Path-Making Litigation in the Public Interest


Strumwasser & Woocher is nationally recognized for its expertise in all aspects of administrative and regulatory law, from rulemaking to adjudication to judicial review, and including some of the most complex government regulatory programs. The breadth of the firm's experience is reflected in partner Michael Strumwasser's co-authorship of the Rutter Guide, California Administrative Law.

Among its prominent work, Strumwasser & Woocher has served for over two decades as Special Counsel to all four elected California Insurance Commissioners, whom the firm has advised and represented in all phases of the implementation of Proposition 103, the 1988 insurance reform initiative. Strumwasser & Woocher developed the Commissioner's rate-regulatory program, drafted the initial regulations, prosecuted the administrative cases on the insurance companies' rebate liability, and successfully defended the Commissioner's program in scores of state and federal court lawsuits, resulting in over $1 billion in consumer refunds. The firm has also served as lead counsel in the largest Department of Insurance prosecution of an insurer for unfair claim settlement practices.

The firm counsels and advises numerous state and local agencies in all aspects of administrative law, from legislation and rulemaking through administrative adjudications to judicial review of administrative actions.

The firm has advised insurance regulators in Washington, Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico, and served as special counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on homeowners' insurance discrimination.


As special counsel to the California Insurance Commissioner, Strumwasser & Woocher has played a pivotal role in his implementation of Proposition 103, the insurance reform initiative passed by the voters in 1988. The firm designed the Commissioner's rate regulation program, drafted the regulations, tried the test cases brought by the insurance industry, resulting in the program being upheld against all challenges. Amwest Surety Ins. Co. v. Wilson, 11 Cal. 4th 1243 (1997); 20th Century v. Garamendi, 8 Cal. 4th 216 (1994), cert. denied sub nom Century National Ins. Co. v. Quackenbush, 513 U.S. 1153 (1995); State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Quackenbush, 77 Cal. App. 4th 65 (1999); Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies v. Quackenbush, 52 Cal. App. 4th 599 (1997); Safeco Ins. Co. v. Garamendi, 11 Cal. App. 4th 1141 (1992); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Garamendi, 12 Cal. App. 4th 206 (1992); Wilshire Ins. Co. v. Garamendi, 5 Cal. App. 4th 1573 (1992); California Auto. Assigned Risk Plan v. Garamendi, 234 Cal. App. 3d 1486 (1991); Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Quackenbush, 87 F.3d 290 (9th Cir. 1997); Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Garamendi, 790 F. Supp. 938 (N.D. Cal. 1992).

As part of its longstanding role as counsel to the California Earthquake Authority, Strumwasser & Woocher represented the Authority in hearings before the Insurance Commissioner that established the initial premiums for over two-thirds of the residential earthquake insurance sold in California.

Administrative Adjudications

Strumwasser & Woocher served as lead counsel for the Department of Insurance's successful administrative prosecution of PacifiCare Life & Health Insurance Company for over 900,000 violations of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act. In re PacifiCare Life & Health Ins. Co., No. UPA 2007-00004.

The firm brought a successful complaint before the California Public Utilities Commission, obtaining a refund of electric charges imposed on a farm in a dispute over whether an innovative energy-recovery system qualified under state law as a co-generation facility. Farm ACW v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (CPUC Case No. 05-07-001).

On behalf of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Strumwasser & Woocher intervened before the California Public Utilities Commission in the application of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority for authorization to construct grade-crossings near two LAUSD schools. Establishing that the proposed operation of the Expo Line trains at full speed next to a high school was hazardous, the firm obtained an order requiring construction of a station at the crossing, at which trains are required to come to a full stop, providing convenient access to light-rail service for the school and local community, and cleaning up blighted adjacent property. Application of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority for an Order Authorizing etc. (Applics. 06-12-005 et al.).


Leading a Department of Insurance investigation of title-insurance rates and practices that concluded there was insufficient competition in the market for title services, Strumwasser & Woocher developed for the Insurance Commissioner the nation's first regulations governing rates charged for title insurance.

Strumwasser & Woocher helped the Los Angeles Unified School District develop its rules on making facilities available to charter schools and has successfully defended in court the rules and decisions made under them.

Counsel to Administrative Agencies and Tribunals

As counsel to the California Earthquake Authority for over 15 years, Strumwasser & Woocher has advised the CEA on a broad range of issues involving government finance, insurance regulation, open-government, and administrative-law issues.

The firm served as counsel to the Hearing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the air‑pollution control agency for the 16 million people living in the Southern California air basin. Strumwasser & Woocher advised the Hearing Board on administrative, constitutional, and environmental law, and had represented the board in state and federal litigation.