Lester Levy

Lester J. Levy, Esq.

JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator, Referee/Special Master, Neutral Evaluator


Case Manager
John Graber
T: 212-607-2765
620 8th Ave, 34th Floor, New York, New York 10018

Biography

Lester J. Levy, Esq. is a founding member of JAMS and has practiced as a full-time ADR professional for more than 25 years. His extensive experience, sharp intellect and innate facility connecting with parties help him to get to the heart of matters in dispute and have yielded thousands of successful complex commercial mediations and arbitrations spanning an impressive diversity of topics and practice areas.

Mr. Levy enjoys helping clients find efficient, creative and lasting solutions for the most challenging disputes, from complex multiparty, multiclaim conflicts to more common, but often no less contentious, disagreements. He is regularly sought out to handle matters that have failed to settle and is respected for his keen ability to understand sophisticated issues and guide parties to settlement through a combination of personal engagement, patience, and tenacity. (Read Mr. Levy’s client testimonials here.)

Mr. Levy’s longstanding practice as an arbitrator, mediator, and settlement master/facilitator spans subject matters, including: Business and Commercial, Class and Mass Actions, Employment, Environmental and Toxic Tort, Finance, Insurance, Limited Partnerships, Mass Torts, Product Liability, Real Estate and Securities. He is also a member of the JAMS Title IX panel. Mr. Levy is frequently selected for his skills in handling matters with long-term implications and assisting parties with their most difficult cases.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

Class and Mass Actions & Mass Torts

Throughout his two and a half decades of dedicated ADR practice, Mr. Levy has handled dozens of Class Action Matters and is particularly skillful in managing sensitive, large-scale settlements. As the Chief Adjudicator for the Black Farmers Cases (Pigford v. U.S. Department of Agriculture), Mr. Levy designed, implemented and oversaw the adjudication of more than 50,000 individual claims and awarded more than $2 billion in relief. His commitment to ensuring fast, fair and flexible proceedings is beneficial to all parties. Mr. Levy is the Founder and former Managing Director of the Class Action and Mass Tort Settlement Adjudication Program at JAMS.

Environmental Disputes

Mr. Levy is one of the most experienced environmental mediators in the country. He has resolved thousands of the most challenging environmental cases in virtually every area of environmental legal practice over the past twenty years. He is the Founder and former Managing Director of JAMS’ Environmental Dispute Forum. Mr. Levy was selected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to serve as a Neutral Allocator in its National Program. Mr. Levy’s mediations involve individuals, private property owners, corporations, insurance carriers, and governmental agencies, including the U.S. EPA and Department of Justice, state and local regulatory agencies, and attorneys general.

Mr. Levy has a keen understanding of the scientific issues which underlie environmental disputes and works closely with technical experts to design creative and cost-effective solutions to complex environmental problems towards reaching a settlement. He understands the legal and practical advantages and limitations of environmental insurance coverage having successfully worked with all major insurance companies in settling large and small matters throughout the United States. Mr. Levy is often called upon to design and implement coordinated processes to resolve mass claims in environmental, toxic tort and other areas of law. Due to his vast experience in the fields of ADR and environmental law, the National Law Journal recognized Mr. Levy as a 2016 Energy & Environmental Trailblazer.

Complex Insurance, Securities & Financial Markets Disputes

In addition to his nationally acclaimed expertise in Environmental Law, Mr. Levy has worked on a broad spectrum of insurance matters related to Directors & Officers (D&O), Errors & Omissions (E&O), Comprehensive General Liability (GCL), reinsurance, life insurance, asbestos, long tail environmental claims, construction defect, and property damage, with claims involving allocation of contributions by multiple primary and excess insurers, and allocation of defense and indemnity obligations.

Mr. Levy has handled complex securities and financial markets disputes involving large banking institutions, hedge funds, directors and officers, municipalities, and trusts, as well as intricate relationships between multiple parties. As an arbitrator in financial disputes, Mr. Levy is known for his ability to quickly grasp complex facts and for his willingness to make fair and thoughtful decisions based on the facts and the law. He is also a founding member of the JAMS bankruptcy practice.

Representative Matters

Select examples of Mr. Levy’s most recent cases are provided below. Please see Mr. Levy’s specialty biographies for in-depth examples of representative cases he has mediated and arbitrated cases in BankruptcyClass Action/Mass TortEmploymentEnvironmentalFinancial Markets, and Insurance.

