ProfessionalsElizabeth M. Sacksteder
A partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the firm’s Insurance Practice, Liz is a seasoned litigator with a background in both private practice and senior in-house roles. Liz has represented leading banks, life and property-casualty insurers, asset and investment management firms, and other companies in a wide array of high-stakes, complex litigation and regulatory matters. Liz also helps companies and their boards navigate sensitive internal investigations.
Liz has extensive experience in federal and state courts at the trial level and on appeal, in various arbitration fora, and in mediations. She has represented global banks in virtually every significant kind of litigation and regulatory or internal investigation, including matters arising out of the financial crisis, alleged manipulation of LIBOR and other benchmarks, and the failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Liz has also represented major life and property-casualty insurers in vast array of matters, including multibillion-dollar coverage and reinsurance litigation and arbitrations, regulatory and internal investigations, policyholder class actions and asbestos bankruptcies, among others. Leveraging her past experience leading global litigation portfolios as the head of litigation at Citigroup and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Liz is especially mindful of the institutional pressures and concerns that litigation and investigations pose for her clients, including cost, disclosure issues, and reputational and regulatory risk, and understands the importance of close partnership with the in-house team.
Liz’s most significant recent representations include:
- a leading asset manager in an internal review of the company’s processes for investigating employee complaints, including its handling of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination reported in the media, and other alleged senior executive misconduct;
- the boards of other major financial services institutions in independent internal investigations concerning alleged sexual or other misconduct by senior executives or board members;
- a life insurance company in an SEC investigation;
- a media company in an evaluation of the design and implementation of the Company’s processes for investigating and addressing employee complaints of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, and recommendations for process improvements;
- the County of Westchester in the favorable settlement of a dispute over the management of Playland Amusement Park, an historic public park, in the manager’s chapter 11 case;
- CNA Financial, one of the U.S.’s leading commercial property and casualty insurers, as national coordinating counsel in all its major COVID-19-related coverage disputes;
- leading reinsurer Swiss Re as global coordinating counsel in connection with its COVID-19-related indemnification obligations;
- AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company in securing the dismissal and affirmance on appeal of novel policyholder and annuity-holder class action claims seeking the return of billions of dollars in premiums;
- Bear Stearns in successfully defending on appeal the dismissal of securities fraud claims;
- a major global insurance group in the trial of a long-running asbestos-related reinsurance dispute, resulting in a favorable settlement after jury selection;
- numerous global banks in regulatory investigations before the SEC, the CFTC, the DOJ and other agencies, resulting in successful resolutions, including a declination; and
- numerous private funds and other clients in the negotiation of favorable settlements of disputes without litigation.
Liz is former deputy general counsel and global head of litigation and regulatory investigations at Citigroup, where she managed a 250-person worldwide litigation and investigative team and advised the bank and its board on every aspect of their litigation and regulatory exposures. During her tenure there, she supervised multibillion-dollar litigations and high-stakes regulatory and criminal investigations, many involving multiple jurisdictions around the world.
Prior to joining Citigroup, Liz was deputy general counsel and director of litigation at The Hartford Financial Services Group, where she was second in command in a 400-person law department, and was responsible for a 60-lawyer litigation group, all litigation and pre-litigation counseling involving the holding company and the group’s property-casualty, life and asset accumulation businesses, and supervision of the Reinsurance Law and Investment Law groups. Before joining The Hartford, Liz was a litigation partner in private practice representing clients in financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment and other industries.
Liz is a thought leader in the insurance area. In March 2020, she co-authored an influential client memorandum on assertions of force majeure in response to coronavirus-related impacts and other COVID-19-related alerts. She writes and speaks frequently on insurance and financial services industry-related legal developments.
Liz is a member of the Commercial Division Advisory Council established in 2013 by then-Chief Judge Lippman to advise the Chief Judge on all matters pertaining to the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court. She is an Adjunct Lecturer at Columbia Law School, most recently teaching Advanced Civil Procedure.
Liz is a recipient of the Arthur Liman Public Interest Award from the Legal Action Center (2012) and the Human Relations Award from the New York Lawyers Division of the Anti-Defamation League (2013). She serves as a member of the board of the Legal Action Center (2013-present), and she is a former court-appointed mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Recently, Crain’s New York Business recognized Liz as one of its “Notable Women in Law” for 2018. She was the Coordinating Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal.