Path-Making Litigation in the Public Interest


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 on the implementation of Proposition 103, the 1988 insurance‑reform initiative, on enforcement of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act, and on title-insurance regulation. The firm has advised and represented insurance regulators in Washington, Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico, and has served as special counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on homeowners' insurance discrimination.

Strumwasser & Woocher also represents and advises the California Earthquake Authority in a broad range of governmental and insurance-law issues.

Proposition 103

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, and 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).

Unfair Insurance Practices

Strumwasser & Woocher served as lead counsel for the Department of Insurance's successful 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.


On behalf of the California Insurance Commissioner and in conjunction with several local and national civil rights and consumer rights organizations, Strumwasser & Woocher won a judgment declaring new state insurance legislation invalid and unconstitutional. The statutory amendments in question discriminated against previously uninsured drivers in direct violation of Proposition 103, a sweeping pro-consumer initiative regulating the insurance industry. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, et al. v. Garamendi (Feb. 20, 2004, BS086235).

Title Insurance

Strumwasser & Woocher developed for the California Insurance Commissioner a program to regulate title‑insurance rates, including a statistical plan to reveal for the first time how title and escrow companies price their products.

California Earthquake Authority

The firm is counsel to the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), the state instrumentality created to write residential earthquake insurance after the private industry withdrew from the market following the Northridge Earthquake. Strumwasser & Woocher advises the Authority on regulatory, intergovernmental, and technical issues and represents it in judicial and administrative litigation.

Strumwasser & Woocher also represents the CEA in securities litigation against Wells Fargo Bank. The lawsuit seeks to recover a multimillion-dollar loss on a 2007 investment that was linked to the subprime mortgage market and its collapse during the recent financial crisis.

The firm also successfully represented the CEA in litigation challenging the Governor's authority to furlough its employees in response to shortfalls in the state's general fund. The litigation resulted in the CEA being just one of five state entities exempted from the furloughs and able to pay in full their employees. Serv. Employees Int'l Union, Local 1000 v. Brown, 197 Cal. App. 4th 252 (2011).