LDM partners Bill Lamson, Bill Settles, and Jason Grams recently won an important victory for health care providers in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The case involved a claim of medical malpractice made against a midwife and local hospital by the parents of a neurologically injured child. After a jury verdict of $17 million, the trial court reduced the verdict to $1,750,000 pursuant to Nebraska’s statutory damages cap in medical malpractice cases. The parents appealed, arguing that Nebraska’s damages cap violates the 7th Amendment’s right to jury trial, the 5th Amendment’s takings clause, and the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and substantive due process. Partners Lamson, Settles, and Grams were appointed Special Assistant Attorneys General to defend the constitutionality of the statute on behalf of the State of Nebraska. A unanimous panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected each of the parents’ arguments, and held that Nebraska’s medical malpractice damages cap does not violate the United States Constitution. LDM congratulates all who contributed to this very important result, which assures that health care in Nebraska will remain available and affordable for the foreseeable future.
The Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) held its 2017 Advanced Claims School in Overland Park, Kansas from Monday, May 8, 2017 through Friday, May 12, 2017. This week long school provided educational and training opportunities for AAR claims professionals with three (3) or more years of experience in the railroad industry. Several presenters were invited to teach courses to advance the skills and knowledge of claims representatives from varying railroads, including: Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway Company, Kansas City Southern Railroad, The Norfolk & Western Railway Company, Amtrak, Canadian National, etc.
Among the presenters were Partner Kyle Wallor and Associate Michael L. Storey of Lamson, Dugan & Murray, LLP. Mr. Wallor presented on Jury Selection and the Reptile Theory. The presentation on Jury Selection addressed the challenges and realities of the selection process and effective ways for claims professionals to assist with the selection process considering social media’s pervasive presence and rapid expansion. Mr. Wallor also discussed techniques of the Reptile theory and its potential impact on lawsuits against railroad entities.
Mr. Storey gave a presentation entitled “Strategic and Tactical Uses of Motion Practice.” The presentation discussed the use of dispositive motions, as well as motions in limine, to secure favorable outcomes for the railroads and how claims professionals can maximize their role in that process.
LDM partners Cathy S. Trent-Vilim and Daniel P. Chesire recently obtained a victory for their client – without conducting any discovery in the case and short of obtaining a ruling from the court on the client’s pending motion for summary judgment. The case involved a claim brought by an injured party, individually and as personal representative of the spouse’s estate, related to injuries from a fire. The accidental fire killed one spouse and caused burn injuries to the other. The suit was filed against the insurer of the property owner who owned the building where the fire occurred. Based on the allegations in the pleading, LDM attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment, in lieu of an answer, and a motion to stay discovery pending the outcome of the motion. The summary judgment motion was premised on issues related to standing, liability and coverage. LDM argued that even assuming the facts in the complaint to be true, the insurer was still entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In response, the plaintiff moved to amend the complaint. After the hearing on the motions, the plaintiff opted to voluntarily dismiss the suit with prejudice. She also voluntarily dismissed a companion case that had been brought against the insurance agent who had sold the policy. There, service had been perfected but no answer had been filed and no discovery had yet taken place.
More Congratulations! Bill Lamson and Denise Destache were successful in obtaining a verdict on behalf of their Defendant medical provider following a seven day jury trial in a wrongful death medical malpractice action tried in late April. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $3.2 million dollars in economic and non-economic damages. However, in less than 1 and ½ hours of deliberations, the jury concluded that Plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of proof and the case was dismissed against all Defendants!
On May 5, the Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict in favor of Union Pacific in Winder v. Union Pacific, a case tried by Anne Marie O’Brien, Daniel J. Hassing, and Andrew Reinhart. The Lamson Dugan team defended Union Pacific in the seven-day jury trial that focused on whether an allegedly inoperative handbrake violated the Federal Safety Appliance Act and caused or contributed to Kevin Winder’s injuries. The Lamson Dugan team persuaded the jury that the answer was “no.” On appeal, Winder argued that the evidence was so clear cut that the Douglas County District Court should have directed a verdict in his favor instead of submitting the case to the jury. A unanimous Nebraska Supreme Court rejected Winder’s arguments, decided that the case properly presented questions for the jury, and concluded that the district court did not err in submitting the case to the jury. This significant win is a great example of Lamson Dugan’s expertise at all levels of the litigation process. Congrats to Anne Marie, Dan, and Andy!
Congratulations to David J. Schmitt who was inducted as a member of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). According to its mission, ABOTA members are attorneys who display skill, civility and integrity. Membership is by invitation only, after ballot and restricted to trial lawyers who are of high personal character and honorable reputation. In addition, ABOTA members are required to compile a requisite number of jury trials in their career.
Attorney Nelly Greenberg was a panelist in University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO)’s “Success Series: Life as a Lawyer.” The “Success Series” is a career exploration program that offers ways for students to explore different occupations and career paths. Nebraska Law alumni participated in the panel discussion to help students interested in pursuing law school understand what various practice areas are like, what lawyers do, what a typical day or week is like, and how each attorney chose their career path . All alumni who participated were from diverse backgrounds, and included a Judge on the Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court, an immigration attorney, and a partner from a small firm. Nebraska Law Dean Richard Moberly moderated the panel.
Congratulations to Laura Cejka who was name Legal Professional of the Year by the Omaha Legal Professionals Association. Laura has been at Lamson, Dugan & Murray for two years and she was nominated for her hard work and dedication not only to her attorneys and our Firm, but the legal profession as a whole. Partner Cathy Trent-Vilim who nominated Laura said “she is proactive, conscientious and genuinely cares about doing the right thing the right way. She also said that Laura is the textbook definition of professional”. We are proud of Laura and her accomplishments here at LDM.
Congratulations to Cathy S. Trent-Vilim for her success in getting summary judgment for her client in a legal malpractice action, and then obtaining summary affirmance of the trial court’s order by the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
Congratulations to Brian J. Brislen, Sarah F. Macdissi, Cathy S. Trent-Vilim and Spencer R. Murphy on their win at the trial court level and affirmance by the Nebraska Court of Appeals. Brian and Sarah succeeded in getting the suit, premised upon an unenforceable non-compete agreement, dismissed at the trial court level. On appeal, Cathy and Spencer succeeded in getting the trial court’s ruling summarily affirmed on grounds that the plaintiff’s appeal was moot.