There are a million ways to lose a complex
commercial legal case; our lawyers find ways to win. Such was the
case of summary judgment we won for a multinational client in a
patent infringement case which, if lost, would have resulted in the
shutdown of a $150,000,000 production line. Or the multi-state
securities litigation whose outcome was a life-or-death event for a
publicly traded industrial company.
Our lawyers secured the dismissal with prejudice of a trade secrets
case against a client who would have been out of business had we
Our trial lawyers' experience spans all types of complex commercial
litigation: securities litigation including class actions,
construction cases, trade secret matters, director and officer
defense cases, employment law litigation, credit recovery cases,
complex insurance matters, and commercial disputes.
- When the acquisition of a large European company fell through,
the plaintiff, a U.S. company, sued an international investment
broker for several million dollars, claiming that the broker
withheld vital information about the European company. We succeeded
in having the case dismissed before trial and prevailed on the
appeal in the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. We
then proceeded to recover several thousand dollars in attorneys'
fees for our client.
- Under a long-term coal supply agreement, an electric utility
committed to purchase over 2,000,000 tons of coal annually from our
client, a major United States coal producer. In an effort to reduce
its annual purchases by more than one-quarter of a million tons,
the utility employed various reinterpretations of the contract.
After a lengthy arbitration proceeding, we secured an order
requiring the utility to purchase the full contract tonnage for the
remaining 13 years of the agreement which represented in excess of
30,000,000 tons of coal.
- Sued on a $12,000 invoice, our client countersued for defective
performance by the manufacturer responsible for anodizing cookware.
At trial, we won judgment for the entire amount of the counterclaim
which was in excess of $250,000.
- Our clients exercised their rights to terminate an agreement to
acquire a department store chain because the agreement's due
diligence condition as to the value of the assets was not
satisfied. The seller sued for an amount in excess of $10,000,000
claiming that the condition had been waived. We successfully
defended the client's decision through two years of litigation and
negotiated a settlement under which the client purchased only the
few stores it wanted at their actual value.
- After purchasing the assets of two competing businesses, our
client learned that the sellers were back in business violating the
covenants not to compete that they had made in connection with the
transaction. We filed complaints to enjoin the unlawful competition
and ultimately secured the sellers' consents to the injunctions
proving the enforceability of the covenants, thereby saving our
client substantial litigation costs.
- A specialty steel manufacturer suffered substantial business
loss when a new furnace failed causing a molten metal run-out. The
company's business interruption insurer offered to pay only nominal
damages. We sued, and the jury awarded over $1,000,000 in damages,
which the insurer ultimately paid, at a small discount, rather than
- We obtained summary judgment on behalf of a local development
authority, the defendant in a multi-million dollar breach of
contract and tort action. The plaintiff alleged that it was the
successful low bidder on a large environmental remediation and
construction project and brought claims against our client alleging
a failure to award the bid to the lowest responsible bidder. The
plaintiff sought $26 million in compensatory damages and asked for
punitive damages. On our motion, summary judgment was obtained on
behalf of our client and the District Court's ruling was upheld by
the United States Circuit Court of Appeals and certiorari to the
United States Supreme Court was denied.
- A former vice-president sued our client for several hundred
thousand dollars in commissions on a score of complex equipment
leases he had helped to close. Consistent with our advice, the
employer offered the relatively small amount his records indicated
was owed. The former employee sued, and after a complicated bench
trial explaining the intricacies of each of the various equipment
lease transactions, the court awarded precisely what we had advised
the employee was actually due.
- Two electric utilities refused to allow our cable television
client to lease space on their utility poles in favor of a
competing cable television company which had sought to rent the
poles only after our client had first applied to rent them. At the
conclusion of the hearing to enjoin the utilities from favoring the
competitor, the utilities withdrew their opposition to the
injunction and agreed to acknowledge our client's prior right to
use the poles. Thereafter, our client constructed the new cable
system it had set out to build.
- Our client formed an affiliated company to provide
environmental services to its customers. The former employer of two
officers the affiliated company hired sued to enjoin the officers
from working for the client's affiliate even though they had not
signed any agreements not to compete. We filed the preliminary
motions to the suit which the trial court granted and then
dismissed the case without a trial. We prevailed in appeals of the
decision all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
- Our client, a Dutch Corporation, owned the exclusive rights and
license to the "total image" of one of the world's foremost tennis
superstars. On behalf of our client, we brought claims against a
sports equipment manufacturer for breach of endorsement contracts,
unjust enrichment, and various other business torts. We obtained a
favorable settlement for our client with payment of the proceeds
coming in part, from the principals of the manufacturer.
