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									Wilson Elser
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman Dicker                                                     &                                  LLP

                                                                                  Vo l u m e 2 0 , F a l l I s s u e , 2 0 0 7   wilsonelser.com

A letter from the Chairman…                   Wilson Elser succeeding in toxic tort defense
                                                   For more than 25 years, Wilson Elser has defended
                                              businesses in cases involving exposure to toxic materials and
                                              substances. Toxic tort litigation is a complex legal process,
                                              often involving large numbers of plaintiffs, and claims in
                                              multiple jurisdictions. Firm attorneys experienced in this
                                              area have racked up victories for clients across a range of
                                                   One such attorney is M. Douglas Eisler (Partner-
                                              Philadelphia). Over the past year, he has won four cases in
                                              a row in which plaintiffs alleged injury from exposure to         M. Douglas Eisler
                                              asbestos. The cases involved two defendants, one a retail giant and the other a division
                                              of a global aircraft and automotive company.                         Continued on page 4
          Thomas W. Wilson

                                              ‘Defense Attorney of Distinction’
  Chairman of the Executive Committee

       Things were not quite the same this
  year at our Partners Meeting. We were                                   Paul “PJ” Bottari (Partner-Metro New York) says a
                                                                     lawyer’s success in the courtroom is “part hard work, part luck.”
  missing the face of one partner not with
                                                                     But luck had nothing to do with this 30-year firm veteran being
  us. As you know our dear friend and                                honored by a New York Jewish organization. It was PJ’s reputa-
  partner, Keith Von Glahn passed away                               tion as a talented litigator that earned him kudos.
  suddenly this summer. It was a shock to                                 The Institute of Jewish Humanities named PJ its “Defense
  everyone.                                                          Attorney of Distinction” at its 28th annual testimonial dinner on
                                                                     June 13. He was one of four professionals honored for contri-
       Keith was always a delight to be                              butions in their respective fields.
  with. He always could be counted on for         Paul J. Bottari          In bestowing the honor on PJ, the Institute noted his out-
  a smile and his natural ebullience was a
                                              standing work in defense litigation in catastrophic personal injury and other areas. Also
  gift he shared readily with everyone. He
                                                                                                                                 Continued on page 2
  made everyone feel special. He was
  handsome too. This rare combination of
  magnetic energy and spirit, and his quick
  intellect, made him a great lawyer.
                                              2007 WEMED University
  Always dependable and always there to            WEMED University was host to 35 exec-
  help, Keith was a friend to all.            utives from 24 insurers and 11 countries in
                                              September. The conclave gathered in New
        We will all miss this very special    York to discuss legal trends in their business
  person. Keith personified the best in us.   from Bermuda, China, England, Finland,
                                              Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden, and
  He connected with everyone and we are
  all blessed in the knowledge that part of
                                                   The curriculum for the week-long semi-
  that connection is his gift to us. Use it
                                              nar included lectures on topics of interest to
  well.                                       the insurance community such as the expo-
      Farewell to this wonderful man          sures presented by global warming and nanotechnology. Faculty members from Wilson
                                                                                                                                 Continued on page 3
2                                                                                                                                    Wemedia