Class Action

Consumer, financial services, insurance, product liability, mass tort, employment, telecommunications, discrimination, governmental services

Antitrust

  • Mediator, Antitrust cases brought by private parties and foreign and domestic governmental agencies against North American and European air carriers for the alleged agreements to set certain anti-competitive tariff rates

Securities

  • Mediator, class action brought by limited partners of hedge fund against general partner for alleged fraudulent self-dealings
  • Mediator, in class action brought by limited partners of hedge fund against general partner for alleged fraudulent self-dealings

Insurance

  • Mediator, $500 million settlement of national MDL class action involving life insurance purchasers who alleged misrepresentation in connection with the sale of “vanishing premium” life insurance policies
  • Mediator, national coordinated insurance coverage action involving more than 600 contaminated sites throughout the United States
  • Advisor, The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, international settlement involving more than 55,000 claims for insurance benefits arising from the systematic appropriation of life insurance policies during World War II

Employment

  • Mediator, class action against the Department of Treasury over the misclassification of more than 200,000 temporary workers

Consumer

  • Mediation of nationwide class action under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) alleging non-compliant display of debit or credit card accounts
  • Settlement Ombudsman for nationwide coordinated federal and state actions involving 24 million credit card holders alleging excessive interest and late charges, and promoting “add-on products” promising illusory benefits and services

False Advertising

  • Mediator, false advertising class action against international manufacturer of running shoes relating to claims of musculoskeletal benefits
  • Mediation of nationwide class action alleging false advertising in connection with label statements such as “natural” and “non-GMO”

Product Liability

Design and manufacturing defects, class actions, property damage, insurance coverage

  • Mediator in consumer class action involving allegedly defective high-pressure fuel pumps installed in multiple year models of foreign automobiles
  • Mediator, national class action alleging design defects in in-home heating units, with an emphasis on the availability of insurance coverage to assist in the remedial program settlement
  • Mediator, in national product liability class action alleging design defects in the manufacture of sport utility trailers
  • Mediator, false advertising class action
  • Special Master and Arbitrated appeals from settlement of national class action alleging defective wooden deck sealant and paint product manufacturer
  • Discovery Master in national product liability class action involving allegedly defective hardboard siding
  • Discovery Master in defective siding case, a national product liability class action. involving allegedly defective products
  • Special master in class action alleging defective roofing tiles
  • Special Master, in (National Product Liability class action involving allegedly defective wood sealant
  • Mediator, in multi-million-dollar attorney fee dispute arising from the settlement of a national product liability action regarding NHTSA allegations of defective design of mini-van door latches

Mass Tort

  • Mediator/Settlement Master, in settlement and allocation of awards to more than 10,000 mass claimants affected by 13-day airborne environmental release of catacarb, a catalyst used in the refining of gasoline products. Claimants were compensated by proximity to release and severity of injury through abbreviated hearings or pre-determined awards
  • Mediator/Settlement Master, mediated settlement and oversaw distribution of settlement funds to 65,000 mass claimants impacted by airborne toxic plume resulting from a fire at a major oil and gas refinery
  • Appointed Settlement Master over 4,000 personal injury claims involving contaminated drinking water in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sales and Use Tax

  • Mediated successive class actions brought by throughout state against multiple national cellular carriers for alleged non-payment of sales and use taxes in connection with in-state sales of cellular telephone services
  • Settlement Master in class action regarding corporate sales tax liability

Business/Commercial

Securities, antitrust, banking, commercial contracts, franchise agreements, general partnerships, sales of businesses, government contracts, whistleblower, false claims, qui tam, fraud and other business torts, tax, insurance coverage

