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Lawrence Zelle

Lawrence Zelle, Esq.

Case Manager
Amanda Foster
T: 612-332-8225
F: 612-332-9887
333 So. Seventh St., Ste. 2550, Minneapolis, MN 55402


Lawrence Zelle, Esq. joins JAMS with over 50 years of experience as a lawyer, arbitrator, mediator, negotiator and settlement broker. He has been lead or co-lead counsel in over 300 cases that were tried to completion, arbitrated or settled through mediation or negotiation.

Mr. Zelle has earned a national and international reputation for the resolution of disputes that involve questions of insurance or reinsurance. He has represented insurers, reinsurers, captives, policyholders, brokers and management companies across a broad cross-section of contracts, including property, casualty, fidelity, treaty or facultative reinsurance, marine, accident and health, specialty lines and environmental. He has experience in disputes involving a wide array of common insurance issues, such as coverage, loss measurement, bad faith, rescission, number of occurrences, interpretation of contract wordings, concurrent causation, custom and practice, notice, primary/excess, allocation, special limits and material misrepresentation.

Mr. Zelle has served as a consultant to risk managers, underwriters and brokers in the drafting of policy wordings. He has been invited to conduct training workshops for claims and underwriting departments at major insurance companies. In addition, he has presented papers and participated on numerous panels dealing with subjects of interest to various legal and industry groups associated with the world of insurance.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

Mr. Zelle has acted as ADR counsel on both sides of the aisle, having served as an arbitrator, umpire or mediator in over 100 disputes, including in the areas of:

  • Business/Commercial
  • Environmental
  • Insurance and Re-insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Marine
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Product Liability
  • Professional Liability/Medical Malpractice

Representative Matters


  • Defended primary insurance company against property damage and business interruption claims arising from Las Vegas Strip hotel’s fire loss
  • Prosecuted claims of major tire manufacturer against its insurers for losses sustained at Liberia (West Africa) rubber plantation
  • Represented large cereal manufacturer asserting claims against its captive insurance company and reinsurers for product recall losses
  • Asserted claims of fraud and misrepresentation against broker and major Lloyd’s syndicate involving portfolio transfers of long-tail casualty policies
  • Defended management company and independent adjusters against claims by reinsurers of negligence and bad faith in settlement by captive insurer of catastrophic explosion loss
  • Represented casualty insurer in defense of suit brought by personal representatives of their son to enforce billion-dollar judgment against serial killer
  • Handled several major 9/11 claims on behalf of and against insurers and reinsurers in litigation, appraisals, arbitrations and mediations
  • Represented reinsurers of workers’ compensation carve-out portfolio in arbitration involving issue of number of occurrences/events in 9/11 losses
  • Party-appointed neutral in arbitration regarding mismanagement of claims handling by third-party administrator
  • Co-lead counsel in suit and mediation of environmental claims asserted by national waste disposal company
  • Lead counsel for fronting reinsurer in arbitration brought by French reinsured arising out of catastrophe naturelle
  • Represented captive insurer seeking recovery from reinsurers for 100-year flood loss at agricultural facility in Iowa
  • Obtained summary judgment for policyholder in suit against insurer for death of thoroughbred race horses in barn fire
  • Represented Lloyd’s syndicates in arbitration against ceding company for providing improper reserves in long-tail workers’ compensation claims
  • Represented reinsurers in arbitration alleging misrepresentation and adverse selection by reinsureds of risks assigned to a property pool.
  • Represented policyholder in suit and mediation seeking coverage for damages sustained at ice cream manufacturing facility
  • Party-appointed neutral in arbitration involving mishandling of workers’ compensation claims by third-party administrator
  • Represented property insurer in suit and mediation involving $300-million business interruption claim arising out of collapse of salt mine
  • Brought civil declaratory action on behalf of property insurer and cooperated with U.S. Department of Justice in criminal prosecution of largest commercial arson fire in U.S. history

Product Liability

  • Represented major aluminum company in pursuing claims against Italian steel fabricator arising from collapse of alumina storage tank in Jamaica
  • Represented various nuclear utilities in suits against manufacturers of large steam turbines that sustained intergranular stress corrosion cracking (IGSCC)
  • Represented chemical company against German contractor for wrongful design of high-pressure converter resulting in boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) at an anhydrous ammonia production facility
  • Represented government of India acting as pater patria on behalf of thousands of persons killed or injured as a result of lethal gas escape in Bhopal, India
  • Represented synthetic fuel facility against German engineering firm in arbitration involving wrongful design of heat exchanger
  • Asserted subrogation rights of property insurer for recovery of losses resulting from hotel walkway collapse
  • Represented personal representatives of plant foreman killed in boiler explosion caused by failure of flame protection device

Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice

  • Defended internationally known sculptor in wrongful death case involving collapse of steel panel during art installation at museum
  • Obtained record jury award for disfiguring injuries to passenger in head-on automobile accident
  • Asserted mass tort claims for injuries suffered by women who used intra-uterine devices (IUDs)
  • Represented plaintiff against major diagnostic clinic for permanent brain injury arising out of negligent diagnosis of abscessed subdural hematoma
  • Settled medical malpractice claim on behalf of former Miss Minnesota against surgeon and hospital for amputation of her leg due to failure to monitor temperature of thermal blanket during open-heart surgery

Intellectual Property

  • Represented Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to enjoin unauthorized use of players’ names and performance statistics by game board manufacturer
  • Defended lawn sprinkler manufacturer in patent infringement case
  • Defended publisher of auto parts replacement digest in suit alleging copyright infringement
  • Represented manufacturer of post-operative pain-reducing device in patent infringement case brought by national medical device manufacturer

Selected Business/Commercial and Pro Bono Work

  • Represented minority shareholders in mediation involving breakup of closely held family business
  • Represented Province of Manitoba in misrepresentation and fraud suit against supplier of defective sandbags
  • As National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) agent, represented MVP quarterback in negotiating long-term guaranteed contract with Minnesota Vikings
  • Solicited by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to represent, pro bono, an African American ex-convict in civil rights suit against Parchman Farm, the State of Mississippi and the superintendent of prisons for crippling injuries sustained while he was an inmate
  • Pro bono representation of Sierra Club of California in mediation of suit to enjoin Pacific Lumber Company from cutting down 1,100-year-old redwood
  • Selected by major casualty insurance company to negotiate settlements of top-five exposures being defended by outside counsel in pending civil actions throughout the United States
  • Certified Arbitrator, ARIAS U.S.
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Retired Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel
  • Retired Member, Minnesota State and Local Bar Associations
  • Retired Member, Loss Executives Association
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota Law School, 1986–1987
  • President, Zelle LLC, 2015–2018
  • Senior Partner; Zelle, Hoffmann, Voelbel & Mason LLP; 1998–2015
  • Founding Partner and Chief Executive Partner, Zelle & Larson LLP, 1988–1998
  • Chief Executive Partner and Head of Litigation; Robins, Zelle, Larson & Kaplan; 1978–1988
  • Associate, Partner and Member of the Executive Committee; Robins, Davis & Lyons; 1960–1978
  • Clerk, Minnesota Supreme Court, Chambers of Associate Justice William Murphy, 1958–1960
  • J.D., University of Minnesota Law School
    • Member, Editorial Board, University of Minnesota Law Review
  • B.A., University of Minnesota



Practice Areas

  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business & Commercial
  • Class Action & Mass Tort
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
Available nationwide


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