Fernando Sabater-Clavell

Mr. Sabater-Clavell is a litigator and defense lawyer who, for over 17 years, has handled a wide range of commercial claims. A skilled attorney, Mr. Sabater-Clavell has taken many cases to trial and subsequent appeals processes throughout his career. His practice focuses on insurance defense and coverage disputes, thus advocating on behalf of insurers, a wide variety of insureds and other industry players. Mr. Sabater-Clavell’s practice also includes professional liability and disciplinary defense of attorneys, notary publics, construction and design professionals, brokers, and agents, among others. Another part of his practice is representing private religious and secular educational institutions in cases regarding discrimination due to disability, bullying and institutional abuse. He also has ample experience prosecuting and defending injunctions, commercial and antitrust class actions, construction claims, and catastrophic losses.

In a case of first impression in which Mr. Sabater-Clavell represented Wesleyan Academy, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico upheld the dismissal of a complaint filed by the parents of a minor student who bullied classmates at this evangelical school and was consequently publicly disciplined by that school, holding that the constitutional doctrine of Separation of Church and State forbids the intervention of courts in internal church matters such as the disciplining of members, even if the claimants in question are no longer members of the church. See Sara Cortés v. Wesleyan Academy, 192 D.P.R. 947 (2015).

Recently, in another case of first impression before Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court, Mr. Sabater-Clavell convinced the Court to dismiss the claim against his client, a private school’s insurance company, in a lawsuit filed by a student and her parents seeking damages due to the minor’s sexual assault by a teacher. In its ruling, the Court adopted Mr. Sabater-Clavell’s argument that, when determining whether a policy exclusion regarding conduct precludes coverage, the focus is not legal theories of liability, but whether the alleged loss arises out of the excluded conduct. Upon finding that all of the claimed damages arose out of the criminal conduct in question, the Court held that Mr. Sabater-Clavell’s client had no duty to defend or indemnify the insured school. See W.M.M. v. Puerto Rico Christian School, Inc., 211 D.P.R. 871 (2023).

As part of Mr. Sabater-Clavell’s practice regarding directors and officers fiduciary claims, he represented AIG Insurance Company in a case arising from the FDIC’s takeover of Westernbank. The lawsuit, measured by the alleged loss, was the third largest brought by the FDIC during the 2008 financial crisis. As a matter of first impression, the First Circuit Court agreed with Mr. Sabater-Clavell’s argument that a court’s finding that a liability carrier has a duty to defend its insured in the underlying action, is immediately appealable as a de facto injunction. Consequently, insurers do not have to wait for a final judgment regarding a coverage action to appeal an order to advance defense costs. See W Holding Company, Inc. v. AIG, 748 F.3d 377 (1st Cir. 2014).

Mr. Sabater-Clavell is a Shareholder at SCVR. He joined the firm in 2010, after working at a criminal and tort boutique law firm and serving as a judicial law clerk.

  • University of Puerto Rico School of Law (J.D.)
  • Boston College (B.A., Psychology)
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  • United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • Puerto Rico Bar Association
  • Castillo v. Guardian Insurance Company, Inc., 20-1262 (DRD) (D.P.R. 2024)
  • W.M.M. v. Puerto Rico Christian School, Inc., 211 D.P.R. 871 (2023)
  • Green Enterprises v. Hiscox Syndicates Limited at Lloyd’s of London, 68 F.4th 662 (1st Cir. 2023)
  • Villamil v. Varadero @ Palmas, 18-1425 (SCC) (D.P.R. 2021)
  • Vergara v. Wesleyan Academy, 17-1013 (PG) (D.P.R. 2019)
  • Morgan v. Water Toy Shop, 16-2540 (PAD) (D.P.R. 2018)
  • Andréu v. Palmas del Mar Homeowners Association, 311 F. Supp.3d 456 (D.P.R. 2018)
  • Sara Cortés v. Wesleyan Academy, 192 D.P.R. 947 (2015)
  • W Holding Company v. AIG, 748 F.3d 377 (1st Cir. 2014)
  • Nieto-Vincenty v. Valledor, 984 F.Supp.2d 17 (D.P.R. 2013)