Joseph Garin, Jessica Green and Megan Hummel Named 2018 Mountain States Super Lawyers

Garin Green Hummel 2018Lipson Neilson is proud to announce that attorneys Joseph Garin, Jessica Green and Megan Hummel have been named 2018 Mountain States Super Lawyers. This is Joseph Garin’s 12th consecutive year on the Super Lawyers list. Selected as Rising Stars, this is Jessica Green’s 5th consecutive year and Megan Hummel’s 1st year on this list. Rising Stars must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less; no more than 2.5% of lawyers in the region are named to the Rising Stars list.

Joseph Garin, the Managing Partner of Lipson Neilson’s Las Vegas office, was selected as a Super Lawyer based on his work in the Professional Liability, Nonprofit Organizations, Real Estate, Insurance Coverage, Employment Litigation, and Business Litigation practice areas. Mr. Garin is consulted nationally on the defense of professional liability claims, ethics, employment, insurance coverage disputes, director and officer claims, and risk management. He is the former Chair and current member of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility to the Nevada State Bar; and a member of the Professional Liability Advisory Board for the national Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM). Comprised of industry leaders from across the United States, this Board guides the development of extensive professional liability resources.

Jessica Green, an Associate in the firm’s Las Vegas office, was named a Rising Star based on her work in the Professional Liability, Employment & Labor, and Business Litigation practice areas. Ms. Green has defended many lawyers and law firms throughout the country during her career and is recognized as an emerging leader in Errors and Omissions (E&O), Employment law, and Insurance Coverage law. She has been a featured speaker at Professional Liability industry conferences.

Megan Hummel, an Associate in the firm’s Las Vegas office, was named a Rising Star based on her work in the Insurance Coverage practice area. Ms. Hummel’s practice is focused on insurance defense, commercial litigation, and appellate law. She speaks fluent Italian and is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of information for the legal industry, uses a patented multiphase selection process to identify attorneys for its exclusive lists of Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. This process includes peer nominations, evaluations and independent research.

Founded in 1985, the Lipson Neilson law firm has offices in Las Vegas (NV), Phoenix (AZ) and Bloomfield Hills (MI). The firm is widely known for its excellence in the professional liability lines, offering invaluable insight and experience to its clients across all industries. The firm represents clients in Nevada, across the USA, and around the world.

Contact: Joseph Garin
702-382-1500
jgarin@lipsonneilson.com

Lipson Neilson Enjoys Hard Fought Victory: Federal Court Dismisses Multi-Million Dollar Trade Secret Claim Against Altair Engineering, Inc. and Key Employee

The Lipson Neilson team of Phillip E. Seltzer, C. Thomas Ludden and Samantha K. Heraud celebrated a long-sought victory in a case originally filed against their clients in 2007. After a 2014 adverse trial verdict was vacated by the trial judge, a new trial was ordered.

However, on December 13, 2017, Judge Avern Cohn granted a summary judgment motion to Defendants, Altair Engineering Inc. and a key software director, dismissing the claims brought by MSC.Software (“MSC”) for trade secret misappropriation. In his final decision, Judge Cohn found, “MSC has no admissible evidence to support its claim for damages,” and noted, “MSC concedes that its multimillion dollar damage claim is unsupported in light of the exclusion of [MSC’s expert’s] testimony and it does not challenge Altair’s reasoning.” The Judge’s decision finished with a reference to the famous T.S. Eliot poem The Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends; Not with a bang but a whimper.”

MSC initiated the case in 2007 when it sued Altair and a number of former employees of MSC. MSC asserted sixty-three claims of misappropriation of trade secrets by Altair and its employees, along with a breach of confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements by the key employees.

With a team of lawyers at Lipson Neilson leading the charge, the Court summarily dismissed 58 trade secret misappropriation claims out of the original 63 alleged in pre-trial proceedings. In April 2014, after a two-month trial, a jury determined that three out of the remaining five trade secrets were misappropriated. The Jury awarded MSC $26.5 million in damages out of the 62 Million plus damages sought at trial.

However, on a motion to vacate that judgment brought by Lipson Neilson (working with the Boston law firm of Fish & Richardson), Judge Cohn vacated the jury award for the trade secret violations (over 26 Million) in November 2014. The opinion noted, among other things, the misconduct of MSC’s trial counsel in abusing his right to rebuttal closing argument by raising a damage theory previously barred by a prior pre-trial ruling. Finding that the argument impermissibly skewed the damage horizon in the case, the Judge ordered a new trial regarding damages for the three trade secrets the jury determined were misappropriated. However, after further discovery and expert testimony, the Judge’s ruling of December 13, 2017, resulted in summarily dismissing MSC’s trade secret claims in their entirety against Altair and its key employee.

The law firm of Fish & Richardson, Boston, MA, represented Altair during the post-judgment/new trial phase, with Lipson Neilson representing the key employees.

