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Duane L. Cochenour

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Duane L. Cochenour

Partner
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Biography

Duane Cochenour is a litigator specializing in medical malpractice claims, negligent security cases, and insurance coverage. He has a unique perspective, with 20 years of experience as an insurance claim professional prior to becoming a lawyer. He knows exactly what it is like to be an adjuster, supervisor, regional claim manager, and major case negotiator because he has worked in each of those positions.

He draws on over 30 years of experience in the insurance and legal industry to defend and counsel clients in various types of bodily injury and property damage litigation. He also specializes in insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, regularly providing guidance on complex coverage matters to major insurance carriers. Duane is also a certified mediator and a member of both the Georgia and Florida bars.

Duane specializes in representing hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers against claims of medical malpractice. In addition to routinely defending these cases in both Georgia and Florida, he is also part of a team of litigators who defend catastrophic cases across the country as part of the firm’s National Trial Counsel Strategic Team.

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Duane also specializes in representing clients against claims of negligent security in cases involving shootings, assaults and other serious crimes. These claims have exploded in Georgia, but our firm has developed specific strategies that allows us to minimize the exposure of these businesses, property owners, property managers, and their insurers.

In addition to these two areas of specialty, Duane keeps a varied litigation practice and represents clients in motor vehicle accidents, products liability claims, premises liability claims, construction disputes, non-medical professional liability claims, and other types of bodily injury and property damage litigation.

Drawing on three decades of experience interpreting insurance coverage, Duane is one of the leaders of the firm’s Insurance Coverage practice group. He regularly provides coverage opinions and other guidance to major insurers on complex coverage and bad faith cases. His vast experience in the insurance industry, coupled with his experience litigating coverage and bad faith actions, enables him to counsel and defend insurers in coverage and bad faith disputes. He knows exactly what it is like to be an adjuster working a large case load, a front line supervisor managing multiple adjusters, and a regional claim manager overseeing the claim operation in 5 states for a major insurer. This gives him a unique perspective (and passion for) defending insurance professionals against claims of bad faith. He also regularly reviews cases involving time-limited and/or policy limit demands, advising carriers on their exposure and providing recommendations on how to respond to these demands. He is also frequently retained by excess carriers as monitoring counsel on high-exposure claims.

Duane started his insurance career as a claim representative with Liberty Mutual but spent the bulk of it with St. Paul Insurance Company. He managed territories throughout the Southeast and, as a major case negotiator, handled catastrophic claims throughout the country. He was also selected to be on a project team that literally drew up a new dedicated medical claim structure nationally for St. Paul in 1995. He was also designated as an internal resource on coverage matters at St. Paul, teaching liability coverage courses internally to adjusters and supervisors. He regularly partnered with underwriters and agents on sales calls with prospective insureds. This experience gives Duane a unique insight into how to meet the needs of his insurance clients.

Duane excelled academically, graduating 7th in a class of over 150 students at the Georgia State University College of Law. He demonstrated his litigation skills early, leading a team that placed second nationally at the prestigious National Trial Advocacy Competition held annually at Michigan State University. He also received the Nai Karimimanesh Award as the top student in Advanced Evidence.

Experience

Construction

Duane specializes in providing coverage opinions in construction defect cases, litigating those cases when necessary. However, he also brings additional expertise to the table in evaluating these complex cases. Understanding how the coverage issues interplay with the litigation issues in these matters is essential in assisting carriers evaluate their exposure. Duane draws on over three decades of experience evaluating exposure in complex liability cases.

General Liability

Throughout Duane’s insurance career, he handled a wide variety of liability claims. He has continued that type of varied practice into his career as a litigator. He has litigated numerous types of general liability matters, including negligent security cases, motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and monitoring/assessing excess liability claims.

Insurance Coverage

Interpreting insurance coverage is nothing new for Duane; he has done it for almost 30 years. He has had to make the decision of whether to pay policy limits under the pressure of a time limit demand in cases involving excess exposure. He has dealt with underwriters, agents, producers, brokers, risk managers, and others in the insurance sales channel, which gives him a global framework of practical experience on how the insurance industry operates.

This experience gives him knowledge and insight into insurance coverage and bad faith issues that a legal education alone simply cannot provide. He not only provides coverage opinions and guidance to carriers and clients but also litigates those disputes when necessary.

Medical Malpractice

Duane has extensive experience representing hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers. He has litigated medical malpractice cases throughout Georgia and Florida. In addition, as part of the firm’s National Trial Counsel team, he has defended hospitals and physicians in catastrophic damage claims in numerous other states.

Professional Malpractice & Ethics

Duane also has experience handling complex E&O claims against various professionals, including attorneys, engineers, directors, officers, insurance, and real estate agents. His insurance background, as well as his service on various nonprofit boards, gives him a broad breath of experience to draw on.

