Attorneys Ric Gass and Mike Brennan of Gass Weber Mullins recently returned from a six-week trial in the historic Newark courtroom where the movie Presumed Innocent was filmed. The wrongful death lawsuit brought against Newark Public Schools arose from an assault and triple-murder carried out by members of one of America’s most notorious street gangs, MS-13 (“Mara Salvatrucha”).
The victims – four college students – were brutally attacked after entering a schoolyard through a gate that had been inadvertently left unlocked. The plaintiffs asserted that a series of property defects, including the unlocked gate and Newark’s high crime rate, rendered the schoolyard in a “dangerous condition.”
Gass and Brennan, on behalf of their client, countered that the criminal attackers’ actions, not those of the school district, were the proximate cause of plaintiffs’ injuries.
The complex litigation involved more than 100 potential witnesses, including detectives, EMTs, neighbors, and school district supervisory personnel. Numerous experts also testified on a range of topics including premise security, gang violence, psychiatric and medical conditions, and damages.
Over the next six weeks the plaintiffs’ demand kept dropping until just before closing arguments when plaintiffs accepted the offer made by GWM’s client at the opening of trial, plus a payment (substantially exceeding that offered by GWM’s client) by the co-defendant State of New Jersey, which had taken over the Newark Public Schools in the mid-1990′s.
It was a good start to what looks to be a busy year for Gass. This was the first of five catastrophic injury cases his team is scheduled to try this year. Gass has not lost a case in eight years.
In a national case of first impression, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court decision that lawyers’ use of a competitor’s name as a search term in sponsored link advertising does not violate Wisconsin’s right of privacy statute. The Court affirmed a summary judgment dismissal of the complaint brought against the Cannon & Dunphy law firm, represented by J. Ric Gass of Gass Weber Mullins.
Commented Gass, “We applaud the court’s decision, which effectively brings attorney advertising into the modern era. The decision is win-win-win; a win for our client’s ability to effectively compete in an open marketplace; a win for the legal profession in terms of its ability to communicate with prospective clients; and a win for consumers of legal services, who now are better able to make an informed decision about their choice of lawyer.” For further discussion on this case, please see here.
Clients turn to Mr. Gass for the handling of major risk litigation of all kinds, including intellectual property. Mr. Gass has been elected to the status of Fellow by his peers in the trial bar in numerous legal honorary societies such as The American College of Trial Lawyers and has served as president to numerous national legal organizations.
Gass Weber Mullins was just named one of the top 10 boutique law firms in the country by The National Law Journal. The firm includes former in-house corporate counsel, nationally renowned litigators and highly regarded former trial judges. The firm handles a broad range of civil litigation including commercial disputes, product liability, catastrophic injuries, bad faith, construction lawsuits, food safety and life, health and disability litigation, as well as appellate work.
We are pleased to announce that Gass Weber Mullins was recently named one of the top ten litigation boutique law firms in the country by The National Law Journal. In releasing its annual list, the publication noted: “They may be small, but they command attention. The 10 law firms on our Litigation Boutiques Hot List…demonstrate that when it comes to high-stakes cases, it’s all about skill, not size. These are the firms important clients turn to for state-of-the-art advocacy in bet-the-company cases.” We are proud to be included on this elite list and look forward to continuing to serve clients with their ever-more complex litigation challenges.
This month’s Of Counsel magazine features an in-depth interview (here) with Gass Weber Mullins’ attorney and partner Ric Gass. The article’s introduction discusses the civility with which Gass treats opposing counsel and discusses the more than 300 trials he has brought to verdict. The interview provides an informative discussion on Gass’s personal history and the unique path he took to becoming a lawyer. It also examines the principles behind Gass Weber Mullins winning formula, including a recent run of ten consecutive trial wins, and the upside down pyramid approach the firm uses to maximize client satisfaction.
The Winter 2012 edition of the Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal, published by the Wisconsin Defense Counsel, features an article written by attorney Daniel J. Kennedy that details the history and evolution of Wisconsin’s Pollution Exclusion Jurisprudence. The article provides wide-ranging and valuable insight into the ramifications of the gradually expanding scope of substances and situations to which standard pollution exclusions apply. Kennedy’s analysis examines both historical and contemporary court decisions in order to provide clues to the likely future direction of the courts.
Dan Kennedy is a 2004 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. His practice encompasses a wide variety of civil litigation matters, including products liability, professional negligence, insurance coverage and personal injury defense.