‘Defense Attorney of Distinction’                                from page 1

acknowledged was PJ’s published work,             Dame and Fordham University School of              said Richard S. Klein (Partner-Metro New
including “A Complete Guide to Lead Paint         Law – he found himself observing other             York). Rich describes his colleague as a liti-
Poisoning Litigation,” a book he co-              lawyers’ methods in the courtroom and cri-         gator who is willing to take on even the
authored with Michael L. Boulhosa                 tiquing them. Soon, he developed his own           toughest cases. Many of the cases sent his
(Partner-Metro New York) for the                  style and sense of confidence. “I was up           way are in late stages – they have not been
American Bar Association.                         against some of the top lawyers in New             settled and must be tried. “PJ will pick up a
                                                  York,” he recalled. “I learned with, and           case for anyone at the firm at any point.
     According to Rabbi Pinchus Wechter,
                                                  against, the best.”                                He’s fearless in that way,” said Rich.
Dean of the Institute, recipients are hon-
ored not only for their professional achieve-         PJ, himself, has been acknowledged to               PJ’s standing among his peers has also
ments, but for their commitment to princi-        be among the best. He is one of two attor-         meant frequent opportunities to lecture on
ples like justice and tolerance. Rabbi            neys in the New York office and five firm-         legal topics.      He was Co-Chair of the
Wechter founded the Institute in 1979 as a        wide to be included in the American Board          National Mealey’s Lead Seminar in 1997 and
forum to promote Jewish educa-                                                                                    1998, and has been a speaker at
tion, as well as religious, ethnic and                                                                            various national and local lead
racial harmony. “We chose PJ for                                                                                  seminars. In 2005, he lectured
this honor because we believe he                                                                                  before New York state judges at
espouses the same philosophies as                                                                                 the Summer Judicial Seminar on
the Institute – respect for all peo-                                                                              “Trial Issues and Jury Charges
ples, religions and races.”                                                                                       for Labor Law Cases.” He also
                                                                                                                  contributed to the firm’s annual
     PJ’s talents as a defense litiga-
                                                                                                                  publication     of    “Punitive
tor are even heralded in the oppos-
                                                                                                                  Damages and Unfair Claims
ing camp – the plaintiffs’ bar. In
                                                                                                                  Settlement Practices: A State-
fact, it was a plaintiffs’ lawyer who
                                                                                                                  By-State Analysis from 1980 –
nominated PJ for the award from
the Institute. Mitchell J. Sassower
of Arye-Lustig & Sassower told                                                                                         Even with his heavy case-
those gathered for the Institute’s                                                                                load, PJ manages to volunteer in
awards ceremony that he considers                                                                                 his community of Mamaroneck,
PJ “the best defense lawyer in New                                                                                NY.      He is active in the
York.”                                                                                                            Muscular             Dystrophy
                                                                                                                  Association and is a founding
     As a senior litigation partner
                                                                                                                  member of the Larchmont-
with Wilson Elser, PJ takes on
                                                                                                                  Mamaroneck           Basketball
some of the toughest cases in the
office. These are matters in a wide
array of areas, including high-pro-                                                                                     PJ’s wife, Susan, is a school
file negligence actions involving                                                                                  nurse at Hommocks Middle
personal injury, premises liability                                                                                School in Larchmont. She is a
and construction accidents. He has                                                                                 former head nurse at the
handled numerous cases that                                                                                        Hospital for Special Surgery in
demand a familiarity with sophisti-                                                                                 Manhattan. Their children are
cated medical issues, such as Paul J. Bottari was named ‘Defense Attorney of Distinction’ by the Institute Laura, an education and mathe-
asbestos exposure and lead paint               of Jewish Humanities at its 28th annual testimonial dinner.          matics major in her junior year
poisoning.                                                                                                          at Syracuse University, and Paul,
                                                 of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). ABOTA is a who is a sophomore at Mamaroneck High
     PJ’s cases frequently involve claims by
                                                 national organization of preeminent trial School.
plaintiffs in the millions of dollars. “In
                                                 lawyers and judges who promote the right
most of the cases I try, the exposure is sig-                                                              The fact that PJ is not Jewish, but
                                                 to a civil jury trial, as guaranteed by the
nificant,” he said. With these large-expo-                                                            rather a Roman Catholic, was no deterrent
                                                 Seventh Amendment. “You have to be
sure cases, there is often an incentive for                                                           to his receiving honors from the Institute of
                                                 approved by 85 percent of the organiza-
resolution before verdict. In fact, settling a                                                        Jewish Humanities, said Rabbi Wechter,
                                                 tion’s members to be accepted into
case before or during trial is a common sce-                                                          since the organization has an ecumenical
                                                 ABOTA.” he said. “My membership is one
nario, and often leads to an acceptable, if                                                           bent. “He was chosen because he works
                                                 of the things I am most proud of.”
not favorable, outcome for the defense.                                                               with all religions and races to make a better
                                                      “PJ is one of the busiest trial lawyers at society based on tolerance and respect,” the
     When he became an attorney – after
                                                 the firm and has been for the last 25 years,” rabbi said. “Besides, he’s a great lawyer!”
graduating from the University of Notre

