John Morrison


Contact Information:

Morrison Motl & Sherwood, PLLP

Helena Office
401 North Last Chance Gulch
Helena, Mt 59601

Phone: 406.442.3261
Fax: 406.443.7294
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John Morrison is well known in Montana as a trial attorney and public leader.  In his 30s, he obtained 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.  John has tried numerous cases to verdict and judgment in the state and federal trial courts and argued many 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.

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 provide health coverage to thousands of Montanans.  He led the national ban of discretionary clauses in ERISA plans and chaired standing committees of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. John introduced the legislation that made Montana a captive insurance domicile and helped the industry develop; scores of captive insurers are now headquartered in Montana.

In addition to his trial practice, John is an insurance consultant on national and international matters.

John has published and spoken widely and has been covered by and/or published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The Times (London), Money, Forbes, Smart Money, Consumer Reports, Best’s Review, Montana Living, CNN, Good Morning America and other national publications and broadcasts.

Practice Areas:

Insurance Bad Faith, Product Liability, Class Actions, Mass Torts, Severe Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Securities Fraud, ERISA, Insurance Consulting and government relations.


J.D., University of Denver  (best oral advocate, associate law review editor)
B.A., Whitman College
London Institute for Economic and Political Studies and Oxford University


AV rating, Martindale-Hubbell
State Auditor, Insurance and Securities Commissioner of Montana, 2001-08
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
Who’s Who in American Law; Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in the World

Bar Admissions:

Montana Supreme Court
U.S. District Court, District of Montana
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court


Chairman, Board of Directors, Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania
Lead Trustee, Board of Trustees, Senior Health Care Oversight Trust
President, CASA of Montana
President, National Alliance of State Health Cooperatives.
Vice-President, Board of Directors, Montana Health Care Cooperative
Board of Directors, Presidio Reinsurance Corporation
Board of Directors, Center for Health Policy Development, National Academy of State Health Policy

Reported Cases Won:

Ridley v. Guaranty Nat. Ins. Co., 286 Mont. 325, 951 P. 2d 987 (1997); Webb v. TD, 287 Mont. 68, 951 P.2d 1008 (1997); Balyeat Law, P.C. v. Hatch, 284 Mont. 1, 942 P.2d 716 (1997); Hicklin v. CSC Logic, Inc., 283 Mont. 298, 940 P.2d 447 (1997); Wood v. Den Herder, 277 Mont. 147, 920 P.2d 105 (1996); Poteat v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 277 Mont. 117, 918 P.2d 677 (1996); Tanner v. Dream Island, Inc., 275 Mont. 117, 913 P.2d 641 (1996); Webb v. T.D., 275 Mont. 243, 912 P.2d 202 (1996); Matter of Paternity of Adam, 273 Mont. 351, 903 P.2d 207 (1995); Burlingham v. Mintz, 270 Mont. 277, 891 P.2d 527 (1995); KWA v. Blue Cross Blue Shield, 270 Mont. 283, 891 P.2d 530 (1995); Gabriel v. School Dist. No. 4, Libby, 264 Mont. 177, 870 P.2d 1351 (1994); Youngblood v. American States Ins. Co., 262 Mont. 391, 866 P.2d 203 (1993); Beaverhead Bar Supply, Inc. v. Harrington, 247 Mont. 117, 805 P. 2d 560 (1991); McCall v. Dept. of Energy Through Bonneville Power Admin., 914 F. 2d 191 (9th Cir. 1990). See also, Standard v. Morrison, 584 F. 3d 837 (9th Cir. 2009).


Articles: Co-author: “Exorcising Discretion: The Death Of Caprice in ERISA Claims Handling,”  ___ S. Dak. L. Rev ___ (2011); “Developing Commercial Health Insurance in China,” Field Note in Perspectives: China and the World (Stanford University) 10(3): 141-155, 2008;“Products Liability,” Montana Commercial Practice Manual, 1997; “Constitutional Challenges to Tort Reform: Equal Protection and State Constitutions,” 64 Den. U. Law Rev. 719, 1987.  Author: ERISA Preemption and the Loss of Just Remedies,” Trial, p. 18, March 1995; “Fraudulent Concealment and the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitation,” Trial Trends, p. 10, Spring 1989; “Criminal Law” (10th Circuit Survey), 63 Den. U. L. Rev. 291, 1986. Author and co-author of numerous op/eds on health care policy and other matters, including “The Climate Change Peril that Insurers See,” The Washington Post,  9/27/07 (with Alex Sink).

Book:  Mavericks, the Lives and Battles of Montana's Political Legends, with Catherine Wright (Moscow: University of Idaho) 1998, 329 pp.; second edition (Helena: Montana Historical Society) 2003. Named Top Ten Montana History Book (Missoulian).