This month’s issue of Wisconsin Lawyer features two articles written by attorneys from Gass Weber Mullins. Beth Hanan, who specializes in appellate work, provides insight into some of the most significant decisions handed down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court during the 2011-2012 term. Read the article here. Michael Brennan’s cover story offers detailed insight and analysis into nine significant 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin federal court decisions interpreting Wisconsin law.
Gass Weber Mullins is featured in the September 2012 issue of Corporate Counsel, American Lawyer Media’s national in-house counsel magazine. The article recaps the firm’s multiple nationwide trial victories, including a one-year stretch starting in August, ’11 when Gass Weber Mullins “put together a 7-0 streak of trial wins from Maui to Oklahoma to Maine on a diverse mix of insurance defense matters and assorted other commercial cases.”
Corporate Counsel traces the firm’s roots back to a predecessor firm where several founding partners worked in the early 1990s, and who reunited in 2004 to create a boutique firm of trial lawyers which strives to be the best not the biggest; which embraces technology; makes extensive use of jury research; tries high-stakes, complex, leading-edge cases; and consistently delivers outstanding results for national clients on both sides of the caption.
A Marathon County Wisconsin jury recently awarded $50 million dollars in damages to a Wausau-based consumer finance company represented by the attorneys of Gass Weber Mullins. The claims arose after the defendant, a large regional accounting firm, failed to disclose a series of accounting errors for over a year related to the accounting for the client’s loan-loss reserves and then the accounting firm improperly withdrew from the accounting engagement altogether. The delay in disclosure and improper withdrawal left the client without audited financial statements it needed to access financing, the life blood of the client’s business, at the worst possible time – shortly before the fall of 2008 when banking giant Lehman Brothers failed. Without access to financing, the client was unable to fully access its $250 million line of credit or obtain other financing to support its business. As a result, after six consecutive years of multi-million dollar profits, the client suffered several devastating years of multi-million dollar losses.
The contentious and hard fought trial, argued by attorneys Ralph Weber, Amelia McCarthy and Paul Heaton of Heaton Trial Law LLC, lasted four weeks and demanded the attorneys make complex accounting issues accessible to individuals without any background in the field of consumer finance. The Gass Weber Mullins trial team augmented their legal expertise and wealth of trial experience with the use of state of the art evidence presentation software. The combination of talent and technology gave the jury unparalleled access to a tremendous volume of evidence, and allowed them the ability to process the labyrinthine complexities of the case in a very short timeframe. Following the close of arguments and two days of careful deliberations, the jury returned to the courtroom and awarded the plaintiff a $50 million dollar verdict. The verdict is one of the largest in Wisconsin history and comes on the heels of several other high profile trials won by the trial attorneys of Gass Weber Mullins.
Post trial, the trial judge issued a 16-page single-spaced written decision unequivocally upholding the jury’s verdict and rejecting all of the defendant’s post-verdict motions.
On October 6, 2012 in Colorado Springs, CO, Beth Ermatinger Hanan was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. The Academy was founded in 1990 to advance the highest standards and practices of appellate advocacy and to recognize outstanding appellate lawyers. Membership is by invitation only, and only after a rigorous background investigation including contact with the nominee’s opposing counsel in multiple appeals and with judges before whom the nominee has appeared. Ms. Hanan is one of three AAAL fellows in Wisconsin.
Attorneys from Gass Weber Mullins were recently granted the opportunity to present an in-depth case-study before the Litigation Counsel of America’s annual meeting in Laguna Nigel, California. The three-hour presentation, delivered by attorneys Ric Gass, Brian Cahill, Mike Brennan, and Dave Turek, alongside trial consultant Jon Smith of Courtroom Intelligence of Odessa, Texas, provided comprehensive analysis of a complex, high-stakes case (defending a Fortune 100 company) which the team litigated a year earlier.
The LCA is a prestigious national trial lawyer organization of elected Fellows who engage in all areas of litigation and who represent both plaintiffs and defendants. The organization prides itself on bringing together the nation’s preeminent trial attorneys in promotion of superior advocacy, scholarship, judicial ethics and the art of effective litigation.
The presentation was met with rave reviews from trial lawyers (who represent clients and corporations on both sides of litigation), and garnered the following praise:
“Your firm’s approach is a template for how persuasion should be accomplished.”
- Louisiana LCA Fellow
“Your team is the “A-Team” of trials. My firm could only hope to coordinate a trial with the cohesiveness you guys have.”
-New Jersey LCA Fellow
“The best presentation we have ever seen at any CLE conference”.
-West Virginia LCA Fellows
“These guys rock.”
-New Jersey LCA Fellow