Emilia A. Quesada is a founding partner and Chair of the Insurance Practice Group who focuses her practice in the areas of complex commercial litigation, with specialized knowledge in the financial services industry, insurance disputes including life, health, disability and ERISA claims, insurance coverage defense, banking litigation, construction and real estate litigation including owners, contractors, design professionals, products liability, and class actions.
Ms. Quesada has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies throughout her career, including insurance organizations, financial institutions, retailers, manufacturing concerns, oil and gas companies, and chemical companies, as well as publicly-traded entities and privately owned businesses in the prosecution and defense of general commercial litigation matters, business disputes, business torts, consumer claims issues, insurance coverage disputes, life, health, disability and ERISA matters, interpleaders, structured settlement disputes, vicarious liability issues, officer/director liability claims, product liability matters, and numerous other civil claims in state and federal courts throughout Florida. Ms. Quesada is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, the highest rating possible, an Arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association (Commercial and Healthcare rosters) and a certified FINRA Arbitrator.
Prior to forming SMGQ, Ms. Quesada was a partner at the national firm Adorno & Yoss LLP, and a senior associate at Hunton & Williams LLP, one of the largest U.S. based international law firms. Ms. Quesada commenced her legal career in private practice at Steel Hector & Davis LLP (n/k/a Squire Patton Boggs) after completing a federal clerkship as an Honors Attorney through the Attorney General Honors Program for the U.S. Department of Justice in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was selected from over 2,500 applicants for one of eight positions.
Ms. Quesada is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Florida, including the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
NOTABLE RECOGNITION Ms. Quesada served as one of 12 commissioners appointed to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession by the president of the ABA, and was the first Hispanic appointed to the Commission from the State of Florida. Ms. Quesada has been featured in Attorney at Law magazine’s Women in Law edition, Law360's series Minority Powerbrokers Q&A, the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Diversity & the Bar magazine, and DiversityInc. magazine. She has also been highlighted as a Hispanic leader by Miami Today and South Florida CEO magazine, named to Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite, and identified as a Top Lawyer for Litigation in the South Florida Legal Guide. Ms. Quesada serves on panels and guest lectures on commercial litigation and insurance matters throughout the country, including at NAMWOLF’s Annual Conferences, the ABA’s Women in Law Leadership Academy, Latina Style magazine’s Business Conference Series, Emory Law School’s Trial Techniques Program, and University of Miami Law School’s Clinical Trial Program.
REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS -Representation of Fortune 100 life insurance company in commercial litigation and first party insurance coverage defense, including structured settlement disputes, vicarious liability issues, agent disputes, and interpleader actions -Representation of Fortune 100 health insurance organization in commercial litigation and ERISA-related disputes, including breach of contract, tortious actions and overpayment claims -Representation of Fortune 100 life and disability insurance company in commercial litigation, first party insurance and disability coverage defense, including vicarious liability issues, ERISA-related matters, agent disputes, and interpleader actions -Representation of Fortune 500 banking institution in commercial litigation and tort defense, including breach of contract, fraud and interpleader actions -Representation of Fortune 100 telecommunications company in general and commercial litigation matters including breach of contract, consumer fraud claims, consumer disputes, and deceptive trade practices issues -Representation of Fortune 100 chemical company in products liability and commercial litigation matters including class action defense, breach of contract, breach of warranty, intentional torts, consumer fraud, RICO, and a variety of consumer claims -Representation of Fortune 100 oil and gas company in defense of class actions regarding consumer fraud claims and deceptive and unfair trade practices -Representation of Fortune 200 products and services company in commercial litigation matters including breach of contract, consumer claims, and consumer tort issues -Representation of Fortune 200 insurance company in defense of multi-billion dollar class action for breach of contract, unfair and deceptive trade practices and consumer claims, wherein class claims were defeated on appeal and case was dismissed with prejudice by appellate court, after class was certified at the trial level -Representation of Fortune 50 health insurance organization in matters against hospital providers in arbitration actions, as well as state and federal court involving breach of contract claims, underpayment claims, violations of state and federal laws including deceptive and unfair trade practices, fraudulent concealment claims, and the recovery of overpayment claims for the health insurance organization -Representation of Fortune 50 health insurance organization against medical providers in federal court for alleged ERISA violations seeking payment for tens of millions of dollars which was successfully defended at the pleadings stage -Representation of developers, architect and engineering firms in arbitration disputes, as well as state and federal courts regarding construction litigation disputes including breach of contract, claims of lien, equitable claims, fraud and violations of statutes governing the industries -Representation of Fortune 100 life and disability insurance company in commercial litigation, first party insurance and disability coverage defense, including vicarious liability issues, ERISA-related matters, agent disputes, coverage disputes, and interpleader actions -Representation of Fortune 200 disability and accident insurance company in commercial litigation, first party insurance, disability and accident coverage defense
SELECTED AWARDS & PUBLICATIONS/LECTURES -Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association (Commercial and Healthcare rosters) -Arbitrator, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority -2017 Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America -2013-2018 “Top Lawyer” in Litigation, South Florida Legal Guide -2015 “Minority Powerbroker” Q&A Feature, Law 360 -2013 “Go-To Law Firm” for the Top 500 Companies in Litigation, American Lawyer magazine (selected by Prudential) -2013 “Top Law Firm,” Corporate Counsel magazine -Speaker & CLE Chair, "The Do's & Don'ts of E-Discovery," Xerox Corporation 2015 CLE -Moderator, "Law & Order: Special Investigative Units," NAMWOLF 2015 Annual Conference -Speaker, “Best Practices in Attorney-Client Privilege Issues in the Digital and Global Age,” NAMWOLF 2014 Annual Conference -Speaker, “Key Issues to Consider When Litigating Life, Health and Disability Actions to Maximize Recoveries,” NAMWOLF 2013 Annual Conference -Speaker, “Preventing a Runaway Arbitration,” NAMWOLF 2012 Annual Conference -“Discovery in ERISA Cases? How Florida Federal Courts Are Changing the ERISA Landscape One Case at a Time,” Florida Bar Journal (February 2016) -“Comment: Summarizing Prior Witness Testimony,” Florida State University Law Review (Fall 1996)
PROFESSIONAL/CIVIC ACTIVITIES -Commission on Women in the Profession of the American Bar Association, Former Commissioner (appointed by president of ABA) -The National Association of Minority & Women-Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), Former Co-Chair of Insurance Practice Area Committee -Woman Advocate, Minority Trial Lawyer, and Commercial and Business Litigation Sections of the American Bar Association, Committee Member -Corporate Counsel Women of Color, Sponsor and Member -Defense Research Institute, Member -Litigation and Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar, Member -Cuban American Bar Association, Member -Hispanic National Bar Association, Member -Florida International University Alumni Association, Former Director and Co-Chair of Law School Committee
Area(s) of Expertise