Martin S. Checov
is a partner in O’Melveny’s San Francisco office, which he co-founded, and serves as the Firm’s General Counsel. Martin has decades of litigation experience in complex matters, gaining particular recognition for his representation of major domestic and foreign carriers and reinsurers in coverage, financial, regulatory, and related disputes—listed by Chambers USA
as one of the country’s leading lawyers in the field of insurance, along with recognition by publications such as “Super Lawyers” and American Lawyer Media’s “Best Lawyers.” His array of experience includes litigating scores of bad faith claims and coverage disputes arising from construction defect, intellectual property, product liability, first-party property, securities fraud and consumer class actions, as well as lawsuits under California’s unfair competition law; and representing insurer and other clients in regulatory, real estate, intellectual property and environmental cost recovery disputes. In addition, he has served as a neutral expert on insurance issues in major litigation.
Martin has been involved in protracted and discovery-intensive litigation over the nature and extent of insurance coverage for billions of dollars' worth of asbestos-related suits, for environmental cleanups, and for claims by individuals alleging personal injury caused by exposure to pollutants. Over the past 30 years, he has had extensive involvement in litigating insurance bad faith claims, claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law, and questions of insurance coverage relating to such issues as the duty to defend, Civil Code §2860 (the independent counsel statute), patent infringement, trademark infringement and other intellectual property claims, directors’ and officers’ liability, errors and omissions claims, construction defect and product liability claims, first-party earthquake and other property losses, insurance fraud (including concealment in the underwriting of policies and the submission of claims), and class action litigation. Martin has also counseled insurers on these issues, particularly in the context of claims handling practices, and has monitored and assisted in the management of counsel retained by insurers to defend policyholders against underlying claims. He has also advised insurers with regard to regulatory proceedings and investigations.
Illustrative Professional Experience
- Counsel for liability insurer in action brought by third-party claimants for alleged fraud and concealment in the management of underlying construction and product defect litigation (resulting in new state legislation enacted for the express purpose of overruling appellate decision affirming dismissal of client)
- Lead counsel for CIGNA (now ACE) in prominent cases such as Shell Oil, FMC and Aerojet-General Corp., establishing California law on scope of duty to defend in environmental litigation
- Successfully defended class actions and lawsuits under California’s Business & Professions Code §17200 relating to insurance sales, claims handling practices, and regulatory issues, including a challenge to a major property and casualty insurer’s asbestos and environmental restructuring and the investigation of a reinsurer for its purported links to historical episodes of criminal misconduct
- Obtained favorable California Court of Appeal decision limiting scope of duty to defend in sexual molestation cases
- Represented ACE U.S.A. in a coverage trial and appeal regarding antitrust and ostensible false advertising claims
Admitted to Practice,
US District Court, Central, Northern, Eastern, and Southern Districts of California; US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; California Supreme Court; US Court of Appeals, Seventh CircuitMember,
Federation of Insurance & Corporate Counsel; Litigation Section and Tort and Insurance Practice Section, American Bar Association; Environmental Law Section, State Bar of California; Bar Association of San Francisco; Los Angeles County Bar Association; Northwestern Law Advisory Board; Lambda Legal National Leadership CouncilCo-Author, Manual for Complex Insurance Coverage Litigation