In January 2017, Anne Marie O’Brien and Daniel J. Hassing received a defense verdict after a five day jury trial in Douglas County District Court. The Plaintiff had sued under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, a federal statutory scheme governing workplace injuries for railroad employees working in furtherance of interstate commerce. The Plaintiff alleged that he had suffered whiplash injuries to his cervical spine when the locomotive he was sitting in was “coupled” or “joined” with another locomotive in an unreasonably unsafe manner. Over the course of the five-day trial, Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Hassing presented hours of testimony regarding the customs of railroad operations, the physics involved in railroad “couplings,” and the biomechanics of how the human body reacts in such situations. Relying on the testimony that Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Hassing presented, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.
Congratulations to John M. Walker and Catherine E. French for obtaining a verdict, after a two day bench trial, finding that a petition filed against their client was frivolous. This resulted in an award of attorney’s fees and significant savings for their client.
Congratulations to Patrick G. Vipond and John M. Walker for obtaining a defense verdict after an 8-day medical malpractice trial. Plaintiff’s counsel requested the jury return a verdict in the amount of $7-15 million, but the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict after less than 3 hours of deliberations.
Congratulations to Partner Anne Marie O’Brien who received the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (NARTC) Outstanding Service Award. The award is designed to recognize members who provide exceptional and outstanding service to the NARTC. Anne Marie is the current Vice-President of the Central Region. She is a member of the NARTC Executive Committee, Future Planning Committee, Jury Instruction Committee, Site Selection Committee and Program Committee. She is a faculty member of the NARTC Trial College and is a frequent speaker at CLE meetings.
LDM Partners Sean Minahan and Cathy Trent-Vilim recently put on their ‘acting shoes’ to assist Nebraska insurance agents by participating in a mock trial at the Big-I conference in Kearney, Nebraska. The mock trial, which was based on facts from former agent liability cases, was aimed at educating insurance agents on current E&O issues in the industry.
Ms. Trent-Vilim recently contributed two chapters to the updated Nebraska Appellate Practice Handbook: Chapter 18 (Writing Effective Briefs) and Chapter 20 (Creating an Effective Record for Appeal). The 2016 Handbook, published by the Nebraska State Bar Association, is now available and may be obtained from the NSBA’s online store.
The American Board of Trial Advocates, (ABOTA) has recently admitted Lamson Dugan & Murray, LLP partner, David Schmitt to its Nebraska chapter. The board is a national association of trial lawyers and judges committed to improving legal representation, promoting the art of advocacy and administering justice.
Membership in the organization is by invitation-only and limited to trial attorneys, with extensive courtroom experience, who exhibit high personal character, an honorable reputation and proficiency in the courtroom. Attorneys must be nominated by an ABOTA member, achieve certain experience as a trial attorney, and tried the required number of jury trials to conclusion during their careers. The Firm congratulates Mr.Schmitt on this recognition.
Jessica L. Weborg is an associate in the Firm’s Litigation Department. Ms. Weborg received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with honors, from the University of Montana. She also interned for U.S. Senator Max Baucus at the U.S. Capitol and interned at his field office in Missoula, Montana. Ms. Weborg received her law degree from Creighton University School of Law, cum laude.
Spencer R. Murphy is an associate in the Firm’s Litigation Department. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics and supporting area of International Business from Saint Louis University. Mr. Murphy spent two years backpacking with troubled youth, for a wilderness based therapeutic program in Utah, after earning his undergraduate degree. Mr. Murphy received his law degree from Creighton University School of Law, cum laude.
Joseph J. Borghoff is an associate in the Firm’s Business Department. Mr. Borghoff received his bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also received his Master of Business Administration from Bellevue University. Mr. Borghoff received his law degree from Creighton University School of Law, cum laude.
Nelly F. Greenberg is an associate in the Firm’s Litigation Department. Ms. Greenberg received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Religion cum laude,from Union College in Lincoln. Ms. Greenberg received her law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law.
Congratulations to LDM partners Cathy S. Trent-Vilim and Patrick G. Vipond, who recently obtained a summary judgment for their client. The client, an insurance agency, was sued by a worker’s compensation insurer who alleged an insurance agent misrepresented material information on an insurance policy application. The insurer alleged that had correct information been provided, the insurer would have never issued the worker’s compensation policy and would not have been required to pay benefits to an injured employee under the policy. The trial court agreed that the insurer’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations and entered judgment in the agency’s favor.
Bob Murray and Katie French of our office have just resolved a multi-million dollar case with the Internal Revenue Service in which the Service conceded the proposed imposition of excise taxes under I.R.C. § 4941(a)(1) and (b)(1).
The case in point involved the early termination of a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (“CRUT”). The IRS conceded the issue of self-dealing after the taxpayers demonstrated that they had followed the rationale of a number of Private Letter Rulings (“PLRs”) and were able to further demonstrate that the early termination of the CRUT did not result in a greater allocation of the [Trust’s] assets to the income beneficiaries than would have otherwise resulted from a non-early termination. As a consequence, the IRS determined that the income beneficiaries had not violated the self-dealing rules.
At the present time, there is no case law or other controlling legal authority which provides guidance to taxpayers who are similarly situated to the clients which we have assisted in this case.
In achieving the IRS concession, the income beneficiaries successfully distinguished the rationale and holding of Revenue Ruling 69-486. Although the relevant PLRs uniformly state that they are not to be used as precedent for other similarly situated taxpayers, the Service did follow the rationale of a number of PLRs holding that the self-dealing rules do not apply when a distribution of the actuarially-calculated income interest does not inappropriately inflate the grantor’s interest in the CRUT to the detriment of the charitable remaindermen.
There are a number of nuances with respect to the income tax consequences of the early termination of a split interest trust, but it was conceded by representatives of the IRS that those income tax consequences were entirely separate and apart from a consideration of alleged self-dealing.