Insurance Guru Eugene Anderson Dies; Known for 'Triple Trigger,' Hitchhiking to Harvard

As a foster child growing up in Portland, Ore., in the 1930s, on farms and in an orphanage, Eugene Anderson must have seemed an unlikely prospect for success as a New York lawyer.

However, he not only put himself through the University of California, Los Angeles, but with the help of a lawyer he met while hitchhiking across the country, he earned a degree from Harvard Law School. By the time Anderson died Friday in Manhattan of pneumonia, the 82-year-old was a renowned plaintiffs insurance coverage lawyer, known for establishing his own law firm and a number of innovative theories that enabled corporate policyholders to collect from recalcitrant carriers, reports the New York Times.

Among Anderson’s survivors is his wife, Jenny Morgenthau, the daughter of the former Manhattan district attorney, Robert Morgenthau, for whom Anderson once worked. Anderson was also a partner at Chadbourne & Parke before leaving for Morgenthau’s office and then forming his own firm, now known as Anderson Kill & Olick, in 1969.

A fearless innovator, Anderson represented corporations seeking to tap insurance policies to help pay for cleanups as litigation over environmental damage and related personal injuries began to proliferate in the 1970s.

Faced with three insurers for Keene Corporation each disclaiming responsibility and pointing to the others, he persuaded a federal appeals court to recognize that multiple so-called triggers implicate an insurer’s responsibility to provide coverage—when damage occurs, when damage is apparent and when a claim is pursued over the damage, the newspaper recounts. The result was the “triple trigger” doctrine.

In a post today on the Property Insurance Coverage Law Blog, attorney Chip Merlin remembers Anderson as a passionate policyholder advocate who was also a generous mentor.

“He helped me. He gave me advice. He showed me how to do my job more effectively and encouraged me, even though it meant he was making less money by doing so,” writes Merlin. “He was a prince of a guy and a force that will always live with me.”

An Anderson Kill press release provides further details about his career.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.