James (Jim) Koelzer represents insurers in litigation and counsels them in coverage disputes. His practice focuses on insurance for industries that drive Southern California's economy: construction, energy, entertainment and shipping.
Prior to entering private practice, Jim was employed by the Lloyd's Claims Office and served as a law clerk to the Chief Judge of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. His work in London and Washington afford Jim a deep understanding of the global insurance marketplace and its constant evolution, as well as keen insight into how courts evaluate the merits of cases and the lawyers who argue them. As a result, Jim has a unique perspective that helps him solve complex coverage disputes and sensitive legal problems through trial, litigation, and negotiation, while providing an unwavering dedication to client service and value.
Chambers USA 2021 has ranked Jim in the category for Insurance: Insurer, and clients say "He is extremely knowledgeable and very good at explaining complex matters and coming up with next step strategies,“ “He makes it very clear that he will do the best he can for his client,” and "He is intelligent, organized and exceeds all expectations of good counsel.."
Jim's work has ranged from advising insurers with respect to contingency coverage for concert cancellations, to representing insurers in bad faith litigation concerning products-completed operations coverage for construction defects, and defending war risk insurers in bad faith litigation over coverage for the alleged theft of a commercial fishing vessel. He has handled cases involving general commercial liability coverage; pollution liability, bodily injury liability, terrorism, and exploration and production coverage for energy companies; products and professional liability coverage for life-science companies; professional liability coverage involving nursing homes, attorneys, real estate agents and a hospital; various types of specialty coverage, including contingency, game show indemnity, travel and personal accident; as well as a range of marine coverage that includes war risk, protection and indemnity, and hull.
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Districts of California
US District Court for the District of Colorado
Supreme Court of the United States
J.D., Tulane University School of Law, 1996. Editor in Chief, Tulane Maritime Law Journal.
B.A., Hobart College, 1993
Association of Average Adjustors of the United Kingdom
Chartered Insurance Institute of the United Kingdom
Inland Marine Underwriters Association
Maritime Law Association of the United States, proctor member
North American Contingency Association
Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association
Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee, chair (2013-2014), vice chair (2014-present)
Excess Surplus and Reinsurance Committee, vice chair (2012-2014)
Technology Committee, vice chair (2012-2015)
Communications Web Site Editorial Board, chair (2011-2012)
Tulane Maritime Law Journal, permanent advisory editor (1997-present)
Successfully defended against proposed class action asserted by policyholders for alleged bad faith handling of first-party property claims arising out of wildfires. Litigated case to a four figure settlement.
Obtained USD 5.8 million settlement for subrogated insurer after winning liability phase of a trial on an inverse condemnation cause of action.
As co-counsel, obtained a directed verdict at trial in favor of foreign insurers in the US District Court, Western District of Washington in litigation concerning a war risk insurance claim for the alleged theft of a commercial fishing vessel by a former Admiral of the Uruguayan Navy and his son.
Obtained a summary judgment from the US District Court, Northern District of California in favor of a commercial maritime port in litigation concerning the grounding and 72-day stranding of bulk cargo vessel.
Defended a series of lawsuits involving wake damage to yacht marinas located within the commercial Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach allegedly caused by tug boats. The results included a voluntary dismissal by a plaintiff, a summary judgment in favor of a tug boat company, and a nuisance value settlement.