- After a subcontractor's concrete materials failed, our client's
general contractor was set back several months and several hundred
thousand dollars. The client terminated the subcontractor and threw
it off the job. Convinced that the subcontractor was insolvent, the
client did not intend to sue it. We argued that the subcontractor's
liability insurer covered the accident and filed suit. The insurer
settled the claim by paying a large percentage of the client's
- Our client-bank was sued by an insurer for an amount in excess
of three quarters of a million dollars it had paid to its insured
whose dishonest officer had embezzled the money by depositing
forged claim checks into an account at the client-bank.
- Our client defended against the suit and joined, as a party to
the case, the bank on which the checks were drawn. We successfully
argued a motion for summary judgment, and our client paid nothing.
The other bank then settled the claim.
- A vice president of our client had admitted signing millions of
dollars worth of letters of credit on which the holders sued for
payment. We defended our client, arguing that the letters were
unauthorized and brought various insurers of the bank into
settlement negotiations to resolve the claim. Based on our
arguments, the holders substantially compromised their claims, the
insurers contributed to the settlement and our client paid a
fraction of the letters' face value.
- Our client had written off the balance of a loan made to
finance a large construction project. We favorably evaluated
numerous lawsuits the borrower had filed and which had been filed
against it arising out of the project, and participated in the
negotiation of a settlement of all the lawsuits, under which our
client realized a payment of over $1,000,000.</P<<
- We have been called upon by our financial institution clients
to evaluate lawsuits its borrowers have in order to use them as a
vehicle to settle outstanding loans. Through this process, we have
helped our clients recover a higher percentage of the amount owed
than they otherwise would have recovered.
- We obtained summary judgment on behalf of a national insurance
company, the defendant in a declaratory judgment action. The
plaintiff in the case, an excess insurance company, claimed that
our client breached its duty to defend an underlying insured, and
failed to make indemnity payments to that insured.
- We represented a volunteer fire company, which owned and
operated a social club serving alcohol, in obtaining summary
judgment in two wrongful death and survival actions which brought
dram shop and other tort claims. We successfully applied
Pennsylvania law granting immunity to volunteer fire companies and
obtained summary judgment on behalf of all defendants.
- Our client, a large insurer of industrial risks, was the
plaintiff in a subrogation action following the explosion of a
large industrial facility. This insurer had made payment on the
property damage claims. We obtained a substantial settlement on
behalf of our client prior to trial.
- Our client was an insurance company that had issued
environmental remediation bonds. Pennsylvania's Department of
Environmental Resources had forfeited numerous bonds pursuant to a
coal mine operator's failure to properly remediate and reclaim
strip mining areas in Western Pennsylvania. On behalf of our
client, we successfully overturned a majority of the forfeitures,
saving the insurance company large sums of money that would
otherwise have been paid on these forfeited bonds. This case
involved 10 years of litigation before the Environmental Hearing
Board and various Pennsylvania trial level and appellate
- We represented a life insurance company, as plaintiff, in a
complex commercial litigation matter in which we prosecuted claims
for fraud, embezzlement, breach of contract and banking related
claims involving fraudulent endorsement issues. We obtained a large
settlement on behalf of plaintiff against the defendants.
- We successfully defended our client, a surgeon, against a
medical malpractice claim by the estate of a patient who died of a
gastrointestinal hemorrhage following surgery. After the close of
all evidence at trial, the court entered a directed verdict in
favor of our client.
- In a lawsuit brought against our client, a hospital, plaintiff
claimed that he had sustained nerve damage during back surgery. We
demonstrated to the court that there was no credible evidence of
negligence by the hospital. The court granted summary judgment in
favor of our client just prior to trial.
- A truck driver sued a large steel manufacturer for $2.4 million
dollars, $1,742,000 of which were economic damages for personal and
permanent injuries he sustained while on our client's premises.
Because our lawyers presented a persuasive analysis that the
manufacturer had no duty to the driver, the case was dismissed
prior to trial, with the manufacturer paying no amount of money to
- Another truck driver sued the same manufacturer for permanent
injuries sustained while the manufacturer's crane operator was in
the process of loading a coil of steel on to the bed of his truck.
Emphasizing the plaintiff's contributory negligence, we settled the
case for a significantly nominal amount prior to trial.
