Lauren has represented a broad range of businesses in state and federal courts and argued appeals before the Minnesota appellate courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and many other courts. Lauren focuses her practice primarily in the areas of insurance coverage litigation, commercial litigation, employment and ERISA litigation and food industry matters.
Lauren represents corporate policyholders in suits for coverage of mass tort, professional errors and omission, employment, directors and officers, fiduciary liability, environmental and first-party loss claims, as well as insurance insolvency matters.
Her insurance experience includes:
- Mass Tort Insurance Coverage Litigation – Sex Abuse: Lauren represented a bankrupt religious organization in Minnesota coverage litigation with more than 11 insurance carrier groups, providing coverage for more than 60 years, including London Market Insurers, insolvent carriers, occurrence-based carriers and claims-made carriers. Litigation was commenced to obtain coverage for over 400 sex abuse claims. Taft has successfully negotiated policy buyouts/claim releases totaling over $150 million dollars and a plan of reorganization providing $210 million for survivors and victims;
- Mass Tort Insurance Coverage Litigation – Products Liability: Since 2002, Lauren has represented a publicly traded company in litigation and negotiations with carriers that provide coverage from 1963 to 1985 and millions of dollars of limits each year to obtain coverage for thousands of product liability mass tort claims. The representation has included significant litigation with a 10-year portion of this coverage block to obtain commitments to insure a sub-set of these claims. After five federal court settlement conferences, Lauren obtained a favorable agreement with the carriers to provide ongoing coverage for the claims. Lauren also negotiated an agreement with primary carriers across the entire coverage block to fund defense costs and indemnity for a larger sub-set of these mass tort claims. As primaries exhaust, Lauren continues to negotiate with next layer carriers to provide seamless ongoing funding. Lauren also routinely assists this client in ensuring reluctant carriers (who have already entered into cost share agreements) advance settlement authority needed to settle individual mass tort claims;
- Mass Product Defect Claims – Lauren represented a publicly traded company in four different coverage actions to obtain coverage for mass homeowner claims alleging defective building components.
- DOL Fiduciary Rule – Advice to Financial Institution: Advice to financial institution on changes needed to financial institution’s errors and omissions policies to ensure coverage is available for anticipated claims resulting from the new DOL Fiduciary Rule;
- Errors and Omissions Coverage – Financial Institution: Prepared preliminary submission of proof of claim under financial services bond and errors and omissions policy seeking coverage for theft by third-party insurance broker of surrender proceeds from numerous annuities. Claim is in its early stages;
- Employee Theft Claim – Egypt: Assisted client in recovery of $5 million loss resulting from complicated theft of forex by management employees based in Egypt. Worked with executives in France, Belgium, Italy and Egypt to prepare claim and negotiate full payment of loss from Chubb;
- Coverage for Antitrust Claims: Prosecuted Texas coverage action to obtain defense cost and indemnity coverage for very large antitrust case based in Eastern District of Texas on theory that predicate act included defamation insured under “Advertising/Personal Injury” coverage. Obtained stay of competing Minnesota coverage action initiated by insurers on grounds the Texas action was “first filed.” Ultimately obtained funding from carriers for significant portion of settlement of underlying case;
- Product Recall Coverage: Obtained a summary judgment ruling that food product distributor entitled to recover from its CGL carrier the full amount of a settlement of food recall claim;
- Insurance Insolvency: Won an Eighth Circuit appeal mandating excess coverage for waste hauler’s multi-million dollar settlement despite primary’s insolvency;
- Coverage for ERISA Class Action Settlement: Recovered a significant portion of large ERISA claim action settlement under D&O policy through a Bermuda arbitration; and
- First Party Loss: Prevailed in action seeking coverage for an airline’s multi-million dollar maintenance hangar fire suppression system upgrade required by law after a tornado destroyed the hangar.
Lauren has defended employers in FLSA and state wage and hour collective actions, and state class actions in many jurisdictions, as well as EEOC and class action discrimination and religious accommodation suits and ERISA class actions. She also has successfully prosecuted non-compete actions against former employees and their new employers, including those involving employee theft of electronic documents containing trade secrets.
Her employment experience includes:
- Independent Contractor Misclassification: Defended District of Missouri suit by independent contractors hired by a courier service to deliver client’s products. Case alleged misclassification claims under federal (nationwide) and state (Missouri, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota and Iowa) wage and hour laws contending client was a co-employer with the courier company. Missouri suit was dismissed and refiled in Minnesota. Obtained a very favorable settlement;
- Independent Contractor Misclassification: Defended federal collective action/state class action misclassification suit in Central District of California brought by courier company drivers. Our client engaged a courier company to make deliveries. The drivers who contracted with the courier company alleged our client and the courier company were co-employers and had misclassified the drivers as independent contractors. Obtained a voluntary dismissal after filing a motion to dismiss;
- Employee Rest Break Wage and Hour Claims: Defended California statewide employee class action claims that they did not receive meal and rest breaks as required by California state law, including state penalty claims. Obtained settlement on favorable terms;
- ERISA Class Action: Obtained voluntary dismissal of South Dakota class action against ESOP, which alleged that a plan amendment regarding valuation method could not apply to class members who had already terminated their employment but not yet received a distribution;
- Religious Accommodation Class Action: Successfully resolved a Minnesota EEOC suit and related employee class action alleging failure to accommodate employees’ Muslim prayer practices;
- Donning and Doffing Collective/Class Actions: Defended several different employers against multi-plant FLSA "donning and doffing" collective action claims, resulting in favorable settlements;
- ERISA Class Action: Defended a pension plan against ERISA claims by several women seeking pension service credit for their 1950s and 1960s service; and
- ERISA Plan Claim Against Pension Manager: Prosecuted a pension plan’s ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims against its fund manager for losses from the fund manager’s premature liquidation of the plan’s investment.
Lauren has a wide range of commercial litigation experience ranging from regulatory litigation with states, product liability claims, and shareholder disputes to defending "selling away" and fraud cases.
Significant commercial litigation handled by Lauren includes:
- Successfully prosecuted multiple actions for employers to enforce non-competes, mandate “return” of electronic confidential information and enjoin use of confidential information;
- Obtained an injunction against the State of Arizona based on federal preemption of state food labeling standards;
- Won a summary judgment for life insurer against claims its agent engaged in improper sales methods as to another company’s products; and
- Represented manufacturer in defense of multiple product liability claims.
Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer (2018)
Top 100 Women Honoree, Minnesota Super Lawyers
Honoree, Minnesota Super Lawyers
Honoree, Insurance Law, The Best Lawyers in America
Honoree, Insurance, Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition
Local Litigation Star
Labor & Employment Star (Midwest)
Honoree, Top 250 Women in Litigation
- University of Minnesota Law School (1982)
- Macalester College (1979)
summa cum laude
William Carleton Scholar
- Federal - 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal - District of Minnesota
- State - Minnesota
- Advised client on coverage for construction product defect claims involving office towers throughout United States.
- Advised client on insurance coverage and other options to recover losses due to Superstorm Sandy.
- Negotiated multi-carrier/layer cost share for mass tort asbestos liabilities and obtained reimbursement from insolvent carriers.
- Obtained a summary judgment against a party's insurer under a commercial general liability policy, determining that there was coverage for million dollar plus settlement of recall claims.
- Obtained coverage for multimillion-dollars in unpaid defense costs arising from shareholder dispute.
- Obtained coverage for very large employee thefts in Middle Eastern Country.
- Obtained coverage for European product liability claims.
- Obtained coverage for Mexican product liability claims.
- Obtained insurance coverage for large class action settlement through settlement following a Bermuda arbitration.
- Obtained summary judgment resulting in insurance coverage for large personal injury settlement.
- Obtained summary judgment against the party's insurer under a technology errors and omissions policy, for the reimbursement of approximately $1 million in defense costs incurred in an arbitration.
- Obtained summary judgment requiring carrier to cover $3 million upgrade costs resulting from storm damage to maintenance hangar.
- Prepared insurance claim for losses arising from employee theft in Far East.
- Provided guidance on numerous issues impacting poultry producer.
- Represented employer in responding to embezzlement by employee of over $1 million.
- Successfully represented food company in potential claims against carrier and warehouse for damages resulting from food product market withdrawal.
- Represented specialty chemical manufacturer in litigation with multiple carriers (including multiple layers) to obtain coverage for asbestos mass tort liabilities.
- Successfully obtained stay of Minnesota action and pursued Texas action leading to coverage for settlement of significant antitrust claim.
- Successfully sued four carriers to obtain coverage for National Manufacturer on mass tort liabilities arising from construction products.
- Assisted in the sale of a privately held producer of food products through a merger with a strategic acquirer.
- Minnesota Women Lawyers
- American Bar Association
Member, Subcommittees on Insurance and Insurance Coverage and Litigation Section
- Hennepin County Bar Association
Member, Insurance Law Committee