Michael V. Pepe
Michael V. Pepe is an experienced insurance coverage attorney with an active construction law practice, representing real estate developers, owners, contractors, and other corporate policyholders in contract disputes and complex insurance coverage issues. With his extensive experience and industry-specific knowledge of insurance coverage, Michael understands his clients’ needs and how insurance fits into their businesses. Taking a holistic approach to representation, Michael leverages his litigation experience to help his clients avoid coverage disputes and to fully understand and take advantage of available risk transfer options.
Michael represents insurance policyholders, making sure that insurance companies provide the coverage his clients expect. Typically working with clients’ in-house risk management team, Michael structures his clients’ contracts to ensure strong downstream risk transfer. He also reviews his clients’ insurance programs to ensure adequate coverage and avoid disputes about what the policy language means. However, when disputes do arise, Michael is a skilled litigator capable of taking cases to verdict. His firm was awarded the Litigation Department of the Year by The Connecticut Law Tribune.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, Michael earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is admitted to practice in both Connecticut and New York and has been admitted pro hac vice in several jurisdictions around the country. Michael began his career with a boutique construction law firm, specializing in construction disputes between contractors and owners. Michael then joined Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. (SDV), a national law firm headquartered in Fairfield County Connecticut with offices in California and Florida. Presently a partner at SDV, he is involved in firmwide technology and marketing initiatives, and he is a member of the firm’s executive committee. At SDV, Michael has been able to utilize his knowledge of construction law and contracting while shifting over to the insurance side, which he finds more rewarding.
“Now, when I represent an owner, my goal is to bring money into the dispute as opposed to fighting over who caused it,” Michael says. He recalls a wrongful death action where he represented the owner of a construction project site. In an all-too-common scenario, there was no question that collectively the defendants were liable, but they could not agree on how to split up the responsibility for the settlement. Once Michael and his team successfully argued that all of the contractor’s insurers were also responsible for insuring his client, the disputes about who caused the death all but disappeared, and the case settled.
Michael works with clients who place a high value on risk management. He explains, “Our society asks these companies to take on a huge amount of risk to build our infrastructure and communities. They need to manage that risk through insurance and contracts in order to do what they do.” Michael helps his clients draft the contractual provisions that need to mesh with the insurance policies to ensure proper risk transfer. In addition to serving contractors and developers, Michael’s practice focuses on publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and global investment funds. He works with their teams to make sure development projects are adequately insured before they make their investments. Michael also helps global, national, and regional insurance brokers and wholesalers by providing technical legal advice so they can better serve their clients. Michael’s experience with coverage claims allows him to provide perspective about policy language. Brokers often turn to him to interpret policy language and evaluate claims. An active, sought-after speaker, Michael often presents at industry conferences and seminars/webinars, nationwide, speaking about insurance coverage topics in the real estate and construction industries. Last year, he spoke at the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) Construction Risk Conference. Michael has also presented at the Construction SuperConference for the past two consecutive years.
Michael V. Pepe, Partner
Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C.
35 Nutmeg Drive, Suite 140, Trumbull, Connecticut 06611