- We have represented a major shopping mall with respect to
personal injury suits by invitees. By working with the client to
institute careful mall maintenance and security procedures, we
helped to significantly reduce both the number of claims and their
overall costs. We have also held firm on several sham cases which
were ultimately exposed as such.
- An employee of an independent contractor fell while using the
upper half of an extension ladder to perform work on our client's
premises. Citing misuse of the ladder, we won summary judgment
prior to trial despite the seriousness of the permanent
- Several cases have been brought alleging personal injury and
property damage resulting from failures in service of train wheels
manufactured by a specialty steel fabricator. Many have been
settled by us based upon pretrial settlement negotiations on terms
favorable to the manufacturer.
- Cases, including one fatality, have been brought by employees
who work on and near a large steel galvanizing line in an
industrial plant. It was alleged that the owners had defectively
designed the line and certain of its components. All cases have
been won on summary judgment prior to trial.
- Our longstanding representation of the eighth largest
integrated steel company has given rise to several products related
cases. One such case involved a steel coil weighing approximately
20 tons. When the metal bands containing the coil broke, the tail
of the coil struck a young employee of the purchaser in the head
and neck area, causing severe, permanent injuries. The damages
claimed were substantial. We were able to settle the case well
within the non-excess policy limits by emphasizing the lack of
proof regarding causation.
- We successfully defended a distributor of construction
equipment against a products liability claim brought by an
individual who claimed serious brain injury resulting from an
alleged design and manufacturing defect in a forklift truck which
had been modified and sold by our client. The individual demanded
$7,000,000 for settlement. Jury returned a verdict in favor of our
- Our client, a Japanese manufacturer and American supplier of
kerosene heaters, was a defendant in an action regarding bodily
injury and property damage claims arising out of a fire which
burned and injured individuals living in a duplex house in rural
Greene County. The plaintiffs alleged product defect in design and
manufacture and negligence in failure to warn. We obtained a
defense verdict on behalf of all defendants following jury
- Our lawyers represented a national manufacturer of
sophisticated processing line equipment for use in the steel-making
industry. We served as national counsel for the client,
coordinating procedural and settlement policies for personal injury
matters. We also worked with the company's insurance carrier to
assume the defense of additional claims.
Restraint of Trade/Antitrust:
- Our client, a national retailer, was sued by a competitor that
claimed our client conspired to keep the competitor out of certain
key retail locations. We defended the case and settled it for less
than 10% of the damages claimed.
- Our client was sued for allegedly copying another company's
product packaging. Although damages of $10 million were sought, we
settled the case for $0.
- Our lawyers have represented a number of clients who allegedly
committed price fixing along with other defendants. We were able to
settle these cases for nominal amounts.
- A $45 million dollar class action was brought under Rule 10b-5
against a publicly traded national retailer. We settled it on
extremely favorable terms.
- Federal and state shareholder derivative actions were commenced
against a major financial institution. We defended and obtained
dismissals of both actions.
- A $35 million class action was brought under Rule 10b-5 against
a publicly traded manufacturing concern. We settled the litigation
well below policy limits and on extremely favorable terms.
- Our lawyers have represented multiple clients in the defense of
thousands of cases alleging asbestos-related injuries in
Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York and Virginia.
Emphasizing the lack of causation between defendants' products and
plaintiffs' alleged illnesses, we obtained either summary
judgments, defense verdicts or settlements for small amounts of
- Highlighting the lack of association between benzene and
Hodgkin's Disease, our lawyers have defended multiple clients in
cases brought by painters who claim they contracted Hodgkin's
Disease as a result of their exposure to benzene. Settlements
obtained were for minimial amounts of money.
- Currently, we represent a supplier of chemicals and printing
inks in a wrongful death case in which the plaintiff's decedent
alleges that the decedent contracted leukemia as a result of his
exposure to benzene-containing chemicals and printing inks. This
case is in pretrial proceedings.
Trade Secrets/Intellectual Property:
- An industrial products company began manufacturing and
marketing a form of robotics that incorporated our German client's
proprietary know-how and trade secrets. We went to court and won an
injunction to stop the illegal activity.
- A large European multinational client was sued in Federal
District Court for patent infringement and breach of contract by a
competitor. The client faced millions of dollars in damages and the
potential shutdown of a $150,000,000 production line. We obtained
summary judgment even though the agreements were highly complex
documents, the facts of the case spanned thirty years and the
District Judge had warned us that any summary judgment motion would
Michael J. McShea
Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch LLC
Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Avenue, 3rd FloorPittsburgh PA