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Insurer Prevails Against Additional Insured In Coverage Dispute Stemming From Underlying Maritime Action

In an insurance coverage case arising from a maritime personal injury and limitation action, Fox Smith attorneys obtained summary judgment for the insurer from the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, while at the same time successfully opposing a motion for summary judgment from an additional insured. Related to a maritime injury action underlying “Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co.,” Martin Marietta, though not a party to the maritime case, had nevertheless filed a petition for exoneration or limitation pursuant to federal statute. Fox Smith’s Bart

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Ron Fox and Reggie Johnson Featured Panelists at Maritime Law Seminar

Ron Fox and Reggie Johnson will be featured panelists at the upcoming Maritime Law Seminar put on by Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis on October 27, 2006, in St. Louis. They will be discussing “Dealing with Claims: Personal Injuries, Wrongful Discharge, ADA, and the Federal Maritime Lien Act.” For more information on the panel and the seminar, visit www.bamsl.org.

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Table Saw Product Liability Case Dismissed

Eric Hagler’s finger was amputated while he was using a table saw. He sued Emerson Electric and The Home Depot in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis alleging the saw was defective. Fox Smith was hired to defend both companies and promptly removed the case to federal court, arguing Emerson had been fraudulently joined because it was not the actual manufacturer of the saw. In response, plaintiff dismissed Home Depot and the case was remanded to the state court. There, John Smith filed a motion for summary judgment establishing that Emerson could not be held liable for the accident. While the motion was pending, plaintiff dismissed the case against Emerson. Thus, without the expense of a single deposition, both of Fox Smith’s clients have been dismissed from the case.

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Good Result for Ford on Fraudulent Joinder Issue in Tractor Rollover Case

Stephen Menz drove a Ford tractor’s front left tire into a hole on his property, causing the tractor to overturn. He was pinned beneath the tractor for over eight hours and, as a result, his left arm was amputated. He sued both Ford Motor Company and the local dealer who had performed repairs on the tractor in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis. Ford retained Fox Smith to defend the case. John Smith and his team promptly removed the case to federal court, arguing the dealer had been fraudulently joined as a defendant because it had no duty to warn plaintiff of the purported defect in the tractor. The district court denied plaintiff’s motion to remand and eventually dismissed the case after Fox Smith discovered the scene of the accident, as well as the tractor itself, had been substantially modified before suit was filed.

Jon Garside and Katie Fowler handled the appeal to the 8th Circuit. Although the court remanded the case for further findings on the spoliation issue, it also held that a local repair company that does not create the purported defect in the product does not have a duty to warn about the defect, and that such an entity is fraudulently joined. Thus, the addition of a local dealer as a defendant in a case filed in a state court against an out-of-state product manufacturer should not serve as a bar to removal of the case to federal court.

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Fox Smith Staff Elected to Legal Organization Posts

The St. Louis Legal Assistants’ organization voted and approved a proposed slate of 2006-2007 officers on March 8, 2006. The new officers include three paralegals from Fox Smith, LLC:

Heather Firestone will be the incoming Secretary. Heather joined Fox Smith in May 2005. She has more than five years experience in litigation and holds an Applied Science Degree in Legal Studies.

Pat Mangum will be Treasurer for the upcoming year as well as the chair for the Community and Social Affairs Committee. Pat joined Fox Smith in February 2005. She has over 25 years of legal experience.

Donna Clements will chair the Programs and Education Committee and serve as the BAMSL liaison. Donna holds a BA in Legal Studies with Certification in Paralegal Studies and is a Registered Nurse. Donna joined Fox Smith in August 2005. She has over three years experience as a legal nurse consultant in addition to over 20 years in nursing.

Additionally, Sherry Hurst, the Administrator at Fox Smith, is the President-Elect of the Gateway Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators for the 2006-2007 year. Sherry has been the Administrator at Fox Smith since October 2003. She has over 15 years experience as a legal administrator and over 25 years of overall legal experience. She holds a double Master’s degree in Business and Human Resource Development.

