Congratulations to GWM’s Joe Fasi for the Florida First District Court of Appeal’s ruling in Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Jo E. Freeman. At trial, Philip Morris moved for a directed verdict on the grounds that Plaintiff’s decedent had purportedly filed suit two years after his death. The trial court denied the motion, and while Fasi and the defense team defeated Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, the jury awarded compensatory damages. On appeal, the appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in not granting Philip Morris’s directed verdict motion and reversed the compensatory damages award.
It is with deep sadness but fond remembrance that Gass Weber Mullins shares the news of the death of one of our founding partners, Ric Gass. Ric died suddenly in his home on October 13th.
Ric was a creative and dedicated trial lawyer who worked hard for his clients and lived a commitment to excellence.
Ric served as national trial and supervising counsel in a broad range of cases in venues across the country. Most recently, Benchmark Litigation selected him as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in North America. Ric served as a Fellow and President of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel and the Litigation Counsel of America. He was also a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Diplomat in the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was a past Wisconsin chairman of the Defense Research Institute. He taught for many years at the Marquette University Law School and frequently lectured nationally on legal topics. He was also a teacher and an inspiration for younger lawyers at this firm.
We ask you to share Ric’s memory and our condolences with Ric’s family during this time of grieving. Memorial donations may be made to the Marquette Law School Scholarship Fund: Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall, Att: Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881. Gifts may also be made on-line: https://give.marquette.edu/give-online (scroll to other fund designation and type Law School Scholarship Fund).
Thank you for your sympathy.
Congratulations to Miami partner Joseph Fasi on his appointment by FDCC as Chair of the Trial Masters Program Committee for the 2019-2020 year. The FDCC is an elite group of leaders dedicated to the education of the defense legal community. The Trial Masters program provides practical tools to hone the already excellent skills of its trial lawyer members, and was instituted by our own J. Ric Gass when he served as president of FDCC.
We are thrilled to announce that for the fifth time, Gass Weber Mullins has been named Wisconsin Law Firm of the Year by Benchmark whose focus is exclusively on litigation. This significant award reflects our Team’s commitment to excellence at all stages of litigation.
Richard Orton is a trial attorney, focusing his practice on products liability, general liability, professional liability, and commercial, construction and insurance litigation. Rich represents clients in complex claims in forums throughout Wisconsin and the U.S. Prior to joining Gass Weber Mullins, Rich was a shareholder at one of Wisconsin’s largest civil litigation firms where he gained significant trial and litigation experience.
In a personal injury action in Florida state court, Gass Weber Mullins attorneys Ric Gass, Tamar Kelber, and Stephen Trigg recently defeated the plaintiff’s arguments for equitable estoppel and equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, obtaining a dismissal of the action. The case arose out of a New Jersey resident’s accident at the Emerald Grande Resort in Florida, when he dove into a pool in the middle of the night, causing severe, permanent personal injuries. He brought suit in New Jersey state court against the Emerald Grande and several other defendants. The Emerald Grande sought dismissal of the New Jersey action for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Florida defendants. The court eventually agreed and dismissed the New Jersey action. Plaintiff then tried to bring suit in Florida for the same injuries. The Emerald Grande moved to dismiss the claims because the statute of limitations in Florida had run while the case was pending in New Jersey and before plaintiff filed suit in Florida. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants should be equitably estopped from arguing for dismissal and that the New Jersey action tolled the statute of limitations. The court disagreed, accepting the Emerald Grande’s arguments, and dismissed the case.
For the tenth consecutive year, Gass Weber Mullins LLC has been selected by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers as one of the nation’s Best Law Firms for 2019. The firm achieved regional Tier 1 rankings for Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation and Product Liability Litigation – Defendants as well as Tier 2 rankings in Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants and Tier 3 rankings for Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs and Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.
The 2019 Best Law Firms ranking follows on the announcement of the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America which recognized four of our attorneys. J. Ric Gass has been honored as a Best Lawyer for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, Ralph Weber for the fifteenth consecutive year and Brian Cahill for the seventh consecutive year. Joe Fasi was added to the Best Lawyers list for the fifth consecutive year and was also selected as the 2019 Lawyer of the Year for his work in Insurance Litigation in Miami.
The annual Best Law Firms rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process including the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field, based on “expertise, responsiveness, integrity, cost-effectiveness, whether they would refer a matter to a firm, and whether they consider a firm a worthy competitor.” The 2018 rankings are based on the highest number of participating firms and highest number of client ballots on record. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the US.
Miami partner Joseph Fasi moderated and presented at the Litigation Counsel of America’s Renaissance Symposium XIV at the Harvard Club of New York City. Only 16 speaker slots are available for this advanced trial series event. Mr. Fasi was chosen to deliver his presentation, Talk to Me – So I Can Let You Go – Developing Solid Challenges for Cause, before his elite group of peers.
The LCA is a peer-selected, exclusive honor society of the best trial lawyers in America. The concept for the Renaissance Symposium is the brainchild of our very own J. Ric Gass, former LCA President and Trial Law Institute Life Dean.
Congratulations to GWM attorneys Dan Manna and Stephen Trigg for being selected by Wisconsin Super Lawyers as “Rising Stars.” Super Lawyers recognizes top lawyers in Wisconsin through a multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. This honor reflects top-rated peer recognition and professional achievement. A well-deserved recognition for both.
Congratulations to GWM attorneys Brian Cahill, Joseph Fasi, J. Ric Gass and Ralph Weber on their selection to The Best Lawyers in America 2019.
Brian Cahill – Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
Joseph Fasi – Insurance Litigation, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
J. Ric Gass – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
Ralph Weber – Bet-the-Company Litigation*, Commercial Litigation, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
*Named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers for Bet-the-Company Litigation in 2016
Following on its selection as 2018 Wisconsin Law Firm of the Year, Gass Weber Mullins is pleased to announce that Benchmark Litigation—the definitive guide to the litigation and disputes market in North America—has selected J. Ric Gass as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in North America. In addition, Benchmark has selected partners Tamar Kelber, Dan Manna, Dave Turek and Ralph Weber as local litigation stars and counsel Dan Kennedy as a Future Star. Benchmark conducts editorially driven, in-depth analysis of the litigation and disputes market, highlighting only those firms and lawyers which it deems highly recommended or recommended.
Gass Weber Mullins lawyers Joseph Fasi and Frantz Destin Jr. recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a doctor following a four-day jury trial in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The plaintiff alleged that the doctor failed to diagnose and treat a bone infection, failed to perform the proper procedures, kept inaccurate medical records, and prescribed the wrong medication. The infection resulted in a partial amputation of the plaintiff’s toe and, at trial, the plaintiff argued that she would still have all of her toes but for the doctor’s negligence. The defense argued that the plaintiff failed to take the medication that the doctor prescribed and chose to have her toe amputated instead of undergoing antibiotic treatment for several weeks. The jury agreed with Mr. Fasi and Mr. Destin and found that the doctor’s conduct was not the legal cause of injury to the plaintiff—rendering a defense verdict in a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction.
This September, Gass Weber Mullins hosted our first annual blood drive. With our region’s blood supply being critically low, we joined forces with the American Red Cross and encouraged our neighbors to roll up their sleeves, and together we provided blood that will be used to save up to 80 lives! We are grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a worthy cause.
It is incumbent upon us to take some time every day to think about how we can help others in need. While 60 percent of people are eligible to donate blood, only ten percent actually do. Blood is essential for treating chronic illness, surgeries and traumatic injuries. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. To make an appointment to donate, please call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a listing of community blood drives.
Ralph Weber and Stephen Trigg obtained judgments totaling $2,399,732.49 for the Milwaukee Center for Independence, Inc. (“MCFI”). MCFI is a vital Milwaukee institution that delivers innovative care to people with special needs in the local community. We were asked to help MCFI several years ago when a contracting party began withholding millions of dollars owed MCFI for treating brain-injured patients. The court granted summary judgment for breach of contract against the corporate defendant, and for personal tort liability based on conversion and civil theft against the individual managing member.
After extensive discovery and briefing, Gass Weber Mullins attorneys Ric Gass, Tamar Kelber, Daniel Kennedy and Stephen Trigg recently obtained a dismissal of personal injury action in New Jersey for lack of personal jurisdiction. The case arose out of a New Jersey resident’s accident at the Emerald Grande Resort in Destin, Florida, when he dove into a pool in the middle of the night, causing severe, permanent personal injuries. He brought suit in New Jersey state court against the Emerald Grande and several other defendants. Plaintiff conducted voluminous purported jurisdictional discovery argued that the various defendants’ contacts with New Jersey subjected the Emerald Grande to the New Jersey court’s jurisdiction. The Emerald Grande argued that it lacked continuous and systematic contacts with New Jersey sufficient to deem it “at home” in that state for purposes of general jurisdiction, and that plaintiffs had not established an “act or occurrence” in New Jersey that would make it reasonable to require the Emerald Grande to defend itself in a New Jersey court. The Court accepted the Emerald Grande’s arguments, concluded that it had neither “general” nor “specific” personal jurisdiction over the Emerald Grande, and dismissed the case.
Gass Weber Mullins attorney David Turek has been named a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The LCA is a trial lawyer honorary society composed of less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Fellowship in the LCA is highly selective and by invitation only. Fellows are selected based upon excellence and accomplishment in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and superior ethical reputation. Senior Fellow status in the society is reserved for advanced commitment to and support of the LCA, Diversity Law Institute and Trial Law Institute. The LCA is aggressively diverse in its composition. Established as a trial and appellate lawyer honorary society reflecting the American bar in the twenty-first century, the LCA represents the best in law among its membership. The number of Fellowships has been kept at an exclusive limit by design, allowing qualifications, diversity and inclusion to align effectively, with recognition of excellence in litigation across all segments of the bar. Fellows are generally at the partner or shareholder level, or are independent practitioners with recognized experience and accomplishment. In addition, the LCA is dedicated to promoting superior advocacy, professionalism and ethical standards among its Fellows. Congratulations, Dave, on this stellar accomplishment!
Canada is experiencing an increase in civil jury trials. Attorney Joe Fasi was asked to offer his trial practice advice to the Canadian Chiropractic Protective Association in Toronto, Canada. Joe discussed how he conducts jury selection and presents opening statements in complex medical cases in the United States. Joe demonstrated jury selection, presented an actual opening from a recent trial, and showed video clips of the cross-examination of a plaintiff expert in trial.
Gass Weber Mullins partner Antar Vaughan obtained summary judgment for defendant Wal-Mart in a very plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction in South Florida and recently successfully defended that judgment on appeal. The plaintiff alleged she had been injured in an accident at a Wal-Mart store, and that Wal-Mart had actual and constructive notice of a condition caused by a third-party that led to the accident. Vaughan successfully argued that the third party caused the accident, and that Wal-Mart had no actual or constructive notice of the condition.