Overview

Steven Schulwolf, a principal of Michaels, Schulwolf & Salerno, began his career in 1994 with the Chicago firm of Lord Bissell & Brook. Mr. Schulwolf practices litigation in complex insurance coverage cases involving a wide variety of environmental and product liability disputes. Mr. Schulwolf continues to concentrate in complex litigation on behalf of insurers. Mr. Schulwolf also has actively litigated insurance coverage disputes involving construction defect, bad faith and environmental and mass tort claims.

He graduated, summa cum laude and Bronze Tablet, from the University of Illinois in 1991 (B.A. with highest distinction in Russian and East European studies and History) and graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1994. While teaching insurance, international, and comparative law at the law faculty of the University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria from 1998-2000, he published an article in the Loyola, Chicago Journal of International Law on the NATO operations in Kosovo. From 1996-1998, Mr. Schulwolf served as the co-chair for the YLS Section of the Chicago Bar Association’s Law Explorer Program, which provides opportunities for inner city high school students to learn more about public speaking, the law and basic trial skills.

Litigation Highlights

Mr. Schulwolf’s practice involves matters of significant importance to his clients. For example, insurers are increasingly concerned about the attempts of industrial polluters to shift environmental costs onto their insurers. Specifically, Michaels, Schulwolf & Salerno filed the only declaratory judgment action in the country presenting the issue of whether general liability insurers owe utilities defense and indemnity costs for the ramifications of their alleged failure to comply with the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. In nationally significant litigation, the USEPA contends that certain utilities violated the Clean Air Act by impermissibly expanding their operations without first applying for pre-construction permits. Mr. Schulwolf, along with Mr. Michaels, obtained summary judgment for his insurer client which resulted in rulings that his client was not responsible for the insured’s claim of literally one billion dollars in defense and indemnity costs. These rulings were twice upheld in the Indiana Court of Appeals. Cinergy Corp. v. St. Paul Surplus Lines Insurance Company, 873 N.E.2d 105 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007).

In a similar claim under the Clean Air Act, Mr. Schulwolf acted as co-counsel for another insurer and successfully upheld a summary judgment ruling in the Indiana Court of Appeals that a primary insurer had no obligation to indemnify or defend its insured for claims that it failed to obtain a pre-construction permit before making a major modification to its manufacturing facility under the Clean Air Act. Newnam Manufacturing, Inc. and Dalton Corp. v. Transcontinental Insurance Company, 871 N.E.2d 396 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007). 

In City of Evansville v. USF&G, Mr. Schulwolf obtained a summary judgment ruling that their insurer client had no obligation to defend or indemnify Evansville for hundreds of millions of dollars that the USEPA deemed were necessary to improve the operation of Evansville’s combined sewer system.  Evansville retained multiple experts and highlighted their testimony in arguing that the costs of projects designed to reduce future pollution should be considered remediation of its past discharges.  Michaels, Schulwolf & Salerno argued that all of the costs at issue were statutorily required operational improvements that could not be shifted to liability insurers.  Mr. Schulwolf deposed a key expert and succeeded in using his testimony to underscore the fact that Evansville’s experts failed to create a genuine issue of material fact.  The trial court dismissed all of Evansville’s claims.  Michaels, Schulwolf & Salerno handled the appeal.  Steven Schulwolf presented oral arguments to the Indiana Court of Appeals of behalf of all the defendant-appellees.  Excerpts from those arguments can be viewed by clicking here.

In another environmental coverage case, Mr. Schulwolf, along with Mr. Michaels, represented an insurer in a significant late notice and allocation decision.  In AAA Disposal Systems, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty And Surety Co., 355 Ill. App. 3d 275, 821 N.E.2d 1278 (2nd Dist) (unpublished), appeal denied, 2005 Ill. LEXIS 296 (Ill. Jan 26, 2005), the Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the insured failed to provide timely notice to its insurer and that a showing of prejudice was not required.  In addition, the Appellate Court ruled that in applying pro rata allocation, the primary insurers’ coverage must first be horizontally exhausted before the excess policies are triggered and that the insured must bear the costs from the years in which its insurers are insolvent.  With this experience, Mr. Schulwolf is uniquely qualified to assist clients in claims stemming from violations of the Clean Air Act as well as other more traditional coverage disputes arising out of violations of CERCLA and RCRA.

Mr. Schulwolf also prosecuted a breach of contract dispute in a commercial litigation matter in a week-long AAA arbitration in which his client received a seven-figure award including the entirety of the disputed invoices at issue, full contractual interest, attorneys’ fees and a six-figure lost profits award. 

Steven Schulwolf Principal Direct: 312.428.4728 sschulwolf@msslawpc.com

Steven Schulwolf
Principal
Direct: 312.428.4728
sschulwolf@msslawpc.com

Education

 

  • University of Michigan Law School, cum laude, in 1994
  • University of Illinois, B.A. in Russian and East European Studies and History, summa cum laude, Bronze Tablet, 1991

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • Illinois Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana