Thomas S. Novak

Thomas S. Novak

Member
 

Thomas S. Novak has focused on insurance and construction disputes for over 30 years in the state and federal courts of New Jersey and New York.  He began his career representing surety companies in construction litigation.  His involvement in construction disputes led to the development of a practice representing architects, engineers and owners in cases involving negligence in the design of construction projects, breach of construction contracts and construction lien litigation. 

Many construction disputes result in insurance claims and, accordingly, Mr. Novak also developed a specialty in insurance coverage.  His focus on insurance intensified with the appointment of the Firm as Special Counsel to the New Jersey Department of Insurance in connection with the liquidation of Integrity Insurance Company.  Mr. Novak was the Lead Partner on the Integrity liquidation from 1993 to 2006.  In the course of this representation, Mr. Novak became deeply involved representing both insurers and policyholders in a number of cutting edge issues of insurance law including trigger of coverage of mass torts such as pollution, asbestos, and other product liabilities, allocation of losses among policies and reinsurers, and directors and officers liability coverage.

Mr. Novak has also represented trustees, executors and administrators in litigation with beneficiaries concerning the establishment and administration of trusts and estates.  He has defended challenges to Wills and Trust Agreements based on undue influence and lack of capacity, and has further defended fiduciaries from demands for their removal based on bias, hostility and dereliction of duties.  He has litigated actions seeking the appointment of a guardian for individuals unable to handle their affairs.

Mr. Novak has also litigated disputes among shareholders, partners and members of closely held entities such as corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies.  These disputes have typically involved claims of shareholder oppression and deadlock by minority shareholders seeking to take control of the entity or be bought out of the entity, and the valuation of the minority interests for buy-out purposes.

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Representative Matters

  • Represented a state transit corporation in the prosecution of professional liability claims in connection with the design and construction of the South New Jersey Rail Line from Trenton, NJ to Camden, NJ.
  • Represented the Liquidator of Integrity Insurance Company in the defense of actions seeking coverage of $50 million of claims against financial surety bonds  and in defending dozens of claims on a construction surety book of business.
  • Represented a national surety company in the recovery of $3.5 million of reinsurance on construction losses.
  • Defended a major architectural firm in a 54-day arbitration concerning the design of an asbestos abatement project at the former corporate headquarters of Ciba-Geigy.
  • Represented a major bank in suing the contractor and architect of a 278-unit condominium project in Princeton, NJ for design and construction defects.
  • Conducted a three-week jury trial in a malpractice action against an engineering firm which negligently designed the fire prevention system for a large warehouse.
  • Represented a major asbestos manufacturer in the recovery of $55 million of asbestos bodily injury losses from its excess and umbrella liability insurers.
  • Represented policyholders and insurers in litigation against agents and bankers involving allegations of negligent underwriting, misrepresentation of coverage and return of commissions.
  • Represented numerous policyholders in pursuing business interruption and property damage claims resulting from natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes and other catastrophes.
  • Represented major corporations and banking institutions in the prosecution of fidelity claims against carriers who insured against the dishonest acts of the policyholders’ employees.
  • Represented the Liquidator of Integrity Insurance Company in the recovery of $65 million of reinsurance on asbestos, environmental and toxic tort liabilities.

Court Admissions

U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1980
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 2006
U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, 1993
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1983
U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, 1988
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1994

Representative Decisions

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Newsroom

Presentations

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Rankings & Recognition

The Best Lawyers in America®* 2018, Insurance Law   
New Jersey Super Lawyers®* 2008-2009, Business Litigation, Insurance Coverage and Construction Litigation
Martindale-Hubbell®* AV rating

* See Award Methodology

Affiliations

Member, Insurance Committee and Fidelity and Surety Committee, New Jersey State Bar Association
Member, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, American Bar Association
Member, Excess and Surplus Lines Committee, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, American Bar Association