 2007 WEMED University from page 1

Elser also provided updates on recent devel-       asbestos litigation.                            of U.S. law and its procedures. It also gave
opments including electronic discovery,                                                            the chance for many to see their first
                                                       Wilson Elser’s WEMED University
arbitration, product liability, intellectual                                                       American baseball game (the Yankees
property, maritime law, aviation law, trans-       program, offered every other year, started in
                                                   1991. It now has more than 1,000 alumni.        won!), to enjoy a twilight sail in Manhattan
portation law, directors and officers liability,
employment law, class actions, Sarbanes-           This year’s program offered “students” an       harbor and to visit our state and federal
Oxley, environmental law, toxic torts and          opportunity to broaden their understanding      courts. A good time was had by all.

                    Wilson Elser’s 2007 WEMED University
4                                                                                                                                       Wemedia

Wilson Elser succeeding in toxic tort defense from page 1
                                In the four                                    to cite in this case.                                 Julie         has
                           cases, the respec-                                  Our client was                                   defended a host
                           tive     plaintiffs                                 committed to the                                 of entities in
                           claimed that expo-                                  expense involved                                 asbestos litiga-
                           sure to asbestos                                    in fighting the                                  tion, including
                           caused them to                                      claim – and won.”                                m a nu f a c t u r e r s
                           develop asbestosis,                                                                                  and distributors
                                                                                   Walter        S.
                           colon cancer, lung                                                                                   of asbestos-con-
                                                                             Jenkins (Partner-
                           cancer         and                                                                                   taining products
                           mesothelioma.                                                                  Carolyn F. O’Connor and equipment
    Walter S. Jenkins                                     Julie R. Evans      who also handles
                           Each case ended                                                                                       such as gaskets,
                                                                              toxic tort cases,
in a jury verdict for the defendants. In fact,                                                         pipe covering and joint compound, as well
                                                    agreed that defending against liability claims,
Doug’s clients were the only ones among                                                                as owners of premises where there is
                                                    rather than questioning medical claims, is
multiple defendants in these cases whose                                                               asbestos on-site. Her clients have ranged
                                                    often the key to winning asbestos cases.
claims went to verdict.                                                                                from businesses employing fewer than half
                                                         “It is very difficult in today’s world to     a dozen workers to Fortune 500 companies.
     “Asbestos cases are a real challenge
                                                    think you are going to win one of these
because prospective jurors come in with a                                                                   “The advantage that Wilson Elser
                                                    cases on a medical defense,” said Walt. In
bias,” Doug said. “Everyone believes                                                                   offers to these defendants is our experience
                                                    asbestos cases, there often is a natural sym-
asbestos is a carcinogen.” While asbestos                                                              in this area across a large number of
                                                    pathy on the part of the jury for a plaintiff
exposure can cause cancer in certain situa-                                                            offices,” said Julie, who holds a leadership
                                                    who presents with illness. Typically, the
tions, not all such claims by plaintiffs prove                                                         position in the firm’s Environmental and
                                                    plaintiffs are making claims against more
to have merit. From the defense attorney’s                                                             Toxic Tort Practice Group and chairs the
                                                    than one defendant. “The goal is to get
perspective, the question that must be asked                                                           Latent Injury sub-practice group. “We have
                                                    your particular client extracted from the
is: Did the client’s particular product cause                                                          thousands of cases in each of the offices
                                                    case by refuting the liability claim,” Walt
the problem.                                                                                           where we are representing asbestos clients,”
                                                    said. “If you can’t, then the approach would
                                                                                                       she said. In addition to Philadelphia and
     “Many times you have to work to                be to get the appropriate doctors as expert
                                                                                                       New York, asbestos cases have been han-
remind jurors that this is not an asbestos          witnesses and mount a medical defense.”
                                                                                                       dled in New Jersey, Texas, Chicago, and
case, it is a product liability case,” Doug said.
                                                         Walt and Doug pointed out that the            other offices of the firm.
An example is a case he handled for a retail
                                                    Philadelphia area historically has yielded
company that sold asbestos-containing                                                                        “Many are mass tort cases in which
                                                    large numbers of asbestos cases – many of
brake products. The plaintiff claimed that                                                             lawsuits are filed across the country with the
                                                    them stemming from the shipbuilding
he had been exposed to asbestos while                                                                  same allegations,” Julie pointed out. Wilson
                                                    industry in the area. While the majority of
doing automotive work at home. He                                                                      Elser offers these clients coordination of
                                                    the shipyards have closed or been converted
changed the brakes in the family cars him-                                                             defense in multiple jurisdictions. Julie, her-
                                                    to other uses, asbestos cases continue to be
self over a number of years from the 1960s                                                             self, has litigated asbestos cases extensively
to the 1980s. He alleged that he had devel-                                                            in New York, but also has coordinated the
oped mesothelioma – a rare type of cancer             Changing landscape of litigation                 defense of clients in Baltimore; Washington,
that affects the lining of the lungs, heart or                                                         D.C.; Virginia; Delaware; San Francisco; Los
abdomen – as a result of exposure to                     Since the 1970s, when many of these           Angeles; and other venues. “In these cases,
asbestos in the brakes he installed.                cases were first being fought in the courts,       all the law firms representing clients in the
                                                    the focus has shifted from manufacturers of        individual claims report to Wilson Elser as
      After much research, Doug and his             asbestos products and industries using             the coordinating counsel, and we report to
team were able to determine that the plain-         asbestos in the workplace to retailers that        the corporation or insurance company
tiff had been exposed to raw asbestos fibers        sold products containing asbestos.                 being represented,” Julie explained.
in insulation products while working in an
                                                                                                                Advantages for clients
industrial plant during World War II.                     “Many of the manufacturers of
“There had been a number of lawsuits                asbestos products have gone into bankrupt-
involving asbestos exposure coming out of           cy because of lawsuits,” said Julie R. Evans            With a decades-long history of litigat-
that plant,” Doug said. Many of those               (Deputy Managing Partner-New York).                ing asbestos cases, Wilson Elser has access
claiming illness had worked at the plant at         Julie, who has handled toxic tort cases for        to the best defense experts in areas like epi-
the same time, and in the same department,          more than 20 years, has seen the litigation        demiology, pathology, industrial hygiene and
as the plaintiff in Doug’s case.                    landscape evolve. “With the deep pockets           pulmonary medicine. This is a distinct
                                                    of the large companies that made asbestos          advantage for clients, Julie said. “Our attor-
      “We sifted through hundreds of depo-          products gone, other kinds of businesses           neys also keep abreast of the medical litera-
sitions in those cases to find the right ones       have been targeted for new lawsuits.”              ture and legal developments in the field.”

