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Results

We are proud of the results that we obtain for our clients. Here are some of the results that we have obtained recently. Click on the headline to view the complete summary or to ask a question about the case.

Firm obtains summary judgment under Indiana Anti-SLAPP statute

Peter Sewell and Erin Farnham prevailed on a motion for partial summary judgment filed on behalf of a non-profit organization and its representatives  under the Indiana Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) Act, IC. 34-7-7-1, et al.  This ruling resulted in a dismissal of defamation claims against the non-profit and its representatives.  The court found that the statements made by the non-profit and its representatives were lawful statements made in good faith with a reasonable basis in law and fact concerning a matter of public interest and in furtherance of the right to free speech. Under the statute, a defendant who prevails on such a dispositive motion is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and expenses for defending the defamation claim.  The Judge reserved ruling on the amount of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses to be awarded to the non-profit until the conclusion of the case.

Firm obtains dismissal of slip and fall claim against property owner

Ken O’Brien and Erin Farnham recently defended a commercial office building owner in a slip and fall claim in a Kentucky state court.  The property owner contracted with a management firm to oversee the day to day operations of the building.  The property management firm contracted with a carpet cleaning company and a janitorial services company.  A tenant slipped in the building, and alleged that he slipped on a tile floor after it had been mopped by the janitorial service.  The tenant also claimed that the carpet cleaning company had cleaned the carpet leading to the tile floor shortly before the fall, and that moisture left ont he carpet as a result of the carpet cleaning process contributed to his fall.

Mr. O’Brien and Ms. Farnham argued that the property owner did not contribute to the fall, and that it could not be held vicariously liable for the actions or omissions of independent contractors such as the property manager, carpet cleaning company, or the janitorial service.  The trial court agreed, and granted our motion for summary judgment.  The case went to trial against the other two defendants and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff.

Firm wins unanimous defense verdict in mine accident case.

Pete Sewell, Tom Peters and Charlie Walker recently secured a unanimous defense verdict in favor of a conveyor manufacturer in a 2-week trial in Gallatin County, Kentucky.  The suit was brought by the Estate of a mine worker who fell off a conveyor at a local mine, and who later died from his injuries.  The Estate was asking for more than $7 million in medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.  We were able to demonstrate that the conveyor involved in the accident was not defective or unreasonably dangerous, and that the cause of the accident was the failure of a the mine worker to follow federally-mandated safety regulations while working on the conveyor, and the failure of the mine to enforce those regulations.  Additionally, we were able to convince the Court to allow a 5-foot replica section of the conveyor to be placed in the courtroom for the duration of the trial, so that witnesses could refer to the replica during their testimony.  The replica was invaluable in convincing the jury that, if the mine worker has followed his federally-mandated safety training, the accident never would have happened.

Continue reading Firm wins unanimous defense verdict in mine accident case.

Firm obtains dismissal of trip and fall claim involving a public sidewalk

Ken O’Brien and Erin Farnham recently obtained a summary judgment in favor of a property owner in a trip  and fall case.  The Plaintiff alleged that he fell on a public sidewalk that adjoined our client’s property.  The incident occurred during a local art fair, and the Plaintiff also sued a neighborhood association that he alleged was responsible for running the art fair.  Mr. O’Brien and Ms. Farnham argued that an adjoining property owner did not owe a legal duty to the public to maintain or repair a public sidewalk, and that a local ordinance only required a property owner to repair a public sidewalk that adjoined his property if he received a notice from the city that the sidewalk needed to be repaired.  The city had not issued such a repair notice before the accident, so the ordinance did not impose a duty on the property owner to repair the public sidewalk.  The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment to the property owner.

Peter Sewell presents oral argument to the Kentucky Supreme Court re: sudden emergency defense and comparative fault

Peter Sewell presented oral argument to the Kentucky Supreme Court in a case that may determine the viability of the sudden emergency defense in a pure comparative fault system.  Read the Court of Appeals decision here.

Sixth Circuit affirms coverage decision

Cathy Sewell successfully represented an insurance carrier in a declaratory rights action in federal court.  The carrier had issued a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy to a company in the electronics industry.  The insured hired an individual that had previously worked at a different electronics company.  The former employer sued the employee for breach of his employment agreement and for disclosing proprietary information.  The former employer also sued the insured for alleged interference with contract.  The carrier filed a declaratory judgment action in federal court and argued that the CGL policy did to provide coverage.  The District court agreed, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed the verdict.  You can read the full opinion here.

Ken O’Brien defends motor vehicle accident claim at trial

Ken O’Brien successfully defended a motor vehicle accident claim in the Jefferson Circuit Court.  Our client admitted fault for the accident, and the jury trial was limited to the issue of the Plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages.  Mr. O’Brien demonstrated that the Plaintiff had a pre-accident history of low back complaints, and that Plaintiff had not acknowledged those complaints in deposition or trial testimony.  The Plaintiff sought to recover more than $275,000, but the jury returned a verdict of $10,000, an amount that was less than what had been offered before trial.

