Network Firm News

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Article: “How Do You Feel About Your Career As A Woman In Law Compared To Previous Generations”
March 2017

"As a graduate of law school in the early ‘90s, I have had the good fortune to walk a trail that was blazed by many who came before me, but we are still a work in progress. When I began practicing, there was still discussion among the young lawyer ranks whether it would be acceptable for women to wear pants to work. That question has thankfully been put to rest. But even today, when I arrive at a deposition toting my trial briefcase and files, I will not uncommonly be assumed to be the court reporter. One of my male law partners totes the same trial briefcase as I, but he has never in 40 years of practice been asked if he is a reporter; he is always assumed to be a lawyer. Women must continue to push onward in leadership positions and to use those leadership positions to defy persistent stereotypes. Progress begins at home: our firm elected a woman as our managing partner more than a decade ago, and over 40 percent of our partners are women." See:

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. is pleased to announce that Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr. has been appointed Managing Principal effective today, March 1, 2017. Mr. Gagliardi will also serve as President and CEO of the firm's subsidiaries, Porzio Governmental Affairs and Porzio Compliance Services.

Additionally, a five-person Management Committee will support Mr. Gagliardi. The Committee is comprised of the following Porzio principals: Diane Fleming Averell, Michelle D. Axelrod, Kevin M. Bell, Brett S. Moore, and Philip J. Siana. Mr. Siana will also serve as the firm's Vice President.

Mr. Gagliardi succeeds D. Jeffrey Campbell, who has overseen the firm's operations since 1997. Mr. Campbell has been a catalyst for change for the firm, including introducing rigorous strategic planning, developing a nationally touted paralegal utilization program and launching Porzio's subsidiaries. Mr. Campbell will stay on as Of Counsel at Porzio and President and CEO of Porzio Life Sciences, LLC.


Monday, February 20, 2017

he Deutsch Kerrigan trial team of Robert E. Kerrigan, Jr., Raymond C. Lewis, and Joe B. Landry Jr. obtained a unanimous, zero jury verdict on January 20th in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.

Deutsch’s trial team successfully defended Force Corporation against a plaintiff who was injured during a railroad accident when he lost his balance and fell off a railroad car sustaining back injuries and foot injuries that ultimately required amputation of a toe. The plaintiff claimed that a railroad track inspection report noted a defect on the track near the location of his accident, and this alleged defect caused him to fall off the railroad car. Force was hired to perform the repair and maintenance of the tracks. Deutsch’s trial team convinced the jury that the railroad track was not defective and, based on where plaintiff claimed the defect existed along the track, the alleged defect could not have caused the accident. During closing argument, plaintiff claimed general damages, loss of future earning capacity, and disability. Following closing arguments, the jury ruled in favor of the defense and found Force was not negligent.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Akerman LLP today announced litigation Partner Christian George has been elected by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to serve as president-elect in 2017. He will be sworn in as president-elect by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court during The Florida Bar's General Assembly meeting on June 23, 2017 and he will begin his term as president in June 2018.

"I am privileged to serve such a vital organization like the YLD and look forward to advancing our important work on behalf of nearly 30,000 members," said George. "As president, I will focus on promoting and strengthening the vast resources of The Florida Bar and the YLD to assist our members as they transition from law school to law practice and adapt to the continuing changes affecting our profession. Our leadership team has many exciting initiatives in store."

George has been a member of the board of governors of YLD since 2012. He serves on the board's executive committee and as a representative of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. In addition, George currently serves as president of the Jacksonville Bar Association's (JBA) Young Lawyers Section (YLS). He has served on the board of governors of YLS since 2008, and is currently a member of the executive committee and the chair of the professionalism committee. George was honored for his leadership and service to the legal profession and the Jacksonville community as the 2015 recipient of JBA's Chair of the Year Award.

At Akerman, George concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation and bankruptcy. He represents companies and individuals in various types of contract disputes, negotiable instruments and tort actions. He regularly handles suits involving fraud, tortious interference, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of warranty, civil theft, professional malpractice, estate, trust and probate litigation, eviction, conversion, and shareholder or partner disputes. In addition, George has significant experience representing financial institutions, other commercial lenders and landlords in bankruptcy courts around the United States.

George is recognized by Benchmark Litigation in the guide's "Florida Under 40 Hot List" and in Super Lawyers as a "Florida Rising Star" in Business Litigation, Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights and General Litigation. He also was named among Florida Trend's Legal Elite as an "Up & Comer" and previously by Jacksonville Business Journal as a "40 Under 40 Up & Comer." He earned his J.D. in 2007 from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and his B.A. in 2004 from the University of Florida.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Maslon is pleased to announce that David Schultz, former partner and trial lawyer in Maslon's Litigation Group, has been appointed to the position of United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Minnesota. Schultz will take the oath of office in the U.S. Courthouse in St. Paul on February 7, 2017. A formal investiture ceremony will be held at a later date.

"We're very proud to see our partner and friend, David Schultz, selected to serve as a United States Magistrate Judge," stated Michael McCarthy, chair of Maslon's Governance Committee. "We believe all the qualities that have made David a great attorney will make him an equally exceptional judge and support his strong commitment to serving justice."

Prior to his appointment, David was a partner at Maslon LLP for 11 years, where he focused his practice on high stakes litigation in the areas of product liability, healthcare, commercial disputes, civil and criminal fraud, and intellectual property. As a litigator, he tried cases to verdict in state and federal courts throughout the country and developed an active appellate practice, having argued more than 50 cases before several federal circuits as well as the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

David is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. In addition, he has taught trial advocacy at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) as well as legal writing at the University of Minnesota Law School and William Mitchell College of Law. He has lectured on constitutional law at Carleton College and criminal law to undergraduates while a law student at Stanford University.

David is ranked as a Notable Practitioner in Minnesota for Litigation by Chambers USA since 2013, has been included in The Best Lawyers in America® from 2012-2017, and is recognized on the Minnesota Super Lawyers® list every year since 1999. He also received the Child Advocacy Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2013.

Amidst his vibrant law practice, David regularly devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono representation every year and served on the Board of Innocence Project of Minnesota (IPMN). As a result of his tireless work to help free the wrongfully convicted and reform the criminal justice system, he was recognized with the IPMN's 2016 "Never Forgotten Award." He was also selected as a Minnesota Lawyer 2016 Attorney of the Year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Court of Special Appeals has affirmed a venue decision transferring a high-profile medical malpractice case from Baltimore City to Baltimore County. Plaintiff suffered a stroke in Baltimore County and received allegedly negligent treatment first in Baltimore County and then in Baltimore City. She filed suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court against six defendants: the Baltimore County hospital and various County physicians along with a City hospital and its doctor. Amy Heinrich and Kristin Rieger successfully moved to transfer the case to the County for lack of proper venue in the City. Because the transfer ended the case in the City, Plaintiff filed an interlocutory appeal arguing that Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 6-202(8), which allows suit to be filed “where the cause of action arose,” made the City a proper alternative venue choice. Arguing the appeal on behalf of all Defendants, Derek Stikeleather persuaded the appellate panel that Plaintiff’s allegations that the Defendants had first harmed her while she was in the County made the County the sole venue where the cause of action arose. Affirming the transfer ruling, the appellate court handed down its unreported decision just 26 days after hearing oral argument.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

On December 28, 2016, Goodell, DeVries partners Craig Brodsky and Tom Monahan obtained a dismissal after the Court concluded that their client was immune from suit. In the case, the Plaintiffs alleged that the nursing home and the codefendant attending physician were negligent in their care and treatment of a patient during his residence between 2010 and 2015. The Plaintiffs claimed that the attending physician and nursing home did not act in the patient’s best interests or in compliance with the standard of care when implementing treatment based on the decisions made by the patient's wife, who held a Healthcare Power of Attorney for her late husband. Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Monahan avoided the rule precluding the use of deposition testimony in support of a motion for summary judgment and instead filed a Plea-in-Bar arguing the nursing home was immune from suit. F

The case, which is believed to be an issue of first impression, could be significant for the Long Term Care industry. In this regard, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Long Term Facilities are often faced with difficult circumstances surrounding end-of-life issues and potential disagreements between family members. With this decision, the Court clarified that Skilled Nursing Facilities and Long Term Care Facilities should not be held liable for following the treatment plans and recommendations made.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thomas Monahan, Jr., Shevon Rockett and Jhanelle Graham obtained a defense verdict in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for their client, a hospital in the District of Columbia. The Plaintiff alleged that the hospital’s nurses were negligent in administering a pneumococcal vaccine to the Plaintiff when she had received the vaccine at her primary care physician’s office eight months earlier. The Plaintiff also claimed that the nurses failed to obtain her informed consent to the vaccination. As a result of the alleged negligence, the Plaintiff testified that she experiences ongoing pain and weakness in her leg, knee and hip. The defense argued that the nurses appropriately screened the Plaintiff for, and administered, the pneumococcal vaccine. Additionally, the evidence reflected that the Plaintiff was adequately informed of the risks, benefits and alternatives of the vaccine before the vaccine was administered. The defense also demonstrated, through medical testimony, that the Plaintiff experienced a common, temporary reaction to the vaccine that resolved within a few days, and that there was no causal relationship between the vaccine and the injuries that the Plaintiff alleged. After a six-day trial, the jury unanimously found in favor of the Defendant on both the informed consent and the medical negligence counts.