                                While winning                            At Wilson Elser,                                         them for trial.
                          a case at trial is the                         environmental and
                                                                                                                                       In addition,
                          goal for some                                  toxic tort cases
                                                                                                                                 John’s     clients
                          defendants, others                             make up one prac-
                                                                                                                                 include a large
                          are looking to take                            tice area. As such,
                                                                                                                                 chemical compa-
                          another route to                               the firm has a
                                                                                                                                 ny that owns
                          resolving claims.                              comprehensive
                                                                                                                                 facilities along
                          With businesses                                practice that also
                                                                                                                                 the Texas Gulf
                          facing multimil-                               includes      cases
                                                                                                                                  Coast. “Claims
                          lion-dollar expo-             Tori S. Levine   involving pollution
   John R. Henderson sures and the                                                                         Bryan D. Pollard       have been made
                                                                         from oil spills and
                                                                                                                                  that as premise
potential for much negative publicity, set-        contamination from dump sites.
                                                                                                      owners, they were negligent in not protect-
tling asbestos cases is often the option cho-
                                                        Toxic tort cases have a natural link with     ing the workers in those facilities.”
sen. Julie has settled cases individually and
                                                   other practice categories. For example,
in small groups. She also has negotiated set-                                                              One of the cases he is handling for an
                                                   mold cases defended by Carolyn in the New
tlements of groups of cases numbering in                                                              automotive client deals with an interesting
                                                   Jersey office could also be considered
the thousands. In one situation, she negoti-                                                          aspect of asbestos defense. The case
                                                   premises liability cases. Some of Carolyn’s
ated settlement of several thousand person-                                                           involves so-called “take-home” exposure to
                                                   cases have involved high-rise buildings in
al injury cases at once, utilizing a structured                                                       asbestos. A family member of a contract
                                                   New York City, where water leaking from
settlement vehicle that saved the client mil-                                                         worker in an auto manufacturing plant
                                                   roofs or air conditioners permeated the
lions of dollars in indemnity payments                                                                claimed injury from asbestos brought home
                                                   walls and floors of the buildings and caused
alone.                                                                                                on the clothes of the worker. “This case
                                                   mold. Plaintiffs have claimed the mold trig-
                                                                                                      examines the legal duty of the premise
     Carolyn F. O’Connor (Partner-New              gered their allergies or other symptoms.
                                                                                                      owner,” John said. “Should someone not
Jersey) also stressed the firm’s cost-saving
                                                        All of these cases involve a complex          exposed to asbestos on-site be able to make
mind-set for clients. “Our New Jersey
                                                   and ever-changing body of law. Wilson              a claim against the owner of a facility?”
asbestos docket is efficient and economi-
                                                   Elser has spent more than two decades              Though the defense lost at the trial level, the
cal,” she said. “After filing the appropriate
                                                   devoting its resources to becoming a leader        case is being appealed. If successful, it will
responsive pleading to preserve our client’s
                                                   in this field, marshaling attorneys, paralegals,   set significant boundaries for liability in
defenses, we look for a medical causation
                                                   law clerks and legal investigators into a team     these kinds of cases.
report from the plaintiff. If there is no
                                                   that spans the country.
statute of limitations defense, the plaintiff ’s                                                           Other toxic tort cases that John has lit-
report provides a credible medical causation            Most recently, the firm has added three       igated involve welding rod fumes. Exposure
opinion, and the plaintiff has identified our      new partners in Texas who have wide expe-          to such fumes has been linked to a variety of
client’s product or premises as a factor, we       rience in toxic tort litigation. John R.           diseases, including a Parkinson’s-like syn-
look for a quick and economically feasible         Henderson (Partner-Dallas), Tori S.                drome. In a case filed in Galveston last year
resolution. In the long run, the client saves      Levine (Partner-Dallas) and Bryan D.               for a manufacturer of welding equipment, a
money by avoiding the high costs of pro-           Pollard (Partner-Dallas) have been practic-        team composed of John and Bryan secured
tracted discovery and litigation. We pride         ing toxic tort litigation in Texas for many        a defense verdict.
ourselves on resolution strategies – includ-       years.
                                                                                                           Going back 30 years, there have been
ing dispositive motion practice – that work
                                                        John has had a sizable portfolio of           two waves of cases involving welding rod
for our clients.”
                                                   asbestos clients during his 30 years as an         fumes, John said. The first was in the 1970s
     Whether by trial, settlement, dismissal       attorney. In fact, he calls asbestos the           and 1980s when workers were claiming that
or motion, Wilson Elser handles toxic tort         “poster child of toxic tort litigation.” With      the fumes had caused respiratory diseases
cases in a manner that is both effective and       asbestos now removed from most products,           and lung cancer. “Science did not support
cost-efficient, according to the attorneys         “everyone thinks this kind of litigation is        those claims,” John stated. The second
practicing in this area. It is no surprise,        going to end … but it just doesn’t,” he            wave came about five years ago, after an
then, that the firm has developed an exten-        remarked.                                          Illinois court awarded $1 million in a case in
sive portfolio of cases.                                                                              which a person claimed welding fumes
                                                        John currently does asbestos defense
                                                                                                      caused a condition similar to Parkinson’s
           Casting a wide net                      work for several leading automobile compa-
                                                   nies. “I coordinate groups of their expert
    Asbestos is just one substance that            witnesses in various science disciplines and            “There have been about a dozen trials
spawns toxic tort cases. Other litigation          assist with science defense on a national          since then, and only one other plaintiff ver-
handled by the firm involves lead paint,           level,” John said. He does not do individual       dict,” John said. “As a result of the string of
mold, silica, heavy metals, benzene, welding       defense in cases for these companies, but          defense verdicts, there is a question as to
rod fumes, and so-called “sick buildings.”         rather locates defense experts and prepares        where this type of litigation will go.”
                                                                                                                                 Continued on page 6
 6                                                                                                                                       Wemedia

