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MAGNA-FYI - December 2012
MAGNA-FYI - December 2012
Legal Intellegencer's and New York Law Journal's
WINNER Best of 2012
Best of Court Reporting, End to End Litigation Consulting and Jury Consulting
Download the full PDF
Download the full PDF
Streaminglining Relationships with Outside Counsel
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Jury Confirm 2.0
Jury Confirm 2.0
Jury Confirm 2.0
Magna Online Office
Magna Legal Services
Magna-Fy Staff
Peter Hecht
Bonnie Schmonsees
Back Issues
Interview with Nina Caroselli
Hands with a Home

Ms. Caroselli, an attorney with over twenty years of experience in the insurance industry and private litigation practice, joined the run-off team in 1996 as Senior Attorney focusing on asbestos, pollution and health hazard claims. Ms. Caroselli provided legal counsel to the run-off team with regard to coverage and legal issues and assisted the General Counsel in the management of the Declaratory Judgment team. In 2001, Ms. Caroselli was promoted to Vice President of Latent Claims with management and oversight responsibility for the company's APH claims. In 2008, Ms. Caroselli was promoted to Senior Vice President and Director of Direct and Assumed Claims, managing a team of highly experienced associates responsible for the run-off of various liabilities, including APH, construction defect, workers compensation, professional liability, public entity and assumed reinsurance claims. Ms. Caroselli's role expanded in 2011 as she was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, becoming responsible for the company's IT, Infrastructure and Operations functions.

Before joining the run-off group, Ms. Caroselli practiced law in New York and New Jersey, specializing in the litigation of insurance coverage and product liability matters. Ms. Caroselli received her law degree from St. John's University School of Law. Ms. Caroselli is a frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences.

Right off the bat, you'll learn that Nina Caroselli wears two hats at The RiverStone Group, which buys distressed or discontinued "run-off" books of business from insurance companies. Her titles are Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Claims. But she is also an attorney who got an undergraduate degree in psychology. She enjoys cooking and fishing and is already figuring on teaching or working with children when she retires. Like one of her signature comfort food meals, she makes it all work. But what scares her is opening a restaurant.

Q. You love your job and the company you work for, but who would have known?
A. In the world of childhood fantasies about "what do I want to be when I grow up", Chief Operating Officer of a run-off group was not on my list.
Q. But obviously you got from there to here somehow.
A. I went to Baylor University in Texas for two years as an undergrad and thought about pre-med. Coming from Long Island, Baylor was an interesting experience. But then I craved a more diverse range of people and thought and switched to State University of New York at Stony Brook. I was a psychology major, but still not sure what I wanted to do. I took the GMAT and LSAT and enjoyed the logic of the LSAT and putting the pieces of the puzzle together, so I went to law school.
Q. After St. John's University School of Law you worked as an attorney for ten years.
A. I handled product liability and insurance litigation. But the analytical aspect of legal training still helps me do my current work breaking things down and seeing how they fit together.
Q. I started out this interview figuring that being a woman in the insurance industry was unusual but you corrected me.
A. I don't think it's male-dominated. There are plenty of women in insurance and claims, and I think industries across the board have shifted towards a more equal balance between men and women.
Q. We kind of veered into some general career advice that would probably apply to any job.
A. I don't feel that I bring any particular issues to the table as a woman. But I do take full responsibility for my career path. I don't expect anybody to take care of me. You have to take care of yourself. If you want a raise or a promotion, you need to talk to someone namely your boss. And if you don't get what you want, talk to your boss' boss.
Q. And there are no conflicts, or times you have to sit something out, because you are both COO and play a role on the claims side?
A. It's not unusual to have someone play both roles, and the Operations' role is more focused on supporting the organization, such as IT and training, so there are no conflicts.
Q. These terms may rarely be seen together, but what's hot in the claims industry?
A. There are a lot of new pharmaceutical claims, but they don't involve our books of business. And that's good. You don't want volatility. You don't want surprises.
Q. You've got some advice for outside counsel, which you're going to be speaking about at the upcoming Magna conference at the Revel Hotel in Atlantic City January 23 and 24.
A. Defense firms may not realize that we at RiverStone are dealing with thousands of claims across the country. Insurance professionals can bring a lot to the table, and I encourage firms to talk to our insurance professionals about the strategy, litigation and resolutions.

At RiverStone, we like to be involved and we will challenge our firms. We will ask questions. We really want good rapport between our professionals and the attorneys. We like counsel to provide us with reports and check in on strategy to make sure we are on the same page.

And we don't want to be told at the beginning that our case is a winner if that's not the truth. We don't want to know two days before trial we need to settle. We need to know if we have problems with a case early on. Understanding the nuances allows us to set the strategy for ultimate resolution, be it settlement or trial.
Q. RiverStone has worked with Magna in the past?
A. Yes. We've worked with Magna on a number of mock trials. We find these to be very useful when we have complex issues or particularly traumatic cases. It helps to get a sense of what a jury will take away from the presentation of the evidence. We are also using Magna's court reporting network to help control some of the defense costs going forward.
Q. There may be some fundamental differences given the way you think vs. outside counsel.
A. We try to get counsel to understand we are looking at total cost. It is not worth $100,000 in litigation to save $10,000 on indemnity unless there is an issue that you are trying to make a statement about.
Q. The Magna conference was actually rescheduled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Your office is in Manchester, New Hampshire but given that you were born in New Jersey and work in the insurance industry, any thoughts?
A. My understanding is the biggest issues professionally in the wake of Super Storm Sandy are attorney files being lost, law firms taking longer than expected to get back up and running, and court dates being pushed. Personally, it affected me because as a child I spent a lot time at the Jersey Shore. I went to Seaside Heights in the summer and still remember details down to the zeppoles. Now, I have a house in Brick, New Jersey. It was impacted but we were much more fortunate than many others. Still, I was in New Jersey a couple weeks after the storm and saw people pulling stuff out of their homes. The Seaside Heights Ferris wheel was half-cocked and the roller coaster was in the Atlantic Ocean. The area was devastated. It broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
Q. In your industry, aftermath can go on for a long time. A. We're still dealing with asbestos claims. If you had spoken to people in the late 1980s, I don't think they would have expected asbestos claims to still be presenting today and the claims are expected to present another 20 years or more.
Q. But you don't think you'll be in the business then?
A. I think I'll be retired, splitting my time between Florida and New Jersey, and working on a part-time or volunteer basis with children. Their innocence and joy is fascinating. I also love to cook comfort food such as slow-braised short ribs, pulled pork and Italian gravy with macaroni. The term gravy by the way is a Jersey thing; we don't call it red sauce.
Q. But you don't see a restaurant in the making maybe called "It's a Jersey Thing"?
A. I don't think I'd have the time or patience to run a restaurant, but you never know. I like the name.

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