Investigative Services

Industrial disasters, product failures resulting in damage or injury, equipment failures, and fires and explosions all require immediate, professional handling if there is a potential for litigation.  Robins Kaplan LLP has developed an in-house group of highly skilled individuals who investigate, coordinate, and manage investigations to determine how and why an event happened.  Our investigators know how to document, preserve, and present critical, legally-admissible information from the loss scene to the courtroom.  Working with our attorneys from the earliest stages of the investigation to the courtroom provides for a complete understanding of all the issues.  The trial is the focus of the investigation from the very beginning.

Our firm's experienced investigators collectively include former law enforcement crime scene technicians and analysts, former insurance claims experts involved in the investigation of various forms of fraud, fire/explosion cause and origin investigators.  They have years of experience in fire, electrical, mechanical, gas, and HVAC codes and standards.

Maintaining professional relationships with fire, law enforcement, building officials and various experts nationwide allows the investigators to provide clients with immediate responses.  By making one phone call, the client receives an attorney-guided investigation, full documentation, hard-to-find answers, and consultation for the strategy necessary to effectively address the key legal issues involved.

Our firm's investigators are certified in the OSHA Hazardous Waste Site Worker Course, which allows them onto loss sites. They are also members of various professional investigative organizations and are often called upon to instruct fellow investigators, attorneys, and government officials in their various areas of expertise. 


The Investigation Department's fully-integrated investigative databases allows for thorough background research.  The department's library houses building codes; fire codes; electrical codes; ASTM standards; life safety codes; fire detection and suppression codes; gas codes; various construction, engineering and welding codes; hazardous material handbooks; NFPA standards; ANSI standards; UL directories; MSDS sheets and a directory identifying experts in the field of major loss investigations.  In addition, all members of the Investigation Department are experienced photographers and have years of experience as evidence technicians capable of identifying, documenting, preserving, and presenting critical evidence on behalf of the client.

Selected Investigations

  • Schwan's Salmonella Outbreak: Multi-million dollar recovery for Schwan’s Sales Enterprises after the 1994 nationwide Salmonella Enteritidis contamination and recall of Schwan’s ice cream involving an estimated 224,000 ill consumers.

  • Chicago Flood: Multi-million dollar subrogation recovery for department stores and their insurers.

  • One Meridian Plaza Fire: Defense and multi-million dollar subrogation recovery for carrier and the tenant regarding Philadelphia high-rise, office building fire.

  • Americold Fire: Multi-million dollar recovery from fire in 360-acre underground food warehouse for subrogated insurers and food companies.

  • Northwestern Bank Fire: Multi-million dollar recovery for bank and subrogated carrier in a Minneapolis fire.

  • Hyatt Regency Skyway Collapse: A collapse of a skyway system that resulted in personal injuries and property loss.  The investigation revealed that support bolts had been improperly engineered.

  • Pacific Engineering and Production Co.: Multi-million dollar recovery resulting from an explosion in a rocket fuel manufacturing plant.

  • Malette OSB Board Plant: Fire in northern Canada at a OSB board plant, required an investigation by several parties.  Robins Kaplan LLP Investigators became the lead in handling the investigation with successful results.

  • Kentucky Electric Utility Turbine Crash: An investigation revealed in this multi-million dollar failure that an outside electrical contractor cut a communication cable and initiated the event.

  • Various catastrophic loss (CAT) investigations involving hurricanes and earthquakes.

  • Various environmental loss investigations including ground water contamination and oil spills.

  • Various product liability investigations including Ford Bronco, Jeep roll-overs, poly-urethane insulation fires, all-terrain vehicles, watercraft, and snowmobiles.

  • Various investigative assignments for our Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice group; banking, reorganization and work-outs; and communications law.

Shelley R. Gilliss, Ph.D.

Chief Business Intelligence Officer

Anthony L. Hoppa

Director of Litigation Support

Nicholas Adler


Brian J. Cade


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