Goodell DeVries Partners Michele Kendus and Craig Brodsky obtained a complete defense verdict for their client, a product manufacturer, in a case tried in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. In her product liability claim against the manufacturer, the plaintiff alleged that she sustained a chemical burn from the application of a professional use only hair dye product. The hair salon and the licensed cosmetologist who applied the product also were named as defendants in the case. Prior to trial, Ms. Kendus obtained summary judgment in favor of GDLD’s client on the plaintiff’s manufacturing and design defect claims. After a five-day trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of GDLD’s client on the remaining negligent warnings claim. To reach its verdict, the jury determined that the hair dye product was safe when applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings. The jury further found that application of the product to the plaintiff’s hair did not cause the claimed injury.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The law firm of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. (Porzio) has been recognized on the Vault 2017 Top 150 Under 150 list. This distinction was created to give credit to outstanding law firms with fewer than 150 attorneys, but with a reputation and results to rival the global megafirms.

The Top 150 Under 150 serves as a guide of well-known firms that offer excellent career opportunities. Vault editors assessed each firm for prestige, quality of life and professional advancement. At these leading small and midsize firms, attorneys may take on more responsibility sooner and enjoy a higher quality of life.

To determine the Top 150 Under 150, Vault's editorial and research teams examined survey data, news stories and legal publications, and conferred with lawyers throughout the industry.

CHRISTINE ZACK OFFERS GUIDANCE TO IN-HOUSE COUNSEL REGARDING WHISTLEBLOWER ACTIONS (At Network Litigation Management SuperCourse Panel Discussion Moderated by Linda Woolf)
Globe Newswire -- December 19, 2016
Christine Zack, Esq., Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer at Mariner Health Central, Inc. and Senior Vice President, Chief Risk Officer of Fundamental Administrative Services, LLC was a featured panelist in a discussion moderated by Linda Woolf, a partner at Goodell DeVries Leech & Dann, LLP. The panel presentation was hosted by The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc. and tackled the subject of what in-house counsel need to know about whistleblowers.

In 2015, more than 700 cases were commenced under the False Claims Act. More than 600 of them were whistleblower cases where plaintiffs can win a share of the recovery. How can a company protect itself from exposure when the incentive to report is so great? With an extensive background in the healthcare industry, Ms. Zack participated in a panel of in-house counsel discussing whistleblowers and what in-house counsel can do to protect their clients.

The panel moderator, Ms. Woolf, utilized an interactive approach with conference participants and the panelists in discussing how whistleblowers, both real and purported, have become a part of everyday business life. Ms. Woolf noted that “In fiscal year 2015, the Department of Justice obtained more than $3.5 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government. The three industries that made up the largest recoveries in fiscal year 2015 were in health care, government contracts, and banking and financial services. Of the almost $3.6 billion, $1.9 billion was from the health care industry involving unnecessary or inadequate care, kickbacks to health care providers, or overcharging for goods and services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs.”

With a focus on healthcare, Ms. Zack made recommendations on conducting internal investigations, working with current employees to appropriately prepare them for potential litigation and on protecting confidential information. “The number of whistle-blower claims in healthcare and the related payouts have been growing in recent years. In-house counsel must be champions for a company-wide culture of compliance to protect their respective organizations from both genuine and opportunistic whistleblower claims.” said Ms. Zack.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Network of Trial Law Firms, an association of 20 leading U.S. trial law firms, is pleased to announce that Felice C. Wagner, Esq., has joined the association as Executive Director and General Counsel. Wagner succeeds founder Ellis Mirsky who has served as General Counsel and Executive Director since 1993.  While Mirsky has retired from his day-to-day duties, he will continue to be an important advisor to the Network as Executive Director, Emeritus.

Wagner joins The Network with more than 20 years of experience in the legal industry. A former practicing attorney, she has leveraged her understanding of the field into a career as a trainer and consultant, including working with thousands of attorneys from the world’s top law firms to understand client preferences and how to meet clients’ needs.

“We are very excited to have Felice on board,” said Lee Hollis, 2016 chair of the association, and partner with Alabama member-firm Lightfoot Franklin & White. “She is going to help take the Network to the next level, using her vast experience to build upon our already excellent track record.”

Prior to joining The Network, Wagner founded a premier lawyer training and consulting firm, served in senior management at an AmLaw 100 law firm, and has been a leader in the law firm community.

“Felice is a leading professional in the legal field, and is highly sought after, making her an outstanding addition to The Network team,” said Jessalyn Zeigler, the 2017 Chair-elect and partner with Tennessee’s Bass Berry & Sims. “We strive to provide our clients with cutting-edge continuing legal education and an environment of collegial networking opportunities. We are confident Felice will help us achieve these goals.”

Wagner is a Hall of Fame member of the Legal Marketing Association and a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. She earned her J.D., cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, from the University of South Florida.

About The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc.
The Network of Trial Law Firms is a not-for-profit membership association of 20 separate and independent trial law firms located in over 120 offices throughout the United States. The goal of the 20 law firms participating in the Network is to provide their clients with high-quality trial and litigation representation through advances in education, technology, business and science. The Network sponsors activities to accomplish that goal, including research and study of advances in the state-of-the-art of legal representation, and continuing legal education seminars for corporate and outside counsel. Our CLE programs aid in the dissemination of new information and effective techniques and technologies to attorneys and claims professionals serving corporations.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Goodell DeVries Obtains Summary Judgment in Chemical Exposure Case -- January 2016
On January 5, 2016, a judge granted motions to exclude expert testimony and, consequently, a motion for summary judgment filed by Thomas J. Cullen, Jr., Ericka L. Downie, and John D. Maxa on behalf of Crown Equipment Corporation.  Plaintiffs sought damages based on injuries allegedly caused by exposure to chemicals in spray paint manufactured for Crown.  Plaintiffs alleged that the use of the spray paint during planned maintenance of Crown’s material handling equipment caused a rare form of acute leukemia.  Plaintiffs offered two causation experts.  The judge excluded the opinions of both of Plaintiffs’ causation experts, citing their lack of qualifications and failure to rely upon a sufficient factual foundation and reliable methodology.  Accordingly, the judge awarded summary judgment and costs to Crown.

Goodell DeVries Obtains Defense Verdict in Design Defect Case -- February 2016
After a two week trial, Thomas J. Cullen, Jr., Kali A. Enyeart, and Ryan J. Sullivan obtained a defense verdict in favor of Crown Equipment Corporation, a leading manufacturer of material handling equipment.  Plaintiff sustained serious injuries after being struck by a Crown pallet jack operated by his co-employee.  Plaintiff claimed the pallet truck was defectively designed and was not equipped with necessary safety features.  The jury deliberated for less than half an hour before returning a full defense verdict.

Goodell DeVries Attorneys Win Defense Verdict for Physician in Lawsuit Alleging Permanent Nerve Injury -- May 2016
Craig B. Merkle and Shannon M. Madden obtained a defense verdict for their client, an internist and general practice physician.  The minor Plaintiff alleged permanent nerve and tendon injury to his hand following a cryotheraputic procedure in the office to treat a skin lesion.  His alleged damages included chronic pain and lifelong functional impairment.  The defense countered that the treatment procedure was appropriately performed and was not the cause of permanent nerve or tendon injuries, as alleged. 
At the end of a one week trial, the jury found unanimously that the Defendant physician had met the  standard of care and rendered a verdict in his favor.  

Goodell DeVries Attorneys Obtain Injunctive Relief in a Trademark Infringement Action Involving Counterfeit Medical Devices -- July 2016
Richard M. Barnes, Cheryl Z. Lardieri and Matthew D. Kohel obtained a preliminary injunction in favor of Dentsply Sirona Inc., Maillefer Instruments, and VDW, three leading manufacturers of dental instruments, in a trademark infringement action. In granting the injunction, the court accepted all of the facts presented and found “significant evidence of a likelihood of confusion” between the clients’ products and the infringing devices. Notably, the court granted all of the relief requested by the Goodell DeVries attorneys.  In addition to granting the injunction, the court permitted the clients to conduct extensive expedited discovery and dispensed with the need to post a bond as security for the injunction.