Banking/Financial Markets

  • Mediation between owner of non-securitized loans and mortgage lender alleging breach of contract based on servicing failures and unpaid servicing advances
  • Mediation alleging breach of factoring contract assigning present and future account receivables in consideration for payment of working capital
  • Class Action alleging claims of mis-assessment of account overdraft fees and ATM and debit card overdraft fees under breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and New York General Business Law
  • Mediated Qui Tam action brought on behalf of State, and more than 1,400 political subdivisions during the first phase of trial. More than $5 billion in damages sought, alleging that bank failed to escheat unclaimed funds, charged excess fees, and failed to make timely and proper investments
  • Mediation of nationwide class action under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) alleging non-compliant display of debit or credit card accounts
  • Settlement Ombudsman for nationwide coordinated federal and state actions involving 24 million credit card holders alleging excessive interest and late charges, and promoting “add-on products” promising illusory benefits and services
  • Judge for all purposes, by Special Master appointment, presiding over 5,000 limited partnership claims against a bank including deciding motions for summary judgment in class action involving limited partnerships and financial institutions
  • Arbitrated claims against financial investment advisors regarding allegations of fraudulent solicitations, over-concentration in certain securities, churning, and price manipulation
  • Mediated national securities class action
  • Mediated class action by Limited Partners of hedge fund against General Partner and related entities
  • Mediated class action alleging various misconduct regarding real estate trusts\
  • Mediated claims of false advertising and deceptive business practices pursuant to Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act and Sections 349 and 350 of the New York General Business Law in connection with the on-line advertising, promotion and sale of competing mattress products
  • Arbitrated contract dispute over sale of energy consulting business by a U.S. company to a French corporation; issues included valuation of earn-out provisions and sufficiency of employee performance post-sale
  • Arbitrated dispute arising out of an alleged breach of contractual obligations to pay for materials, services and licensing fees associated with a patented process to create organic fertilizer
  • Arbitrated claims including fraud, breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in connection with the sale of an optometry practice to a national chain of optometric practices

Bankruptcy

Preferences, fraudulent conveyances, pre-filing settlements, consensual plans regarding future claims, priority, corporate governance and liability, insurance coverageMediated hundreds of bankruptcy matters, served as Chair of the ADR Committee for the American Bankruptcy Institute, and was appointed by the Chief Bankruptcy Judge to the panel of mediator/arbitrators of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware

  • Mediated several hundred claims and preferences in a $6 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The mediations were conducted in various locations pursuant to a comprehensive ADR order of the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
  • Mediation between insurance carriers for bankrupt asbestos installer and tens of thousands of current and future asbestos-injury claimants. The cases were venued in the Bankruptcy Court in Denver and the Los Angeles Superior Court. The settlements combined exceeded $200,000,000.
  • Supervised systematic mediation of multiple elder abuse cases against bankrupt nursing home. Pursuant to an order of Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of Los Angeles, the cases were mediated prior to any consideration of lifting the automatic stay.
  • Mediated multiple matters involving a bankrupt steel manufacturer. The mediations were conducted pursuant to an order of the Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Illinois.
  • National Class Action alleging defective products liability claims against Trustee in Bankruptcy.
  • Mediated several cases arising out of the bankruptcy of a high technology company. The mediations were conducted pursuant to the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Illinois.

Franchise

  • Mediation between franchisor and franchisees alleging pre-sale fraud and misrepresentation in financial projections, post-sale lack of support, discriminatory enforcement of franchise agreement, misappropriation of advertising fees and excessive overcharging in connection with mandatory purchases
  • Mediated dispute arising from the rescission of a real estate franchise agreement in violation of New York State’s Franchise Act

Intellectual Property

Patent, copyright, related licensing agreements, trademark, trade dress, trade secret and unfair business practices

  • Mediated patent infringement actions between competing firms involving encryption technology. Mediation involved several related federal and state court lawsuits and contractual arbitration. Settlement involved the negotiation of software and hardware license agreements
  • Mediated breach of contract action involving development of proprietary software
  • Mediated trade secret dispute between competing firms over state-of-the-art technology for the recovery of contaminants resulting from manufacturing process
  • Discovery referee in patent and unfair business practices litigation
  • Arbitrated dispute arising out of an alleged breach of contractual obligations to pay for materials, services and licensing fees associated with a patented process to create organic fertilizer

Employment

Executive compensation, wrongful termination, race, gender and age discrimination, wage & hour, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, insurance coverage Arbitration alleging same-sex harassment, racist nicknames and ridicule, and racial profiling of customers who complain of such conduct

 Wage & Hour/FLSA

  • Arbitrated dispute arising out of the violation of federal and state wage and hour laws associated with Claimant’s employment as a chef in a country club; claimant alleged failure to pay minimum and overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 201, et seq. (FLSA) and the New York Labor Laws, Section 190 et seq. (NYLL); failure to pay spread of hour wages under the NYLL and the Hospitality Industry Wage Order 12 N.Y.C.R.R. 146-1.6; failure to provide proper payroll notices and paystubs under NYLL 195(1) and NYLL 195(3); failure to pay timely wages under NYLL 191(1)(a)(i); and seeking costs, disbursements, interest, and attorneys’ fees; respondent contended that Claimant was an exempt employee under the bona fide executive exemption pursuant to both the FLSA and NYLL, and that Paramount was relieved of any requirement to pay overtime wages under the exemption for seasonal amusement or recreational establishments
  • Employment dispute arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the allege failure to pay overtime wages in violation of 29 U.S.C. Section 201 and its implementing regulations

Executive Compensation/Partnership Dissolution

  • Mediated pre-litigation executive compensation claims regarding the separation agreement and severance package for long-term executive displaced by reorganization following merger with national firm
  • Arbitrated dispute arising out of partnership dissolution; dispute arose out of Respondent’s failure to “offer and sell” his membership interest in the parties’ limited liability company Operating Agreement following his alleged resignation and withdrawal from the Company

Wrongful Termination

  • Arbitrated claims of included constructive discharge, fraud, breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in connection with the sale of an optometry practice to a national chain of optometric practices; claimant agreed to a three-year employment term, in which he was to continue to practice optometry as an employee of Respondent but later resigned claiming that Respondent’s actions forced him to do so; issues involved whether Claimant forfeited the remaining payments under the contracts by leaving voluntarily or whether he was forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions caused by Respondent after the sale of his practice; claimant alleged that Respondent breached the employment contract and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing by interfering with his ability to perform under his employment contract; respondent countered that it was Claimant who breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
  • Arbitrated dispute wherein Claimant alleged that he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for complaining that Respondent failed to pay him commissions owed. Claimant sought recovery under New York Labor Law Sections 215, 190, 191 and 193
  • Mediated personal injury and wrongful termination claims by railroad employee under Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA)
  • Mediated wrongful termination claim alleged to be in violation of public policy regarding psychiatric health care regulations

Discrimination/Failure to hire

  • Arbitrated claims of disparate treatment in a failure-to-hire case based on Claimant’s race, age and gender; issues included whether Claimant had established by circumstantial evidence that the position was filled by a similarly situated person outside of the protected class and whether there was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the employment decision
  • Arbitrated dispute under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. Section 621 et seq.; claim arose pursuant to an arbitration clause in a severance agreement
  • Arbitrated gender discrimination and hostile environment claims brought by two female employees against manager and insurance sales company
  • Mediated wrongful discharge claims by employees of fast-food restaurant on the basis of racial discrimination, harassment, and hostile environment

Whistleblower

  • Mediated whistleblower cases involving executives of financial institutions and government contracting firms

Non-Compete/Confidentiality

  • Mediated dispute between employer and former employee of insurance brokerage regarding alleged violation of confidentiality and non-compete provisions with respect to the use of customer lists and related data

Environmental

CERCLA and State Superfund Mediation and Allocation Processes

  • Federal District Court-appointed mediator and special master to conduct settlement proceedings involving five intermingled plumes of groundwater PCE contamination resulting from discharges from multiple dry cleaners throughout city. Parties included municipal government officials, business owners, private parties, environmental regulators, attorneys’ general and insurance carriers. Mediation involved in-depth analysis of relevant hydrogeology, investigative and remedial technologies and the allocation of related costs among hundreds of parties and their insurance carriers. Mediation also involved use of neutral expert and independent, party/policy holder-specific negotiations with that party's insurance carriers where helpful to facilitate settlement. Governmental environmental regulators and attorneys’ general participated as invited guests where beneficial
  • CERCLA Mediation arising out of dispute by a municipality against the Department of Defense for alleged groundwater contamination caused during the cleaning and storage of missiles maintained at a DOD site
  • CERCLA allocation mediation between settling parties at large industrial superfund site and eight non-settling parties; mediation involved the application of the Gore Factors to reach a reasoned resolution
  • Mediated apportionment of liability for costs of investigation and remediation under CERCLA for TCE contamination in soil and groundwater large airplane manufacturing and servicing facility. Mediation involved coordinated private sessions between individual PRPs and their insurance carriers
  • Arbitrated apportionment of liability under the GORE factors for contamination on and under lands, and in the waters, of the State of California emanating from open mine pits and dredge ponds used in largest gold mining operations over many years
  • Appointed by Federal District Judge in Houston, TX to mediate responsibility between owners, operators and generators for investigation and cleanup of PCP contaminated run-off ponds at two historical wood treating sites in Arkansas.
  • Mediated multi-party CERCLA superfund case involving historical DDT contamination in Richmond Harbor. Remedy selection process included the use of harbor dredging technologies
  • Mediated cost recovery action by the US EPA against multiple dry cleaners for historical PCE groundwater contamination. Mediation also involved claims against the manufacturers of PCE and dry-cleaning machines
  • Mediated multi-billion-dollar CERCLA cost recovery action and natural resource damages (NRD) claims relating to historical operations at various large-scale mining sites throughout the Western United States; mediation involved federal and state attorneys’ general, environmental regulators and consultants from multiple states and regions, US EPA and DOJ
  • Mediated claims by Municipal School District for costs of investigation and remediation of contiguous industrial parcels, including heavy metals, to be converted into a school site. Mediation also involved evaluation of past eminent domain settlements
  • Mediated numerous other cases involving the allocation costs of environmental investigation and remediation among neighboring gas station sites and dry-cleaning sites. Mediations often involve an evaluation of the most cost-effective and efficacious remedy
  • Mediated numerous disputes arising from Phase I environmental investigations performed in connection with real estate sales and acquisition of real estate loans
  • Arbitrated numerous other cases involving the allocation of costs of investigation and remediation to numerous PRPs at CERCLA environmental sites under Gore Factors

