Gretchen Hoff Varner

Gretchen Hoff Varner

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Covington & Burling LLP
One Front Street
San Francisco, CA 94111-5356
Tel: +1 415 591 7056
Fax: +1 415 955 6556



  • Yale Law School, J.D., 2006
    • Yale Law Journal, Projects Editor
    • Yale Journal of International Law, Editor in Chief
  • Harvard University, A.B., 2000
    • magna cum laude
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Judicial Clerkship

  • Hon. Richard J. Sullivan, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 2007-2008
  • Hon. Reena Raggi, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 2006-2007

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • New York

Gretchen Hoff Varner focuses on high-stakes insurance coverage litigation, where she represents a wide range of policyholders in major insurance recovery disputes.  She has successfully tried cases in both federal and state court.  Ms. Hoff Varner also has extensive experience representing corporations and individuals in government investigations and regulatory enforcement proceedings by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other federal and state enforcement agencies, and has successfully obtained dismissals of related civil litigation.

Notably, Ms. Hoff Varner led the Covington trial team that successfully challenged and overturned New York City’s racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy in Floyd v. City of New York.

Representative Matters

Insurance Coverage Litigation

  • Second-chaired insurance coverage trial on behalf of world’s largest family-owned alcoholic beverage concern.
  • Representing major retailer in pursuing insurance recovery for highly publicized data breach losses.   
  • Represented major healthcare organization seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance coverage under its professional liability policies.   

Government Investigations & Enforcement Actions    

  • Achieved a highly favorable settlement for the New York Stock Exchange in a widely reported SEC action involving the exchange’s dissemination of market data
  • Represented director of public company in connection with an SEC investigation.   
  • Representing start-up company in an investigation by the Enforcement Division of the SEC into unregistered offerings.
  • Successfully obtained dismissal of complaint alleging violations of the False Claims Act on behalf of Fortune 500 pharmaceutical manufacturer.
  • Representing major health care provider in False Claims Act investigation by Department of Justice.

Complex Commercial Litigation & Antitrust Litigation

  • Representing multiple suppliers of automobile components in multidistrict federal antitrust class action litigation alleging price-fixing in various component markets.
  • Successfully obtained dismissal of multiple federal antitrust class actions relating to hotel bookings.
  • Successfully enforced a multi-million dollar promissory note on behalf of an individual investor in parallel state and federal actions.
  • Successfully obtained settlements on behalf of major software company in asserting breach of contract and copyright infringement claims in multiple federal district courts.

Previous Experience

  • The World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, Program Coordinator (2000-2003)

Honors and Rankings

  • Named 2015 “Rising Star” by Northern California Super Lawyers
  • Charles C. Ruff Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year (2013)

Pro Bono

  • Lead Covington trial counsel in Floyd v. City of New York, a landmark federal class action that successfully challenged the constitutionality of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policies and practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Successfully obtained asylum and prosecutorial discretion on behalf of two unaccompanied minors from Guatemala.
  • Represented plaintiffs in Harris et al. v. Atlanta Independent School System, a class action lawsuit that successfully challenged the Atlanta Independent School System’s practice of placing students in privately-run, taxpayer-funded alternative schools.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Federal Bar Council

Publications and Speeches

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