Ryan S. Smethurst is Co-Head of McDermott’s Insurance Litigation & Counseling Team. The Financial Times, Chambers USA, Benchmark Litigation and U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers, among others, have recognized Ryan and the Team as having one of the most highly-regarded and innovative insurance litigation and counseling practices in the United States.
Ryan has tried insurance coverage cases to judges and juries, has litigated insurance coverage appeals presenting questions of first impression, and has arbitrated reinsurance disputes to final award. For nearly two decades, he has represented insurers with respect to their most difficult and high-profile exposures, including over 11,000 personal injury actions against the City of New York and 140 of its contractors in In re World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation; approximately 750 childhood sexual abuse cases against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and other Roman Catholic, Episcopal and youth organizations nationwide; and nine-figure environmental and asbestos liabilities.
In addition to his insurance disputes practice, Ryan counsels commercial and captive insurers and other insurance market participants regarding insurance claims and placements, policy and reinsurance wordings, allocation disputes, and insurance issues arising in transactions and government investigations. Ryan has experience with multiple lines of commercial insurance products, including general liability, directors and officers, errors and omissions, employment practices liability, crime, pollution legal liability, marine, property (including time element coverages such as business interruption), and manuscripted coverages, as well as with treaty and facultative reinsurance agreements.
In his insurance practice, Ryan benefits from having litigated contract, tort, employment and class action cases arising in other (non-insurance) disciplines and industries. In this facet of his practice, Ryan has represented Citi, Computer Sciences Corporation, DaVita, McDonalds, Under Armour, and Verizon, among other clients.
Ryan also maintains an active pro bono litigation practice in which he focuses on service to underprivileged children. He recently was a court-appointed guardian ad litem for two children in neglect and custody proceedings in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. He represents a father in Europe seeking the return of his daughter after her illegal abduction to the United States. Ryan also litigated and won asylum for an Ethiopian man imprisoned and tortured for opposing the country's ruling party during a contested presidential election.