John Morrison is well known in Montana as a trial attorney and public leader. 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. 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. As NAIC’s International Vice-Chair, he represented American Insurance Regulators in Asia, helped develop the working relationship between US and Chinese Regulators, and participated with the U.S. Trade Representative in Doha Round trade negotiations. John introduced the legislation that made Montana a captive insurance domicile and helped the industry develop; more than a hundred captive insurers now call Montana home, generating over $1 million per year in tax revenue for the state.

In addition to his continuing trial practice, John is an insurance consultant on national and international matters.  John recently served for three years as the Founding President of the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs whose members include all 22 of the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans formed under the Affordable Care Act, which now provides insurance coverage to more than one million Americans. He is Vice-Chairman of the National Academy of State Health Policy, a 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 has been covered by and/or published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, The Times (London), Money, Forbes, Smart Money, Consumer Reports, Best’s Review, Montana Living, CNN, Good Morning America and many other national publications and broadcasts.

In 2015, John was the recipient of the Montana Trial Lawyers Association Award for Appellate Advocacy, a recognition given each year to one attorney based on success at the appellate level.

Practice Areas

  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Product Liability
  • Class Actions
  • Mass Torts
  • Severe Personal Injury
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Securities Fraud
  • Insurance Consulting
  • 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
  • 2015 Award for Appellate Advocacy (Appellate lawyer of the year), Montana Trial Lawyers Association
  • 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, Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs Committee, Consumer Protection Working Group, 9/11 Response Committee, Vice-Chair, International 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

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

Current/Recent Positions

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

Select Reported Cases

Estate of Gleason v. Cent. United Life Ins. Co.
2015 MT 140, 379 Mont. 219

Gazelka v. St. Peter’s Hosp.
2015 MT 127, 379 Mont. 142

MEA-MFT v. State
2014 MT 76, 374 Mont. 296, 323 P.3d 198

MEA-MFT et al. v. McCullough
2012 MT 211; 366 Mont. 266

Fossen v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
660 F. 3d 1102 (9th Cir. 2011)

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,” 56 S. Dak. L. Rev. 482 (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.

Articles – 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).


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).