C. Thomas Ludden Submits amici curiae Brief to the United States Supreme Court in Brott v. United States

C. Thomas LuddenC. Thomas Ludden, head of the Appellate Practice Group at Lipson Neilson, P.C., recently submitted an amici curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in Brott v. United States, Supreme Court Docket No. 17-712. In their brief, the amici, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, the Southeastern Legal Foundation, and the Cato Institute, contend that the Seventh Amendment Guarantee of a jury trial applies in lawsuits against the United States seeking vindication of a citizen’s constitutional rights. They further argue that the United States cannot condition the right to seek relief for violation of constitutional rights upon the waiver of the right to a jury trial.

“For over 800 years, the jury trial has been one of our fundamental guarantees of liberty,” says Mr. Ludden. “The Supreme Court should agree that the Constitutional guarantee of a jury trial applies to lawsuits by American citizens seeking to recover compensation for unconstitutional takings of their property by the federal government.”

A decision on whether the United States Supreme Court will accept this case for full briefing should be made by this coming spring. If granted, the United States Supreme Court could hear oral argument as soon as October 2018. Click here to view the brief as filed on the U.S. Supreme Court website.

C. Thomas Ludden specializes in appellate law, commercial litigation, and professional liability. Mr. Ludden also handles a broad range of commercial disputes, including commercial lease and other contractual disputes and intellectual property matters. Mr. Ludden was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to serve on the state’s Committee on Model Jury Instructions; the appointment is for a three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2018.

Founded in 1985, Lipson Neilson, P.C. has offices in Bloomfield Hills, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The firm represents clients in Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, across the USA, and around the world.

Contact: C. Thomas Ludden
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: TLudden@lipsonneilson.com

Dax Watson Featured on My Home Group’s Real Estate Podcast Series

Dax Watson is a featured guest on My Home Group’s “My Daily Dose” Real Estate industry podcast series. Established in 2004 in Phoenix, My Home Group is a rapidly growing real estate company in Arizona. Dax Watson has extensive litigation and professional liability defense experience in the field of real estate. He has appeared and represented clients in every county in Arizona. In addition to his legal practice, Watson is approved to teach legal issues, agency and disclosure, and property management by the Arizona Department of Real Estate. He regularly teaches risk-reduction classes to, and seminars for, real estate Brokers throughout Arizona.

Dax Watson Returns: Part 1

Dax Watson Returns: Part 2

Dax Watson Returns: Part 3

Dax Watson Returns: Part 4

Dax Watson Returns: Part 5

Contact:
Dax Watson, Managing Partner
Lipson Neilson’s Phoenix Office
5343 N. 16th Street
Suite 140
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
602-626-8888
DWatson@lipsonneilson.com

Sandra D. Glazier Co-Presenting American Bar Association Webinar “Disputes Over Estate or Trust Administration”

Sandra Glazier 2017 webpage photoSandra D. Glazier, a principal of the Lipson Neilson, P.C. law firm will co-present along with Laura Joy Lattman a webinar entitled, “Disputes Over Estate or Trust Administration”. Sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, and approved for 1.50 general CLE credit hours, this webinar will be held on December 5, 2017 from 1:00 pm-2:30 pm EST.

It is not uncommon for disputes to arise during the course of administration of an estate or trust. This webinar will provide a lively discussion about several types of trust and estate litigation, including:

  • Accounting proceedings
  • Breach of fiduciary duty/surcharge
  • Removal of fiduciaries

You can click here to register for this webinar.

An attorney for more than 35 years, Ms. Glazier is known for her expertise and successful track record in probate litigation, estate planning, trust and estate administration, and family law matters. The cases she works on tend to be very complex and require technical as well as legal expertise. Ms. Glazier has represented contestants and proponents of estate planning documents, as well as fiduciaries, in significant trust litigation proceedings. An AV Preeminent® rated attorney, she has also been recognized by “Super Lawyers” in probate litigation and a “Top Lawyer” by DBusiness, in the areas of probate, estate and family law.

Ms. Glazier has had numerous articles published by some of the legal industry’s leading publications. In addition, she has presented on estate planning and probate litigation related topics for the American Bar Association, Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Michigan’s Institute of Continuing Education, Oakland County Bar Association, Wayne County Probate Court appointed attorney training, Wilmington Trust’s New York Trust Symposium and the Bloomberg BNA Estate and Gift Tax Advisory Board. She has also taught “Valuation for Federal, Estate and Gift Tax Purposes” in a Masters level course.

Contact: Sandra D. Glazier
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: sglazier@lipsonneilson.com

Legal Malpractice Summary Dismissal Victory by Phillip E. Seltzer and Samantha Heraud

Phil and Samantha 2017As their initial response to a Legal Malpractice Complaint, the Lipson Neilson team of Phillip E. Seltzer and Samantha Heraud challenged the timeliness of the lawsuit under the applicable statute of limitations, after plaintiff terminated a Tolling Agreement. Plaintiff entered into a consent judgment of divorce, which contained a forfeiture provision that allowed for the complete forfeiture of any asset not disclosed at the time of the entry of the judgment.

Plaintiff failed to disclose his ownership and beneficiary status of a 1.5 Million Dollar life insurance policy on his sibling, who died six weeks before the entry of Judgment. Plaintiff’s ex-wife filed a post-judgment motion to enforce the forfeiture clause and obtain the proceeds. Plaintiff then sued his divorce lawyer for including the forfeiture clause in the Consent Judgment. While the underlying litigation over the forfeiture clause played out over the next two years, plaintiff and his prior lawyer (represented by the Lipson, Neilson team) negotiated a limited Tolling Agreement.

A key provision of the Agreement limited the tolling of the legal malpractice claims to those “as currently alleged” in the filed Complaint. It also expressly prohibited the filing of any new claim during the duration of the Tolling Agreement, unless the Agreement was cancelled by providing a thirty-day notice. The Agreement also confirmed that other claims or defenses were not waived or diminished by the agreement.

After plaintiff lost the forfeiture battle to retain the life insurance proceeds, he cancelled the Tolling Agreement. Under Michigan’s two-year statute of limitations, plaintiff only had three untolled days to file a timely complaint, once the 30-day termination notice period expired. Plaintiff’s new counsel eventually filed a new Complaint, but did so five days after the untolled time expired. The new Complaint also contained brand new claims of legal malpractice and new claims of breach of fiduciary duty (which has a longer statute of limitations).

The Lipson Neilson team filed a Summary Disposition motion in response to the Complaint. The Trial Court granted the motion and dismissed the new Complaint with prejudice, based on three findings:

    1. All claims were time barred under Michigan’s two-year statute of limitations, which started accruing from the date the lawyer discontinued serving the client regarding the matter out of which the alleged malpractice arose. In this case, discontinuance occurred on the date the matter was completed via entry of the Consent Judgment, even though additional communications between Plaintiff and the lawyer continued for months concerning the prior completed divorce matter;
    2. The new legal malpractice claims that were added, beyond the original claim, were independently time barred because they were not tolled under the terms of the Tolling Agreement and plaintiff could have cancelled at any time to timely bring those claims and did not; and
    3. The new Breach of Fiduciary Duty claim was also never tolled under the limited terms of the Tolling Agreement, as was now time barred. This claim was also deemed legally redundant of and subsumed in the time barred legal malpractice claim.

This case highlights the importance of “thinking ahead” at all stages in the litigation, including during the negotiation of any pre-suit agreements.

Dax Watson Moderates Panel Discussion Titled “What’s Your Verdict? Potential Pitfalls in PL Defense” at 2017 PLUS International Conference

Dax Watson, Managing Partner of Lipson Neilson’s Phoenix office, was selected by the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) to moderate a panel discussion titled, “What’s Your Verdict? Potential Pitfalls in PL Defense.”

The trial of a professional liability loss allows for a number of defenses, but presenting such defenses to a jury poses a number of challenges. This panel explored those challenges through a mock trial of a legal malpractice claim involving estate planning with disgruntled family members. The audience viewed evidence, heard arguments, and was asked to decide the case as if they were on the jury.

Stacked with top speakers from across the country, the 2017 PLUS Conference was a destination event for professional liability insurance professionals. Held during November 1-3, 2017 at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia, this year marked the 30th Anniversary for this event.

Dax Watson focuses his law practice in commercial litigation with an emphasis in real estate matters and professional liability defense. His clients include professionals in the fields of real estate, law, accounting, architecture, and engineering. He regularly appears and represents clients in regulatory matters before the Arizona Department of Real Estate and other state and federal agencies.

About Lipson Neilson
Founded in 1985, Lipson Neilson, P.C. has offices in Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan. The firm is widely known for its excellence in the professional liability lines, offering invaluable insight and experience to its clients across all industries.

Contact: Dax Watson
Phone: 602-382-1500
Email: DWatson@lipsonneilson.com

Joseph Garin Co-Presents “Changes in Professional Liability Rules” at the Nevada State Bar’s 2017 Ethics Year in Review Program

Joseph Garin, Managing Partner of the Las Vegas office of Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, Garin, P.C., co-presented, along with attorney Alan Freer, “Changes in Professional Liability Rules”, during the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the State Bar of Nevada’s 2017 Ethics Year in Review program, held on November 7, 2017, at the Northern Nevada Bar Center in Reno.

This event focused on some of the most important issues facing lawyers in the practice of law today. The program featured interactive discussions covering issues that are all too familiar and those that are not as readily apparent.

