Since Stutman Law’s founding in 1995, we’ve aggressively and creatively handled subrogation cases to achieve optimal results for our clients as promptly as possible and achieved incredible success. But none of that success is possible without the highly experienced and knowledgeable people who make up our firm. Currently, the Stutman Law team is comprised of 30 attorneys around the US focused solely on subrogation. It’s that team that enables us to handle large subrogation cases better than anyone in the industry.
With our Attorney Spotlight series, we want to highlight the skilled attorneys whose expertise and dedication allow our firm to achieve more for our clients. In our very first Attorney Spotlight, we talk to Kevin P. Smith. Mr. Smith has concentrated on property casualty and insurance litigation since graduating from law school in 1985. He has extensive trial and appellate experience in state and federal courts throughout the United States, and he is experienced in investigating and litigating multimillion dollar losses.
ATTORNEY SPOTLIGHT. Kevin, thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit about yourself for the Stutman Law Attorney Spotlight! To get started, can you tell us how long you’ve been with Stutman Law and your role in the firm?
KEVIN P. SMITH. I have practiced at Stutman Law since August of 1998. I tend to handle complex litigations and investigations of larger losses, including those in the 7 and 8-figure range.
AS. How did you get started in law?
KPS. I started out working in admiralty law and doing products liability defense directly for manufacturers. Marine cargo damage and loss subrogation cases were the bread and butter of the practice. Sometimes cargo was off-loaded to a warehouse, and the warehouse would burn down. That’s when I started learning how to handle fire cases. My start in products liability litigation was also very useful when I transitioned to property subrogation because a significant percentage of our losses at Stutman Law results from product failures.
AS. Why is subrogation-only important to maximizing a recovery?
KPS. A subrogation-only firm is more specialized and knowledgeable. This is not a sideline for us. We don’t run into as many conflicts of interest because we don’t handle the defense of claims. Being subrogation-only means, we’re less hesitant to take on challenging cases. We understand and are comfortable with the risk/reward aspects of subrogation and don’t have relationships with potential defendants through a defense practice.
AS. How does a focus on early intervention impact success?
KPS. It’s easier to figure out and prove exactly what caused a loss when you start the investigation as soon as possible. Evidence can be examined in place and preserved before it goes in the dumpster and is lost forever. This is particularly true on very large commercial losses. A lot goes into managing the investigation of a very large loss and time is of the essence. At some point, the site needs to be demolished or cleaned up, either because of the need to get the insured back in business or because of public safety concerns. You need to assemble your investigative team quickly and manage the site carefully to get it all done right without holding the site open too long. Starting just as soon as you can helps tremendously.
AS. What are some of the changes you have seen over the years in handling large losses for Stutman Law?
KPS. Managing large loss investigations and litigating large loss claims has become far more sophisticated. More specialized and knowledgeable experts are used. More scientific research is involved. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and the firms defending this type of case have gotten better too. It simply takes more knowledge and experience to handle the larger cases now than it did 20 years ago. Experience really helps.
AS. Can you share a bit about where you’re from, how you grew up, and your family life?
KPS. I grew up just outside of New York. Dad was New York City born and bred, and my Mom came from a tiny rural town in North Central Pennsylvania. As a kid, I spent time in New York and in rural Pennsylvania while spending summers at the Jersey Shore. I spent a summer in law school clerking for a federal judge in Philadelphia and decided I liked the region. I live outside Philadelphia now and still spend summers at the Jersey Shore. My wife Eileen and I have three adult children. Allie is an art director with an ad agency in New York. Emily is in medical school in Boston. Our son Matt is autistic and lives with us.
AS. If you could pursue any hobby without restrictions of time or money, what would it be and why?
KPS. I have been messing about with boats my whole life. I was at the helm of a small boat with my dad when I was small enough that I had to stand up to see over the bow. I love being on the water, and by now, my boat handling skills are fairly good. Electronics have made navigation far easier and more accurate, so getting lost is less of a concern. My wife and I also love to travel to new and interesting places. If I could pursue any hobby without restriction, I would love to cruise the Greek Islands with Eileen.
Thank you again to Mr. Smith for taking the time to share some of his insights and experience in subrogation with us! Stay tuned for upcoming Attorney Spotlights from Stutman Law for more great interviews with the attorneys who successfully handle some of the largest subrogation cases in the country.