TRIAL.COM's blawg of litigation management news, clippings, pointers to news reports and articles, and views of interest on issues and developments in the legal market.
Monday, May 20, 2013
DEUTSCH KERRIGAN & STILES ATTORNEYS RECOGNIZED FOR PRO BONO WORK The Orleans Public Defender’s Office (OPD) recently issued its 2012 Annual Report. In it, Derwyn Bunton, Chief District Defender in Orleans Parish explained how OPD was forced to lay off 27 employees despite its increasing caseload. The Pro Bono Consortium was thus created. Comprised of 23 attorneys from 17 firms, these private attorneys offered their services when OPD was unable to represent everyone in need.
DK&S attorneys James E. Courtenay, John Jerry Glas, Raymond C. Lewis and Kelly E. Theard, members of The Pro Bono Consortium’s inaugural class, were recognized for the cases they handled, including two counts of second degree murder. They were also pictured in the OPD Annual Report. At the request of the organization, these attorneys were asked to finish the sentence: “I Fight for…” The photo in the report shows the four attorneys holding the firm’s answer: “We Fight For Those Promised A Defense.”
WORK OPTIONS FOR WOMEN APPOINTS SNELL & WILMER ATTORNEY CHRISTINE GARRISON TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce that Christine M. Garrison, an associate, has been appointed to serve on the board of directors for Work Options for Women.
Work Options for Women’s mission is, “to help impoverished women gain the skills and confidence they need to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry.” Work Options for Women offers a 13-week training course to impoverished and homeless women that prepare them for gainful employment in a prep or line cook position in the food service industry. Its program is focused on assisting women who are ending their dependence on welfare, particularly those who are threatened by lifelong poverty and homelessness.
In her legal practice, Christine is concentrated in commercial litigation. She has experience handling business disputes, including employment, real estate, insurance, franchise litigation and appeals. Christine’s specific experience includes defending employment discrimination, wrongful termination and wage and hour claims; enforcing covenants not to compete and other post-termination covenants; prosecuting trademark and copyright infringement claims; defending premises liability and personal injury claims; litigating mechanic’s lien and other real estate disputes; and resolving contract disputes through mediation, arbitration and litigation. Christine has trial experience in state and federal courts and in arbitrations. She also has substantial experience drafting and negotiating employment agreements and employee severance agreements, and counseling clients regarding employee termination and wage and hour issues. Christine is actively involved in the Denver legal and business community, and she is committed to improving the lives of impoverished and disenfranchised men and women in her community.
Christine graduated from the University of Illinois in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2004.
The American College of Trial Lawyers is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada and is widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in America. Founded in 1950, the College is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the profession.
Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only, and only after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Membership cannot exceed one percent of the total lawyer population of any state or province.
Mr. Monahan has over 30 years of experience defending physicians, nurses, hospitals, long-term care facilities and related health care providers in medical negligence cases in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Since founding Goodell DeVries in 1988, he and his partners have successfully built the firm’s medical malpractice defense practice as one of the best in the state.
Mr. Monahan has been recognized by clients and peers for inclusion in many legal ranking directories, most notably as by Chambers USA and The Best Lawyers in America. Chambers USA notes that Mr. Monahan is characterized as a “skillful litigator who really takes the time to understand the nuances of a case.” Client comments published with Best Lawyers state that Mr. Monahan “is not only a great strategist and superior trial attorney but [he] also understands the sensitivity of the political relationships our company is involved in” and “that he is one of the most intelligent and hardworking lawyer that I know.” Mr. Monahan has also been honored as a Maryland Super Lawyers since 2008.
SANDBERG PHOENIX OPENS NEW OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS OFFICE Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard has announced the establishment of a new firm office in Overland Park, Kan., in the suburbs of Kansas City.
“Though we represent clients from around the country and the world, we were founded in and are committed to the Midwest,”said Sandberg Phoenix managing partner John Sandberg.
“The Kansas City area always represented a great opportunity for us to grow and bring our superior client service and unique service guarantee to new clients, and we’re excited to begin this new chapter in the firm’s history.”
Located in the Southcreek Office Park, the Overland Park location is minutes from downtown Kansas City.
The office will be managed by Mark Murphy, an attorney who comes to Sandberg Phoenix with more than 25 years of legal experience in the Kansas City area.
Mark is an experienced litigator with a substantial background in business law, transactions, commercial and business disputes, construction disputes and real estate transactions. The office will also serve as Sandberg Phoenix’s primary conduit for business development and client service in the area, and will be home to attorneys serving clients with business and business litigation needs.
The Sandberg Phoenix Business and Business Litigation Practice Group offers a wide variety of services to clients throughout the Midwest, advising and counseling closely held companies, public companies and governmental entities in matters of corporate transactions, bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors’ rights.
BENCHMARK LITIGATION RECOGNIZES MULTIPLE SNELL & WILMER OFFICES AND ATTORNEYS IN 2013 RANKINGS Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce that Benchmark Litigation, a publication that focuses exclusively on U.S. litigation, has recognized multiple Snell & Wilmer offices, as well as 11 attorneys, in its most recent rankings issue.
Benchmark Litigation compiles its results from a culmination of a six-month research period where researchers conduct extensive interviews with litigators and their clients to identify the leading litigators and firms. During these interviews, researchers examine recent casework handled by law firms and ask individual litigators to offer their professional opinions on peers. Firms cannot pay to be recommended for the guide.
Snell & Wilmer was “Highly Recommended” for its Arizona and Utah offices and “Recommended” for its California and Nevada offices. The following attorneys received rankings as noted:
KATHRYN HANNEN WALKER OF BASS BERRY & SIMS NAMED LEADERSHIP COUNCIL ON LEGAL DIVERSITY (LCLD) FELLOW Bass, Berry & Sims PLC announced today that one of its members, Kathryn Hannen Walker, has been selected to join the 2013 Fellows Class of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). For the next two years, Walker will participate in this landmark program created by LCLD to identify, train and advance the next generation of leaders in the legal profession. Over 150 attorneys from around the country will participate in the program, which will provide leadership training and networking opportunities.
Founded in 2009, the LCLD is a growing organization of more than 200 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. Its goal is to help its member organizations find, hire, retain, promote and engage the best talent. Since its inception, LCLD has developed several innovative programs to address “pipeline” issues that face the profession, encouraging minorities and women to enter the law and supplying programs to increase their likelihood of success in law school and beyond. Bass, Berry & Sims joined LCLD in 2010.
“We are very proud to have Kathryn joining the Fellows Class,” said Sam Felker, attorney and chair of the diversity committee at Bass, Berry & Sims. “She joins a select group of experienced attorneys from diverse backgrounds who have been recognized for their potential as leaders in their organizations.”
Walker is a Member of Bass, Berry & Sims’ Litigation Practice, currently serving as assistant chair of the group. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and internal investigations and she has extensive experience in data management and e-discovery, leading massive electronic data analysis projects in high-stakes litigation and investigations. Walker is a frequent speaker on e-discovery and data privacy issues and is involved in the Tennessee Bar Association. She is also an active community volunteer.
