Erica Villanueva is the chair of Farella’s Insurance Recovery practice group. She helps her clients navigate the insurance claims process, pursues breach of contract and bad faith claims against insurers, and advises on policy wording and insurance renewals. Erica frequently handles claims and negotiations involving Cyber, Technology Errors & Omissions and Media liability (Cyber/Tech E&O), Directors & Officers liability (D&O), Commercial General Liability (CGL), Employment Practices Liability (EPL), Venture Capital/Private Equity liability, and property insurance policies. She also works with policyholders and their insurance brokers to negotiate favorable policy terms, addressing their unique risk profiles.
- Numerous social media and platform companies rely on Erica as their go-to outside counsel for insurance recovery issues. Whether the underlying matter involves alleged copyright infringement, user harm claims raising third-party content and/or First Amendment/Section 230 issues, securities, and derivative litigation, or regulatory investigations and litigation arising out of privacy, data security, or employment issues, Erica knows her clients’ business and develops strategies to maximize insurance recovery for such exposures. In just a one-year period from mid-2022 to mid-2023, Erica recovered a combined total of over $70 million for social media/platform clients alone.
- As just one example of her work for social media and platform companies, Erica has represented multiple photo- and video-sharing platforms facing threatened mass arbitrations alleging Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act violations. In one matter, she recovered the full limits of a sizeable insurance tower for her clients to resolve substantial exposures. In another, she leveraged her client’s insurance position in order to dramatically reduce the plaintiffs’ unrealistic demand, then obtained 100% insurance recovery for the reduced demand amount.
- For a public company client facing two sets of derivative claims potentially hitting the same policy period, Erica persuaded a D&O insurer to treat one set of claims as belonging in a different policy period in order to preserve the limits in the other policy period for the claim with higher potential exposure. For the same client, Erica also provided advice concerning how to maximize potential insurance recovery in a matter with substantial securities and derivative exposures and limited ABC coverage in comparison to available Side A limits.
- Erica represented a venture capital firm seeking insurance coverage for defense and settlement of a highly contentious employment case. Insurer paid the full cost of settlement, including amounts attributable to the former employee’s claimed loss of rights to carried interest and substantial defense costs.
- On behalf of an industrial product supplier embroiled in construction defect litigation, Erica was brought in following a failed mediation during which the clients’ CGL insurers had announced – for the first time – that they believed there was no coverage for the claim. Erica immediately commenced litigation against the insurers in her client’s home state, where highly favorable coverage law would apply. Rather than face the risk of prolonged coverage litigation in this jurisdiction, the insurers reversed course, and the construction defect matter was ultimately settled with substantial insurance contribution.
- Erica guided a storied Sand Hill Road venture capital firm through the insurance coverage nuances of securities litigation involving a failed portfolio company—one of the largest investment losses in the history of venture capital. The client obtained substantial defense costs recovery and 100% coverage for the settlement amount.
Erica is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Coverage Counsel. She was on the board of directors for the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) (2019-2021) and is a past chair of the BASF Insurance Section.
- Chambers USA: Insurance Policyholder - California, Band 4 (2019-2023)
- Best Lawyers in America, Insurance Law (2023-2024)
- Benchmark Litigation’s 40 & Under Hotlist (2017-2018)
- Northern California Super Lawyers, Insurance Coverage (2018-2023)
- California Rural Legal Assistance Outstanding Alumni Award (2018)
- Client Choice Award in the Insurance category for California from International Law Office (ILO) and Lexology (2016)
Memberships and Affiliations
- Fellow, American College of Coverage Counsel
- Fellow Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (2019)
- Board of Directors, Bar Association of San Francisco (2019-2021)
- Board Member, Centro Legal de la Raza (November 2016-present)
- Regional Representative, Yale Law School Alumni Executive Committee (2017-2020)
- Edward J. McFetridge Inn of Court, Barrister & Pupilage Group Leader (2014-2017)
- Chair, Insurance Law Section, Bar Association of San Francisco (2018); Executive Committee Member (2015-2017)
- Judiciary Committee, Bar Association of San Francisco (2016-2018)