Asim K. Desai


  • Office Contact Info
  • Biography

    Asim Desai has extensive experience in high-stakes, complex litigation including insurance bad faith, corporate fraud, commercial litigation, intellectual property, product liability, professional liability and catastrophic personal injuries.

    Mr. Desai is routinely retained to associate or substitute in as trial counsel on the eve of trial in multi-million dollar exposure cases and has defended numerous insurance carriers as well as the businesses they insure.

    Meticulous in his approach to all of his cases, Mr. Desai works closely with his clients to understand and meet their goals, and is assertive, aggressive when necessary, and consistently unwavering in his commitment to implement his clients’ goals.

    He has authored numerous articles on trial preparation and techniques, insurance bad faith, unauthorized practice of law and punitive damages, and is routinely invited to speak for various national organizations such as Defense Research Institute, the Property Loss Research Bureau, International Association of Defense Counsel and American Conference Institute.

    Mr. Desai is admitted to all California State and Federal Courts and is a member of the invitation only International Association of Defense Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.




    DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar (Member DRI National Governance Committee, Insurance Law Committee Steering Committee)

    International Association of Defense Counsel (Membership Committee, Vice Chair of Trial Techniques and Tactics, Insurance and Reinsurance and Business Litigation Committees)

  • Practice Areas
  • Representative Experience
    • Won complete defense verdict in multi-million dollar construction accident case in San Francisco which was first tried in 2014 resulting in a verdict against Mr. Desai’s client that was inadequate in the view of the plaintiffs and their counsel.  The plaintiffs' counsel moved for a new trial on various grounds and the trial court granted their motion and threw out the jury’s verdict after a six week trial.  In the second trial, Mr. Desai along with his Los Angeles based litigation team obtained a full defense verdict for Gordon & Rees’ client – an industry leading airport and airline systems engineering firm - against the plaintiff’s damages claims totaling $25 million for alleged catastrophic physical, psychological and emotional damages presented over the course of more than seven weeks of trial in San Francisco County Superior Court. 
    • Won summary judgment on a claim for rescission by an insurance client. The commercial general liability policy was issued by the client based on an application submitted by the insured’s broker that described the applicant’s operations as “excavation” but also specified that excavation was limited to digging very shallow holes.  The evidence established the insured was in actuality hired to excavate an entire mountainside.  The court ruled in favor of Gordon & Rees' client finding the representations were materially false notwithstanding the insured’s (and third party claimant’s) claims that the insurer was on notice to investigate the operations further.  
    • Won summary judgment in a life insurance breach of contract and bad faith case for life insurance client. The life insurance policy at issue had been reinstated after a 20-month lapse due to non-payment of premium. In order to reinstate the policy the insured completed a reinstatement application that denied the existence of any health issues and/or medical tests undergone or recommended. The insurer reinstated the policy based on the insured’s responses included in the reinstatement application which indicated no change in the insured’s health. The court granted the insurer’s summary judgment finding that the insured had made misrepresentations in the reinstatement application questions about his health and that those misrepresentations were material to the insurer in evaluating the policy for reinstatement and therefore, the insurer was justified in rescinding the policy. The plaintiffs also sued the life insurer’s parent corporation for negligence under the theory that the parent corporation was vicariously liable for the acts of the life insurer and for the acts of the insurance brokers involved with procuring and the reinstatement of the policy. The court found that the undisputed facts supported a finding that the parent corporation owed no duty to the plaintiffs and that is was not vicariously liable for the acts of others.
    • Won summary judgment for a trucking insurance company client who was sued for breach of contract, bad faith, fraud and negligence arising out of their denial of the plaintiffs’ claim for the alleged theft of two coach buses from a banquet hall lot. Based on the undisputed evidence put forward in support of the motion, the Court concluded that there were no triable issues of fact as to any of the causes of action.
    • Won a bad-faith breach of contract suit filed in California, in which plaintiff claimed the EPLI policy issued to franchisees should provide millions in indemnity for wage and hour class action settlements notwithstanding the policy language limiting coverage for such actions to $250,000 in defense fees only. Mr. Desai moved the case from state court to arbitration and prevailed 3-0.
    • Successfully defended client in a workplace negligence trial in San Francisco Superior Court. The plaintiff alleged a conveyor belt started without warning, disabling him physically. On the first day of trial, the plaintiff demanded $2 million against the client’s offer of $200,000. The plaintiffs eventually sought more than $18.5 million. The jury found Mr. Desai’s client only 10 percent at fault, for a total judgment of $369,000. (The plaintiffs’ motion for new trial was granted and the matter is under appeal.)
    • Won a premises liability case for a landlord client in which the plaintiff claims to have sustained a traumatic brain injury after a fall from a second-floor balcony. The pretrial demand was $5 million. The plaintiffs dismissed their claims against Mr. Desai’s client after a half-day of testimony.
    • Successfully defended an insurance company client in a first-party bad-faith matter arising out of a fire loss sustained by the plaintiff Insured. The plaintiffs claimed the insurer did not pay all benefits owed. The plaintiff’s final non-negotiable demand was $3 million. After a six-week trial, the jury awarded $30,000. Mr. Desai’s client was awarded over $250,000 in costs against the plaintiff.
    • Won a third-party breach of contract/bad-faith case arising out of construction litigation. The plaintiff alleged several "additional" insurers failed to defend and were liable for a stipulated judgment the developer entered into with the plaintiff. The client prevailed in Phase 1 of the two-week trial and the Los Angeles Superior Court determined the client did not breach any contract. The bad-faith claims were thus rendered moot.
    • Won a first-party bad-faith suit which arose out of a homeowner's claim for property damages allegedly caused by water seeping from his pool to his house, causing the land below to slip. After a two-week bench trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, the judge ruled in favor of Mr. Desai’s client on the breach of contract claims, which rendered the plaintiffs’ bad-faith claims moot.
  • Publications & Presentations


    • Speaker, 2019 PLRB Claims Conference & Insurance Services Expo, "Bad Faith Damages in Third-Party Claims," Indianapolis (April 2 & 3).
    • Speaker, 2017 PLRB National Claims Conference “3rd Party Bad Faith,” Boston
    • Panel Moderator: IADC Annual Meeting 2016, "The Towering Infernos-Lloyds Markets, Syndicates, and Coverage Towers," Bermuda (July 2016)
    • Speaker: Gordon & Rees 2016 Legal Education Conference, “The Imperfect Claim: Addressing Problems Effectively and Diplomatically,” New York (May 12, 2016)
    • Speaker: 2016 PLRB National Claims Conference “Bad Faith and Punitive Damages in Third-Party Claims,” San Antonio, TX (April 18-19, 2016)
    • Speaker: 2015 PLRB National Claims Conference – Bad Faith and Punitive Damages in Third Party Claims, Anaheim
    • Speaker: 2015 DRI Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar: Preparing Company Witnesses for Deposition and Trial, Boston
    • Speaker: 2013 DRI Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar, Washington DC: Use and Abuse of Experts, Chicago
    • Speaker: 2012 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Third-Party Claims, Orlando
    • Speaker: 2011 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Third-Party Claims, Nashville
    • Program Chair: 2011 DRI Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability: At Cross-Purposes-Using Cross-Examination to Defend Against the Policyholder's Attacks at Trial, Washington, D.C.
    • Speaker: 2010 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Third-Party Claims, San Antonio
    • Speaker: 2009 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Third-Party Claims, Seattle
    • Speaker: 2009 DRI Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Claims: Cutting Edge Issues in Bad Faith Litigation
    • Speaker: 2008 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Liability Insurance, Boston
    • Speaker 2007 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith & Punitive Damages in Liability Insurance, Orlando
    • Speaker: 2007 DRI Insurance: At Cross-Purposes: Using Cross-Examination to Defend against the Policyholder's Attacks at Trial, NYC
    • Speaker 2006 PLRB National Claims Conference - Bad Faith and Punitive Damages, Nashville
    • Speaker: 2006 DRI Insurance Coverage And Claims Institute "Ethics and Tactics in Bad Faith Litigation"
    • Speaker 2005 PLRB National Claims Conference - Unauthorized Practice of Law, San Antonio
    • Speaker: 2005 DRI Insurance Coverage And Claims Institute "Knocking Down the Bad Faith Set-Up"
    • Speaker: 2004 DRI Insurance Coverage And Claims Institute "State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell: As a Practical Matter, What Instruction Does It Provide to Counsel?"
    • Speaker: 2003 DRI Insurance Coverage & Claims Institute "An Overview of Third Party and First Party Insurance Bad Faith: When Is an Insured Entitled to Extra-Contractual and/or Punitive Damages?"
    • Speaker: 2002 DRI Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar
    • Speaker: 2002 DRI Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute
    • Speaker: 2000 DRI Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar


    • Co-Author DRI Trial Compendium (2017) 
    • Co-Editor in Chief: DRI’s Insurance Bad Faith: A Compendium of State Law (November 2015)


  • Education


    J.D., Southwestern School of Law, Los Angeles, California, 1994

    B.A., English, University of California, Los Angeles, 1991


    Faculty Member: 2018 International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Trial Academy, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA

    Faculty Member: 2015 International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Trial Academy, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA (August 1-7, 2015)

    Recipient of the PLRB/LIRB 2012 Claims Conference and Insurance Services Expo, Outstanding Presentations Award, April 2012

    Recipient of the DRI's Albert H. Parnell Outstanding Program Chair Award presented at the DRI Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 27, 2011