Morrison Sherwood Wilson Deola, LLP
401 N Last Chance Gulch
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 442-3261 mswdlaw.com
Practice Areas Insurance Bad Faith Product Liability Class Actions Campaign Finance & Ballot Initiatives Serious Auto and Medical Injuries
Education J.D., University of Denver (best oral advocate, associate law review editor) B.A., Whitman College Institute of Economic and Political Studies, London; Oxford University
Bar Admissions Montana Supreme Court U.S. District Court, District of Montana U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit United States Court of Federal Claims U.S. Supreme Court
PARTNER John Morrison John Morrison is well known in Montana as a trial attorney and public leader. While still in his 30s, he received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, was President of the Montana Trial Lawyers Association, served as Chief Montana Counsel in the Tobacco Case, and represented the New York Times and NBC in the Unabomber case before being elected to public office. John has tried numerous cases to verdict and judgment in the state and federal trial courts and argued many landmark appeals in the Montana Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Using fees from the tobacco case, John co-founded the Safe Kids and Families Fund that has provided thousands of bicycle helmets to low-income children in Montana.
After two terms as a state-wide elected official, John returned to the law practice in 2009. In 2015, he received the Appellate Advocacy Award from MTLA for a series of important victories in the Montana Supreme Court, and his cases continue to receive national media attention. John is listed in US News Best Lawyers in America, SuperLawyers, and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
John was elected Montana State Auditor in 2000 where he served as Montana’s Insurance and Securities Commissioner and on the State Land Board. He wrote and led passage of major health coverage initiatives, including Insure Montana and Healthy Montana Kids, that have provided health coverage to tens of thousands of Montanans. John chaired the Health Insurance (B) and Market Regulation (D) committees of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and led the national ban of discretionary clauses in ERISA plans, which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Standard Insurance v. Morrison, restoring fair claim handling rights to tens of millions of Americans. As NAIC’s International Vice-Chair for Asia, he helped develop the working relationship between US and Chinese regulators and represented the US in Doha Round Trade negotiations with China. John introduced the legislation that made Montana a captive insurance domicile and helped the industry develop; nearly 300 captive insurers now call Montana home, now generating over $5 million per year for Montana, and hundreds of U.S. business leaders now travel to Montana for captive insurance meetings each year. As a Land Board member, John led creation of the state land bank, which has added tens of thousands of publicly accessible acres to the state land trust.
In addition to his continuing trial practice, John is an insurance consultant on national and international matters. John co-founded the Montana Health CO-OP and served for three years as the Founding President of the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs whose members, by their second year of operation (2015) provided coverage to more than one million Americans and saved consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars. He has recently served as Vice-Chair of the board of the National Academy of State Health Policy, board member and past Chairman of the $3 billion Senior Health Care Oversight Trust and serves on a number of corporate boards. In the last few years, John has given invited lectures at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Peking University, and a number of other colleges and law schools. John is also the adjunct professor of insurance law at the Alexander Blewett III University of Montana Law School. He has given invited testimony on multiple occasions to both houses of Congress and is a consulting expert to the U.S Department of Labor on ERISA related issues. John has been covered by and/or published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Times (London), Money, Forbes, Smart Money, Consumer Reports, Best’s Review, CNN, Good Morning America among other national publications and broadcasts. He is the author of numerous articles and one book: Mavericks, The Lives and Battles of Montana’s Political Legends (Univ. of Idaho Press, 1997; Montana Historical Society Press, 2003), which he wrote with his wife Cathy.
John and Cathy have been married for 27 years. They have two daughters, Allison (25) and Amanda (22). Both were born in Helena, Montana and attended Title I public schools there. Allison, a D-1 All Academic American track and filed athlete, received her AB from Harvard in 2016 and then served as a legislative aide to Sen. Michael Bennett in the U.S. Senate. Amanda, a Cook Scholar, U.S. Presidential Scholar and Schwarzman Scholar, received her BA summa cum laude from Princeton in 2019. John and his family enjoy the full range of sports and activities in Montana’s great and spectacular outdoors. An avid distance runner, John qualified for and competed in the 2018 and 2019 Boston Marathons. John and his daughters also enjoy mountain climbing and have summited most of the state high-points in the American West and New England.
“This court, in observing his work, finds Morrison to be extremely well organized and possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues presented to the jury. This case required the services of a highly specialized attorney who was able to handle a complex, heavily defended case that involved extensive nationwide discovery and travel, along with extensive motion and briefing practice. Further, extensive research was required into these issues. Morrison displayed highly developed jury skills in dealing with this case of first impression. He also evidenced a dogged determination that resulted in a substantial award to his clients and in a novel legal interpretation for the state of Montana.” -Honorable Judge Jeffrey Sherlock Gleason v. Central United Life Insurance Co.
Current/Recent Positions Vice Chair, Center for Health Policy Development/National Academy of State Health Policy Founding President, National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs Chairman, Board of Directors, Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania Chairman, Board of Trustees, Senior Health Care Oversight Trust President, CASA of Montana Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Montana Health CO-OP Board of Directors, Presidio Reinsurance Corporation Board of Directors, UMTA Trust Captive
Distinctions AV rating, Martindale-Hubbell State Auditor, Insurance and Securities Commissioner of Montana, 2001-08 Appellate Advocacy Award, Montana Trial Lawyers Association (Appellate Lawyer of the Year) Past President, Montana Trial Lawyers Association Ethics Committee, Montana Bar Association Two-time National Trial Competition Finalist Public Service Award, Montana Trial Lawyers Association Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award, NAIC Consumer Representatives Health Care Leadership Council, Honor Roll for Coverage Award Leadership Montana, Inaugural Class Chairman, Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee and Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs Committee, National Association of Insurance Commissioners Consulting Insurance Expert, U.S. Department of Labor Who’s Who in American Law; Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in the World The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100