Joseph Garin is consulted nationally on the defense of professional liability claims, ethics, employment, insurance coverage disputes, director and officer claims, and risk management. Mr. Garin is former Chair and current member of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility to the Nevada State Bar; and he is a member of the Professional Liability Advisory Board for the national Claims & Litigation Management Alliance. Comprised of industry leaders from across the United States, this Board guides the development of extensive professional liability resources.

Founded in 1985, Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, Garin, P.C. has offices in Nevada, Arizona and Michigan. The firm is widely known for its excellence in professional liability law, offering invaluable insight and experience to its clients across all industries. The firm represents clients in Nevada, across the USA, and around the world.

Contact: Joseph Garin
Phone: 702-382-1500
Email: JGarin@lipsonneilson.com

Sandra D. Glazier Co-Presenting National Webinar “Undue Influence: What Every Estate Planner Should Know”

Sandra GlazierSandra D. Glazier, a principal of the Lipson, Neilson, Cole, Seltzer, Garin, P.C. law firm, will co-present with Thomas M. Dixon a webinar entitled, “Undue Influence: What Every Estate Planner Should Know”.

Approved for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits by the State Bar Associations in 34 states, as well as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for its agents, this live webinar will be held on November 15, 2017, from 1:00pm-2:30pm. Click here to register.

Due in part to the rapid growth of our country’s aging population, many adults are falling prey to the undue influence of others. Undue influence is (intentional or unintentional) conduct that supplants the will and the true intentions of the vulnerable adult with the will of the ‘trusted’ perpetrator.

Undue influence is usually not a single event; rather, it is a process which is generally conducted in secret and therefore must be proved by circumstantial evidence. If lawyers or other professionals engaged in the estate planning process fail to understand and recognize undue influence and to adhere to practices that could be utilized during the planning process for a vulnerable adult, these professionals may well find themselves on the wrong side of a contest proceeding or otherwise unable to defend the independence and validity of a client’s estate plan. In such instances, the failure to take simple precautions and adequately document the process utilized to assess capacity and the absence of undue influence may well undercut the ability to defend the plan.

This webinar is intended to educate the audience on the basics of undue influence and address issues that can arise during the litigation of such claims. The information will assist practitioners in identifying vulnerabilities and many of the indicia or ‘red flags’ of undue influence.

It will also provide insight into actions which estate planners might engage that could result in protection of the plan. This content will also provide a greater understanding of many of the ins and outs of undue influence contests.

An attorney for more than 35 years, Ms. Glazier is known for her expertise and successful track record in probate litigation, estate planning, trust and estate administration, and family law matters. The cases she works on tend to be very complex and require technical as well as legal expertise. Ms. Glazier has represented contestants and proponents of estate planning documents, as well as fiduciaries, in significant trust litigation proceedings. An AV Preeminent® rated attorney, she has also been recognized by “Super Lawyers” in probate litigation and a “Top Lawyer” by DBusiness, in the areas of probate, estate and family law.

Ms. Glazier has had numerous articles published by some of the legal industry’s leading publications. In addition, she has presented on estate planning and probate litigation related topics for the American Bar Association, Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, Michigan’s Institute of Continuing Education, Oakland County Bar Association, Wayne County Probate Court appointed attorney training, Wilmington Trust’s New York Trust Symposium and the Bloomberg BNA Estate and Gift Tax Advisory Board. She has also taught “Valuation for Federal, Estate and Gift Tax Purposes” in a Masters level course.

Contact: Sandra D. Glazier
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: sglazier@lipsonneilson.com

Summary Dismissal Victory Affirmed by Phillip E. Seltzer and Samantha K. Heraud In Defense of Lawyer and Law Firm on Claim of Legal Malpractice

Phil and Samantha 2017By Opinion dated October 24, 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a prior trial court victory achieved by the Lipson, Neilson team in obtaining summary dismissal of a legal malpractice claim on the ground of collateral estoppel. In this case, a former divorce Client sued his attorneys for allegedly coercing him to enter into a Consent Judgment of Divorce, which he asserted was inadequate and patently unfair. The Client had previously tried to set aside the Consent Judgment, through other counsel, based on the claim the Client had been coerced to settle. He was unsuccessful before the trial court and the Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court also denied leave, ending the post-judgment effort to set aside the divorce Consent judgement.

Afterward, the client filed his legal malpractice claim against his former attorneys. Although the client alleged numerous grounds of malpractice, they were ultimately predicated upon the notion that the negligence and misconduct of the attorneys resulted in forcing and coercing the underlying Consent Judgment. However, because the Client had a full opportunity to litigate the issue of coercion, and lost on that, he was now collaterally estopped from relitigating the same issue of coercion in the legal malpractice case. The summary dismissal entered by the trial court was affirmed by a unanimous panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals.