Claims Committee Member Biographies

Michael Bonesteel, Attorney (CA)

Mr. Bonesteel works as a lawyer, mediator, and arbitrator. He was a member of the Product Liability and Environmental Law & Toxic Tort Practice Groups at Haight, Brown and Bonesteel for forty-nine years. For over thirty years, his practice concentrated in the defense of civil litigation with particular emphasis in defending pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in product liability matters. He also has experience in environmental litigation. Mr. Bonesteel has served as national coordinating and coordinating counsel for clients in which he has been responsible for all phases of litigation and trial. Most notably, Mr. Bonesteel has been a part of legal teams on major national litigation and has served as national counsel for major manufacturing companies. He is admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court as well as seven other courts in California.

Laura Curliss, Manager of Yellow Springs, Ohio and Board of Directors, Clinton County Open Lands, Inc. (OH)

Ms. Curliss is a founding board member of the Clinton County Open Lands, Inc. (2004 to present). She is an attorney and has worked in government administration since 2004. She is currently the Village Manager in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and her duties include risk management and claims management. She is a former law Clerk to Judge Boyce Martin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1994-1996) and a former assistant prosecuting attorney in Ohio (2002-2004) and Indiana (1999-2002) handling felony cases and government civil matters. From 2004-2011 she worked in city administration for the Mayor of the City of Wilmington, Ohio, and served on the board and risk management committee of Miami Valley Risk Management Association, a risk sharing pool composed of twenty cities in southwest Ohio. She was chair of the MVRMA risk management committee for three years. Her Juris Doctor Degree (1993, cum laude), is from Notre Dame Law School, where she was the managing editor of the law review.

Deborah E. Lans, Partner Cohen Clair Lans Greifer & Thorpe LLP (NY)

Ms. Lans was a founding partner of Morrison Cohen LLP in 1984 and was the head of its Commercial Litigation Department for 15 years, until she left in 2000 to serve for two years as the Executive Director of Mentoring USA. Having returned to the practice of law, she concentrates in arbitration, trial and appellate litigation of complex commercial business, employment and marital disputes. She has published and lectured extensively on legal and education issues, served on or chaired, among others, the New York Supreme Court Departmental Disciplinary Committee, the Executive, Judiciary, Bioethical Issues and Young Lawyers Committees and the Council on Judicial Administration of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and is Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Columbia Land Conservancy and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Literacy, Inc.

Grant H. Weaver, Jr., Principal Oakholm Consulting LLC (CA)

Mr. Weaver brings over 40 years of insurance industry expertise to bear for the firm. The firm provides risk management, loss prevention and insurance related services to construction projectowners, contractors, design and consulting professionals, both directly and through their insurance brokers and legal counsel. This may include advice and analysis as well as placement of coverage with national and international insurers and reinsurers and also captive insurer and alternative risk transfer mechanism feasibility studies and formation. Expert witness capabilities in most areas of the insurance industry are offered, e.g. underwriting and rating, claim handling and procedure, accounting and finance, regulatory relations and filings and reinsurance. Mr. Weaver has been in numerous chief leadership positions for various insurance companies as well
as having decades of direct claims management experience.

Karin Marchetti Ponte’, General Counsel, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (ME)

Karin Marchetti Ponte’ has been a Maine lawyer for 29 years, with a practice devoted exclusively to land conservation. She is a nationally recognized expert in the field, and offers popular workshops in conservation land transactions and easement stewardship. Ms. Marchetti Ponte began her work in conservation in 1985 as General Counsel to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a position she holds today. She expanded her practice in 1992 as founder of LCLS. She is co-author of the Conservation Easement Handbook.

Jim Phillippi, Board of Directors, The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (CA)

Mr. Phillippi has specialized in real estate, construction, and banking law since 1981. He is a Director with the 30-lawyer western regional law firm of Knapp, Petersen & Clarke, and PC where he founded its real estate practice, allowing the firm to expand its insurance-based practice areas into real estate, title and title insurance fields. His practice covers a wide range of real estate issues, transactions and disputes, including land use and construction matters, as well as a broad variety of real estate transactions and a multitude of business and lending arrangements in the real estate industry. As a result, his practice involves formation of and advice to a variety of business organizations, including corporations, general partnerships, and joint ventures. His practice intersects regularly with the insurance coverage practice of his firm and that the firm’s subsidiary, “KPC Legal Audit,” a legal cost containment firm that establishes billing guidelines and reviews legal billings in litigated matters. He is admitted to practice before each of the federal district courts in California and is a member of the Commercial and Construction and Large and Complex Case Panels of the American Arbitration Association.

Carl Silverstein, Executive Director, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (NC)

Prior to joining the Conservancy, Mr. Silverstein was an attorney with the Seattle law firm of Riddell, Williams, and Bullitt & Walkinshaw where he focused on general civil litigation. Mr. Silverstein clerked for U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in the Western District of Washington, Seattle WA and also U.S. Appellate Judge Jerome Farris, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Seattle WA. With the Conservancy, he led his staff in protecting more than 36,000 acres of high priority sites since 2000, through land and conservation easement acquisitions in nationally significant locations in North Carolina and Tennessee, including the Highlands of Roan, Appalachian Trail corridor, crest of the Black Mountains, Balsam Mountains, and Smoky Mountains. He worked with local governments and community leaders to protect surplus municipal watersheds from development; partnered with The Conservation Fund and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to protect the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork tract; and led in a successful 2 year lawsuit to defend a conservation easement adjoining the nationally significant Shining Rock Wilderness. Additionally, he led the Conservancy in raising a multimillion dollar endowment as well as all the other leadership details for a successful accredited land trust.

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