Goodell DeVries Obtains Defense Verdict for Pallet Truck Manufacturer -- July 2016
Thomas J. Cullen, Jr. and Kali A. Enyeart obtained a defense verdict in favor of Crown Equipment Corporation, a leading manufacturer of material handling equipment.  Plaintiff was injured while operating a Crown End-Controlled Rider pallet truck.  Plaintiff sustained an above knee amputation, as well as alleged renal complications that led to dialysis.  Plaintiff and his wife brought claims for design defect and loss of consortium.  The trial spanned two weeks and the jury deliberated for thirty minutes before returning a unanimous defense verdict.    

Goodell DeVries Attorneys Win Defense Verdict for Physician in Lawsuit Alleging Death from Esophageal Perforation -- September 2016
Kelly Hughes Iverson and Jared M. Green obtained a defense verdict for their client, a gastrointestinal physician. The Plaintiffs alleged that the physician negligently dilated the Decedent’s esophagus during a procedure to remove her esophageal cancer. This, according to the Plaintiffs, caused an esophageal perforation and ultimately the Decedent’s death. The defense countered that the physician appropriately performed the Decedent's procedure, esophageal perforation is a well-recognized risk of upper endoscopy and the Decedent's death, months after the procedure, was unrelated to the perforation. At the end of a two week trial, it took the jury thirty minutes to unanimously find in favor of the physician.  

Goodell DeVries Appellate Team Secures Trial Court Win Upholding Maryland’s 20% Rule on “Hired Gun” Experts -- September 2016
In a reported opinion, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals has applied Maryland’s 20% Rule for expert witnesses in personal injury cases and affirmed summary judgment in favor of a prominent OB-GYN practice group. At trial in 2015, Kelly Hughes Iverson and M. Peggy Chu convinced the trial judge that Plaintiff’s expert devoted more than 20% of his professional time to activities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims. By statute, Maryland limits such experts to 20% to prevent the use of “Hired Gun” professional witnesses in personal injury cases. Finding that the expert did not comply with the 20% Rule, the trial court entered judgment in all Defendants’ favor without a trial. For years, certain expert witnesses have dodged the 20% Rule by obfuscating, testifying inaccurately about their activities, and refusing to produce records that would substantiate (or refute) their signed certificates of compliance. Here, the expert, who has testified in hundreds of cases and earned millions of dollars in litigation as a paid medical-expert witness, fought discovery of how much professional time he spent in activities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims. He gave vague and inaccurate testimony and produced financial records only after a court order to do so. Even then, his relevant earnings records were incomplete, and he never produced his redacted office calendar, which would have shown how much, if any, medicine he actually practices. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court had made a legal error. Assisted by Derek M. Stikeleather, Kelly Hughes Iverson showed the appellate court that the ruling excluding the expert was a proper exercise of discretion by a trial judge who was given a “messy and hotly disputed record.” The three-judge panel affirmed that “the burden of persuasion never shifts in a medical malpractice case” and the plaintiff must carry this burden. It is not the defense’s burden to disqualify the plaintiff’s expert. Given the resistance to basic discovery, serious gaps in the records he did produce, and his lack of credibility, the trial court “was well within its discretion to find that” he did not show that he complied with the 20% Rule.

District of Columbia Courts Adopt New Evidentiary Standard Urged by Goodell DeVries on Behalf of Lawyers’ Organization -- October 2016
On October 20, 2016, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals handed down a landmark opinion modernizing the District’s standards for the admission of expert testimony.  Motorola Inc. v. Murray, _ A.3d _, No. 14-cv-1350 (D.C. Oct. 20, 2016) (en banc).  In Motorola, the court adopted the more modern Daubert standard embodied in Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and the case law applying the 1993 Supreme Court opinion, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993).  In doing so, the District discarded the decades-old “Frye-Dyas” standard, derived from Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923) and Dyas v. United States, 376 A.2d 827 (D.C. 1977). Motorola heralds a shift from the limited Frye-Dyas inquiry into whether the expert applied “generally accepted” methodology to a Rule 702/Daubert standard with an “expanded focus on whether reliable principles and methods have been reliably applied.”  The old standard allowed expert testimony if derived from generally accepted methods – even a misapplication of those methods.  Conversely, it excluded expert testimony derived from novel methods – even if reliable and trustworthy.  As the trial judge who certified the Motorola case for interlocutory appeal commented in his assessment of the old standard, “even if a new methodology produces ‘good science,’ it will usually be excluded, but if an accepted methodology produces ‘bad science,’ it is likely to be admitted.”  By contrast, Rule 702 tends to align the standard for admitting expert testimony more closely to the principles for determining reliability in science: “[I]f a reliable, but not yet generally accepted, methodology produces ‘good science,” Daubert will let it in, and if an accepted methodology produces ‘bad science,’ Daubert will keep it out.”
In the Motorola case, Goodell DeVries attorneys Kelly Hughes Iverson, Kamil Ismail, Craig S. Brodsky, Erin C. Miller, and Meghan Hatfield Yanacek filed an amicus brief on behalf of the D.C. Defense Lawyers’ Association urging the adoption of the Rule 702/Daubert standard, which it contended would advance one of the DCDLA’s key goals, that of “improving the civil justice system by making it more fair, consistent, and uniform.”  As Goodell DeVries argued on behalf of the DCDLA, the Rule 702/Daubert standard requires trial judges to “independently evaluate the reliability of the opinions proffered by testifying experts,” as it is “reliability, not general acceptance, that should be the sine qua non of expert testimony.”

Goodell DeVries Attorneys Win Defense Verdict for Physician in Lawsuit Alleging Malrotation of Total Knee Components -- October 2016
Donald L. DeVries, Jr. and Meghan Hatfield Yanacek obtained a defense verdict for their client, an orthopedic surgeon. The Plaintiff alleged that the physician negligently malrotated the tibial and femoral components during a total knee arthroplasty. This, according to the Plaintiff, caused the need for a revision surgery and ongoing pain and stiffness. The defense countered that the physician appropriately performed the Plaintiff’s arthroplasty. The defense also argued that the Plaintiff developed extensive scarring - a recognized complication of total knee arthroplasty – that lead to the pain and stiffness. At the end of a two week trial, it took the jury less than an hour to unanimously find in favor of the physician.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Goodell DeVries is pleased to announce that the firm received rankings in 10 practice areas in the 2017 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®, including being ranked Tier 1 Nationally for Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions and Tier 1 Regionally for Commercial Litigation, Legal Malpractice Law (Defendants), Mass Tort/Class Action (Defendants), Medical Malpractice Law (Defendants), Personal Injury Litigation (Defendants), and Product Liability Litigation (Defendants).

“Goodell DeVries is very proud to once again be recognized as a top tier law firm both nationally and regionally,” says Linda S. Woolf, Managing Partner at the firm. “For the past 28 years, we have made it our mission to, not only provide our clients with efficient and effective results, but also to have a deep understanding of our clients’ business. This has enabled us to serve the dual role of advocate and trusted advisor. Having our clients and peers recognize our commitment and dedication in 10 practice areas is truly an honor.” Goodell DeVries received rankings in the following areas:

National Awards
• Tier 1, Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants

Metropolitan Awards
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Commercial Litigation
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Medical Malpractice Law - Defendants
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants
• Tier 1, Baltimore, Product Liability Litigation - Defendants
• Tier 2, Philadelphia, Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
• Tier 2, Philadelphia, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
• Tier 3, Baltimore Litigation – Construction


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Akerman LLP today announced that the firm has once again been recognized by Benchmark Litigation among the best law firms in the United States and among a select group of standout law firms with multi-state litigation capabilities. This recognition is accompanied by "highly recommended" and "recommended" rankings in Florida and Virginia, respectively. Individually, seven Akerman litigators were recognized as "local litigation stars" by the guide and three were recognized as "top litigators under 40."

Akerman lawyers were named local litigation stars in the General Commercial category, including William Heller, chair of the Consumer Financial Services Practice Group; Brian Miller, chair of the Securities Litigation Practice; and Lawrence Rochefort, chair of the Litigation Practice Group, as well as Partners Katherine Giddings, Stephen Hurlbut, Michael Marsh and James Miller. In addition, Heller, Marsh and Brian Miller were honored in the Securities category; and Hurlbut was recognized in the Construction category. Giddings also was distinguished in the Appellate category after recently being named among the Top 250 U.S. Women in Litigation for the fifth consecutive year.

Akerman lawyers were also recognized among the inaugural "Top Litigators Under 40" list. Kristen Fiore, Christian George and Ryan Roman were named to the list, which honors the achievements of the nation's most accomplished partners who are 40 years old or younger. George and Roman were also named "Future Stars."

Focused exclusively on the U.S. litigation markets, the rankings and editorials of Benchmark Litigation are the result of annual independent research that involves extensive interviews with private practice lawyers and in-house counsel. The guide's "local litigation stars" reflect lawyers who are recommended by peers and clients to have established consistent reputations as trial lawyers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Corr Cronin and co-counsel obtained a $60 million settlement and one of the most significant spoliation sanctions awards in Washington state history in the Oso Landslide case. Guy Michelson and Emily Harris led the trial team for Corr Cronin pursuing wrongful death claims arising from the March 22, 2014 landslide at Oso, Washington, which claimed the lives of 43 people and destroyed a community. During expert discovery, Harris uncovered an agreement by the State’s experts, with the State Attorney General Office’s knowledge, to systematically destroy relevant evidence. After the willful spoliation of evidence was brought to light, the court issued a series of sanctions orders against the State on the eve of trial, which included an adverse inference jury instruction and a $1.2 million spoliation sanction. The State settled claims against it for $50 million the day before trial and the remaining co-defendant settled for $10 million shortly before opening statements were to commence.

Porzio, Bromberg & Newman P.C. (Porzio) is pleased to announce that the firm has received Tier 1 New Jersey rankings by U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" in the following 12 practice areas:

  • Appellate Practice
  • Arbitration
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Litigation - Bankruptcy
  • Litigation - Intellectual Property
  • Litigation - Labor & Employment
  • Litigation - Real Estate
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
  • Mediation
  • Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants
  • Product Liability Litigation - Defendants

Additionally, the firm received Tier 2 metropolitan rankings in Trusts & Estates Law, along with Tier 3 metropolitan rankings in Environmental Law and Tax Law.

Maslon is pleased to announce that David Schultz, partner in Maslon's Litigation Group, was honored with the 2016 Never Forgotten Award by the Innocence Project of Minnesota during its 2016 Benefit for Innocence on November 10. The Innocence Project of Minnesota initiated its Never Forgotten Award in 2010 as a way to recognize individuals who act to improve the justice system by going above and beyond ordinary efforts to overturn wrongful convictions. The Award honors those individuals who:

  • are dedicated to the fair execution of law,
  • have strengthened the integrity of the justice system through needed reforms, or
  • have been the primary force behind freeing an innocent person in prison.

The Innocence Project of Minnesota has honored David Schultz as this year's recipient of the Never Forgotten Award for his tireless work on the Terry Olson case. Terry Olson spent 11 years imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and was released on September 13, 2016 as a direct result of David's skillful and dedicated representation.

David is a trial lawyer and focuses his practice on high stakes litigation in the areas of product liability, healthcare, commercial disputes, civil and criminal fraud, and intellectual property. He has tried cases to verdict in state and federal courts throughout the country. David is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has taught trial advocacy at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). David has been a member of the Board of Directors for Innocence Project of Minnesota since 2004 and is dedicated to pro bono service.

Porzio is proud to announce that the firm's Litigation Team has been recognized as one of the "2016 Litigation Departments of the Year" by the New Jersey Law Journal (NJLJ). Porzio was selected as a standout among entries for General Litigation.

Porzio's Litigation Team offers extraordinary depth of trial experience and exceptional case management skills in complex and smaller cases alike. The team boasts seasoned trial lawyers, many of whom are Certified Civil Trial Attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Additionally, our attorneys are widely recognized for their leadership roles in state and national bar associations.

Our Litigation Team partners with clients to understand their business concerns and budget constraints. We share risk through value-based pricing models, while at the same time developing and implementing tailored processes to maximize efficiency in each unique matter. Through this collaboration, our team aggressively represents clients while respecting their bottom line.

Submissions were considered based on each firm's success record and recent influential cases, then ultimately selected by NJLJ's editorial staff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Molly H. Craig, Brian E. Johnson and Jean Marie Jennings obtained a defense verdict following a two week medical malpractice trial in Charleston County, South Carolina. Plaintiff alleged the Defendant physician was negligent by failing to diagnose a C5 fracture when he provided care and treatment to the Decedent in the emergency department. Shortly after discharge from the hospital, the Decedent showed signs of paralysis and ultimately was a quadriplegic until his death two years later.

The Decedent was involved in an altercation with law enforcement resulting in being tased with an electroshock device. After being tased, the Decedent allegedly suffered a compression fracture following a fall from a porch. The Defendant physician was not notified of the fall, however, the Plaintiff argued that the doctor should have ordered a CT of the neck since the doctor knew about the altercation and tasing. Plaintiff’s experts opined that if the spinal cord injury was diagnosed timely, the Decedent’s paralysis could have been prevented.

The defense proved that the Decedent did not have a diagnosable spinal cord injury at the time Defendant physician was providing care and treatment in the emergency department. The jury returned a defense verdict.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, today announced the firm's succession plan for its top leadership post. David I. Spector, a member of the firm's Executive Committee and co-chair of Akerman's Fraud & Recovery Practice Group, was elected by a partnership vote on September 9 to succeed Andrew M. Smulian as the firm's ninth chairman and CEO. Spector will serve a 3-year term that begins February 1, 2018 when Smulian concludes a remarkable decade-long tenure as chairman and CEO.

Akerman's Executive Committee issued the following statement: "Andrew is one of the great law firm leaders of our time. He has guided Akerman through transformative growth while strengthening our commitment to be a client-driven, entrepreneurial and forward-thinking enterprise. His bold leadership has placed Akerman at the vanguard of our industry and positioned our firm to address the important challenges impacting our clients and our profession today and in the future."

"The vision and growth strategy articulated nearly a decade ago are being realized," said Smulian. "This is the right time to plan for succession and David is the right leader for Akerman's future. He is an exceptional trial lawyer and has practiced at the leading edge of innovation and business transformation. He has changed the legal landscape for his clients and I am confident that he will be just as successful as our next chairman and CEO."

Spector is a member of the firm's Board of Directors and one of seven members of the Executive Committee. He also is the founding co-chair of one of the largest legal teams in the United States dedicated to the eradication of fraud. He previously served on Akerman's Strategic Planning Committee and is a leader in many of the firm's client-driven initiatives.

"I am honored by the confidence of my partners and Andrew to serve as Akerman's next chairman and CEO," said Spector. "Andrew is a visionary and his dynamic, forward-thinking leadership continues to guide our firm in a rapidly changing industry. I look forward to collaborating with him throughout the transition and in the years ahead."

Smulian has guided the strategic growth and management of Akerman since 2008. He is the second longest serving chairman in the firm's 96-year history. Smulian has led Akerman's unprecedented expansion and record financial performance through a strong commitment to client-driven growth. During his tenure, the firm has expanded from 12 to 24 offices, serving clients across the United States and Latin America, and in more than 35 countries. Headcount has reached an all-time high of more than 650 lawyers and business professionals, attracting 200 lawyers since 2008 and bolstering its core strengths in middle market M&A and complex disputes, and its many areas of practice in the financial services, real estate and other dynamic client sectors.

A commitment to collaborative innovation and transformative business practices are hallmarks of Smulian's ongoing leadership. He has overseen the creation of the legal industry's first law firm R&D co-venture with clients, which earned Akerman distinction as one of the top forward-thinking law firms in North America by the Financial Times. Smulian also has led the creation of one of the most diverse and inclusive law firms, ranked no. 3 among the top U.S. law firms for Hispanic lawyers by Law360; no. 19 among the top U.S. law firms for female partners by The American Lawyer; and distinguished as a leader in LGBT workplace equality with a 100 percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index. In addition, Smulian has advanced one of the most ambitious philanthropic and pro bono efforts for abused and neglected children in the family court system, which placed Akerman among the Financial Times' eight most innovative law firms in social responsibility. Following his tenure, Smulian will continue to play a leadership role in many of the firm's initiatives.

Spector joined Akerman in 2009 and has built a national trial practice devoted to the investigation and litigation of complex fraud schemes, and unfair and deceptive practices, on behalf of the largest U.S. insurance companies and self-insured retailers. His work has carved a groundbreaking path in plaintiff-side fraud investigation and litigation, and developed case law that helps corporations recover financial losses caused by fraudulent acts. Spector has handled a series of cases involving issues of first impression that have had a significant implication in the eradication of fraud. Among them, Spector was lead counsel in matters resulting in trial verdicts or summary judgments relating to unlawful ownership structure of healthcare providers, medical legal referral services and statutory obligations of medical directors.

He also has significant experience in defending law firms from claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duties — one of which resulted in the successful striking of his opponents' pleadings in a case valued at more than $1 billion. Outside the courtroom, Spector regularly acts as a trusted advisor to some of the nation's largest insurers and retailers in their efforts to identify fraud and establish pre-suit strategies.

The partnership vote last Friday paved the way to an orderly transition process beginning in 2017. Spector will assume his new responsibilities on February 1, 2018.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Thompson Hine LLP is pleased to announce that Kip T. Bollin has been elected as president-elect of The Federal Bar Association (FBA) for the 2016-2017 term. Bollin will be sworn in at the organization’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Convention in Cleveland next week. He will become national president of the FBA in 2017.

As the second largest bar association in the country, and with more than 18,000 members nationwide, the FBA’s mission is to strengthen the federal legal system and administration of justice by serving the interests and needs of the federal practitioner, both public and private, the federal judiciary and the public they serve. “We are proud of Kip’s many accomplishments, both for the firm’s clients and the legal community at large,” said Deborah Z. Read, Thompson Hine’s managing partner. “We are honored that one of our partners has been chosen by his peers for this important position, and know that Kip will exceed the expectations for the role.”

A member of the FBA since 2003, Kip’s previous leadership positions include national treasurer and board member, and president of the Northern District of Ohio (NDOH) Chapter. “I’m deeply honored to take on this important responsibility ,” said Bollin. “The Federal Bar Association plays a vital role in our justice system. I look forward to working with attorneys and federal judges from across the country to develop strong professional bonds, and to solidify relationships between the bench and bar.”

Bollin is involved in a broad range of professional and civic activities. He is a member of the Northern District of Ohio Advisory Group, a court-appointed panel charged with providing information on matters of interest to the court, assisting in the implementation of court-adopted programs, and bringing to the court’s attention matters of interest to the bar and the community. He currently is co-chair of the Civil Rules Committee. In addition, he has served as the Advocacy Committee Chair for six years for The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland, and on the Board of Directors for the past eight years. He has also been a member of the Free Clinic Associate Board, and previously served as its president.

Bollin is a litigation partner who focuses on the defense of product liability and business claims, including putative class actions.

In the product liability area, he represents corporations in the defense of putative class actions, personal injury, mass torts, toxic torts, warranty claims and premises liability actions. His business litigation practice includes the defense of putative class actions, commercial claims, intellectual property claims (litigation counsel, working with patent counsel), and other state and federal causes of action.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, today announced that Katherine "Kathi" Giddings, a partner in the Litigation Practice Group in Tallahassee, has been named among the Top 250 U.S. Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation for the fifth consecutive year. Giddings was one of only five women from Florida who made the list. The lawyers were selected from their respective states' rosters of local litigation stars in the 2016 edition of Benchmark Litigation, which identifies leading U.S. trial lawyers and firms.

Board certified in appellate law by The Florida Bar, Giddings is a former Florida Supreme Court law clerk, who focuses on appellate practice with an emphasis in high-stakes civil and administrative appeals. She is a former chair of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, which governs administrative matters in all Florida appellate and trial courts, and a past chair of Florida's Appellate Court Rules Committee.

Giddings was recently named among Benchmark Litigation's local litigation stars in the General Commercial and Appellate categories. In recent weeks, Giddings was listed among the Top 100 Florida Super Lawyers and Top 50 Florida Women Super Lawyers by Super Lawyers Magazine. She also is consistently recognized by The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA and Florida Trend's Legal Elite.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Leading the way in litigation, three Blakes lawyers – Jill Lawrie, Catherine BeaganFlood and Andrea Laing – have been recognized among the country’s top litigators in the 2016 edition of Benchmark’s Top 25 Women in Litigation​ – Canada. The news comes only a few weeks after two other group members earned the top spots in two prestigious associations: Paul Schabas elected as head of the Law Society of Upper Canada; and Bradley Berg elected President of The Advocates’ Society.

Members of the Blakes Litigation & Dispute Resolution group have also been recognized by the following publications:

  • 24 lawyers recognized by Chambers Canada and/or Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business across 7 sub-areas
  • 38 lawyers recognized by Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys across 21 sub-areas
  • 33 lawyers recognized by The Best Lawyers in Canada across 12 sub-areas
  • 22 lawyers recognized by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory across 8 sub-areas
  • 10 lawyers recognized by The Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers in Canada across 7 sub-areas
  • 8 lawyers recognized by The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada across 6 sub-areas
  • 5 lawyers recognized by The Legal 500 Canada across 5 sub-areas
  • 8 lawyers recognized by Who’s Who Legal across 4 sub-areas

Monday, June 27, 2016

Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, today announced that Florida Trend has named 26 of the firm's lawyers to its 2016 Legal Elite list.

The publication's ranking made Akerman one of the top firms in the state for total lawyers listed, and the firm with the most women honorees. Akerman's Legal Elite honorees include lawyers from offices across Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.

Partners Karen Buesing and Katherine Eastmoore Giddings were once again recognized among a distinguished group of practitioners in the publication's Hall of Fame. Florida Trend also identified four Akerman lawyers under the age of 40 who were named Up & Comers for their record of excellence in the legal community and represent the future of law.

The 2016 Florida Legal Elite list recognizes the state's top lawyers as selected by their peers through a voting process in 28 practice areas. The publication recognizes less than two percent of the more than 83,000 Florida Bar members practicing in the state.

Friday, June 03, 2016


Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore LLP has been chosen as the 2016 Washington Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark Litigation, an annual guide to America's leading litigators.  Benchmark also selected five of the firm's trial lawyers as Benchmark Litigation Stars: Kevin Baumgardner, Kelly Corr, Bill Cronin, Steve Fogg and Randy Squires.

We are proud to have the Corr Cronin firm as a founding member of The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc. and a vital contributor to our success for the 24 years since inception.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Chambers USA 2016 has ranked Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell (WTO) among the top litigation firms nationwide and in Colorado. WTO leads all other firms in number of ranked attorneys in two key categories: Nationwide Product Liability & Mass Torts Defense and Colorado General Commercial Litigation.

Chambers ranks WTO in Band 2 nationwide for Product Liability & Mass Torts Defense. The directory recognizes WTO among the top 15 law firms in the country handling such matters.

For the second year in a row, Chambers ranks more WTO lawyers (6) in Product Liability & Mass Torts Defense than any firm in the nation. “Dominant trial practice," writes Chambers, "fielding an impressive bench of expert product liability attorneys."

In Colorado, WTO is ranked in Band 1 for General Commercial Litigation. Only one other firm in the state ranks as high. Eight WTO lawyers are ranked for General Commercial Litigation—twice as many as the next closest firms.

“A dominant litigation boutique celebrated for its talent in civil trials,” writes Chambers. “Maintains unparalleled bench strength and continues to draw praise for its experience acting as national trial counsel to major clients on significant and sophisticated matters.”

The firm is also ranked for Labor & Employment Litigation (Band 3) in the state.


On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”).

This act effectively creates a federal trade secrets law with some interesting procedural aspects.  For the first time in American jurisprudence, a federal trade secrets act permits litigants to prosecute and defend trade secrets or confidential information cases in federal court rather than state court.  The law finds its constitutional foundation under the commerce clause.

Why is this new law so important?  It is important because it nullifies the many differences in the trade secrets law of many states, and presents a uniform substantive and procedural vehicle that may be used in any federal court in any state in the Union.

Curiously, the new statute was enacted as an amendment to the Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”).  However, the EEA permitted only criminal cases that were limited to the Department of Justice as the sole filer brought on behalf of the United States of America.

In a 2012 version of the DTSA, a provision permitting ex parte seizure orders to prevent the dissemination of a trade secret, was highly criticized, even though there were similar provisions in both the Lanham Act and the Copyright Act enabling such ex parte procedures. For many years, those ex parte provisions have been used quite successfully in trademark, trade dress and copyright matters to confiscate counterfeit CDs, DVDs, other forms of electronic duplication of movies, television shows and software, as well as counterfiet stuffed animals (“California Raisins,” “Gumbys” and “ Pokies”).

In the current version of the act, the ex parte provision has been balanced with a provision that such procedures should only be authorized in “extraordinary circumstances.”

Additionally, the new act provides that if a recipient of such an ex parte seizure order believes that the procedure has been “abused,” the offended party may seek recovery of its damages.

Other limiting provisions include a provision that prevents injunctions that unfairly limit employee mobility in so-called “professional divorce” cases, usually filed by former employers to prevent an employee from leaving employment in order to go to work for a competitor or from starting a business in competition with his/her current employer.  And another provision prevents usage of the law to attack a whistleblower who discloses trade secrets in the course of reporting unlawful conduct.

Those restrictive provisions will limit use of the new DTSA in the trade secrets area, as opposed to the very successful ex parte seizure provisions found in the Lanham Act and the Copyright Act.  Just what is an “abuse” of the ex parte provisions will be challenged.  The law is completely silent as to how the courts are to determine “abuse,” apparently leaving that issue to the courts.

Inasmuch as such ex parte seizures have been successful for years under the Lanham Act and the Copyright Act, without such limiting provisions, why should there be such provisions in the new DTSA?

Monday, May 23, 2016


Molly H. Craig, Elloree A. Ganes and Ben Joyce obtained a defense verdict following a five day medical malpractice trial in Florence County, South Carolina. This case was initially tried in September 2015 and resulted in a mistrial during the direct examination of the Plaintiff’s rebuttal witness.

Plaintiff alleged the Defendant physician was negligent during the Plaintiff’s labor and delivery which caused the baby to sustain severe and permanent injury to his brachial plexus nerves. During the delivery, the child’s anterior shoulder did not deliver and became stuck under the mother’s pubic bone signifying a “shoulder dystocia.” According to the Plaintiff, the physician applied excessive traction in an attempt to deliver the baby and this pulling force resulted in permanent nerve damage involving C5, C6 and C7.

The defense proved that shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency which was properly managed by the Defendant physician. The defense also presented testimony from obstetricians and a pediatric neurologist addressing alternative causes for a brachial plexus injury other than the use of excessive force by the delivering physician. The jury returned a defense verdict.

Monday, April 25, 2016


In a closely watched case of nationwide importance for insurers, a divided Colorado Supreme Court ruled for Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, reversing two lower courts and remanding the case with directions to vacate the jury verdict and enter judgment in favor of Travelers. At issue was whether an insured, Stresscon Corporation, could recover from Travelers the amount of a liability settlement with one of its customers following a 2007 construction accident in which one worker was killed and another seriously injured.

Stresscon entered into the settlement without Travelers’ knowledge or consent, in violation of a “no-voluntary-payments” provision in the insurance policy, and then demanded that Travelers pay for the unauthorized settlement. Travelers insisted it owed Stresscon no reimbursement given the plain language of the no-voluntary-payments provision in the policy. Stresscon sued Travelers for bad faith and asserted a claim for statutory penalties and fees. The trial court and court of appeals ruled that, under Colorado’s “notice-prejudice” rule, Travelers could not enforce the no-voluntary-payments provision unless it could also prove that Stresscon’s breach had caused Travelers prejudice. Travelers maintained its position under the law and retained Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell (WTO) after the court of appeals affirmed the judgment against it. On Travelers’ behalf, WTO filed a petition in the state supreme court for certiorari review and, when that review was granted, briefed and argued the merits of the case before the justices. The Court ultimately agreed with WTO’s arguments, overturning the lower courts’ rulings and agreeing with Travelers.

In its ruling, the Court declined to expand Colorado’s notice-prejudice rule to no-voluntary-payments provisions. The Court held that, even if Stresscon could show that Travelers was not prejudiced by the settlement payment, Stresscon still had violated the unambiguous terms of its policy. The Court declared that Stresscon had essentially attempted to “rewrite the insurance contract itself and create coverage where none previously existed.” The Court further reasoned that enforcing a no-voluntary-payments provision does not create a “technical” forfeiture of insurance coverage and, for that reason, a prejudice limitation should not apply to that provision. Rather, the no-voluntary-payments provision is a contract term that “distribute[s] risk” and therefore “define[s] the very product that is bargained for.” It should be enforced as written, the Court explained, not rewritten with an implied prejudice limitation. The Court also noted that the risk of collusion and fraud weighed against imposing a prejudice limitation on such provisions.

WTO founding partner Malcolm Wheeler argued for Travelers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

by Richard Lloyd - iam
In the latest issue of IAM we run our annual focus on patent quality. This is one of the thorniest topics for any patent system and currently it is a major issue in the US, where the pressure to improve the quality of issued patents is so intense that the USPTO’s Director Michelle Lee has made it the cornerstone issue of her time in charge of the agency.

Once again this year, we teamed up with Ocean Tomo to look at which law firms file the highest quality patents on behalf of their clients. We leave the number crunching on this to the analysts at Ocean Tomo who use their own methodology to determine who is leading the way. Using Ocean Tomo's data, we publish rankings in four sectors – industrials, healthcare (pharma/bio), consumer electronics and IT – as well as an overall list covering all sectors.

The rankings include smaller IP boutiques, such as overall top performer Texas-based Slater & Matsil, larger IP specialists such as Fish & Richardson and larger full-service players, such as Denton and Morrison & Foerster.

Here’s the top 10 firms in the overall rankings:

1 Slater & Matsil
2 Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner
3 Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimea
4 Meyertons Hood Kivlin Kowert & Goetzel
5 Fish & Richardson
6 Haynes & Boon
7 Fenwick & West
8 Denton
9 Nixon Peabody
10 Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman

Ranking based on Ocean Tomo Ratings score from three year patent count

Ocean Tomo’s analysis also gave us the opportunity to talk more broadly with key figures in the market about what is meant by patent quality and how case law and new USPTO policies continue to shape the debate.

Director Lee, who has appointed the first deputy director for patent quality and has announced a series of initiatives to support her campaign, also lent her voice to the debate by answering our questions on this hot topic. While she has less than one year left in her role, Lee admitted that making fundamental improvements to the quality of USPTO-issued patents will need to continue long after she’s gone. Here’s a snippet of what she had to say:

“Addressing quality is not a one-and-done matter. Instead, it is an iterative process and an ongoing initiative. As I know from my experience in the corporate world, any company that produces a truly top-quality product has focused on quality for years, if not decades. Quality must be built into an organisation’s DNA.”

As well as Lee’s comments we asked a number of senior IP executives what they thought was meant by patent quality. With feedback from Manny Schecter of IBM, Intel’s Jeff Draeger and Russell Binns of AST, their thoughts are well worth reading. Patent quality is certainly a subject to get people talking in this market.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

On Friday, March 18, 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed a $12.6 million judgment entered against South Alabama Brick Co. and remanded the case to the Circuit Court of Mobile County for entry of a judgment in favor of the defendant. Lightfoot, Franklin and White attorneys William Brooks and Ivan Cooper represented South Alabama Brick Company in the appeal, alongside Wes Pipes and William Watts, III of Pipes, Hudson & Watts, LLP and Bert Taylor of Taylor Ritter, P.C.

In 2010, a worker fell through a skylight while working on the roof of a South Alabama Brick Co. warehouse in Mobile, Alabama, and suffered catastrophic injuries in the 20 foot fall to the floor below. Following a bench trial, the Mobile County Circuit Court entered a judgment for $12.6 million in compensatory damages against South Alabama Brick Co. on premises liability claims. On appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court held in a 5-0 opinion found that, as the premises owner, South Alabama Brick Co. did not have a legal duty to warn workers of the danger of being on the roof near the skylights.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell Chairman Michael O’Donnell has been ranked the number-one lawyer in Colorado for the fourth year in a row based on feedback from his colleagues and peers in the legal profession.

Super Lawyers employs a patented, three-part selection process to identify and name top talent in states across the country. Only 5% of all attorneys are selected to Super Lawyers.

Attorneys are nominated by their peers, and the publication conducts independent research across 12 key categories to reach its conclusions. Finally, candidates are reviewed for inclusion by attorneys who received the highest totals in each category.

“Mike is such a phenomenal lawyer, advocate, and leader. There's no one who deserves this honor more, and this continuing distinction is only fitting,” said Carolyn Fairless, WTO’s managing partner.

In all, Colorado Super Lawyers has named 45 Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell attorneys to its 2016 list.

Eighteen WTO lawyers appear in the Top 100; the next closest firms in Colorado are tied with four attorneys each.

Four WTO attorneys appear in the Top 50 Women, which ties the firm for most attorneys on that list. Eight more WTO lawyers round out the Super Lawyers list, and another 18 lawyers appear on the Rising Stars list.

Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce that JD Supra has recognized two attorneys in its first annual 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards, which acknowledges top authors for their excellent reach with readers in a specific industry or for their thought leadership writing on a key, cross- industry topic.

Orange County attorney Jeffrey Singletary has been recognized as a JD Supra Top Author, selected from among thousands of authors JD Supra published during 2015, for the level of visibility and engagement Singletary attained with readers in the construction industry. Additionally, Phoenix partner Craig McPike’s article, “Arizona Prime Contracting Tax Reform is Knocking at Your Door; Are You Ready?” is noted in the award booklet as one of the most popular articles with readers in the construction industry in 2015.

As the name suggests, the Readers’ Choice Awards reflect a deep dive into JD Supra’s 2015 reader data, in which total content visibility was studied among reader segments within specific industries and among readers across many industries interested in certain defining topics of the day. JD Supra editors chose the 36 industries and topics covered in this inaugural Readers’ Choice Awards for their timeliness as well as their proven, ongoing importance. In each category, JD Supra recognized the ten authors with the consistently highest readership and engagement within that category for all of 2015. In total, across all 36 categories, JD Supra recognized the excellence and achievement of 200 JD Supra authors selected from over 34,000 who publish their substantive work on its platform.

JD Supra delivers need-to-know legal and business content to professionals in all industries via more than 100 proprietary social feeds, on mobile platforms, in daily email digests and as news across the web. Through the innovative use of technology and curated audiences, JD Supra connects over 34,000 professionals writing on important topics to C-suite executives, in-house counsel and media members concerned with matters impacting business today. JD Supra also provides firms with competitive insights and market intelligence derived from the thousands of articles being read daily across the platform.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The BTI Consulting Group has named Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell partner John “Fitz” Fitzpatrick to its annual list of Client Service All-Stars. 312 individual attorneys from 163 law firms nationwide were named to the list, and of these only two were recognized in the area of toxic torts.

According to BTI, "The only way to become a BTI Client Service All-Star is for corporate counsel to single out an attorney for client service exceeding all others. No attorney can lobby to be added to list, there is no self-submission process, and law firms cannot provide names of clients to be interviewed."

In determining which attorneys to recognize as Client Service All-Stars, BTI observes that relatively few lawyers "focus on delivering the absolute best client service. Not just good – the absolute best. As in: serving the client better than anyone else." BTI's list strives to satisfy that criteria.

“Fitz’s dedication to his clients is exceptional,” said WTO Chairman Michael O’Donnell, “and his uncompromising trial preparation and performance is equally impressive. Fitz is a great example to anyone who would pursue a career as a trial generalist at this level.”

Fitz has tried over 220 cases to verdict in more than 40 states. Most recently, he won a defense verdict for child car seat manufacturer Evenflo in a $15 million federal lawsuit alleging failure to warn. Fitz’s clients also include Foster Wheeler, General Electric, and Premier Insurance.

Thompson Hine LLP is pleased to announce it has been recognized by Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation as its Firm of the Year in Ohio for the second consecutive year. The publication also recommended the firm in Georgia and Washington, D.C.

“Thompson Hine distinguishes itself in Ohio with its strong bench of litigators and its unique, award-winning SmartPaTH® program, which focuses on delivering value and efficiency for clients,” said Jonathan McReynolds, publisher of Benchmark Litigation. “It is rare that we select a firm as Firm of the Year for two years in a row. Thompson Hine has set a high bar for firms engaging in litigation.”

According to one of the Thompson Hine clients interviewed by Euromoney in its survey, “Thompson Hine brings more quality to bear in business litigation. The firm’s internal communication and coordination is superior to the other firms as well. The firm’s lawyers not only have excellent litigation and trial skills, but they are highly intelligent and savvy, they manage the cases efficiently (including costs) and effectively, and they all provide ongoing strategy and practical advice needed to obtain the best resolutions.”

In addition, 18 lawyers from Thompson Hine were recently selected for inclusion in Benchmark Litigation 2016. The guide’s rankings are the culmination of a six-month research period that included extensive interviews with corporate clients hiring lawyers to handle their litigation. Benchmark Litigation is the only publication on the market to focus exclusively on litigation in the United States.

“We are proud of the successes we continue to achieve for our clients,” said Deborah Z. Read, Thompson Hine’s managing partner. “They rely on us to address their most important business challenges and achieve meaningful results. As we deliver these results, we focus on managing litigation costs, aligning results with our clients’ business objectives and staffing the right talent at the right cost.”

Highlights of recent national litigation successes include:

  • Defeating class certification in a putative class action involving allegedly defective decking material.
  • Serving as national counsel in vinyl chloride litigation for many of the largest chemical companies and their trade association in a significant number of wrongful death claims.
  • Obtaining a jury verdict awarding compensatory damages, punitive damages and a permanent injunction against a former employee relating to a breach of duty of loyalty and violation of the terms of a noncompetition agreement.
  • Obtaining a temporary restraining order and ultimately a permanent injunction (in a case of first impression), preventing an operator of a camera-equipped drone from filming a major regional public attraction.
  • Defeating class certification in a putative class action involving allegations of overcharging for medical record reproduction services.
  • Successfully representing financial institutions and mortgage servicers in more than 25 appellate cases in the U.S. Sixth Circuit and Ohio District Courts of Appeal, and achieving victory in two cases before the Ohio Supreme Court, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Horn and SRMOF 2009-1 Trust v. Lewis.
  • Obtaining a jury verdict in favor of a construction manager in a multimillion-dollar litigation involving the construction of a luxury high-rise condominium building.
  • Obtaining a defense verdict at trial in a wrongful death action on behalf of an aircraft engine component manufacturer.
  • Serving as lead trial counsel for dozens of ship owners in the trial phase of multidistrict litigation.
  • Defending a large chemical company in a mass action with over 400 plaintiffs arising out of alleged environmental exposure.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Maslon is pleased to announce that it has met the 2015 Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. The Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge is a commitment made by major law firms around the country in which firms must devote three percent of their billable hours or a set number of hours per attorney to the provision of pro bono legal services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals, families, and nonprofit groups. The Challenge is administered by the Law Firm Pro Bono Project of the Pro Bono Institute.

More than 65% of Maslon's attorneys participated in qualifying pro bono work in 2015, helping the firm exceed the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge requirement of committing three percent of the firm's billable hours to giving back to the community. In total, Maslon attorneys contributed 3,913 of their hours to pro bono service in 2015.

"We're very proud of our firm's pro bono achievement this past year. We believe such work is our moral and ethical responsibility, is fundamental to the integrity of the judicial system, and maintains our firm's long-standing commitment to community service," stated Julian Zebot, partner and chair of Maslon's Pro Bono Committee.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sandberg Phoenix Shareholder and Executive Committee Member Teresa Bartosiak will be celebrated by Missouri Lawyers Weekly on January 29th as one of 2016’s Missouri Law Firm Leaders of the Year. The award comes as recognition of Teresa’s outstanding contributions to both the firm and wider legal community, in addition to her significant professional achievements and commitment to providing extraordinary legal services to her clients.

The annual award recognizes attorneys throughout Missouri who “demonstrate extraordinary vision, innovation and leadership.” Teresa’s tenacity, legal aptitude and skill in maintaining a healthy work-life balance has certainly proved a valuable role model for her colleagues and peers.

“In addition to her contributions to the firm, Teresa has had a profound impact on many of our younger associates, for whom she serves as a mentor,” Sandberg Phoenix Managing Partner John Sandberg said. “Her willingness to share best practices, case strategy and knowledge of health law and products liability matters have guided many associates, growing their practices and ultimately resulting in their maturation as legal professionals and partners within the firm.”

Recently elected to serve on Sandberg Phoenix’s three-member Executive Committee, Teresa helps establish the strategic growth plan for all seven firm offices and provide direction on policies, personnel and finances. She is also responsible for the co-founding of the Sandberg Phoenix Charity Committee nearly 15 years ago, which has contributed more than $100,000 to various charities throughout the St. Louis area. Teresa was the youngest person to ever be elected to equity partnership status at Sandberg Phoenix.

Her legal practice focuses on medical malpractice, nursing home litigation, products liability and personal injury defense litigation. A seasoned trial attorney, she has represented many clients facing litigation. Defending healthcare providers and products manufacturers requires deep knowledge of very diverse industries and the ability to handle complex concepts and carefully develop a legal strategy to help clients mitigate exposure, all of which Teresa handles with spirit and dedication.

Using her wealth of legal experience, Teresa actively mentors associates at Sandberg Phoenix, helping equip young attorneys with the knowledge and tools to become successful litigators and powerful advocates on behalf of their clients. She also instills in her mentees a focus on creating a manageable work-life balance, placing a high value on achieving professional goals without taxing family life.

Teresa has received several honors including being named by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as one of the Top 10 Up and Coming Lawyers in Missouri, being selected as one of the Illinois Business Journal’s “Rising Stars of Southwestern Illinois” and being selected by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of its prestigious “40 Under 40″ honorees. Teresa has been named to the Medmarc honor role, a list of the company’s top attorneys from across the country and was also selected by the Counsel for Litigation Management to serve as one of the Missouri State Chairs.

Sandberg Phoenix is proud to celebrate Teresa’s achievements and recognizes the incredible contributions she has made to help the firm achieve its ongoing growth.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell lawyers John Fitzpatrick and Erin Frohardt successfully defended Evenflo against a $15 million federal lawsuit alleging failure to warn. The plaintiffs’ vehicle was involved in an accident with a truck traveling 45 mph, the impact of which caused severe and permanent brain injuries to the four-month-old child riding in an infant car seat manufactured by our client. The driver of the car failed to yield while turning and the truck struck the car on the passenger side, causing 24 inches of intrusion into the area where the child was seated. The two-piece car seat separated, and the carrier portion with the child ended up in the rear cargo area.

The plaintiffs claimed that such separation issues were well known to Evenflo and that Evenflo should have warned consumers about the potential for separation. The plaintiffs argued that, had Evenflo included such a warning, they would have used only the carrier seat without the base, and thus no separation would have occurred. The defense demonstrated that no two-piece seat on the market would have withstood the impact of the truck or the resulting 24 inches of intrusion; that had the child been in a one-piece, he most likely would have been as seriously injured—if not killed—because the separation of the carrier from the base prevented the child from being completely crushed. There was no reason to warn, and indeed there was no evidence that use of a one-piece was “safer” than a two-piece.

The case was a retrial of a failure-to-warn claim that had been taken from the jury on directed verdict in 2012. In the first trial, WTO won defense jury verdicts on design defect and consumer expectation. The judge had dismissed failure-to-warn at the end of the plaintiffs’ case. The plaintiffs successfully argued to the Tenth Circuit that the trial court had erred in depriving the jury from ruling on the final claim. The circuit court agreed, reversed the directed verdict, and remanded the claim for trial.

Partner John Fitzpatrick revived many winning arguments from the 2012 trial and added several critical new points based on the facts at hand regarding failure-to-warn issues. He also showed that the plaintiffs’ expert had issued numerous different reports and had never mentioned a warning problem until after the case was reversed. Moreover, the expert had never testified that any car seat in the last 20 years was safe. Fitzpatrick attacked the plaintiffs’ expert through the expert’s own testimony as recorded in 80 prior transcripts and observed multiple inconsistencies in the expert’s prior testimony during Fitzpatrick’s cross-examination.

Ultimately, the jury agreed with Fitzpatrick’s assessment and issued a complete defense verdict. Third-year associate Erin Frohardt cross-examined five witnesses and directly examined one. She was instrumental in arguing jury instructions that included provisions that proved critical to the success of the case.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jamie Hood and Walker Barnes obtained a defense verdict on December 17, 2015 after a jury trial in Greenville, South Carolina on behalf of an urologist who was sued in a medical malpractice action. Mr. Hood’s client was alleged to have failed to timely order a prostate biopsy prior to the patient developing metastatic prostate cancer. The patient died of prostate cancer three weeks before trial. The defense proved that the patient’s clinical history did not warrant a biopsy until the patient’s prostate-specific antigen ("PSA") levels rose 1-2 years after the plaintiffs alleged that a biopsy was warranted

Monday, December 21, 2015

To meet the evolving needs of clients and accommodate a growing number of highly skilled attorneys, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C. has relocated its office from Overland Park, Kansas, to a larger space in the Country Club Plaza neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri.
The new space at 4600 Madison Avenue increases both the number of offices and meeting rooms available for attorneys to assist clients throughout western Missouri and Kansas. Along with the larger office comes more advanced telecommunications technology, permitting attorneys and paralegals the opportunity to interact with clients regardless of their location.

Under the direction of Office Managing Partner Kevin Krueger, Sandberg Phoenix Kansas City has grown to six full-time attorneys, and is frequented by many of the 100 other Sandberg Phoenix attorneys.

“Our Overland Park office was critical to establishing a presence in the Kansas City market,” said Kevin. “Our clients in the area have responded very positively to our close proximity and we’re looking to take that a step further with the move to the Plaza.”

Attorneys moving with the Kansas City office are Shareholders Ron Marney and Phil Dupont, as well as Associates Ross Boden, Brett Simon, Meghan Lewis and Katrina Smeltzer. They bring with them a wealth of experience in medical malpractice, personal injury defense, business litigation, product liability, commercial litigation, employment litigation and insurance matters.

Sandberg Phoenix is also home to a business law practice group that assists clients throughout the life cycle of a business, from entity formation, contract drafting and various corporate transactions and stock purchases through mergers and acquisitions and succession planning. The firm also offers individual services, including wealth and estate planning and family law.

The new location in Kansas City began operations on December 21, 2015.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Molly H. Craig, Jennifer F. Nutter and Caroline R. Niland obtained a defense verdict following a medical malpractice trial in Horry County, South Carolina.

Plaintiff alleged the Defendant physician was negligent during the Plaintiff’s laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During the surgery, the Defendant completely transected the Plaintiff’s common bile duct/hepatic duct. Following surgery, the Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital where he began draining bile. Plaintiff later underwent an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) which revealed that the common bile duct/hepatic duct was transected and bile was leaking into his peritoneal cavity. The Plaintiff was transferred to a specialist at a tertiary care hospital. As a result, the Plaintiff was hospitalized several times for complications resulting from his severed bile duct and had to undergo corrective surgery.

The defense proved that injury to the hepatic duct is a known complication of this surgery which occurred in the absence of medical negligence. The jury returned a defense verdict finding that the physician did not deviate from the standard of care.

Friday, December 04, 2015

A unanimous jury found in favor of Maserati N.A. on December 1, 2015, in a products liability and warranty case brought against the exotic car distributor. Lead counsel for Maserati, Scott Marrs, a partner at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons in Houston, commented that “the unanimous verdict for Maserati clearly illustrated that the jury agreed with our position about the unparalleled quality of Maserati vehicles and their service staff.” Maserati trial co-counsel Brian Bagley (also a partner at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons) indicated that it took the jury just over an hour to render in Maserati’s favor.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

In a rare trifecta, all three of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell’s executive management partners tried and won defense lawsuits in November 2015. The verdicts, issued within 11 business days of each other, cap another successful year for the Denver-based civil litigation firm.

The three cases involved an oil and gas company facing $1 billion in alleged trade secrets damages, a beverage distributor sued for a traumatic brain injury claim, and a tire manufacturer defending a $20 million product liability allegation. WTO won complete defense verdicts in all three.

On November 5, WTO President Hugh Gottschalk won a directed verdict for Noble Energy. A competitor alleged that Noble stole geological data resulting in the improper acquisition of several hundred thousand acres of oil and gas leases in northern Nevada. The plaintiff’s expert opined the plaintiff suffered more than $1 billion in damages. The Denver District Court judge hearing the case granted a directed verdict motion in a civil case for the first time in his nine-year career.

Less than a week later, WTO Managing Partner Carolyn Fairless won a jury verdict for Pepsi Bottling Group in a personal injury trial. The 67-year-old plaintiff was struck in the head and shoulder when one or more 20-pound cases of soda fell from several feet above her. The jury ultimately assigned no blame to WTO’s client and awarded only a fraction of the demanded damages against another defendant. On the same day Fairless picked a jury to begin the trial, she rushed to the Colorado Supreme Court in the afternoon to deliver oral arguments in an unrelated appeal.

Also in November, WTO Chairman Michael O’Donnell defended Michelin North America in a product liability lawsuit in Arizona. The plaintiff alleged that a Michelin-made tire detreaded at highway speeds, causing a rollover accident that left her hanging upside down in her seat for over an hour and resulted in serious injuries. The plaintiff sought $20 million in compensatory and punitive damages. On November 19, the jury unanimously agreed that Michelin bore no fault in the accident.

Through the first 11 months of 2015, WTO has won 11 trials, 9 appeals, and 5 evidentiary hearings.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For the tenth consecutive year, Nixon Peabody has earned a 100% ranking from the Human Rights Campaign in its Corporate Equality Index. The index is a national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees.

“This ranking demonstrates our longstanding commitment and leadership in diversity. We all benefit from a diverse work force,” said Andrew I. Glincher, CEO and managing partner of Nixon Peabody. “We’re committed to continually improving upon our diversity initiatives.”

Earlier this year, Nixon Peabody hired Rekha Chiruvolu as its diversity and inclusion specialist. Rekha notes, “I’m excited to build upon existing initiatives and programs, and develop new ones to create a more diverse and inclusive law firm.”

Nixon Peabody is also committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment for its clients. One example of this is the firm’s representation of Planet Fitness parent company, Pla-Fit Franchise LLC, in its efforts to dismiss a lawsuit involving the company’s transgender-friendly locker room policy. Many attorneys across the firm have also secured name changes for pro bono transgender clients. In addition to these client matters, Nixon Peabody is advocating on behalf of the American Unity Fund for the enactment of a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Nixon Peabody was one of the first law firms to extend health and welfare coverage to domestic partners, and offers a variety of benefits and programs that support the diversity of its employees. In order to receive a perfect rating from the HRC, employers must provide:

  • Diversity training
  • A nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation
  • Inclusive health insurance, bereavement, and family leave policies to all firm employees with same-sex partners
  • A firmwide diversity committee, including an LGBT affinity group

The 2016 HRC Corporate Equality Index report and ratings can be found at:

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