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Insurer Prevails Against Additional Insured In Coverage Dispute Stemming From Underlying Maritime Action

In an insurance coverage case arising from a maritime personal injury and limitation action, Fox Smith attorneys obtained summary judgment for the insurer from the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, while at the same time successfully opposing a motion for summary judgment from an additional insured. Related to a maritime injury action underlying “Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co.,” Martin Marietta, though not a party to the maritime case, had nevertheless filed a petition for exoneration or limitation pursuant to federal statute. Fox Smith’s Bart Sullivan represented the defendant parties in the maritime case (resolved through settlement in Kentucky state court) and in the limitation action. In 2005, the Western District court held that Martin Marietta was a named insured on defendants’ insurance policy, but denied Martin Marietta’s claims for indemnity and attorneys’ fees.

Martin Marietta then sued the defendants’ insurer, Zurich American Insurance Co. (represented by Fox Smith attorney Bart Sullivan) for costs and attorneys’ fees related to the limitation action and for damages stemming from Zurich’s alleged refusal to provide a defense. Both Martin Marietta and Zurich filed motions for summary judgment. Martin Marietta claimed it was entitled to a defense, its costs and attorneys’ fees relating to the limitation action, and damages. Bart Sullivan, on behalf of Zurich, argued that Martin Marietta’s claims against Zurich were never ripe because the underlying injury plaintiff never sued Martin Marietta, that Martin Marietta’s claims and motion were barred by the commencement provision of the insurance policy, and that Martin Marietta had in place insurance that covered it in any event.

The Western District of Kentucky court, in March 2006, ruled in favor of Zurich and against Martin Marietta on both motions. It noted, as argued by Bart, that the insurance policy at issue included a one-year limitation period requiring all suits relating to any claim on the policy to be commenced within one year from the denial of coverage. Here, the alleged denial of coverage took place in August 2003, but Martin Marietta did not bring suit against Zurich until May 2005. Thus, under applicable state substantive law, Martin Marietta’s claims for damages, indemnification, and attorneys’ fees were time-barred. Accordingly, the court held the commencement provision precluded the suit brought by Martin Marietta against Zurich.

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Fox Smith Meets Demand For New Technology

With excerpts from the article by Allison Retka — St. Louis Daily Record
Smack in the middle of the “year of electronic discovery,” legal technology experts say client demand is fueling a new push for expanded technology use at law firms. Whether mapping a chronology for a medical malpractice suit or editing hundreds of hours of video depositions for a stirring visual aid during trial, software programs – and those who administer training and advice for such programs – are rapidly gaining popularity among local firms that want to keep organized and keep at the top of their game.

Pat Mangum, one of Fox Smith’s paralegals, has found she was able to use litigation support software in more creative ways to better meet the indexing needs of the firm. As a “paralegal who thinks outside the box,” Mangum said she tweaked and more effectively used software last year on a product liability case, one of her very first projects at the firm. With some help, Mangum was able to tailor the program to capture some unique information outside of regular documents. “Entering volumes upon volumes of documents and the coding process is a little tedious, but you have to invest some time in it,” she said. “I like the searching capabilities.” Basic knowledge of legal software programs is becoming “almost a requirement” for paralegals, Mangum said, unless they work for a large firm with its own technology department. “A paralegal who can work in a database – well, it only enhances our value,” she said.

See the full article by clicking here.

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Fox Smith, LLC. Has Announced Three New Partners: Michael P. Downey, Richard B. Korn and Bart C. Sullivan

Mike Downey primarily represents businesses in commercial, environmental, employment, and class action litigation. He also teaches legal ethics at Washington University School of Law, speaks on professional ethics for groups including the American Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, and the Missouri Society of CPAs, and represents and advises lawyers and accountants in legal and disciplinary matters. Mike graduated first in his class from Washington University School of Law in 1998 and clerked for the Hon. Pasco M. Bowman, then Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, before entering private practice. Mike is licensed in Missouri and Illinois and admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Seventh and Eight Circuits, and U.S. District Courts in Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois. Prior to law school, Mike was the Latin teacher at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.

Since beginning at Fox Smith in September 2003, Richard Korn has represented a wide variety of clients in products liability, medical malpractice, employment, toxic tort, and general commercial litigation matters. In his career, he has worked in both private practice and in a corporate law department, thus providing him with a vast array of litigation experience. Richard graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 1995