MIKE O'DONNELL SELECTED AS THE NUMBER ONE RANKED LAWYER IN COLORADO SUPER LAWYERS 2013 Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell co-founder and chairman Michael O’Donnell has been named the number one ranked lawyer in Colorado after appearing on the Colorado Super Lawyers top 10 list for the last six years.
This honor recognizes O’Donnell’s 30-year career defending clients in complex civil litigation matters involving product liability, professional liability, commercial, mass tort, class action and bet-the-company cases around the country.
Along with O’Donnell, 44 other WTO attorneys appeared in the 2013 edition of Colorado Super Lawyers. Representing 56% of the firm's 79 lawyers, 24 were selected as Colorado Super Lawyers and 20 were selected as Rising Stars. 15 WTO lawyers were listed among the top 100 lawyers in Colorado, making WTO the Colorado law firm with the most lawyers among the top 100.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
SNELL & WILMER OBTAINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR AMERICAN HOME INSURANCE CO. From: AIG Dodges Coverage Suit Over $1.4B Ameron Energy Project -- Law360 A California federal judge Monday tossed industrial equipment maker Ameron International Corp.'s lawsuit seeking insurance coverage from an American International Group Inc. unit in a dispute over the corrosion of a $1.4 billion natural gas project, ruling Ameron executives hid their knowledge of damaged facilities before applying for insurance.
In granting American Home Assurance Co.,'s motion for summary judgment, U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real ruled that Ameron executive James McCarthy's knowledge of property damage at the natural gas facility off the Canadian coast the year before it signed its insurance policy meant that American Home did not breach its duty to defend Ameron.
Ameron's policy went into effect in July 2002, but the inspections that revealed the property damage occurred in May 2001, American Home argued in court papers filed last month.
Ruling in American Home's favor, Judge Real said, “The court finds the defendant never had a duty to defend on this matter.”
American Home argued in its summary judgment motion that its “conclusion was buttressed by the undisputed fact that Ameron's sale and supply of defective products … was not unintentional or accidental, and therefore does not constitute an 'occurrence' as required for coverage under the policies.”
In its court papers opposing the summary judgment motion, Ameron argued that American Home was distorting the evidence of what other employees knew about corrosion at the on-shore facilities at the heart of the coverage dispute and it was up to a jury to decide what happened.
Sable Offshore Energy Inc. filed the underlying suit in a Canadian court in 2004, accusing Ameron and others of supplying paint for its natural gas production facilities that did not contain the agreed-upon amount of zinc.
Because the paint was not sufficiently zinc-rich, the facilities are corroding and the structures are in danger of collapse, according to the complaint. Sable says repairs must be made to protect the safety of the project's workers.
Although construction on the project began in 1998, Sable claims that the alleged property damage has continued and progressed since Ameron signed its one-year policy coverage with American Home in July 2002, and Ameron insists the insurer should bear the legal costs of the action.
“The American Home [policy] obligates American Home to provide coverage against liability arising from 'bodily injury and property damage' occurring during the policy period and provides that American Home has a right and duty to defend the insureds against any suit seeking those damages,” the complaint said.
After Ameron was hit with the Sable complaint, it filed an insurance coverage suit in California state court against American Home and Greenwich Insurance Co., which had provided Ameron with a general liability policy from May 2000 through the end of April 2001.
Greenwich resolved that litigation by shelling out 80 percent of the defense costs incurred by Ameron between October 2004 and April 2006, and 85 percent of those expenses since then. The settlement agreement did not touch on coverage of any settlement or judgment of the ongoing Sable action.
American Home was dismissed from the suit without prejudice, but Ameron insisted the insurer still must “pay its fair share,” and the company came together with Greenwich to file a suit in September.
Ameron is represented by Cary B. Lerman, Joseph J. Ybarra and Jeremy A. Lawrence of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP. Greenwich is represented by Max H. Stern and Jessica E. La Londe of Duane Morris LLP.
BEIRNE MAYNARD & PARSONS ON NLJ'S "HOT LIST" The National Law Journal -- Andrew Ramonas -- April 8, 2013
Traditionally litigation oriented, Beirne, Maynard & Parsons is grabbing more energy business by diversifying its practice areas.
With its acquisition of a 19-lawyer law firm in January, Houston-based Beirne, Maynard & Parsons gave its clients services beyond litigation and expanded its reach outside of Texas.
Now, it's go time.
The merger with Lemle & Kelleher was only the beginning for the 73-lawyer firm, said Beirne Maynard chairman Martin Beirne. Mississippi and Alabama are next, he said.
"It's a natural for us," Beirne said of his firm, which counts several oil and gas companies among its clients. Founded in 1987 with an emphasis on trial law, Beirne Maynard became the largest litigation specialty firm in Texas 10 years later with the addition of Bell & Murphy, another Houston litigation boutique. Along the way, the firm added outposts in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio before its combination with Lemle & Kelleher brought its first offices outside of Texas. Beirne Maynard was able to bolster its transactional abilities with the commercial transactions, securities and white-collar defense practices from Lemle & Kelleher, too.
For two decades, Beirne Maynard has provided clients with alternative fee arrangements, including flat monthly billing, capped fees and volume-based discounts on hourly rates. "It makes it more predictable and sustainable for clients," Beirne Maynard managing partner Brit Brown said.
With an eye to the wishes of those clients, the firm hopes to secure new talent through lateral hires rather than from law schools, Beirne said. Of Beirne Maynard's 73 attorneys, 42 are partners, seven are of counsel, 21 are associates, two are special counsel and one is a foreign lawyer admitted to the bar in Mexico. "They don't mind a few first-year lawyers," he said. "But they prefer lawyers with experience."
Beirne Maynard over the years has tried more than 1,320 cases, including disputes with high-profile clients during 2012. In one case, the firm represented ATP Oil & Gas Corp. in a suit against the U.S. Interior Department over the Obama administration's drilling moratorium following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Brown and Beirne Maynard partner Benjamin Escobar Jr. represented ATP arguing that the U.S. government couldn't ban drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet after the court had previously ordered an end to drilling restrictions. The firm represented ATP on the appeal, too.
John Tschirhart, ATP's general counsel from 1997 to 2012, said Beirne Maynard provided "very responsive and good service" to the company. He said the firm made it possible for ATP to be one of the first oil and gas producers to resume work in the Gulf of Mexico following the oil spill. "Without Beirne Maynard and their handling of the case, it could have been a whole different story," Tschirhart said.
Beirne Maynard also served as counsel for Ford Motor Co. and co-counsel for U-Haul Co. of Texas Inc. in a wrongful-death case involving allegations concerning parking-brake and warnings defects and claiming $1 million to $2 million in damages. For Ford and U-Haul, the firm's representation, led by partner Danya Blair, brought a complete defense jury verdict in February 2012 in Harris County, Texas, Civil Court for the rental company in Moore v. Ford Motor Co. after the plaintiffs dropped their claims against the automobile manufacturer. Blair said the plaintiffs' move was an apparent effort to catch her and the other lawyers for the defendants off guard. But it failed.
And in a closely watched case last year, the firm represented Texas Governor Rick Perry in his bid to win a place on Virginia's Republican presidential primary ballot. In Perry v. Judd, the legal team included Beirne Maynard partner Joseph Nixon and of counsel Trey Trainor, as well as Beirne. Perry's lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Virginia's residency requirement for individuals who gather the requisite signatures for candidates seeking election. The lawsuit ultimately was unable to force the governor onto the ballot, because Perry filed it too late. But the firm did score points with U.S. District Judge John Gibney Jr. in Richmond, Va. He essentially agreed with Beirne Maynard lawyers, ruling that the ballot requirement likely was unconstitutional.
NIXON PEABODY'S SCOTT O'CONNELL ARTICLE ON REASONS TO USE FOCUS GROUPS IN JURY RESEARCH FEATURED IN CORPORATE COUNSEL From the Experts: 5 Reasons to Use Focus Groups in Jury Research - March 13, 2013 - W. Scott O'Connell - Website
Law school prepares attorneys for many things, but thinking like an average juror is not among them. Understanding how jurors will evaluate the facts and legal issues in your case is mission-critical information. Framing facts and legal issues properly is essential for success. Knowing the frames that work and those that don’t may determine whether you win or lose. Detailed below are some practical considerations on how to determine the optimal frames for a jury verdict in your favor.
1. Knowing What You Don’t Know
Thinking critically at all times about proving the elements of a case is what trial lawyers do. Too often, smart attorneys can become enamored with facts or issues that are simply too dense, complex, or inaccessible for typical jurors. In every case, there are limits on what you can expect the jury to consider, evaluate, process, and decide. Jury research helps define those limits. It is dangerous to assume how a jury will process facts and issues. Observing that process through a focus group of prospective jurors—a surrogate jury—takes away the mystery and helps the trial team focus the presentation of the case.
2. Learning What You Don’t Know
Focus group research with mock juries is an invaluable tool. There is simply no substitute for getting real reactions from a surrogate representative jury to the facts, witnesses, evidence, demonstrative aids, and arguments. Discovering jury biases, attitudes, and expectations about the case, the parties, the claims, and the evidence informs you on the packaging and presentation of the case.
All jurors have underlying biases, attitudes, and expectations. Some are so strongly held or pernicious that there may be a basis to challenge the seating of the prospective jurors. Others are less so but may become important drivers during the deliberation process. These biases, attitudes, and expectations are important to understand because they often influence in material ways whether a representative juror will accept your theory of the case. The ability to persuade is informed by these biases, attitudes, and expectations. This is often the space in which tough cases are won or lost.
A baseline inquiry that informs on all presentation decisions is how the surrogate panel perceives your client. What juror biases and expectations need to be addressed in the presentation of the case about your client and the products or services it provides? If you are defending a financial services company in claims arising from a consumer transaction, for example, it is helpful to know what level of engagement and interaction jurors believe is necessary for the company to have acted reasonably. Answers to this may inform how much you address the atmospherics of the company’s relationship with consumers as opposed to the actual conduct at issue. Knowing the starting point of juror attitudes informs you on how long a journey the burden of persuasion may be.
3. Discovering What the Jurors Want to Know
Focus group reaction to your facts, theories, evidence, and witnesses is by itself invaluable. But equally important is learning from the mock panel what they needed to hear, see, and understand to be persuaded. Pushing the mock jury from mere reaction about your case to active thinking about what may have helped in the persuasion process often yields powerful insights. Asking jurors about what was missing from the presentation helps identify the evidence and witnesses that may help you to persuade a real jury. The absence of gap-filling evidence or information that jurors really want to hear indicates that the trial team needs to take on and inoculate against the omission.
4. Using What You Learn
Once the biases, attitudes, and expectations are unearthed and you have the benefit of juror insights into what information would affect their view, trial counsel is best equipped to structure the presentation of witnesses, evidence, and demonstratives. This information helps bring into focus essential information for successful persuasion. The information provides a useful filter to determine what witnesses, evidence, demonstratives, and subjects must be part of your effort to persuade. Further, it helps the trial team tailor instructions and legal arguments to meet the burden of persuasion.
Rigorous application of the jury research results focuses the case and helps to ensure that all facts and issues are reviewed through the proper framework. This information obtained from the jury research should affect all decisions about the case. Every exhibit, witness, demonstrative, and argument should be evaluated for its ability to meet the bias, attitude, and expectation identified. Through consistent review of the case through the lens of the jury research, the trial team can focus its themes and theories and through consistent messaging meet its burden of persuasion.
5. Practical Considerations for Success
Understanding as early as practicable juror attitudes toward your evidence and themes pays enormous dividends throughout the life of the case. The alignment resulting from effective jury research sharpens legal arguments, discovery, and the risk analysis of the case. So test early.
Conduct your focus group research with the assistance of trained professionals. In order to get credible, useable information, it is important that the trial team not embed biases in the process. Poorly executed research sessions yield little useful information and indeed may provide false comfort on pivotal issues. Invest in professionals who can structure a process that yields honest feedback on what works and what does not.
Make sure that relevant decision makers observe the focus group process. The alignment benefits referenced previously are enhanced when client decision-makers experience—with the trial team—the result of the research sessions.
Use the research session to develop the profiles of jurors particularly receptive to your evidence and themes. Conversely, identify the profiles that are particularly problematic. Use the research sessions to identify ways in which these helpful or harmful jurors may be affected. Work with the surrogate jurors to test graphics that help clarify and simplify your case. Understanding what reduces confusion, promotes understanding, and effectively strengthens your case is invaluable. Test different levels of complexion to ensure the graphics help rather than detract. Finally, let the team that is serving as your opposition work with your graphics in the research session. Skilled trial lawyers can often turn an otherwise helpful graphic into one that is quite harmful.
Finally, make sure that the entire trial team checks its ego at the door. The market research process is designed to teach things you need to know. It’s hard to learn new things if you believe you already know everything you need to know.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
NIXON PEABODY WINS GROUNDBREAKING CLASS ACTION CASE, RETURNS $110M TO JUA POLICY HOLDERS After four years of complex and hotly contested litigation, the effort to vindicate the constitutional and contractual rights of more than 6,000 New Hampshire health care providers reached a favorable outcome. Under the leadership of Nixon Peabody'sKevin Fitzgerald, Scott O'Connell and Gordon MacDonald, this victory returned $110 million to the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association (JUA) policyholders.
In this video, Kevin, Scott and Gordon, along with co-lead plaintiffs Dr. Georgia Tuttle, Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare, and Tom Buchanan of Derry Medical Center, outline the intricacies and complexities of this groundbreaking class action case.
Friday, February 22, 2013
BLAKES RECEIVES AWARDS AND ACCOLADES FROM BENCHMARK CANADA Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), one of Canada’s leading business law firms, won three awards at the first Benchmark Canada Awards ceremony held at the Park Hyatt in Toronto on February 6. Blakes was awarded with Product Liability Firm of the Year, Class Action Litigator of the Year (James Sullivan) and Product Liability Litigator of the Year (Gordon McKee). In the 2013 Benchmark Canada rankings also released this week, 24 Blakes litigators were recognized across the country, with star representation in all major offices and practice areas.
