News

March 23, 2020

New Orleans Partners Guest Lecture Toxic Torts Class at LSU Law School

On March 11, 2020, New Orleans attorneys Charles Abbott and Melissa Fuller guest lectured a Toxic Torts Class at LSU Law School, the second in a series of classes taught by FormanWatkins’s attorneys this semester. Presenting to both second year and third year law students, Mr. Abbott and Ms. Fuller focused their lecture on all aspects of asbestos, silica, and benzene litigation and discussed many of the scientific, as well as practical, issues and topics they encounter in their daily practices. This is the second year that Mr. Abbott and Ms. Fuller have guest lectured together a Toxic Torts Class at LSU Law School. On March 13, 2020, Mr. Abbott returned to LSU Law School and guest lectured for the same Toxic Torts Class with Larry Centola of Martzell Bickford & Centola.  Messrs. Abbott and Centola focused their lecture on the pro’s and con’s of class actions and multi-district litigation (MDL) in connection with toxic torts and mass torts from both a defense and plaintiff’s perspective. This is the third year that Messrs. Abbott and Centola have guest lectured together.     

March 20, 2020

Employment Law Update – COVID-19 and the Workplace:  An Employer’s Quick Guide

With COVID-19 reaching pandemic status and the total number of cases in the United States surging, it has become critical that employers have a response strategy.  Any response strategy to COVID-19 should consider the current and developing labor and employment laws implicated by the COVID-19 crisis along with the concerns that could arise outside the employment context, including potential tort and contract liability. “A Workplace Free from Recognized Hazards:” The Employer’s Duty to Minimize Risks The critical focus, first and foremost, is employee safety.  Employers should reexamine what their duties are to employees in light of the COVID-19 crisis – and because new developments with the virus seem to trickle in daily – employers face somewhat of a moving target when it comes to employment law compliance. First, nearly all employers in the United States have a statutory duty to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).  Section 5(a)(1), also known as the “general duty clause,” requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace “free from recognized hazards … likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  This standard requires employers to take reasonable steps to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.  Such reasonable steps could include providing information regarding the COVID-19 crisis to employees, developing a flexible and responsive safety and health policy, communicating with employees on the policy, and effectively enforcing it.  Employers may wish to review OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, found here. In addition to OSHA, employers must remain mindful […]

March 19, 2020

Gault and Ritchie Complete Successful Jury Trial

Win Gault and Spencer Ritchie completed a successful jury trial for an international oil field supply company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.  The plaintiff claimed almost $10 million for property damage to its business and clean-up costs resulting from a spill of hydrochloric acid.  After a successful partial motion to dismiss, a partial motion for summary judgment, and an eight day jury trial, the jury awarded plaintiff 5% of the original damage claim.

March 4, 2020

Maron, Metcalf, and Giallourakis Win Summary Judgment

FormanWatkins attorneys Ruth Maron, Joshua Metcalf, and Nick Giallourakis worked with attorneys from Bullivant Houser Bailey to obtain summary judgment in a King County, Washington living mesothelioma case on February 28, 2020.  FormanWatkins and Bullivant Houser convinced Judge John Ruhl that plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed because neither the plaintiffs nor plaintiffs’ experts had offered sufficient evidence of exposure to our client’s product.  Judge Ruhl determined that plaintiffs had not actually testified to exposure to our client’s product and further rejected an affidavit from plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Arthur Frank, as too speculative and conclusory to create a genuine issue of material fact.  Our client was one of only two remaining defendants, and the case is set for trial on April 6, 2020.

March 3, 2020

FormanWatkins Releases 2019 Pro Bono & Civic Engagement Report

FormanWatkins released its 2019 Pro Bono & Civic Engagement Report today. The Firm’s pro bono efforts are led by our Pro Bono Committee, whose members include: Alison McMinn, Courtney Hunt, Erin Latuso, Julian Miller, Margaret McLaughlin, Mimi Arthur, Mitch McGuffey, Nicole Diesa, and Vernon McFarland.

