Melanie McDonald’s practice includes civil and complex business and commercial litigation, including insurance coverage disputes, multiparty environmental disputes, and the 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.
Melanie’s primary focuses is on the representation of policyholders in complex, multiparty insurance coverage disputes involving significant insurance claims and often including contractual indemnity claims. She is also involved in 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.
Melanie’s representation is not limited to Texas, and she 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 a working knowledge of many states’ anti-indemnity statutes. In addition, Melanie assists on the firm’s larger environmental cases, often performing “behind the scenes” litigation work on these matters, tenaciously and thoroughly reviewing documents, and often turning up the “needle in the haystack.”
Thorough, precise, responsive and accessible, Melanie is known for finding solutions to even the most difficult or serious scenarios. Her ability to analyze and synthesize copious information into on-point and influential arguments and workable plans of action allows her to add value to her clients. Melanie has tackled even the biggest problems and prevailed. When it comes to complex business and legal challenges, Melanie’s perseverance and skill as a proven strategist are critical elements to achieving her clients’ goals and objectives.
Melanie’s nearly three decades of experience include almost 10 years working as a licensed insurance agent/broker focused 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. In addition, Melanie served as an insurance broker at Lockton Companies LLC in Houston. Through her coverage work as an attorney and her tenure as an insurance broker, Melanie has gained an 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 comprehensive general liability (CGL), workers compensation and employers liability (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 multimillion-dollar adverse judgment in a construction personal injury case involving contractor controlled insurance program (CCIP), CGL, WC/EL and Excess Liability policies. The case is currently on appeal and, in addition to coverage counsel for the insured, the firm is 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 the lessee’s Pollution Legal Liability policy for environmental contamination caused by the lessee’s shipbreaking operations.
Recent fast-paced representation of a national construction company on insurance coverage matters in a wrongful death case then pending in Las Vegas. The firm was retained six weeks prior to trial. In less than a month, our team broke a year-long stalemate between competing carriers to obtain several policy limits necessary to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs.
Recent representation of a custom home builder, obtaining total loss (full coverage) under the builder’s 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 multimillion-dollar judgment in a case alleging fracking damage to customers’ wells.
Successful post-trial representation of an oil-field services company following a multimillion-dollar verdict in a case brought by a former company executive for wrongful termination and malicious prosecution involving directors and officers (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 the 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 on an ongoing basis and whether the insurer could allocate between covered and uncovered claims. Achieved a successful settlement for the insured during injunction proceedings.
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 the defendants’ decades of operations.
Member of firm team that served 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 impacted local communities to restore losses of human uses.
Successful resolution, via mediation and then arbitration, of allocation of responsibility after a CERCLA settlement with the EPA involving several parties' historic herbicide and pesticide manufacturing at a 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.