The attorneys in our firm have been handling commercial litigation and have been providing advice for corporate clients for over 20 years. Firm President Sheryl Axelrod is one of less than 130 lawyers in Pennsylvania to have been appointed by the Commerce Court to the list of Judges Pro Tempore to mediate commercial disputes, which demonstrates the high regard held by the legal community for the commercial litigation work she and her colleagues at the firm do.
Our attorneys have represented Fortune 500 companies in contractual disputes and have advised, counseled, and offered training to clients on commercial and business-related issues such as the risks in language of agreements that include indemnity provisions, limitations of liability clauses, arbitration clauses, insurance, and other pertinent contractual provisions. One of our attorneys has served as an expert in an international arbitration involving a breach of contract claim, opining on the interpretation of exculpatory clauses in the contract under U.S. law and has counseled U.S. and international clients on various provisions of contracts, purchase orders, and sales agreements.
Partners Sheryl Axelrod and Lisa Savitt are on the roster of AAA Arbitration Panelists for arbitrations involving commercial disputes and have acted as arbitrators in commercial matters.
The following selected cases are representative of the variety of matters the firm has handled.
- Published in “Pennsylvania Jury Verdict Review & Analysis” – Visiting Nurse Group, Inc. vs. Gaudite, PCCP Docket No. 110601804 – Successfully represented Carmelo Gaudite (“Gaudite”), who had owned one-third of the shares of a nursing company, Visiting Nurse Group (VNG), in an action brought against him by VNG. Before the lawsuit was filed, Gaudite had leased another nursing company, ACT Home Health Services, Inc. (“ACT”), the nearby building from which it operated. When VNG found out about the lease, VNG purchased Gaudite’s shares in VNG in exchange for him signing a non-compete agreement with it. In the lawsuit, VNG claimed that Gaudite breached his fiduciary duty to it during his term as a VNG shareholder, by leasing ACT its offices. VNG also claimed that Gaudite violated the parties’ non-compete agreement by funneling nurses to transfer their employment from VNG to ACT. We represented Gaudite through to a bench trial before the Honorable Albert W. Sheppard (deceased), winning Gaudite a defense verdict on all claims. The case was published in Pennsylvania Jury Verdict Review and Analysis, which covers the largest cases in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff VNG never appealed.
- Published in Law360 – EagleBank v. BR Professional Sports Group, Inc., EDPa Civil Action No. 14-5550 – Working alongside an attorney in Maryland, successfully represented EagleBank in an Eastern District of Pennsylvania action in which BR Professional Sports Group (BR) sought to keep $1.25 million that EagleBank had loaned to it. A more junior lienholder attempted to intervene in the action to obtain the funds. The more junior lienholder was permitted to intervene but after multiple briefs, we successfully obtained a Court Order entering summary judgment in favor of EagleBank on all of BR’s claims. BR appealed, and we were able to convince the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to affirm the District Court’s ruling. Thirty days after that ruling became a final judgment, BR returned to EagleBank the full $1.25 million BR had been holding, completing our victory for our client.
- Published in Law360 –LifeWatch Services, Inc. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, EDPa Civil Action No. 12-5146 – Currently represent a major health insurer as local counsel in an antitrust action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in an action brought by the manufacturer of a heart monitoring device seeking millions of dollars. After our client and the other defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint was granted, Plaintiff appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. On appeal, that court reversed on the grounds the district court discussed in its written Opinion but remanded with instructions for the district court to decide an alternative ground our client and the other defendants had raised in our Motion to Dismiss, i.e., whether the McCarran-Ferguson Act precludes the plaintiff’s claim. [ß I had added to this.]
- Published in Law360 – Universal Health Services Inc., Derivative Litigation, EDPa Civil Action No. 17-2187 – Appointed liaison counsel by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to work with court-appointed lead counsel in four multimillion-dollar derivative actions. In these consolidated cases, our client, a shareholder of Nominal Defendant Universal Health Services, Inc. (“Universal”), claims that Universal engaged in a scheme to over-admit patients and keep them admitted to over-bill Medicare and Medicaid for unwarranted “services.” Universal owns and operates more than 230 behavioral health facilities through which Universal and its affiliates provide psychiatric and behavioral health care to more than 460,000 individuals per year. The individual defendants are Universal’s directors and senior officers. In the derivative suits, our client and other plaintiffs allege that these defendants caused Universal to violate the False Claims Act and to file false financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Plaintiffs contend that these defendants artificially inflated the price of Universal common stock by concealing the illicit source of a growing portion of Universal’s reported revenues.
- Defended the sellers of a home in a construction action in which the plaintiff-buyer sought $645,000. The buyer claimed the sellers, who he had hired to perform major renovations on the property, performed the work negligently and defrauded him in its sale. In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Commerce Court litigation, the plaintiff-buyer produced a punch book of more than 500 pages of photographs that he testified supported his claims. The matter went to trial and after a jury was selected, we submitted a Motion in Limine that was granted, and the plaintiff’s damages’ expert was stricken. Immediately thereafter, the plaintiff voluntarily discontinued the action and never filed suit against the defendant-sellers again.
- Successfully defended an attorney in a breach of contract action. The matter went to trial before an arbitration panel in federal court that could have awarded unlimited damages. The arbitration panel found in favor of our client, awarding a complete defense verdict.
- Successfully defended a couple in a breach of contract action. The matter went to a non-jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, which found in favor of our client.
- Successfully represented companies that included a major health care provider in advice and litigation for, inter alia, breach of contract and breach of warranty claims arising out of licensing agreements with software vendors. One case resulted in an often-cited opinion on breach of warranty issues – see Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. v. Prophet 21, Inc., 123 F. Supp.2d 826 (E.D. Pa. 2000).
- Successfully led a corporation through a crisis involving one of its facility’s administrators, after evidence arose that she embezzled monies from the corporation and may have started a fire at the facility to cover up her embezzlement. From the time the administrator was charged with embezzlement to the time she pled guilty to it, we drafted press releases for the company: (1) discussing our client’s cooperation with the authorities; and (2) calling out the behavior with which the administrator was charged, as unacceptable. Our approach of being transparent and holding the administrator accountable, paid off. The community’s support and level of engagement with the corporation rose rather than fell.
- Researched and drafted appellate briefs in Pennsylvania state and federal courts, including the appeal brief in a Commercial Litigation dispute between information technology companies in which $825 million was at stake.