James Sullivan has appeared as counsel in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, as well as before the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. He has also frequently appeared before the British Columbia Environmental Appeal Board and other administrative tribunals. He has represented clients in numerous major corporate commercial, class action, energy, contaminated site, regulatory offence, constitutional and product liability cases. Jim advises clients on national and international compliance with foreign and domestic anticorruption legislation.
Gordon McKee focuses on defending class action law suits and serious product liability claims and has many years of experience in this area. He has defended clients in class actions involving prescription and over-the-counter medicines, medical devices, automotive equipment, fire protection systems, consumer protection matters, environmental contamination, Competition Act matters, conspiracy allegations and employee benefits. In the product liability area, he has represented multinational manufacturers and distributors of a wide variety of products. He is lead counsel in Ontario and manages litigation nationally for some of the world's largest manufacturers of pharmaceutical medicines, medical devices, consumer goods, automotive parts and heavy equipment.
14 THOMPSON HINE LAWYERS IN DAYTON OFFICE RECOGNIZED BY OHIO SUPER LAWYERS - 89 THOMPSON HINE LAWYERS RECOGNIZED FIRMWIDE Eighty-nine lawyers from Thompson Hine LLP were recently selected for inclusion in Ohio Super Lawyers and Ohio Rising Stars 2013 which includes fourteen lawyers from the Dayton Office. Super Lawyers magazine distinguishes the top five percent of attorneys in each state in more than 70 practice areas and recognizes those who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Rising Stars are chosen by their peers as being among the most recognizable up-and-coming lawyers in Ohio.
The Thompson Hine lawyers in the Dayton Office who are recognized in the 2013 Ohio Super Lawyers and Ohio Rising Stars rankings include:
NIXON PEABODY PARTNER JONATHAN SABLONE FEATURED IN NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL ARTICLE ON THE TOP E-DISCOVERY DEVELOPMENTS IN 2012 National Law Journal -- Views from the trenches: Trends in e-discovery -- January 28, 2013 What were the top e-discovery developments of the past year? Legally? Technologically? Here's what a sampling of leading litigators had to say.
"The monumental legal/technology development in 2012 was the broad acceptance of predictive coding. Judges and litigants are now being routinely asked to consider using computer-assisted review in the production phase of discovery. This is a ground breaking development that augurs well for those who have long advocated for the efficiencies that come with computer -assisted review of large data sets." — Jonathan Sablone, Nixon Peabody
We asked a group of litigators: What do you think will be the big issues for e-discovery in 2013?
"What is still up in the air is whether and to what extent cooperation with opposing counsel will be required in the use of computer-assisted review. Disclosure of the seed set, analytics or even raw data results? Will litigants be required to share the results, including data marked 'non-responsive' during the iterative process, with opposing counsel? Stay tuned — the predictive-coding case law is about to get very interesting." — Jonathan Sablone, Nixon Peabody
We asked a group of litigators: What are your biggest e-discovery pet peeves? Any particular behaviors drive you crazy?
"Vendors who masquerade as potential clients. Apparently, they do not realize that lawyers have access to Google and the Internet." — Jonathan Sablone, Nixon Peabody
SNELL & WILMER LEADS BOOK OF LISTS RANKING FOR PHOENIX LAW FIRMS Snell & Wilmer is pleased to announce the firm's Phoenix office has been ranked number one in the Phoenix Business Journal's Book of Lists in the category of Top Law Firms. For more than 25 years, Snell & Wilmer has led the list that features the Valley's largest law firms. The Top Law Firms list, which features the metro area's top 50 firms from among 78 survey responses, was ranked by number of attorneys practicing in Maricopa County.
The Book of Lists provides listings of hundreds of the top local companies in their fields, by ranking. It also provides the names of key decision makers, along with their titles and contact information. The lists are helpful tools that enable business professionals to look at the overall picture of their local area and industry, identify the threats and opportunities facing their businesses and develop strategic plans to create a competitive advantage. The lists cover a variety of categories including accounting firms, largest employers, fastest growing companies, homebuilders, venture capital companies and many more.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DEFENSE VERDICT FOR HOOD LAW FIRM Hood Law Firm, The South Carolina Network firm, announces a defense verdict following a trial in Horry County, SC, before The Honorable Clifton B. Newman. The case was tried by Robert H. Hood, Jr. and Elizabeth W. Ballentine. The Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against an OB-Gyn regarding complications from a hysterectomy performed on the Plaintiff in January 2006 to address abnormal bleeding. During the procedure, the Defendant entered the bladder and performed a cystotomy to repair the injury. The Plaintiff alleged through expert testimony the Defendant doctor was negligent in performing a hysterectomy and right salpingo-oophorectomy without indication, and in leaving a sponge in the Plaintiff at the site of the cystotomy following the procedure. The Plaintiff alleged the retained sponge caused a vesico-vaginal fistula and required an additional procedure to remove the sponge and repair the fistula several weeks later. Plaintiff attributed problems with chronic pain, urinary incontinence, and a significant decline in her health to the Defendant doctor’s alleged negligence.
The defense presented testimony from treating physicians and expert physicians who testified it was appropriate to perform the hysterectomy after counseling the Plaintiff on her options and allowing her to decide how to proceed. Further, they explained the duty of obtaining a correct sponge count falls on the nurses and in the face of a correct sponge count, it was appropriate for the Defendant to close the incision and conclude the procedure (as was conceded by Plaintiffs own expert). The defense also presented testimony Plaintiff’s current problems and complaints were unrelated to the retained sponge and fistula repair. The defense established the Defendant doctor acted appropriately and within the standard of care in his treatment of the Plaintiff and did not proximately cause her damages. The case was tried for three days and the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the Defendants.
Friday, December 28, 2012
NIXON PEABODY'S SCOTT O'CONNELL RECOGNIZED BY NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW AS AN N.H. ATTORNEY WITH A NATIONAL IMPACT N.H. Attorney Has A National Impact - New Hampshire Business Review - Michael McCord - December 28, 2012 When Scott O'Connell began his legal career, the New Jersey native didn't plan on landing in New Hampshire or becoming a nationally recognized corporate litigator and partner in the Nixon Peabody law firm.
But for the past two decades he has established strong roots in New Hampshire as a successful litigator, based in Nixon Peabody's Manchester office, a strong advocate for expanding pro bono legal work in the state, and as a part-time horse farmer and co-owner of the Mack Hill Riding Academy in Amherst.
One of his most recent legal accomplishments came as a leader of the Nixon Peabody team that recently prevailed in the four-year-long and complex Joint Underwriting Association medical malpractice insurance case brought by health care providers against the state of New Hampshire.
"This was a novel case -- one of those idealistic constitutional issues you read about in law school but don't see every day in practice," said O'Connell, who - while based in New Hampshire -- is deputy chair and practice group leader of Nixon Peabody's worldwide commercial litigation team.
His varied caseload includes representing 10 New Hampshire hospitals' ongoing suit against the state over Medicaid reimbursement rates and being part of a pro bono team that helped convince the Defense Department to release a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.
He is in the New Hampshire spotlight again as one of the lead attorneys representing Exeter Hospital in the civil lawsuits filed over the Hepatitis C outbreak discovered earlier this year.
"I work in an international firm and have a national practice," said O'Connell, a Cornell Law School graduate.
But the initial stage of his career was anything but secure or so wide-ranging.
He established himself in New Hampshire almost by accident. In 1991, he said, "I was part of a glut of lawyers hired by Hale Dorr in Boston just as the recession was really kicking in." To keep himself employed while other lawyers were being let go, O'Connell found a valuable niche as a litigator in the banking industry upheaval that swept across New Hampshire in the early 1990s.
"I needed the job because I had a lot of law school debt. I became a banking and securities guy because there was a lot of cleanup litigation," he said. "I learned about securities litigation from one of the best (Jeff Rudman, a cousin of Warren Rudman) and was involved in a large portfolio of class action suits."
He became a partner at Hale Dorr and moved to New Hampshire in 1996.
A Nixon Peabody partner since 1997, he and wife Sue Jacobs O'Connell, who runs a public relations consulting firm, live with their daughter and son in Amherst.
The JUA case, resulting in the return of $110 million to the 6,000 policyholders of the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association, was a precedent-setting case that dealt with the potent legal and emotional issue of the state's access to private funds.
The JUA became a political flashpoint in 2009, when Gov. John Lynch and Democratic budget writers in the Legislature sought to transfer $110 million in surplus JUA money into the state's general fund to help balance the budget for 2010 and 2011.
The Lynch administration argued that the government had a right to benefit from the surplus JUA funds because the state had established the entity in the first place, even though it had never contributed any money to the fund.
Eventually, O'Connell's team successfully took the case to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the state's move to take the JUA money was unconstitutional -- a violation of the vested property rights of the policyholders.
"The fact that Nixon Peabody was able to produce this level of result in such a complicated setting, against significant opposition, and in such a short amount of time, is remarkable," said Dr. Georgia Tuttle, a JUA policyholder.
As more states struggle with budget revenues and seek ever more financial solutions, O'Connell believes the JUA case will set a national precedent because it sets a standard for what governments can and cannot do to secure certain revenues.
"This was significant, and it was personally rewarding to be part of the team," said O'Connell, who worked with Nixon Peabody colleagues Kevin Fitzgerald and Gordon MacDonald on the case. "It was a fundamental, even primordial, case that captures what motivates one to become a lawyer because it went to the heart of property rights and what is the right role for the state."
O'Connell said the heart of the 10-hospital Medicaid suit against the state - which emerged from a budget-cutting measure by the Republican-led Legislature in 2011 - also targets fundamental rights and obligations.
"While it's a wonderful place, New Hampshire is the worst of the 50 states when it comes to Medicaid reimbursements," he said. "When you remove $260 million in reimbursements to these hospitals, it is a shift of responsibility. This isn't a problem that can be ignored, and it tells a very interesting story about the dysfunction that exists in Concord."
'A country of laws'
While O'Connell maintains a busy schedule at Nixon Peabody, he has pushed hard for the state's legal community to expand pro bono output.
He founded the Nixon Peabody Domestic Protection Team, which helps victims of domestic violence secure protective orders against their abusers.
The 48-year-old O'Connell has made it a practice to take his pro bono service to Berlin and the North Country as often as possible, due to a growth in domestic violence caseloads there and the need for experienced lawyers.
"We are a country of laws, not of men. Access to justice cannot be limited to only those who can afford it. I believe pro bono service is a professional responsibility," said O'Connell. "Attorneys have the privilege of practicing law. Along with that privilege comes the responsibility of helping those who cannot afford representation. It's what we have to do to support our justice system," O'Connell said.
"More broadly, our justice system is under siege by those who cannot afford representation. Unrepresented parties have great difficulty getting justice through our system without help. The system degrades for all unless it can be used effectively by the least able among us."
The New Hampshire Bar Association honored O'Connell with a 2011 Award for Dedicated Pro Bono Service for his work with the Domestic Violence Emergency Project, a program that provides victims of domestic violence with emergency legal service.
For his work on Rimi v. George Bush, which secured the release of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner and Libyan national after four years of detention, O'Connell received the Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
O'Connell doesn't spend all of his time in his law office or a courtroom. In fact, he savors his weekends, when he trades in his law books for the life of a horse farmer and father of a competitive rider.
"It was a hobby turned obsession and then became a part-time business," he said of Mack Hill which he and his wife Sue opened in 2007 to provide riding and equestrian lessons and boarding.
He jokes that his dual vocations offer a unique perspective.
"As a trial lawyer by day and a horse farmer by weekend, some might say that I shovel manure professionally, and for fun," he said.
Related: Video of Scott O'Connell arguing before the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on December 11th, 2012:
LAW WEEK COLORADO SELECTS WHEELER TRIGG O'DONNELL'S ANDREW EFAW AMONG ITS 2012 LAWYERS OF THE YEAR Law Week Colorado named Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell partner Andrew Efaw among its 2012 Lawyers of the Year.
A colonel in the United States Army, Efaw deployed in April of 2012 to serve an eight-month tour as a military judge in the U.S. Central Command with duty primarily in Afghanistan and Kuwait. While overseas, Efaw wrote dispatches chronicling his experiences from being stuck with vaccination needles in Fort Benning to his perfect depiction of the humanity, horror, and the absurdity of life he witnessed in the war zone. This was his second deployment to the Middle East. In 2004, Efaw served for nearly a year as the senior defense counsel in northern Iraq for the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.
Efaw's service to his country and sacrifice of leaving his wife, five children, successful litigation practice, and the general comforts of home make him one of Law Week Colorado's 2012 Lawyers of the Year.
Upon his return, Efaw will resume his litigation practice at WTO defending complex commercial and franchise cases, medical malpractice claims, and pharmaceutical and medical device product liability claims in federal and state courts throughout the country.
BASS, BERRY & SIMS WINS M&A DEAL OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM M&A ADVISOR Bass, Berry & Sims PLC has been recognized for the firm's work on behalf of Luminex Corporation (NASDAQ: LMNX) in connection with its acquisition of GenturaDx, Inc.
Bass, Berry & Sims received the "M&A Deal of the Year" award in the "M&A Deal of the Year (between $50 million and $100 million)" category as part of the 11th Annual M&A Advisor Awards. The Bass, Berry & Sims team was led by partners Howard Lamar and Ryan Thomas and included lawyers in the firm's corporate, intellectual property, labor and employment, and employee benefits groups. The Luminex transaction also was named a finalist for "Sector Deal of the Year" in the "Healthcare/Life Sciences (between $10 million and $100 million)" category.
The acquisition of O'Charley's Inc. by Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE: FNF) was named a finalist for "Corporate/Strategic Acquisition of the Year (between $200 million and $500 million)" and "Sector Deal of the Year" in the category of "Consumer and Retail Products (between $100 million and $500 million)". Bass, Berry & Sims counseled O'Charley's in the transaction, and the firm's team was led by Page Davidson and Scott Bell.
Bass, Berry & Sims' Corporate and Securities Practice represents buyers and sellers in both public and private company strategic transactions as well as financial sponsor transactions. The Corporate and Securities team is comprised of more than 50 attorneys, including two partners who have chaired the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association and one who is the immediate past chair of the 4,000 member ABA Business Law Section Mergers and Acquisitions Committee.
The M&A Advisor announced that a record of 423 nominees, representing over 600 companies, became finalists for the awards. An independent judging committee of 16 top M&A, restructuring and finance industry experts determined the recipients of the awards. The awards were announced at the 11th Annual M&A Advisor Awards Gala on December 11th in New York, NY.
MASLON'S BILL PENTELOVITCH SELECTED AS A 2012 "ATTORNEY OF THE YEAR" BY MINNESOTA LAWYER Maslon is pleased to announce that Bill Pentelovitch, partner in Maslon's Litigation Group, has been named a 2012 "Attorney of the Year" by Minnesota Lawyer. Nominations for the recognition are submitted by judges, bar groups, and clients. The 2012 honorees were chosen based on the following criteria: leadership in the profession, involvement in major cases or other newsworthy events, excellence in corporate or transactional services, and public service. In September 2012, Bill was recognized as "Minneapolis Litigation - Banking & Finance Lawyer of the Year" for 2013 by Best Lawyers®.
Bill was selected for his pro bono work on the Voter ID Amendment question that was slated to appear on the November 2012 election ballot. As lead attorney, Bill represented the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause, Jewish Community Action, and five individuals who petitioned to remove the proposed constitutional amendment from the ballot, asserting that the language of the ballot question was misleading, inaccurate, and didn't clearly state the changes that could compromise a person's right to vote. Bill and opposing counsel argued the case in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court in mid-August.
DEUTSCH KERRIGAN & STILES OBTAINS DEFENSE VERDICT FOR TASER TASER International, Inc., a global provider of safety technologies that protect life and protect truth, announced that a jury rendered a defense verdict for TASER and found that TASER was not liable for a cardiac arrest.
"We are very pleased that the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of TASER," said Doug Klint, President and General Counsel of TASER International. "We intend to continue our vigorous defense of all litigation. During the last 14 months, TASER has been successful in winning voluntary dismissals or judgments for dismissal in 35 product liability lawsuits. We believe our strategy to pursue the truth in defense of our technology and products is yielding success as the rate of new litigation has fallen to historically low rates."
LOWENSTEIN SANDLER ACHIEVES BREAKTHROUGH ADOPTION OF ENTERPRISE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT Marketwire - December 13, 2012 Recommind, the leader in unstructured data management and analysis technology, and ii3, trusted consultants to law firms, today announced that Lowenstein Sandler, an AmLaw 200 firm, has chosen Recommind's Decisiv® Search to increase productivity and efficiency for their data management. The initial roll-out has achieved greater than 70 percent user adoption.
With over 500 lawyers and staff, Lowenstein Sandler turned to ii3 when they were looking for an overall evaluation and implementation plan for an enterprise search solution that would seamlessly integrate with existing servers, databases and iManage DMS. After a thorough analysis, the Decisiv Search platform was selected for a pilot program. "Security and usability were two of our top requirements," observed Christopher Zegers, Chief Information Officer, Lowenstein Sandler. "ii3 guided our evaluation and pilot so that we were able to achieve both requirements. Since then, our production roll-out has exceeded our expectations with a user adoption rate of 70 percent in the first month. The Decisiv platform uses and conforms to all existing native security profiles giving us confidence that the federated search is secure. As for usability, most often, we are finding what we need in one search. Concept clustering and intuitive filters yield remarkable precision and recall."
Decisiv Search combines sophisticated enterprise search technology with a simple user interface that helps users quickly and easily find the information they need. Rules-based access enables secure customization of results for each user, giving optimal relevancy in context as well as increased control over the display and ranking of information by administrators.
"Lowenstein Sandler has a highly focused, results-oriented information technology and knowledge management leadership," noted Shy Alter, CEO and Principal of ii3. "We therefore proposed a Decisiv Quick Start implementation plan that was meant to rapidly enhance their knowledge and research services with an enterprise search platform that delivered the specificity, simplicity and speed they demanded to support their superior client service and matter management efficiencies. With enterprise search, relevant results are the name of the game, and Recommind's Decisiv Search delivers in spades -- pretty much out of the box. The immediate outcome is that Lowenstein's attorneys can find relevant documents searched in the firm's very large (and growing) iManage DMS. But this is just the beginning. This early success allows the firm to further leverage Recommind's platform as a highly integrated attorney-centric knowledge management system."
"We wanted an interactive way to introduce Recommind's revolutionary products to our users, and used gamification for the roll-out. The 70 percent adoption rate validates the design, ease of use and power of the search platform," said Kitty Schweyer, Director of Knowledge and Research Services, Lowenstein Sandler. "ii3 delivered the analysis and evaluation we needed to move quickly. Our confidence has been borne out by the high adoption rate and favorable internal reviews."
"ii3 and Recommind share a commitment to innovation and integrity that helps clients realize the results they want to achieve. ii3 has partnered with Recommind for several years to the benefit of our mutual clients," said Tony Caputo, Vice President of Channel Sales at Recommind. "Our industry-leading technology proved to be the best against a demanding list of requirements. The Decisiv product suite provides Lowenstein Sandler professionals with the most comprehensive access to the electronic information that is critical to their success."
THOMPSON HINE RANKS SIXTH NATIONALLY IN THE "BTI CLIENT SERVICE 30" - SIXTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR Thompson Hine LLP announced today that it has been recognized for excellent client service in The BTI Client Service 30 for the sixth consecutive year. The firm placed sixth in the nation for overall client service, earning particular praise for "Providing Value for the Dollar" and "Keeping Clients Informed." The firm scored highly in categories including "Client Focus," "Commitment to Help," "Handles Problems," "Helps Advise on Business Issues" and "Innovative Approach."
"Corporate counsel report Thompson Hine delivering excellent client service 6 years in a row," said BTI President Michael B. Rynowecer. "Thompson Hine is one of a few select firms with strong rankings in all 17 client satisfaction benchmarks, indicating broad strength in client facing aspects of the business."
In addition, Thompson Hine has been named to The BTI Client Service A-Team for 11 consecutive years. According to BTI, "Thompson Hine continues its tradition of world-class customer service" and "draws on a deep commitment to client service, offering clients high-profile, value-added events, ... a high-profile client service pledge and ongoing quest to gain client service feedback to improve performance."
BTI also notes that clients praise Thompson Hine's "industry expertise." BTI observes that clients enjoy working with the firm's lawyers, noting that "they're easygoing from a client-attorney standpoint. They're more of a colleague than an outsider." The firm is also praised for its excellent "responsiveness."
"Thompson Hine is committed to providing our clients excellent service. We are investing in service innovations to enhance the way we manage our legal services to address clients' needs," said Deborah Z. Read, the firm's managing partner. "Our priority is providing the highest level of value to our clients."
The BTI Client Service 30 represents the cream of the crop of The BTI Client Service A-Team. BTI's exclusive research reveals that large Fortune 1000 clients nominated 332 core law firms for superior client service this year - and a mere 30 distinguish themselves as the absolute best, performing four to 15 times better than everyone else. BTI scores firms based solely on clients' unprompted feedback, using a client-driven ranking of the importance and influence of each of 17 client service activities. Law firms in The BTI Client Service 30 have truly differentiated themselves in the eyes of clients.
BTI's analysis draws on candid feedback from more than 240 corporate counsel to determine precisely which law firms top the charts in client service. General counsel and C-level executives define 17 activities they use to select and evaluate outside counsel. BTI asks corporate counsel to delineate, unprompted, the law firm best at each of the 17 activities driving superior client relationships.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DEFENSE VERDICT FOR HOOD LAW FIRM Hood Law Firm announces a defense verdict following a three-week medical malpractice trial in Beaufort County, SC. The case was tried by Chilton Grace Simmons and Elizabeth W. Ballentine. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against two hospitalist physicians, two gastroenterologists, and Beaufort Memorial Hospital in connection with the death of the plaintiff’s 68-year old father. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent died from complications from a misplaced PEG (“feeding”) tube, which resulted in an infection called peritonitis. The plaintiff alleged that the co-defendant gastroenterologists did not place it correctly from the beginning, and that the defendant hospitalist physicians should have caught the misplacement sooner. The plaintiff presented the pathologist employed by MUSC who performed the autopsy, who testified based on his inspection of the decedent’s stomach, the PEG tube was never placed correctly. The plaintiff also presented an expert internal medicine physician and an expert nurse who testified the hospitalist physicians negligently missed signs and symptoms of peritonitis which caused decedent’s death 6 weeks later.
The defense presented testimony from treating physicians and expert physicians who testified on the contrary, the PEG tube was indeed placed correctly initially, but did indeed later become dislodged. They explained the dislodgement is a risk of the procedure, and that the hospitalist physicians timely discovered and addressed the dislodgement. The defense also presented testimony that the decedent died from other co-morbidities, including the stroke that brought him into the hospital, instead of the dislodged PEG tube and the resulting peritonitis. The defense established that the doctors conducted appropriate evaluations, and that they appropriately treated the peritonitis that resulted from the dislodged PEG tube. The case was tried for almost three weeks. The jury deliberated for less than four hours, returning a verdict in favor of all the defendants.
On one of Denver’s first chilly evenings veterans, attorneys, and attorney-veterans joined in comradery for a Veteran’s Day reception at the offices of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell. The event was sponsored by Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans. CLCV helps veterans obtain pro bono or reduced fee legal counsel on all matters including veterans’ resources, benefits, housing, and family law. Chief Justice Bender made a special appearance to make a few remarks in honor of those who have served in the armed forces. Link to story.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
NIXON PEABODY GETS $20 MILLION FEE FOR "100 PERCENT" WIN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE BUDGET BATTLE Ross Todd - The Litigation Daily After four years of court battles and lobbying in New Hampshire, Nixon Peabody lawyers are set to reap more than $20 million in contingency fees for their role helping medical malpractice policyholders in the state secure $110 million in excess premiums paid to a quasi-governmental insurance fund. In litigation that involved eight discrete actions in various legal and administrative venues, the firm's lawyers succeeded in blocking New Hampshire lawmakers from transferring the excess payments to the state's coffers and in winning the funds back for policyholders.
Last month Merrimack County Superior Court Justice Richard McNamara signed off on a plan to allocate an initial $85 million to a class of about 6,000 healthcare providers. An additional $25 million is being held back to cover potential tax liabilities. On Tuesday, lawyers at Nixon Peabody learned that there were no objections to the Judge's ruling, meaning the distribution of funds will move forward.
"We had no idea when we set out that this odyssey would take four years," said Nixon Peabody's W. Scott O'Connell, who led the effort with partners Kevin Fitzgerald and Gordon MacDonald. As of July, Nixon Peabody had invested more than $4.6 million in firm time to the matters, according to the firm's accounting.
The litigation got underway after then-governor John Lynch announced in early 2009 that he intended to take $110 million of surplus funds from the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Association to help close the state's budget gap. The New Hampshire Legislature then enacted House Bill 2, ordering the $110 million transfer. Lynch signed the bill into law in June 2009 and the transfer was set to occur in July.
Nixon Peabody's Fitzgerald said watching the bill move through the legislature was like "being able to watch a plane crash in progress." The firm had by then contacted existing healthcare clients and agreed to mount a legal challenge to the bill for a contingency fee of 25 percent of any portion of the $110 million returned to policyholders. Given the chance that the firm could block the transfer without winning the funds' release, policyholders agreed to pay the firm a little over $1 million up front. Ultimately, 316 policyholders signed agreements with the firm under these terms.
In June 2009, Nixon Peabody filed a putative class action against the JUA in Belknap County Superior Court, seeking to block the transfer. Less than two months later, Belknap County Superior Court Justice Kathleen McGuire declared the Act an unconstitutional taking under the New Hampshire Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed McGuire's ruling in January 2010, finding that the legislation unreasonably impaired policyholders' contract rights under the state constitution.
Although blocking the transfer was a significant win, it was just the first in a series of clashes between Nixon Peabody and the firm's adversaries in state government. For a blow-by-blow of what the firm did in the interim--from demanding an accounting from JUA to challenging potential rule changes by the state's department of insurance in administrative proceedings--check out this affidavit submitted by O'Connell over the summer. The ultimate resolution approved by Justice McNamara came after the state legislature--which changed from Democratic to Republican control during the pendency of the litigation--agreed to release the $85 million in excess premiums for the policyholder class.
In signing off on the resolution last month, Justice McNamara wrote that the case "required legal knowledge of insurance law, constitutional law, contract law, health law, standing requirements, equitable remedies, and appellate work." The judge also noted that Nixon's lawyers had succeeded "to the greatest extent possible; 100 percent recovery." Besides the $85 million set to be disbursed under the plan, an additional $25 million is being withheld for payment of possible federal tax obligations. Livingston, however, says he's hopeful that the pending tax matter will wrap up in the coming months and "significant" funds will be released to the policyholders. The firm is also due 25 of any recovery from the withheld tax funds as well, putting the firm's total potential contingency fee between $21.25 million and $27.5 million.
"We look like geniuses today, but the story would be quite different if it ended differently," Fitzgerald said Tuesday. O'Connell added that the JUA was set up to cover New Hampshire medical professionals with high risk profiles and the excess payments go "back directly to those who funded every dime of it--to help that population."
We reached out to the JUA's outside counsel, Daniel Mullen of Ransmeier & Spellman, but didn't immediately hear back.
SNELL & WILMER SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDS FORD MOTOR COMPANY Snell & Wilmer attorneys Daniel S. Rodman and Jay J. Schuttert successfully represented Ford Motor Company (Ford) in a case tried in the United States District Court, District of Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On November 7, Ford received a unanimous defense verdict from a Nevada federal court jury in the wrongful death case of a man involved in a head-on collision in 2007. His heirs claimed that he died of a head injury due to a design defect in the 2007 Ford Focus’s airbag system.
“While our thoughts go out to the family who lost a loved one, we are pleased with the verdict,” says Rodman. “The unanimous defense verdict that was reached in under an hour reflects the strength of Ford’s case, and confirms our belief that this was a lawsuit that should never have been filed.”
The plaintiffs in the case claimed that the driver airbag in the 2007 Ford Focus was defectively designed because the airbag did not deploy when the driver lost control of the Focus and struck a tree on the opposite side of the road. The Clark County Coroner determined that the driver died due to a head injury. Plaintiffs claimed that the failure of the airbag to deploy in the crash allowed the man to strike his head on the Focus’s steering wheel, causing his death.
Ford denied that the 2007 Ford Focus was defective and explained that the driver airbag was not intended to deploy in low speed crashes like the one involving this man. Ford also presented evidence that the man did not die of a head injury; rather, he suffered a medical event prior to losing control of the Focus and had slumped to the right and out of his seatbelt at the time of the tree impact.
Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in 2009 and the trial began on October 29, 2012. After an eight-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict for Ford following 45 minutes of deliberation.
BENCHMARK LITIGATION RECOGNIZES THOMPSON HINE'S LITIGATORS
Firm Receives National and Regional Recognition; Top Ranking in Ohio; Ten Litigation Stars in GA, OH and U.S. Business Wire Ten lawyers from Thompson Hine LLP were recently selected for inclusion in the sixth edition of Euromoney's Benchmark Litigation 2013. The guide's results are the culmination of a six-month research period that included extensive interviews with corporate clients hiring lawyers to handle their litigation, among others. Benchmark Litigation is the only publication on the market to focus exclusively on litigation in the United States.
Elizabeth B. Wright is listed as one of the top 52 product liability lawyers in the United States. This ranking places her among an elite group of nationally ranked "Litigation Stars."
The publication highlights some of the firm's high-profile representations, including Thompson Hine's role as lead national counsel for an international pharmaceutical company in hormone replacement therapy litigation, Wright's role in representing Ford against allegations of unintended acceleration and faulty spark plugs, as well as Troyer's defense of Wells Fargo in a nationwide class action and an associated individual action and his representation of a manufacturing company in a toxic tort case. Also noted is Jacobs' successful representation of the city of Cleveland in its acquisition of property for further airport expansion in what was the largest-ever eminent domain challenge in the state.
THOMPSON HINE'S TONY WHITE RECOGNIZED WITH DIVERSITY HONORS
Columbus Partner-in-Charge Appointed to Big Ten Advisory Commission; Receives Multicultural Leadership Award Business Wire Thompson Hine LLP is pleased to announce that Anthony C. (Tony) White, partner-in-charge of the firm's Columbus office and a member of its executive committee, is the recent recipient of two prestigious honors recognizing his commitment and contributions to diversity issues in the workplace and in education.
White was honored with the Multicultural Leadership Award last week in Columbus at the 5th Annual Ohio Diversity & Leadership Conference. The event, hosted by the Ohio Diversity Council, celebrates the best practices that initiate and fuel diverse leadership in Ohio's business world. White is the only lawyer representing a law firm to be honored this year. He shares the award with a number of Thompson Hine's clients, including Bob Evans Farms, CareSource, Diebold, Inc., Duke Energy, First Energy, KeyCorp, Luxottica, McDonald's, The Ohio State University, Nationwide Insurance, The PNC Financial Services Group and Scotts Miracle Gro Company. The goal of the conference is to highlight organizations that promote environments of inclusion.
White was also honored with an appointment to the Big Ten Conference Advisory Commission, representing The Ohio State University for a four-year term. Formed in 1972 in response to reports that detailed racial unrest and academic shortcomings surrounding African-American student-athletes at the time, the Advisory Commission is comprised of one former African-American student athlete from each Big Ten member institution. Its purpose is to examine and identify academic achievement and well-being issues that face African-American student-athletes. It is the only conference-based commission in the NCAA dedicated to addressing diversity and the needs of African-American student-athletes.
"It's an honor to receive this recognition," said White. "These accolades are a testament to the firm's commitment to diversity and inclusion. I firmly believe our commitment is illustrated by the widespread participation in the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Initiative and in our collaborations with clients and community organizations with similar values."
White is a member of the Business Litigation practice. He is admitted to practice in Ohio and received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and his B.S. from The Ohio State University. He serves the Columbus community in a number of leadership roles, including president of the board of the Varsity "O" Men's Alumni Association, representative to the office of the vice president of health services for the OSU Alumni Advisory Council and citizen member of the board of The Ohio State University Medical Center. He also is active in United Way of Central Ohio, serving as a member of the board of trustees and chair of the Building Vibrant Neighborhoods Impact Council. In addition, White serves as a basketball commentator for local radio station 610 WTVN-AM.
LIGHTFOOT'S ASHBY PATE DRAFTS PROCEDURES USED IN PALAU'S FIRST JURY TRIAL Lightfoot Attorney Ashby Pate was called upon to provide the Palau Supreme Court's legislative recommendations for the nation's first Jury Trial Act, which provided for jury trials for criminal defendants for the first time in the island nation's history. Pate also drafted the nation's jury trial rules, model jury instructions, and Chief Justice's model colloquy, which he modeled on the Alabama state and federal jury trial rules. The nation recently put them to use in an historic five week murder trial.
MICHAEL O'DONNELL ELECTED REGENT OF AMERICAN COLLEGE OF TRIAL LAWYERS Michael O'Donnell, co-founder and chairman of the Denver-based civil litigation firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, has been appointed to the 15-member Board of Regents of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). He is the first regent from Colorado in 30 years.
Widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in North America since it was founded in 1950, the ACTL is composed of the finest U.S. and Canadian trial lawyers who are dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice, and the ethics of the profession. Fellowship is by invitation only and is limited to the top one percent of lawyers in a state or province.
O'Donnell is a current ACTL Fellow and the former Colorado chairman. As Regent of District 4, O’Donnell will have an assigned jurisdiction of states as one of the 15 members of the Board of Regents that manages the College’s affairs. The regents are elected for four-year terms at the annual meeting.
In over 30 years of practice, O’Donnell has defended clients in complex civil litigation involving product liability, professional liability, torts, class actions and mass actions, commercial litigation, and bet-the-company matters around the country. He has appeared as lead counsel in state and federal courts in 25 states and has served as national or regional counsel for a number of Fortune 500 companies including General Electric, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Boston Scientific, Pfizer, and CNA. O’Donnell also represents a number of large law firms inside and outside the state of Colorado. He has been recognized by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Colorado Super Lawyers and other rankings guides. In 2008, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association recognized him for the highest standards of competency, ethics, and professionalism. O’Donnell is a former chairman of The Network of Trial Law Firms. He received the DU Law Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012. He is the founder and president of the Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell Foundation.