March 2, 2020

FormanWatkins Runs the Mississippi Blues Marathon

Congratulations to all finishers of the 2020 Mississippi Blues Marathon, especially the FormanWatkins relay team (Simine Reed, Mitch McGuffey, Patrick Fields, and Ruth Maron) and FormanWatkins runners of the half marathon, 10k, and 5k. Pictured Left to Right: (Back) Ruth Maron, Simine Reed, Patrick Fields, Jackie Conway, Mitch McGuffey, Chad Welch (husband to Jean Folsom); (Front) Beth Wilkins, Jean Folsom (with baby Fox), and Lucy Chappell. Not pictured: Danny Mulholland and Sam Kapoor.

February 28, 2020

Forest Products Team Wins Summary Judgment

In another win for our forest products team, on February 21, 2020, FormanWatkins won summary judgment on all counts on behalf of a dimensional lumber manufacturer in a case involving a plaintiff’s alleged childhood exposure to softwood dust in his father’s hobby woodshop. FormanWatkins argued that because it was not reasonable to foresee that exposure to wood dust could cause sinonasal cancer, the manufacturer had no duty to warn the plaintiff of such risk. FormanWatkins also argued that regardless of the manufacturer’s duty, any alleged failure to warn was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. The Eastern District of North Carolina agreed and dismissed the case. In her in-depth opinion, Judge Flanagan reasoned that based on state of the art, wood dust was not a known cause of sinonasal cancer during the exposure period, and the manufacturer therefore had no duty to warn. Furthermore, there was no foreseeable risk of cancer from wood dust to a retail consumer of mostly softwood products, such as the plaintiff’s father. In addition, the Court held that the plaintiff failed to establish proximate causation, as it was speculative to assume that the plaintiff’s father would have taken any different action or avoided wood dust exposure if an additional warning had been provided. Congratulations to FormanWatkins team members Joshua Metcalf, Alison McMinn, Tanya Ellis, Ruth Maron, Courtney Hunt, and Sam Kapoor, who all contributed to the win.

February 27, 2020

Gault and Ritchie Win in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Win Gault and Spencer Ritchie recently won in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where the Court affirmed the District Court’s ruling that awarded our client contractual damages, attorney fees, pre-judgment interest, and post-judgment interest totaling more than $900,000. In January 2019, Win and Spencer obtained a bench trial verdict in favor of our client, an oil and gas company, in a contractual indemnity action pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Win and Spencer presented oral argument before the Fifth Circuit in December 2019. The Court issued its opinion in February and designated it for publication.

February 20, 2020

Gray Selected to New Orleans CityBusiness 2020 Leadership in Law

FormanWatkins is proud to announce that Tim Gray has been selected by New Orleans CityBusiness to its 2020 Leadership in Law class. Each year New Orleans CityBusiness recognizes 50 area professionals in the field of law for their career and community accomplishments. To celebrate this year’s honorees, an event will be held in May at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Tim enjoys a practice that presents new and varied challenges and opportunities. He has served as national trial counsel to several defendants in toxic tort litigation and has tried cases in several states in that capacity. He also represents parties in commercial disputes in Louisiana and Mississippi ranging from straightforward breach of contract actions to more complex matters involving multiple parties. Tim’s commercial practice has included representation of a real estate investment trust in acquisitions, dispositions, and financings, as well as representation of local Louisiana individuals and companies seeking advice on corporate and transactional matters. While he enjoys his work, Tim is also actively involved in his community. He currently serves on the board of a local charter school where he enjoys participating in the challenging process of remaking the New Orleans school system, one school at a time. Incorporating this philosophy into his work every day, Tim pushes himself and others around him to always strive to be better, creating an atmosphere of excellence which brings his clients not only great results, but peace of mind. Tim is Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® Peer Rated, and he has been selected […]