ernst and Company, and a Litigation Associate at Snow Becker Krauss, P.C. Atea may be reached at

    Jess Moller has been a member of the Sompo International Commercial E&O team since July 2018. He is responsible for the oversight for the small-medium size insurance agent/broker book and handles larger commercial E&O accounts including A&E, Design Professionals, Real Estate Services and various other MPL accounts. Prior to joining Sompo, Jess was a claim examiner at Houston International Insurance Group where he handled multi-line professional liability claims including IAB E&O, Title Agent, Abstractor and Escrow Agent E&O, Lawyers Professional Liability, Home Inspector Liability and Miscellaneous Professional Liability. Jess can be reached at
    Scott Neckers is an experienced trial attorney at Childs McCune LLC in Denver, who concentrates his practice on the defense of professional liability, medical malpractice, and insurance claims. Prior to joining Childs McCune in 2015, Scott spent three years as an in-house trial attorney for a national insurance company, where he defended hundreds of individual and commercial policy holders in personal injury and contractual disputes in State and Federal Court throughout Colorado. Scott may be reached at
    Danielle Parry is claim attorney at Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company (MLM) where she manages the defense of legal malpractice claims and disciplinary proceedings against insureds. Prior to joining MLM, she worked as an associate at an insurance defense firm in South Florida, where she concentrated in the areas of Personal Injury Protection (PIP)/No-Fault litigation and fraud (SIU) investigations. Danielle may be reached at
    Alyssa Pianelli is the Claims Team Leader for Beazley’s Portfolio Cyber and Executive Risk team and is located in the Philadelphia office. Alyssa handles Employment Practices Liability Claims, as well as Cyber and Tech claims. Alyssa also is the Claims point person for the Safeguard product, handling both response and liability sexual misconduct claims. Prior to joining Beazley, Alyssa was an attorney in private practice, focusing in the areas of insurance and employment defense litigation. Alyssa can be reached at

    Pandora Pounds is a Specialty Claims Analyst at The Hanover Insurance Group and is located in the Chicago area. Pandora handles Employment Practices Liability Claims nationwide. Prior to joining Hanover, Pandora was a Claims Supervisor at Gallagher Bassett Services. Pandora has been in the insurance industry for over 25 years. Pandora may be reached at

    Kelly A. Putney of Bassford Remele in Minneapolis is a professional liability litigator who has helped hundreds of health care providers, lawyers, insurance agents and brokers and other professionals navigate and prevent malpractice actions for more than 25 years. Ms. Putney is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© for Malpractice Law and Personal Injury and has been selected as a Minnesota Super Lawyer and a Top 50 Female Minnesota Super Lawyer numerous times. Ms. Putney also serves as Chief Operating Officer and Co-Chair of the Professional Liability Group at Bassford Remele. Kelly may be reached at
    Joanna Rotgers is Senior Assistant General Counsel serving the Marsh operating company of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. Joanna works in MMC’s New York headquarters handling the company’s large and complex litigation docket, with a focus on defending against professional liability/errors and omissions claims in the U.S., Canada and other geographies globally. Joanna has more than 15 years of experience, including in private practice, in defending insurance agents and brokers from errors and omissions claims, in connection with placements in virtually every line of insurance business. Joanna may be reached at
    Bryan D. Scholnick is Senior Counsel in Tyson & Mendes’ Seattle office, where he focuses on defending professional liability and automotive claims. He is an experienced litigator in a variety of cases involving automotive and trucking personal injury claims, automotive rental liability issues, engineering error and omissions claims, medical malpractice, products liability, workplace injuries, wrongful death, construction defect, and breach of contract. Bryan may be reached at
      Barbara Serafini is a Senior Vice President at Western Litigation, a division of Gallagher Bassett, where she manages a complex caseload of professional liability claims against lawyers, insurance agents and brokers and title agents on behalf of several different carriers. Barbara’s claims include several matters with considerable exposure and significant coverage issues. Barbara enjoys analyzing coverage and formulating resolution strategies for her claims and cares deeply about getting the best possible result for each claim as quickly as possible and in the most cost-effective manner. Toward that end, Barbara negotiates settlements with claimants and their counsel and manages defense counsel for policyholders. Barbara participates in numerous mediations and settlement conferences and monitors trials, providing detailed reports to management concerning witness testimony, potential for exposure, coverage issues and any settlement opportunities. Prior to joining Western Litigation, Barbara was the Assistant Vice President of RPS Plus Companies, formerly known as the Plus Companies, Inc., handling multiple professional liability claims for various product lines. Previously, Barbara was a Senior Claims Specialist at Liberty International Underwriters where she also handled professional liability claims against attorneys and insurance agents and brokers. Barbara began her career as an associate at Wilson Elser, LLP, serving as coverage and monitoring counsel for a London-based insurer as well as defending legal malpractice cases.