Credentials

Admitted

State Courts:

  • Florida
    • Courts of Appeals
  • Georgia
    • Court of Appeals, Supreme Court

U.S. District Courts:

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia

Education

  • J.D., magna cum laude, Georgia State University
  • B.B.A., Marketing, Georgia State University

Memberships

  • Jazz Thing, Annandale Village – Suwannee, Georgia: Organizing Committee Member (20+ years)
  • Atlanta Claims Association:
    • General Member
    • Board of Directors (Former)
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
  • Cooperative Resource Center: Board of Directors, Chairman (Former)
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  • Georgia Defense Lawyers Association
  • Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution
  • Georgia Society of Healthcare Risk Managers
  • Hebron Baptist Church – Dacula, Georgia: Member
  • St. Paul Insurance Company – Atlanta Office, Community Involvement Committee: Chairman (Former)
  • Young Audiences of Atlanta: Board Member (Former)

Recognition

Presentations

  • PFAS Litigation: Coverage Issues Related to the New Wave of Lawsuits over “Forever Chemicals”
    State Bar of Georgia Insurance Law Institute; October 14, 2023
  • Current Trends and Emerging Issues in Negligent Security Claims
    Marsh McLennan Agency – Southeast, Claims Summit; March 21, 2023
  • Timing is Everything: Liability and Limitations
    Crum & Forster, Claim & Underwriting Units; September 2014
  • Diminution of Value in Property Loss Claims
    US Law’s Spring Conference, 2013
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  • Cross Examination of the Plaintiff in a Personal Injury Case
    Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s “Inside the Courtroom: The Trial of a Personal Injury Case;” September 20, 2012
  • Tort Reform in Georgia: A current status of the 2005 tort reform
    Zurich Medical Professional Liability Claim Department; April 14, 2010

Publications

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  • Legislative Update: 2013 Atlanta Claim Association Legislative Review
    A Claimscene: The Newsletter of the Atlanta Claims Association, September 2013

In the Press

55 Hall Booth Smith Lawyers Recognized as 2024 Best Lawyers® Award Recipients

We’re pleased to announce that 55 lawyers have been included in the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Important Ruling on Assault & Battery Exclusions

Written by: Duane L. Cochenour, Esq. Judge Kevin B. Weiss of the Circuit Court for Orange County, Florida, issued a potentially important ruling regarding assault and battery exclusions. An appeal is sure to follow, but the court granted the plaintiff’s rather novel argument that mental anguish damages (and a $25M Judgement for them) are not

Hall Booth Smith Attorneys Honored by The Best Lawyers In America 2023

47 lawyers from the firm have been honored in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

What You Need to Know About MCS-90 Endorsement

Written by: Duane L Cochenour, Esq. In 1980, Congress passed the Federal Motor Carrier Act, an Act that was intended to increase price competition, and reduce and simplify regulations on carriers. One of the most enduring benefits of the Act was a provision for the MCS-90 Endorsement (“MCS-90”) which required proof of financial responsibility of

Insurers Win First Battle in Fight Over Business Interruption Coverage For COVID-Related Closings — Michigan Judge Issues First Decision in this Billion Dollar Insurance Coverage Fight

Written by Duane L Cochenour, Esq. and Caitlin E. Correa, Esq. Hundreds of declaratory judgment actions have been filed across the country seeking business interruption coverage for shutting down businesses due to the coronavirus. It is shaping up as one of the biggest coverage battles in years with billions of dollars of losses at stake.

Update on Pitfalls to Responding to Policy-limit Demands

Written by: Duane Cochenour, Esq. and Bill Daniel, Esq. The Georgia Court of Appeals recently held that an insurer’s request for clarification as to which insureds are released in a pre-suit, policy-limit demand amounted to a counteroffer and rejection of the demand. In Yim v. Carr, 349 Ga. App. 892 (2019)[1], plaintiff Patricia Carr was

Hall Booth Smith Congratulates 2018 Scholarship Winners

ATLANTA – Hall Booth Smith, P.C. congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Hall Booth Smith Scholarships that offer financial support for both employees of the firm and their children as they pursue higher education. This year’s scholarship winners are Mary Cochenour, the daughter of Partner Duane L. Cochenour in our Atlanta office, and Dakota DiTosti,

HBS Announces New Members of the Firm’s Partnership

Atlanta, GA. – Hall Booth Smith, P.C. (HBS) announces the election of new partners, Duane Cochenour and Michael Williams, effective January 1, 2015. Duane Cochenour is a Partner in the Atlanta office of HBS. Duane is a litigator specializing in the representation of medical professionals and is the leader of the firm’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group.