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Bill Settles Inducted in American Board of Trial Advocates

The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) elected LDM partner Bill Settles to its membership at its June meeting.  ABOTA is one of the premier trial advocacy organizations in the country.  Membership in ABOTA is limited to trial attorneys with extensive courtroom experience who exhibit high personal character, who have an honorable reputation, and who are proficient in the courtroom.  Membership requires nomination by a member of ABOTA and an affirmative vote by 75% of the membership of both the local and national ABOTA chapters.  The Firm congratulates Mr. Settles on this exceptional honor.

LDM Welcomes New Team Members

LDM would like to welcome three new Law Clerks to the Firm this summer as well as a new Human Resources Manager.

Kate Geyer will be a 3rd year law student at University of Nebraska at Lincoln where she also received her Bachelor’s degree in History and Medieval & Renaissance Studies.  Jonathan Cox will be a 2nd year law student at Creighton University.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from University of Northern Colorado with a B.S. in Business Administration.  Ryan Crnkovich will be a 2nd year law student at Creighton University and also received his B.S. degree from Creighton in Business Administration.

Mary Beth Bisignano has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources and most recently worked for Medico Insurance Company where she was Human Resources Manager.  She graduated from Creighton University with a B.A. in Organizational Communication.

Defense Verdict Affirmed on Appeal

LDM attorneys Mark Novotny, John Walker and Sarah Macdissi recently obtained a ruling from the Nebraska Supreme Court affirming a dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint against a Physical Therapy clinic based on the plaintiff’s failure to timely file her lawsuit.  In Churchill v. Columbus Community Hospital, the Court agreed that Physical Therapists are professionals, and that the patient’s fall in exiting an aquatic therapy pool, after being evaluated by her therapist for her ability to ambulate, was an action sounding in professional negligence.  The plaintiff’s complaint was therefore subject to the professional limitations period, and dismissed for failing to be timely filed.

Estate Tax Uncertainty Continues

President Obama’s new budget seeks an increase in estate taxes.

Although the ink is barely dry on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the “2012 Tax Act”) which became effective in January of 2013, President Obama’s new budget includes a proposed increase to estate and gift taxes.  Under current law, which was enacted as part of the “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations, estates are subject to a 40% tax on values in excess of $5,250,000.  In his recent budget proposal, the President would reduce the estate/gift exemption to $3,500,000 and increase the applicable tax rate to 45% of any amount that exceeds that exemption amount.

In the April 16, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal, the editors comment unfavorably on the President’s proposal and opine that the GOP is certainly going to resist the President’s efforts to change existing law.

The editors go on to observe that it is too soon to know if the President is serious about this part of his budget initiative or if the proposal is simply a bargaining chip to be exchanged for other provisions in his budget.  To read the full article, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323346304578422763444261352.html

Mark Novotny and Denise Destache Speak on Preparing Physicians in Risk Management

Partners Mark Novotny and Denise Destache recently participated in the dinner and presentation to 86 medical residents from the University of Nebraska Medical Center discussing issues of Nebraska state licensure investigations, prescription of controlled substances and documentation.  The presentation was in conjunction with attempts to prepare physicians in the area of risk management.

Bright Prospect for Midlands Law School Graduates

Law school graduates in the Midlands have a brighter prospect of being hired than those on the coasts. Admission to law schools for the fall, has decreased nationally. In a recent article in the Omaha World Herald, partner Brian Brislen relates that new graduate hires, at the firm has actually increased this year compared to the previous two. Competition for these positions has grown with the increase in the number of graduates.  You can read the full story at http://www.omaha.com/article/20130409/MONEY/704099961/1685

LDM Successfully Defends University in Disability Discrimination Case

LDM attorneys Craig Martin and Jason Grams convinced a jury that their client, a local university, did not discriminate against one of its students.  The student alleged that he was removed from the Nursing Program because of his disability.  The university disagreed, asserting that the student was removed from the Nursing Program because he failed to meet the expectations of a senior nursing student.

The trial took four days to complete, and involved numerous exhibits and testimony from administrators, professors and students.  The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the university.

Discrimination claims against educational institutions, like those against employers, are difficult because of the sympathies engendered by a plaintiff.  LDM and the university were pleased that the jury looked beyond these sympathies and to the facts underlying the university’s decision to remove the student from the Nursing Program.

LDM Attorneys Secure $33.5 Million Settlement

LDM attorneys, led by Mark Novotny, Pat Vipond and Cathy Trent-Vilim, recently secured a $33.5 million settlement for a large commercial client in a highly complex and contentiously-litigated matter.  Over the course of the three and a half year suit, LDM successfully defeated three separate motions to dismiss and two motions for summary judgment (which span more than 500 pages of combined briefing and thousands of pages of evidence).  The settlement, reached only weeks before a scheduled six-week federal jury trial, related to investment losses the commercial client suffered while participating in a program operated by the defendants.  The case required the team effort of numerous LDM attorneys, paralegals, and staff members, who analyzed more than 550,000 pages of documents produced by the defendants and reviewed approximately 1.4 million pages of client documents for privilege and responsiveness.

Partner Sean Minahan Travels to S.E. Asia

Partner, Sean Minahan recently spent 12 days traveling in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan as a member of the Nebraska LEAD Class 31.  Throughout the educational travel seminar, the group met with governmental and corporate representatives from each country’s agricultural sector.  The prevailing theme of the experience was the U.S. agriculture’s role in S.E. Asia’s food supply and how that role may change in the future.  You can contact Sean if you have any questions about his experience traveling  in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Plaintiff Verdict Affirmed on Appeal

LDM attorneys Bill Lamson and Cathy Trent-Vilim recently obtained a ruling from the Nebraska Supreme Court affirming a $1 million plaintiff’s verdict.  In Werner v. County of Platte, the Court rejected the County’s objections to the trial court’s receipt of certain evidence, and its determination that the plaintiff was an “innocent third party” for purposes of Nebraska’s vehicular pursuit strict liability statute, and upheld the trial court’s judgment for Mr. Werner in the amount of $1 million, the maximum permitted by Nebraska law.