MELANIE MCDONALD
Special Counsel
(713) 355-5017 (713) 355-5017
MELANIE MCDONALD Special Counsel

Melanie McDonald is special counsel in the firm’s Houston office. Her experience includes civil and complex business and commercial litigation, including insurance coverage disputes, multi-party environmental disputes, and defense of personal injury litigation. She has experience at both the trial and appellate levels, in state and federal courts, and in all forms of alternative dispute resolution.

The large majority of Melanie’s current practice focuses on representation of policyholders in complex, multi-party insurance coverage disputes involving significant insurance claims and often involving contractual indemnity claims. To a lesser extent, Melanie's practice focuses on environmental litigation.

Exclusively representing policyholders, Melanie has experience with virtually every type of insurance policy. She has successfully represented clients both in the recovery of insurance policy proceeds and also in prosecuting extra-contractual claims of bad faith and violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Her representation is not limited to Texas. Melanie represents insureds nationwide with underlying litigation pending in any state. She also has extensive experience in contractual indemnity claims that often accompany insurance claims, including working knowledge of many states’ anti-indemnity statutes.

Melanie assists on the firm’s larger environmental cases, often performing a lot of the “behind the scenes” litigation work on these matters, tenaciously and thoroughly reviewing documents, and often turning up the “needle in the haystack.”

Melanie’s nearly 30 years of experience includes almost 10 years working as a licensed insurance agent/broker focusing on the negotiation and placement, and related claims assistance, of Directors and Officers Liability (D&O) Insurance, Commercial Crime Insurance, Employment Practices Liability and Fiduciary Liability Insurance for corporations and other commercial insureds. Most recently, Melanie was an insurance broker at Lockton Companies LLC in Houston. Through her coverage work as an attorney and her work as an insurance broker, she has gained in-depth understanding of the workings of the insurance industry and subject-matter knowledge of a wide variety of insurance policies.

Insurance Coverage Litigation

Representing a Fortune 500 company on insurance coverage matters, including CGL, WC/EL, Pollution Legal Liability and Umbrella policies, stemming from ongoing personal injury and wrongful death litigation alleging long-term occupational exposure to over 50 plaintiffs over a span of almost a decade. The underlying case is pending in Alabama.

Post-verdict representation of a national construction company on insurance coverage matters following a multi-million dollar adverse judgment in a construction personal injury case involving CCIP CGL, WC/EL and Excess Liability policies. The case is currently on appeal and, in addition to coverage counsel for the insured, we are serving as independent appellate counsel.

Representing an energy client in an insurance recovery matter involving a Pollution Legal Liability policy for historic environmental contamination arising out of oil and gas operations in Louisiana.

Current representation of a transportation industry client in a suit over an indemnity provision in a Purchase and Sale Agreement regarding cleanup of historic environmental contamination of property, including insurance recovery under historic insurance policies.

Representing a Texas port district in an insurance recovery matter under lessee’s Pollution Legal Liability policy for environmental contamination caused by lessee’s ship-breaking operations.

Recent fast-paced representation of a national construction company on insurance coverage matters in a wrongful death case then pending in Las Vegas. We were hired six weeks prior to trial.  In less than a month, we broke a year-long stalemate between competing carriers to obtain several policy limits necessary to reach settlement with the plaintiffs.

Recent representation of a custom home-builder, obtaining total loss (full coverage) under the builders risk coverage after arson destroyed only part of a custom home during construction.

Successful post-trial representation of a Fortune 500 energy company under CGL and Umbrella policies following a multi-million dollar judgment in a case alleging fracking damage to customers’ wells.

Successful post-trial representation of an oil-field services company following a multi-million dollar verdict in a case brought by a former company executive for wrongful termination and malicious prosecution, involving D&O, CGL and Umbrella policies.

Represented publicly traded biosciences general partnerships in coverage litigation stemming from 13 investor suits. Sought preliminary injunction to force insurer under General Partnership Liability policies to pay defense costs on an ongoing basis. Coverage issues involved whether the insurer had to pay defense costs under the policy on an on-going basis and whether the insurer could allocate between covered and uncovered claims.  Achieved successful settlement for insured during injunction proceedings.

Environmental Litigation

Representation of a California port district in a suit against Monsanto for PCB contamination of the Bay.

Representing a California port district in matters before the Regional Water Quality Control Board and in two suits against prior lessees of tidelands of the Bay to enforce contractual requirements to remove improvements and to require cleanup of PCBs, mercury and other contaminants in Bay sediments caused by defendants’ decades of operations.

Worked on the firm’s team that serves as Special Counsel to the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey in pursuing remediation costs, economic damages, and natural resource damages associated with the dioxin contamination of the Passaic River and Newark Bay. The firm achieved a record setting $355 million settlement for the State of New Jersey in the Passaic River litigation, including securing $67.5 million in restoration projects that must be implemented in local, impacted communities to restore losses of human uses.

Successful resolution, via mediation, then arbitration, of allocation of responsibility for CERCLA settlement with the EPA involving the parties' herbicide and pesticide manufacturing at Superfund site.

Represented the Port of Houston Authority in litigation against a neighboring pesticide plant for releases of hazardous substances into adjacent property and navigable waters. The Port obtained a settlement valued at $100 million, which The National Law Journal named as one of the ten most significant settlements in Texas for 2003.

About

Melanie McDonald is special counsel in the firm’s Houston office. Her experience includes civil and complex business and commercial litigation, including insurance coverage disputes, multi-party environmental disputes, and defense of personal injury litigation. She has experience at both the trial and appellate levels, in state and federal courts, and in all forms of alternative dispute resolution.

The large majority of Melanie’s current practice focuses on representation of policyholders in complex, multi-party insurance coverage disputes involving significant insurance claims and often involving contractual indemnity claims. To a lesser extent, Melanie's practice focuses on environmental litigation.

Exclusively representing policyholders, Melanie has experience with virtually every type of insurance policy. She has successfully represented clients both in the recovery of insurance policy proceeds and also in prosecuting extra-contractual claims of bad faith and violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Her representation is not limited to Texas. Melanie represents insureds nationwide with underlying litigation pending in any state. She also has extensive experience in contractual indemnity claims that often accompany insurance claims, including working knowledge of many states’ anti-indemnity statutes.

Melanie assists on the firm’s larger environmental cases, often performing a lot of the “behind the scenes” litigation work on these matters, tenaciously and thoroughly reviewing documents, and often turning up the “needle in the haystack.”

Melanie’s nearly 30 years of experience includes almost 10 years working as a licensed insurance agent/broker focusing on the negotiation and placement, and related claims assistance, of Directors and Officers Liability (D&O) Insurance, Commercial Crime Insurance, Employment Practices Liability and Fiduciary Liability Insurance for corporations and other commercial insureds. Most recently, Melanie was an insurance broker at Lockton Companies LLC in Houston. Through her coverage work as an attorney and her work as an insurance broker, she has gained in-depth understanding of the workings of the insurance industry and subject-matter knowledge of a wide variety of insurance policies.

Experience

Insurance Coverage Litigation

Representing a Fortune 500 company on insurance coverage matters, including CGL, WC/EL, Pollution Legal Liability and Umbrella policies, stemming from ongoing personal injury and wrongful death litigation alleging long-term occupational exposure to over 50 plaintiffs over a span of almost a decade. The underlying case is pending in Alabama.

Post-verdict representation of a national construction company on insurance coverage matters following a multi-million dollar adverse judgment in a construction personal injury case involving CCIP CGL, WC/EL and Excess Liability policies. The case is currently on appeal and, in addition to coverage counsel for the insured, we are serving as independent appellate counsel.

Representing an energy client in an insurance recovery matter involving a Pollution Legal Liability policy for historic environmental contamination arising out of oil and gas operations in Louisiana.

Current representation of a transportation industry client in a suit over an indemnity provision in a Purchase and Sale Agreement regarding cleanup of historic environmental contamination of property, including insurance recovery under historic insurance policies.

Representing a Texas port district in an insurance recovery matter under lessee’s Pollution Legal Liability policy for environmental contamination caused by lessee’s ship-breaking operations.

Recent fast-paced representation of a national construction company on insurance coverage matters in a wrongful death case then pending in Las Vegas. We were hired six weeks prior to trial.  In less than a month, we broke a year-long stalemate between competing carriers to obtain several policy limits necessary to reach settlement with the plaintiffs.

Recent representation of a custom home-builder, obtaining total loss (full coverage) under the builders risk coverage after arson destroyed only part of a custom home during construction.

Successful post-trial representation of a Fortune 500 energy company under CGL and Umbrella policies following a multi-million dollar judgment in a case alleging fracking damage to customers’ wells.

Successful post-trial representation of an oil-field services company following a multi-million dollar verdict in a case brought by a former company executive for wrongful termination and malicious prosecution, involving D&O, CGL and Umbrella policies.

Represented publicly traded biosciences general partnerships in coverage litigation stemming from 13 investor suits. Sought preliminary injunction to force insurer under General Partnership Liability policies to pay defense costs on an ongoing basis. Coverage issues involved whether the insurer had to pay defense costs under the policy on an on-going basis and whether the insurer could allocate between covered and uncovered claims.  Achieved successful settlement for insured during injunction proceedings.

Environmental Litigation

Representation of a California port district in a suit against Monsanto for PCB contamination of the Bay.

Representing a California port district in matters before the Regional Water Quality Control Board and in two suits against prior lessees of tidelands of the Bay to enforce contractual requirements to remove improvements and to require cleanup of PCBs, mercury and other contaminants in Bay sediments caused by defendants’ decades of operations.

Worked on the firm’s team that serves as Special Counsel to the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey in pursuing remediation costs, economic damages, and natural resource damages associated with the dioxin contamination of the Passaic River and Newark Bay. The firm achieved a record setting $355 million settlement for the State of New Jersey in the Passaic River litigation, including securing $67.5 million in restoration projects that must be implemented in local, impacted communities to restore losses of human uses.

Successful resolution, via mediation, then arbitration, of allocation of responsibility for CERCLA settlement with the EPA involving the parties' herbicide and pesticide manufacturing at Superfund site.

Represented the Port of Houston Authority in litigation against a neighboring pesticide plant for releases of hazardous substances into adjacent property and navigable waters. The Port obtained a settlement valued at $100 million, which The National Law Journal named as one of the ten most significant settlements in Texas for 2003.

Practices