Sean P. Nalty

Shareholder || San Francisco

Sean Nalty is a member of Ogletree Deakins’ Life, Health, Disability, ERISA and Employee Benefits practice. For 25 years, he has specialized in defending insurance companies and self-insured plans throughout the country in ERISA litigation with emphasis on  the Ninth Circuit and the district courts in California.  His focus is on healthcare litigation, particularly litigation involving behavioral health issues, as well as life and disability benefit issues. He also specializes in defending insurance companies in bad faith and punitive damage litigation in California involving life, health, and disability insurance.

Sean recently was awarded a 2014 Client Choice award by International Law Office (ILO). He was the exclusive winner of the Healthcare/Life Sciences category in California. Sean was selected based on feedback provided by more than 2,000 in-house counsel subscribers to ILO and Lexology. The recognition focused on his ability to add real value to clients’ business, with specific criteria including the quality of legal advice, value for money, commercial awareness, effective communication, billing transparency, tailored fee structures, response time, sharing of expertise, and use of technology. Clients said (1) “Attorneys often fall into one of two categories: those who are good on their feet, and can be persuasive when talking in court; and those who can build a great argument on paper. Sean is among that rare breed who can articulate clear, strong arguments both orally and in writing,” (2) “He has a tremendous ability to put clients at ease. He does this by listening to their concerns carefully and making sure their voice is heard in the strategic decisions in litigation,” (3) “Sean is not simply a superb litigator; he is a genuinely superb person who is universally admired and respected by senior business leaders, in-house counsel, opposing counsel, mediators and judges,” and (4) “The outcome is high-quality work, and practical legal advice. That is why Sean and Ogletree are my first choice for many issues.”

Learn more about Sean P. Nalty

Recent Results

  • Walters v. CUMIS, N.D. Fla. (2014) (court dismissed Fla. R.I.C.O., disgorgement, unauthorized sale of insurance, and breach of fiduciary duties claims with prejudice).
  • Lashbrook v. Lane, District Court Alaska (2013) (The court dismissed with prejudice Lashbrook’s 42 U.S. C. 1983 lawsuit at time-barred.)
  • Nicoletta v. Berkshire, New York County Supreme Court (Summary judgment on the application of the definition of disability in an individual disability policy); affirmed by the Appellate Division, Oct. 12, 2012
  • Sweet v. Transamerica, District Court Nevada (2012) (Summary judgment to Transamerica on breach of contract and bad faith claims.)
  • H.W. v. Xirrus Inc. Pro Plan, CV. 11-01484-RGK, Central District California (2012) (Court held that medical treatment was not medically necessary under provisions of an ERISA governed health insurance plan.)
  • Walker v. CUNA Mutual Ins. Group, Civil No. 1015146, Eastern District of Michigan (2012) (Court granted summary judgment on claim for disability benefits.)
  • Michael Sadel v. Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 6455 (3rd Cir. 2012) (The court upheld the district court’s order granting summary judgment on a fraud rescission action.)
  • Donaldson v. CUNA Mutual, Civil No. 100700364 7th District Court, Carbon County Utah (2012) (The Court granted CUNA Mutual’s summary judgment on the bad faith claim applying the fairly debatable doctrine.)
  • Guardian Life v. Gabrielian & Associates (Central District L.A. Dec. 2012) (The District Court rescinded the ERISA Policy issued to Gabrielian for a material misrepresentation on the application.)


  • J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law, 1985
  • B.A., Santa Clara University, 1982

Admittance to Practice

  • California
  • U.S. District Court, Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third and Ninth Circuits


  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Even Money: Avoiding Mental Health Parity Pitfalls in Your Health Plan" - Las Vegas - May 3, 2019
  • April 1, 2019 - Law360 - "10 Key Aspects Of Calif.'s CalSavers Retirement Program"
  • Spring 2016 - In-House Defense Quarterly - "Proposed Amendments to Disability Regulations Promise to Increase Costs as Well as Litigation"
  • June 5, 2015 - Lexology - "Ninth Circuit Extends ERISA Deadline, Revives Untimely Appeal"
  • Winter 2014 - The Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal - "A Comprehensive Analysis of the Ninth Circuit's Application of the Standards of Review Under ERISA (2012)"
  • March 21, 2013 - Insurance Coverage Law Report - "The Application of the 'Fairly Debatable' Doctrine in Utah under Chad Jones v. Farmers Insurance Exchange"
  • September 2012 - Financial Fraud Law Report - "Fraud Rescission in Pennsylvania - No More Excuses"
  • 2012 - Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Vol. 42-2 - "A Comprehensive Analysis of the Ninth Circuit's Application of the Standards of Review Under ERISA"
  • October 2005 - Mealey's Litigation Report: California Insurance, Vol. 5, No. 4 - "California Law on Insurance Bad Faith: How to Use the Genuine Dispute Doctrine to Avoid Bad Faith Exposure"
  • March 2003 - California Insurance Law & Regulation Reporter, Vol. 15 - "Does a Disability Insurance Policy Really Mean What It Says? Understanding and Applying the Terms Total and Residual Disability"
  • April 2001 - California Insurance Law & Regulation Reporter, West Group, Vol. 13 - "Guebara v. Allstate - The Genuine Issue Doctrine Is Expanded to Factual and Legal Disputes"
  • February 1998 - California Insurance Law & Regulation Reporter, Vol. 10 - "The Trials and Tribulations of the Mandated Incontestability Clauses in Life and Disability Insurance Policies"
  • Summer 1997 - Defense Research Institute Life and Health News - "The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996"
  • Winter 1996 - Defense Research Institute Life and Health News - "The Application of Mental and Nervous Disorder Limitations in Health and Disability Policies"
  • September 1996 - Best Review (Life/Health) - "Prepare a Strong Defense Against Liability Risk"
  • AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2014 Client Choice award by International Law Office (exclusive winner of the Healthcare/Life Sciences category in California)

Insights by Sean P. Nalty