Richard D. Sweebe

Partner | Chair, Insurance Coverage


Practice Areas:

Chair of the Insurance Coverage Group, Rich offers clients more than 30 years of experience in first-party insurance defense litigation. His practice includes matters of coverage disputes, coverage opinions, extra-contractual/bad faith punitive damage claims and fraudulent arson and theft claims. He has broad experience in analyzing issues and formulating strategies for good-faith claim handling and for conducting investigations of coverage issues and suspected fraudulent claims. When litigation is necessary, Rich is highly skilled in fire and property damage litigation, and seamlessly executes the addressing of investigative strategies as well as conducting jury trials throughout Ohio in both state and federal courts. He has achieved the highest ranking, AV Preeminent®, from Martindale-Hubbell®.

Education & Admissions

Education

  • Kent State University

    (B.A., cum laude, 1975)

  • University of Akron School of Law

    (J.D., 1979)

Admissions

  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio

Experience

REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE

  • Extensive experience since 1982 concentrated in the defense of first-party property insurance litigation, including coverage disputes, fraud of arson and theft, coverage/contractual claims and extra-contractual/bad faith punitive damage claims.
  • Defends insurers in coverage disputes of property loss claims involving mold damage, fire damage, wind and hail loss, water loss, structural failure, and property loss valuation.
  • Broad experience in analyzing issues and formulating strategies for good-faith claim handling and for conducting investigations of coverage issues and of suspected fraudulent claims.
  • Extensive jury trial experience throughout the State of Ohio in both state and federal courts.
  • Working relationship with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and fire service personnel throughout the State of Ohio.
  • Former assistant county prosecutor with specialized training in forensic evidence, economic crime and trial techniques, having received commendations for accomplishments in trials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Akron Fire Department and the Akron Police Department.
  • Explosives & Demolition School, NATO and United States Army, Vilsec, Germany, 1971.

Publications & Presentations

Presentations

  • Frequently lectures at insurance law seminars, including The Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB) Claims Conferences, and has served as an instructor at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Arson for-Profit Schools, Glynco, Georgia
  • Numerous In-House Training Seminars for Insurance Organizations, including Allstate, State Farm, MetLife, Victoria, Meridian, Cincinnati Insurance Co.
  • “Hail Claims: Impact to Adjustment and Coverage,” Central Claim Executives Association Conference, French Lick, Indiana (May 2017)
  • “Riding the Winds of Change: Wind and Hail Loss Claims,” NAMIC Claims Conference (February 2016)
  • “Causation, Scope & Pricing Fraud,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators’ Ohio Joint Insurance Fraud Seminar (March 2015)
  • “Fire Investigator’s Defense Against a Daubert Challenge,” Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB) 2002 Claims Conference, Anaheim, Cailfornia (April 2002)
  • “The Search for Information: The Acquisition and Analysis of Information for Insurance Claim Investigations,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators 2001 Advanced Insurance Fraud Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio (November 2001)
  • “Bad-Faith Issues, Daubert and Expert Witnesses,” Ohio Chapter of International Association of Special Investigation Units, Richfield, Ohio (August 2001)
  • “Legal Issues for Investigation of Insurance Arson Claims,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – Arson for-Profit School, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia (April 2001)
  • “Evaluation of Arson and Insurance Fraud Claims,” Ohio Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters’ Seminar (April 2001)
  • “The Backbone of Claim Investigations: Recorded Statements and Examinations Under Oath,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators 2000 Advanced Insurance Fraud Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio (November 2000)
  • “Bad-Faith Hot Potatoes,” Central Claims Executive Association, Cincinnati, Ohio (October 2000)
  • “Legal Issues in Insurance Investigations,” Investigative Resources Global Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina (September 2000)
  • “Investigator’s Sword or Shield: Report Writing,” Ohio Arson School, Columbus, Ohio (August 2000)
  • “The New Standard for Expert Witnesses and What Every Fire Investigator Must Know: Applying the Daubert Standard,” Ohio Arson School, Columbus, Ohio (August 2000)
  • “Bad-Faith Hot Potatoes,” Ohio State Claims  Association Seminar, Richfield, Ohio (August 2000)
  • “Dumb Things Claimants and Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Do That Make It Easier to Defend Extra-Contractual Claims and Punitive Damages,” Mealey’s Bad Faith Litigation Conference, Naples, Florida (January 2000)
  • “The New Legal Standard for Expert Witnesses and What Every Fire Investigator Should Know” Applying for the Daubert Standard,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators 1999 Advanced Insurance Fraud Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio (November 1999)
  • “Mock Trial of a Civil Arson Case,” Ohio Chapter of National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (March 1999)
  • “The Criminal Arson Case – From Investigation Through Trial,” Ohio Northern Arson School, Ashland, Ohio (February 1999)
  • “Coordination of Fire Investigation and Common Problems and Solutions at the Fire Scene,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators 1998 Advanced Insurance Fraud Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio (November 1998)
  • “Mock Trial of a Civil Arson Case,” Ohio Chapter of National Society of Professionalism Insurance Investigators, Lima, Ohio (March 1998)
  • “Misconceptions of the Arson Defense: Adequacy of Investigation and Sufficiency of Evidence,” National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators 1997 Advanced Insurance Fraud Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio (November 1997)

Involvement

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • American Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • Who’s Who 2000 Edition (Life Member)
  • The National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators (Charter Member, Past President, Past Board Member)
  • Defense Research Institute
  • The International and Ohio Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Serves as legal advisor to the Lake Ridge Academy High School Mock Trial Team (Ohio State Champions, 2008)

 

Honors

HONORS

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated – Martindale-Hubbell
  • Named one of Cleveland’s Top Rated Lawyers (2013)
  • Golden Gavel Award (2015; 2012)
  • Named to The Best Lawyers in America, Insurance Law (2018)

Personal

Richard’s interests outside of the office include horseback riding and horsemanship. He also studies martial arts and is a martial arts instructor.