Steve Sanfelippo // Partner

Steve Sanfelippo is a founding partner of Cunningham Swaim, LLP, and leads the firm’s Appellate and Insurance Coverage practices. Steve is based primarily in Dallas, but is also licensed in California and regularly handles matters for clients out of our California office. He handles cases in state and federal courts nationwide, and also advises clients on a variety of issues, including risk management, coverage and indemnity issues.

In addition to handling clients’ legal issues as they arise, Steve also keeps his clients informed of emerging trends in the law and the latest legal decisions that could impact their businesses. Doing so not only gives clients the best opportunity to avoid disputes, but also puts them in a better position to handle any dispute that may arise.


Practice Areas

  • Federal and State appellate practice and civil litigation in all areas, including aviation, bankruptcy/adversary proceedings; insurance, complex commercial matters, construction defects, patent and trade secret, product liability, professional liability, personal injury and family law.
  • Insurance coverage, including coverage litigation and advising on potential coverage issues for both insureds and insurers, consulting with clients on risk management and coverage issues, and drafting and revising insurance policies and endorsements.


Representative Appellate and Civil Litigation Experience

  • Prepared post-trial briefing on behalf of bankruptcy trustee in complex adversary proceeding involving allegations of fraudulent and preferential transfers.
  • Represented a helicopter taxi company on appeal in a series of related cases involving liability for personal injuries arising out of a helicopter accident.
  • Represented international airline on appeal in case involving airline’s potential liability for in-flight death of a passenger under the Montreal Convention.
  • Represented insured on appeal in case involving insurer’s alleged breach of the duty to defend and indemnify the insured under a commercial general liability policy.
  • Represented defense contractor on appeal involving denial of request for issuance of anti-suit injunction.
  • Represented furniture liquidator on appeal in defense of $1.3 million judgment in a commercial dispute.
  • Represented national tire manufacturer on appeal in several wrongful death cases involving allegations of product defects.
  • Represented a helicopter taxi company on mandamus in case of first impression involving severance and enforcement of forum selection clause.

In addition, Steve regularly attends trial and handles error preservation, motion practice and jury charge matters for clients. Representative cases include handling these tasks in the following cases:

  • On behalf of a Fortune 100 company during a four-week trial in a trade secret misappropriation case in federal district court in Georgia;
  • On behalf of a Fortune 200 defense contractor during a four-week trial in a trade secret misappropriation case in federal district court in Texas;
  • On behalf of an inventor during a one-week trial in a patent infringement case in federal district court in Texas,
  • On behalf of an insurance company in a two-week wrongful death lawsuit in Texas state court;
  • On behalf of a helicopter taxi company during a one-week trial in a personal injury and product liability case in Louisiana state court;
  • On behalf of a product manufacturer during a one-week trial in a trademark and trade dress infringement case in federal district court in Texas.


Representative Insurance Coverage and Related Experience

  • Represented insurer in case involving coverage for wrongful death lawsuit alleging that insured’s former employee contracted lymphoma as a result of his exposure to benzene and benzene-containing products while working for multiple different companies over a twenty-five year period. Case involved issues of trigger of coverage in long term/continuing exposure cases, whether policy limits could be stacked, the effect of concurrent coverage among multiple insurers, and applicability of pollution exclusion and toxic exclusion endorsement.
  • Represented liability insurer in lawsuit against another insurer over issue of which policy was responsible for damages resulting from confiscation of insured’s aircraft by Russian customs agents.
  • Represented airport authority in dispute with lessee’s insurer over issues involving entitlement to coverage and priority of coverage for catastrophic injuries resulting from crash of aircraft into spectator grandstands at air show.
  • Defended insurer against breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising out of insurer’s refusal to defend or indemnify insured. Issues included whether conduct alleged constituted a personal injury offense under a liability policy, either because it fell within the “private occupancy” provision, or because it constituted economic discrimination covered under the discrimination provision.
  • Represented insured against insurer who refused to defend and indemnify the insured against a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Advised insurer on coverage issues related to wrongful death lawsuit arising out of mesothelioma allegedly caused by long term exposure to asbestos.
  • Advised insurer on coverage issues, including existence of coverage, trigger date and priority of coverage, in connection with hundreds of construction defect claims made against its insured, a national homebuilder.
  • In addition, Steve drafts and revises policies and endorsements for clients, and regularly advises insurers and insureds on coverage issues under all types of policies.


Professional Affiliations

  • Council of Appellate Lawyers—American Bar Association
  • Tort Trial and Insurance Section—American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Texas Appellate Section
  • State Bar of Texas Insurance Law Section
  • Dallas Bar Association


Admitted to Practice

  • California State Courts
  • Texas State Courts
  • Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals
  • U.S. District Courts in California, Texas, and Louisiana



  • St. Mary’s University School of Law, J.D. 2000. Member, St. Mary’s Law Journal
  • Concordia University Wisconsin, B.A. Psychology 1993



  • Admissible or Inadmissible: Getting In—Or Keeping Out—Government Documents in Aviation Cases; 71 Air L. & Com. 449.
  • Availability of En Banc Consideration and Rehearing in the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and State Courts, presented at the 2005 Council of Appellate Lawyers and Appellate Judges Summit.
  • Courts Discuss Expert Testimony; ABA Aviation Law Section, Vol. 12, No. 2, Winter 2005.
  • Passing the Blame, Passing the Bill: Contractual Liability and Additional Insureds; 2004 Advanced Insurance Law Course.


Community Involvement

  • Pro bono representation of indigent clients through Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
  • Member Dallas Bar Association Speakers Committee