Biography

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.

Distinctions

  • 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)

Firm Highlights

Publication

California Regulation of Charitable Fundraising Platforms Part 2 - Reporting Due Diligence, Recordkeeping, and Disclosure Rules

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . This episode covers the provisions of California’s Charitable Fundraising Platforms law (Gov. Code, § 12599.9) relevant to all covered charitable fundraisers and fundraising...

Read More
Event

AI and Privacy: What Every Company Needs to Do Today

Sushila Chanana and Benjamin Buchwalter will discuss "AI and Privacy: What Every Company Needs to Do Today' at the ACC 2024 Privacy Summit.  This session will introduce basics of AI governance, such as ownership...

Read More
Publication

New PFAS Federal Drinking Water Standards Create Major Liability and Litigation Risk

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has released a final regulation setting individual drinking water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for five per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These MCLs are incredibly stringent due to EPA’s stated concerns...

Read More
Event

Unplugged: The Renewable Energy Speaker Series - The IRA's Environmental Justice Incentive Programs

Join Farella Braun + Martel and the Environmental Law Institute for the relaunch Unplugged: The Renewable Energy Speaker Series with Farella’s John Ugai and guest speakers Miana Campbell with U.S. Department of Energy, Maria Castillo with...

Read More
Publication

New PFAS Listing Under Superfund Will Lead to Major Expansion of Liability

On April 19, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced its final rule designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under Section 102(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation...

Read More
Publication

Copyright Law for Influencers and Brands: How Content Creators and Companies Hiring Them Can Navigate Copyright Law for a Successful Partnership

In recent years, the advent of the social media “influencer” has revolutionized advertising. Companies often partner with influencers to market their products, hoping to tap into the influencer’s devoted audience. Likewise, influencers create certain content...

Read More
News

Farella Awards 2024 Diversity Scholarships to Bay Area Law Students

Farella Braun + Martel’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion + Belonging Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2024 Diversity Scholarship grants totaling $45,000 to Bay Area first-year law students Marcus Albino, Saamia Haqiq...

Read More
News

Burdened by Debt, Savvy SF Office Owners Get Creative

Restructuring, insolvency, and creditors rights partner Gary Kaplan provided expert commentary in The San Francisco Standard article, "Burdened by Debt, Savvy SF Office Owners Get Creative." In the article, Gary explained that in most cases...

Read More
News

Farella Braun + Martel Earns San Francisco Green Business Recertification

Read More
News

JPMorgan Chase Accuses TransUnion of Stealing 'Trade Secrets'

Intellectual property practice chair Eugene Mar provided expert commentary to American Banker for the article "JPMorgan Chase Accuses TransUnion of Stealing 'Trade Secrets'." In the article, he said: "By filing this as a trade...

Read More