Peter Sewell and Erin Logsdon defend local pizza pub in dog bite case

Pete Sewell and Erin Farnham successfully defended a popular local pizza restaurant/pub at trial on a claim that the establishment negligently selected an independent contractor security service to patrol the premises.  The security service used two security guards and a trained canine in its patrol of the restaurant.  At or after the 2:00 AM closing time, security advised a patron  that the restrooms were closed.  The patron and her husband became angry, the husband got into an argument with security. The situation escalated when the husband and a friend broke the front glass window of the establishment and became involved in physical altercations in the parking lot with the two security guards.  The trained canine became involved in the fight, which resulted in bite wounds to the husband.  husband and his friend filed suit against the restaurant and claimed that the restaurant negligently selected the security contractor at issue.  The husband claimed $50,000 in damages for pain and suffering but was only awarded pain and suffering damages in the amount of $3,000.  The jury determined that the restaurant was 15% at fault for the incident, which left it responsible for $450.00 of the $3,000 verdict.

Summary Judgment granted in federal court to maker of auger used to remove manure from commercial chicken house

Pete Sewell and Tom Peters successfully defended an independent farmer who manufactured and installed a manure auger in a chicken house operated by a commercial poultry producer.  The plaintiff’s right foot was severely injured when he stepped into the auger while the safety guards were removed, and was later amputated.  Relying on the testimony of a hired expert, the plaintiff argued that the auger should have been equipped with an interlock system that turned off the auger when the safety guards were removed.  We were able to demonstrate that, contrary to the expert’s testimony, interlock systems are not a standard design element of manure augers, and that our client was simply following a design that had been provided to him by the commercial poultry producer.  Additionally, we were able to demonstrate that the safety guards had been designed and installed by someone other than our client.  The federal court dismissed our client following a motion for summary judgment.

Summary Judgment granted to HOA and its President on trespass claim

Pete Sewell successfully defended a homeowners’ association and its president on a trespass claim brought by owners of a lot in local subdivision.  Though the lot owners planned to construct a house on the lot, the lot was undeveloped at the time of the alleged trespass.  Based on a misunderstanding, the homeowners’ association president advised an excavation company performing improvements on the golf course adjacent to the lot to cross the lot in order to access the golf course.  When the excavation company crossed the undeveloped lot, some temporary muddy rutts were left behind on the property.  The damage to the lot was repaired at no charge to the lot owners, and the property was returned to its original state.  The lot owners sued the homeowners’ association, its president, the country club which owned the golf course and the excavation company for trespass.  The court granted summary judgment to the homeowners association, its president and the country club on the trespass claim.  The lot owners also alleged that the homeowners’ association and its president wrongfully rejected their building plans for the lot and were liable for tortious interference with their property rights.  The court also granted summary judgment to the homeowners association and its president on that claim as the lot owners never properly submitted their building plans for approval.

Favorable settlement of construction defect claim

Peter Sewell recently represented a roofing subcontractor in a lawsuit brought by a general contractor alleging deficiencies in the roof work. The construction project involved the renovation of an old factory into residential condominiums. Issues included whether the owner, architect and contractors properly evaluated the existing roof deck and roof systems, whether the old roof systems needed to be fully removed, whether the roof was suitable for use as a rooftop garden and whether the roof coating that was utilized was appropriate for the dual purpose of acting as a weathertight membrane and as a durable surface for foot traffic. Investigation and discovery established that the general contractor had received written and verbal warnings regarding the roof and its intended useage from another commercial roofing contractor. The letter and photos were not found in the general contractor’s project file. The letter and warnings were not shared with the project architect or the retained roofing subcontractor. This and other evidence allowed us to negotiate a favorable settlement for our client at mediation.

Favorable settlement reached in roll-over truck accident and haz-mat spill

Ken O’Brien recently represented a trucking company in a federal lawsuit arising from a chemical spill.  Our investigation revealed that the truck had been loaded improperly, and that the containers may not have been been designed for a reasonably foreseeable event: a rollover accident.  Our work allowed the trucking company to reach a settlement that was significantly less than the initial demand made by the Plaintiff.

Summary judgment granted to national sports organization in products liability claim

Ken O’Brien and Erin Farnham defended a national sports organization in a personal injury claim in Jefferson County, Kentucky.  The Plaintiff was struck in the head with a hit ball while pitching in a softball tournament.   The Plaintiff alleged that the organization sponsored the tournament, and that it allowed the participants to use dangerous and defective equipment, i.e. the ball and bat, and that it should be held responsible for his injury.  We demonstrated that the organization did not sponsor the tournament, and had nothing to do with selecting or approving the equipment used in the tournament. Our client was dismissed following a motion for summary judgment.