Federal and State Enforcement Proceedings

  • Mediated an environmental insurance coverage dispute by a Port District against an insurer that issued two primary policies and three umbrella policies; the issues included an appeal of the trial court’s rulings, and claim handling concerns for the future, with a goal of reaching a coverage-in-place agreement
  • Mediated administrative action of first impression brought by US Department of Justice against international ship broker for TSCA relating to the transport and disposal of ships bearing PCBs in waters outside of the United States
  • Mediated state-law enforcement action by Office of Attorney General against a diesel oil and gasoline carrier and distributor that operated multiple service stations throughout the US
  • Mediated a state-law enforcement and contribution action against a lead battery recycling company and multiple generators at large soil contamination site
  • Appointed mediator and Special Master over penalty action involving violations of wastewater discharge limits at municipal wastewater treatment plant. Action was brought by environmental public interest group
  • Facilitated the negotiation of between major oil companies and the State of Alaska environmental regulatory agencies over the renewal of the Oil Spill Contingency Plan in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Mediated several CA Prop 65 cases, including SFO and LAX, alleging failure to adequately warn of chemical exposure risks

CEQA, NEPA, Water and Land Use

NEPA, CEQA, urban planning and development, zoning, easements, variances, building setbacks, animal habitat and native species, mitigation

  • Mediated action brought by Water District against former and current operators of a site that were allegedly responsible for releases of 1,4 dioxane on and from the site, which have contaminated an aquifer from which potable water is drawn for District’s customers
  • Mediated dispute arising out of claims that drinking water supplies were threatened or impacted by releases of gasoline containing MTBE from service stations within the Water District’s boundaries; defendants contended that the releases from service stations have been or are being adequately cleaned up under the supervision of State and Local regulatory agencies and therefore this lawsuit was moot and the court should defer any enforcement obligations to the governmental agencies
  • Mediated NEPA and CEQA dispute between major university, municipality, county and citizens groups over long-range (20-year) development plans (water, housing, traffic and population). The resolution addressed longstanding grievances, recalibrating the university-city-county relationship and establishing an innovative relationship model to resolve future disputes
  • Mediated settlement among citizens’ groups, developers, regulators, municipalities and counties over the construction of 11,000 luxury homes in an undeveloped tract of land. Issues involved water quality and availability, transportation and related growth issues
  • Mediation between landowner/developer, municipalities, citizens groups and water quality agencies over the construction of a championship golf course. Issues involved engineering feasibility, water quality and animal habitat

Toxic Tort & Property Damage

Asbestos exposure and injury, lead, mold, airborne and water borne releases, drinking water contamination, personal injury and property damage, mass torts and class actions, diminution in property value

  • Mediated settlement and oversaw distribution of settlement funds to 65,000 mass claimants impacted by airborne toxic plume resulting from a fire at a major oil and gas refinery
  • Adjudicated allocation of settlement funds, through abbreviated hearings, to 75 residential beach-front property owners for soil and groundwater contamination caused by leaking fuel lines running underneath their properties from refinery to oil tankers in waters off coastal community
  • Mediated claims by residential subdivision property owners relating to health risks and real property diminution in value allegedly due to construction of homes over former landfill property
  • Mediated hundreds of toxic tort, personal injury and property damage cases arising from the airborne release of chlorine gas from a rail car accident
  • Mediated disputes between franchisees and franchisors over costs of remediating soil and groundwater contamination at gasoline station
  • Mediated personal injury, property damage and environmental cleanup claims by neighboring landowners arising from lead contamination at battery reconditioning facility
  • Mediation, asbestos mesothelioma case involving shipyard worker and family members allegedly exposed by proximity to asbestos covered work clothes
  • Mediated mold exposure cases allegedly caused by inadequate ventilation in construction of new homes
  • Mediated claims by property owners relating to health and safety risks and real property diminution in value allegedly due to construction of homes over former landfill property
  • Mediated claims by municipal water district against former and current owners over historical releases of 1,4-dioxane into potable water aquifer serving thousands of consumers
  • Mediated employee claims related to exposure to toxic odors in the workplace

Professional Liability

  • Mediated professional liability matter between landowner and environmental consultant regarding the construction and operation of a landfill
  • Mediated professional liability dispute between single PRP and its environmental consultant over advice relating to dredging of Richmond Harbor
  • Mediated professional liability dispute between property owner and environmental consultant regarding alleged deficiencies in Phase I and Phase II real estate investigations

Insurance

Mr. Levy has worked on a broad spectrum of insurance matters related to Directors & Officers (D&O), Errors & Omissions (E&O), Comprehensive General Liability (GCL), reinsurance, life insurance, asbestos, long tail environmental claims, construction defect, and property damage, with claims involving allocation of contributions by multiple primary and excess insurers, and allocation of defense and indemnity obligations. He has additional experiences handling disputes related to professional liability, personal injury, auto, disability, life, health, subrogation, title, workers comp, bankruptcy, insurance bad faith and attorneys’ fees.

  • Mediation of issues on appeal from District Court over interpretation of two primary and three excess insurance policies with goal of reaching a coverage-in-place agreement governing long-term relationship between insurer and insured
  • Mediated coverage dispute arising from fire at a vineyard causing damage to valuable vine stock and inventory
  • Mediated multiple reinsurance disputes between cedents and reinsurers
  • Conducted various insurance appraisal proceedings involving losses of real and personal property destroyed by fire, earthquake and flooding, including valuation of unique objects including wine, fine art, antiques, and classic automobiles
  • Mediated class action arising from the sale of "vanishing premium" whole life insurance policies involving approximately 160,000 policyholders; allegations involved the representations made to policy holders about the length of time it would take the amount of the annual dividends to overtake the amount of the annual premium payments

Asbestos

  • Mediated nine-figure settlement of historical insurance coverage profile maintained by asbestos trusts, involving multiple layers of primary and excess insurance coverage over a 30- year period of claimed asbestos injuries. Issues involved negotiation of allocation methods among multiple years of coverage, between primary and excess limits, including lost-policies, and defense vs. indemnity coverage

Construction

  • Mediated surety disputes related to losses stemming from construction failures and cost overruns

Directors & Officers

  • Mediated dispute as to coverage under a Directors & Officers (D&O) policy for attorneys’ fees incurred in a securities fraud action

Entertainment

  • Mediated attorneys’ fees claim under advertising/trademark and bodily injury policy provisions brought by musician against famous rock band

Errors & Omissions

  • Mediated dispute between insured and broker, under Errors & Omissions (E&O) policy, over alleged failure to place adequate levels of insurance

Life Insurance

  • Mediated claims by beneficiaries of life insurance policies against insurers for alleged wrongful denial of benefits

Medical Malpractice

  • Arbitrated dispute related to insurance coverage potentially available under various professional liability policies relating to 105 injured claimants in coordinated medical malpractice action

Environmental Insurance Coverage

  • Mediated numerous environmental insurance coverage cases, including issues of liability for defense and/or indemnity, trigger of coverage, allocation, pollution exclusions, expected or intended, voluntary payments, primary versus excess coverage, pilot remediation studies, exhaustion of limits and allocation of risk and settlement among co-primary and excess insurance policies, reinsurance, and pre-tender issues
  • Mediated Aerojet environmental insurance case on remand from California Supreme Court involving issues of first impression in connection with the interpretation of defense and indemnity provisions of multiple historical Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) insurance policies
  • Mediated nine-figure settlement of historical insurance coverage profile maintained by asbestos trusts, involving multiple layers of primary and excess insurance coverage over a 30- year period of claimed asbestos injuries. Issues involved negotiation of allocation methods among multiple years of coverage, between primary and excess limits, including lost-policies, and defense vs. indemnity coverage
  • Mediated national coordinated environmental insurance coverage (“buy back”) action by railroad of its historical insurance program of primary and excess coverage by multiple insurers for losses at more than 600 environmentally contaminated sites throughout the United States
  • Arbitrated numerous fee disputes between attorneys and insurance companies over the reasonableness of time spent and rates charged in defense of insured party in underlying case
  • Mediated dispute between policy holder and insurer over the availability of defense and indemnity coverage for pre-tender fees and expenses
  • Mediated several disputes between policy holders and insurers that issued manuscript environmental stop gap and excess pollution remediation coverage
  • Mediated cases with most environmental insurance issuers, present and past, involving lost policies, secondary evidence of coverage, defense vs. indemnity coverage, pilot remediation studies, exhaustion of limits and allocation of risk and settlement among co-primary and excess insurance policies, re-insurance, and pre-tender issues

Special Master/Discovery Referee

Mr. Levy is an expert in designing and managing post settlement proceedings in class action and mass torts cases. Mr. Levy created JAMS Class Action Settlement Adjudication Program and is a founding member of the JAMS bankruptcy practice.

  • Appointed by Federal States District Court for discovery and settlement. Decided numerous discovery motions, including: (1) motions to compel deposition testimony and responses to written discovery requests; (2) request to examine certain real property pursuant to Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (3) motion seeking the return of allegedly privileged documents under the work product doctrine and attorney client privilege; (4) motions for sanctions; (5) motion to continue the trial date; and (6) motion to bifurcate the trial
  • Supervised the creation and implementation of discovery plans for the orderly completion of percipient, documentary, and expert discovery; decides motions to compel and substantive legal motions; refereed depositions to ensure efficient examination of witnesses; held prompt telephonic hearings to resolve discovery disputes as they arose
  • Appointed Discovery Referee by Los Angeles Superior Court regarding third-party discovery and sanctions
  • Appointed Discovery Referee by San Francisco Superior Court to oversee deposition of plaintiff in high profile tobacco product liability lawsuit
  • Appointed Judge Pro Tempore by Contra Costa Superior Court to decide motions for summary judgment in class action involving limited partnerships and financial institutions
  • Appointed Referee to monitor deposition of defendant in sexual harassment and racial discrimination case
  • Appointed Special Master by Federal District Court to decide attorneys' fee motion
  • Appointed Special Master by Federal States District Court for discovery and settlement
  • Appointed Special Master to oversee injunction issued by Federal District Court
  • Managed the private adjudication of more than 25,000 civil rights claims under a Consent Decree entered by the Federal District Court in Washington D.C.
  • Prepared and supervised discovery plan in High Tech matter in Federal District Court
  • Served as Settlement Master/Ombudsman and coordinated nationwide federal and state class actions involving 24,000,000 class members, alleging false advertising and fraud in connection with the provision of various card member benefits, add-on services and related charges
  • Served as Settlement Master for national employment class action brought by 200,000 special rate employees against the US Department of Treasury for alleged failure to pay wage and hour benefits
  • Served as Special Master and designed and implemented systematic mediation and arbitration of thousands of claims and preference actions arising out of a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceeding involving the liquidation of a large paper manufacturer in Beloit, Wisconsin
  • Served as Special Master, for class of 4,000 residents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin alleging personal injuries and wrongful deaths allegedly caused by the introduction of Cryptosporidium contamination into the city’s drinking water system
  • As Special Master oversaw settlement of wage and hour litigation by Chinese-speaking employees of a Los Angeles daily newspaper
  • Served as Special Master and allocated settlement proceeds and available apartments to class of tenants in low- and moderate-income housing development in connection with a municipal redevelopment plan
  • Appointed mediator and Special Master over penalty action involving violations of wastewater discharge limits at municipal wastewater treatment plant.
  • Served as mediator and Settlement Master for settlement and allocation of personal injury and property damage awards to more than 10,000 residents living near a large petroleum refinery affected by 13-day airborne environmental release of a chemical catalyst used in refining gasoline products; settlement involved negotiation of a fixed fund from which claimants were proportionately compensated according to, inter alia, proximity to release point, location within plume and nature and severity of injury, through abbreviated hearings or pre-determined awards
  • Appointed Special Master to oversee multimillion-dollar dispute involving "employment practices liability" policy provisions
  • Served as Hearing Officer and arbitrated propriety of public utility’s decision to discontinue service to industrial customer that repeatedly exceeded regulatory environmental discharge limits

Personal Injury

  • Arbitrated personal injury action arising out of physical injuries suffered at a trampoline park; issues involved whether the injury was caused by a defective condition, an alleged failure to warn, and comparative negligence, if any, by the Claimant
  • Mediated a pre-litigation dispute arising out of civil rape and sexual assault
  • Arbitrated numerous motor vehicle accident cases to determine and/or allocate fault and compensation for personal injuries

Real Estate

Real property transactions, broker liability, breach of contract, eminent domain, environmental contamination and remediation

  • Mediated commercial landlord-tenant dispute arising out of lease termination due to the failure to obtain a certificate of occupancy.  Additional claims were for property damage due to a flood of the premises

Construction Defect

  • Mediation between owners, contractors and subcontractors regarding allegedly defective construction of storage facility
  • Mediation between developer, contractor and plumbing contractor involving the installation of allegedly defective piping
  • Mediated dispute among owner, architect, general contractor and subcontractors over the installation of carpeting in a high-rise building
  • Mediation of dispute between owner, architect and contractor regarding construction of commercial medical building
  • Mediation between building owner and glass manufacturer regarding alleged inherent defect, installation and maintenance of windows in large commercial building

Civil Rights

Discrimination in employment, housing and lending

  • Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS
  • Energy & Environmental Trailblazer, National Law Journal, 2016
  • "ADR Swiftly Compensates Parties in Mass Actions and Toxic Tort Cases," New Jersey Law Journal, April 12, 2016
  • "Mediation Can Accelerate Cleanup," New Jersey Law Journal, March 7, 2016
  • Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • Founder, JAMS Class Action and Mass Tort Settlement Program
  • Registered Mediator, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Former Adjunct Professor, Alternative Dispute Resolution, University of San Francisco Law School
  • Member, ADR Panels for the Northern California Federal District Court, and the Superior Courts of San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and San Mateo Counties
  • Member, ADR Panels for the Bankruptcy Courts in the Districts of Delaware and the Southern District of New York
  • Former Vice Chair & Member, Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, Tort Trial & Insurance Section of the American Bar Association
  • Chair & Member, ADR Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute, 2005-2008
  • Vice Chair, ADR Committee of ABA Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (SEER)
  • Founder, JAMS Environmental Judicial College
  • Trained in mediation/negotiation at Harvard Law School (Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes)
  • Written and lectured on ADR to Bar Associations including the ABA, IBA, law firms, private companies, and law schools throughout the United States
  • “A Comment on Communication and Complex Case Mediation,” Daily Journal, September 17, 2010
  • "Mediator Creates Healthy Settlement Environment," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, March 23, 2007
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, 1986-1994
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Irving R. Kaufman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1985-1986
  • J.D., magna cum laude, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 1985; Chief Articles Editor, Cardozo Law Review
  • B.Mus., San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1981, Classical Guitar Performance and Composition

Counsel Comments

    • “Lester’s honest and direct style creates a trusting relationship and open dialogue with attorneys and their clients. He transforms the most complex and emotionally challenging disputes into a process the parties can use to constructively resolve their differences. He quickly identifies the key issues, sets a course of action including a range of possible settlements, then gets it done.”
    • "...There are a lot of people who are not in the courtroom...that ought to be thanked, in particular, Mr. Levy, the special master, who, from my observations...has done an outstanding job shepherding this through, a very lengthy, time-consuming, difficult litigation because of the number of parties; and he simply has done a wonderful job, bringing this to a resolution."   

      - Federal Judge

    • “Lester Levy’s effectiveness as a mediator is the result of both a keen mind and relatable personality. He handles complex issues and challenging personalities with equal aplomb. The hallmark of an effective mediator is evenhanded persistence, and Lester is highly skilled at keeping the parties engaged and moving toward a mutually acceptable resolution.”

    • “Lester takes the time to learn the nuances of each case so he can foster a constructive dialogue between the parties to achieve resolution. He always invests whatever it takes to make sure the case settles, never giving up until the documents are signed.”

    • “Lester is thoughtful, and takes his time to speak directly with each party to better understand the issues. He is deliberate and careful in communicating messages between sides.”

    • “He was very patient yet effective at permitting each side to put forth their arguments which led to a fair resolution for all parties. His knowledge of environmental litigation and the issue that surround it certainly helped move the mediation along.”

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Practice Areas

  • Antitrust
  • Arbitration
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Federal Law
  • Financial Markets
  • Franchise
  • Higher Education & Title IX
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Securities
  • Settlement Master/Ombudsman
  • Special Master/Discovery Referee
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Disclaimer

This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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