    Alice M. Sherren was a litigator in Minneapolis for a decade before joining Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company in 2009. Alice directs the defense of legal malpractice claims, speaks on legal malpractice, risk management, and ethics matters, and frequently contributes articles to various legal publications. She serves on the Professionalism Committee for the Minnesota State Bar Association and is a past chair of the legal claims committee for the Professional Liability Defense Federation. Alice may be reached at
    James Sipchen is an Equity Partner at the law firm of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered in Chicago, Illinois, and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. For the past 25 years, Jim has served as trial and appellate counsel to clients engaged in complex commercial litigation. He has extensive trial and appellate experience in a wide range of business litigation and professional liability matters in numerous state and federal courts as well as in arbitrations and before regulatory agencies. Jim may be reached at

    Melissa Tarentino is Vice President of Legal Affairs at Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, Inc. and General Counsel of its wholly-owned independent broker dealer subsidiaries, Triad Advisors, LLC and Investacorp, Inc. Prior to joining Ladenburg in 2016, she served for more than a decade as General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer of independent broker dealer, Investors Capital Corporation. Melissa earned a J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law, cum laude, and a B.A. from Stonehill College, summa cum laude. She has served on FSI’s Arbitration Reform Task Force. Melissa may be reached at
    Barry Temkin is a partner at Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass LLP. He is a litigator with extensive trial experience, having tried over fifty jury trials to verdict. Mr. Temkin represents broker dealers, financial advisors, insurance brokers, financial firms and investment advisers in litigation, arbitration and regulatory investigations. Mr. Temkin represents lawyers and law firms in professional responsibility matters, including conflicts, sanction proceedings, fee disputes, legal malpractice cases and proceedings before the attorney grievance committee. He also litigates and tries commercial, construction and professional liability cases. Barry may be reached at
    Carla Varriale is a partner in a women-owned firm, Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP, and an instructor at Columbia University’s Sports Management program. She is panel counsel for She represents clients in the sports, entertainment, and hospitality industries. Her practice areas include the defense of discrimination, sexual assault and abuse cases. Carla may be reached at
    Dan Wolfe, J.D., Ph.D. is Senior Vice President and a Senior Jury Consultant for DecisionQuest, a firm specializing in jury consulting, graphic design, presentation technologies, and trial preparation solutions. He has consulted on over 1,700 cases involving complex civil and criminal matters including antitrust, product liability, intellectual property, and professional malpractice. Dr. Wolfe has served as president of the American Society of Trial Consultants and has authored several articles and book chapters on juries, juror perceptions, and the interrelation of attorney gender and courtroom bias. Dr. Wolfe may be reached at
    Laura Zaroski is Senior Vice President of Gallagher’s Law Firms Practice and is responsible for the placement of Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance, Management Liability Insurance, and Risk Management services for Gallagher law firm clients. Laura has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by law firms due to her 16 years as a practicing attorney, her handling of law firms claims and years dealing with LPL coverage issues. Laura may be reached at


    We are fortunate to be joined for this year’s Annual Meeting by several exhibitors. We invite you to mingle with the exhibitors and discover new products and services designed to assist you in representing your clients and building your practice.

    Field Trips

    Enjoy an afternoon touring the town with your fellow PLDF members with one of the complimentary tours below. Please note that while complimentary to Annual Meeting registrants, pre-registration for a tour is required.

    • Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady
      Chicago is legendary for its architecture. Join fellow PLDF members aboard Chicago’s First Lady. Highly trained and passionate volunteer docents provide a detailed narrative of Chicago's various architectural styles and the stories of the people who designed and built our city. The relaxing 90-minute Chicago River tour features indoor and outdoor seating, a full-service bar aboard each vessel and is consistently recognized by locals and visitors alike as the best way to see Chicago.
    • Chicago Crime Tour
      Escape into Chicago's underworld on a crime and mob tour with stops off-and-on the luxury, climate-controlled bus. Some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters and gangsters bamboozled their way through Chicago. Explore several historic crime scenes by foot and see the historic criminal courthouse, an architectural landmark, where some of the most famous cases were tried.

    Annual Meeting Social and Dinner

    Get ready to take in the most stunning panoramic views of the city and lakefront at our Annual Meeting Social and Dinner at Cite. Cite, known for elegant dining at the top of Lake Point Tower (505 North Lakeshore Drive 70th floor), will afford our guests wonderful networking opportunity and exceptional fare. While complimentary to Annual Meeting registrants, pre-registration for the Social and Dinner are required.

    Event Attire & Weather

    Business casual attire is appropriate for all PLDF functions; however, casual attire is encouraged for the architecture and crime tours.
    Chicago averages a daily maximum temperature for September that is between 72 and 78 °F (22 to 25 °C). The minimum temperature usually falls between 52 and 57 °F (11 to 14 °C). To be comfortable, a jacket or coat is recommended.

    Financial Aid Policy & Refunds

    The PLDF maintains a financial aid policy for those seeking registration fee accommodation based upon individual circumstances. Phone PLDF at 309-222-8947 for information pertaining to the program.

    A full refund will be issued for cancellations made in writing to and received on or before September 6, 2019. Cancellations received between September 7 and 18 will receive a refund, less a $200 processing fee. No refunds will be issued for cancellations made after September 18. Substitutions may be made at any time without charge.

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