 Wilson Elser succeeding in toxic tort defense from page 5
     The other “hot” toxic tort at the                 on science to win toxic tort cases at trial,      that was sued over alleged injuries from sili-
moment is benzene, John said. Benzene is               John said. “The real challenge is making the      cone breast implants. She helped the com-
found in many petroleum-based products.                science understandable for the juries. You        pany prepare responses to media inquiries
“It is in a lot of products you would not              need to get the science explained through         and frame its position regarding the litiga-
think of, from spray paint to gasoline,” John          opening statements, cross-examination of          tion.
pointed out. Exposure to high levels of                the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, and the tes-
                                                                                                             Tori traveled around the country, talk-
benzene can cause a particular form of                 timony of your witnesses.”
                                                                                                         ing on national television and radio about
leukemia. Workers who typically are
                                                             The plaintiffs’ bar uses a multimedia       the lack of scientific merit in the breast
exposed to significant amounts of benzene
                                                       campaign to find potential toxic tort clients,    implant litigation. She met with chambers
are those involved in chemical manufactur-
                                                       from billboards to television commercials to      of commerce at the request of her client,
ing, petrochemical refining and distribution,
                                                       advertisements in newspapers and radio.           and even took part in presentations to the
rubber manufacturing, printing, leatherwork
                                                       “You can drive down along the Gulf Coast          media with doctors, other lawyers, and a
and shoe making.
                                                       of Texas and there will be billboards giving      spokesperson for the company.
      Health problems may arise from “large            a phone number for potential plaintiffs to
                                                                                                              In addition to her experience in media
exposures over long periods of time, not               call,” John said. Other common practices
                                                                                                         and communications, Tori serves as nation-
from pumping gas or using a can of spray               used by the plaintiffs’ bar to draw in clients
                                                                                                         al coordinating counsel in the defense of a
paint,” John said. The plaintiffs’ bar, how-           are referrals from doctors and free medical
                                                                                                         contractor involved in asbestos litigation.
ever, maintains there is no safe level of              screenings of union workers who might
                                                                                                         She also handles premises liability work for
exposure. As a result, cases are springing up          have been exposed to toxic chemicals and
                                                                                                         major auto companies.
involving “trace benzene.” In these cases,             substances.
workers such as painters, carpenters, pipe                                                                    With dogged and knowledgeable
                                                            Fighting cases in which there is such an
fitters and plumbers – who may have been                                                                 defense attorneys across the country,
                                                       organized offense takes determination and
exposed to solvents containing small                                                                     Wilson Elser has given businesses dealing
                                                       savvy. One measure John and his colleague
amounts of benzene – are becoming liti-                                                                  with toxic tort claims efficient and thorough
                                                       Tori Levine have taken is to become well
gants.                                                                                                   defense throughout the years. In a climate
                                                       versed in dealing with the media. Both John
                                                                                                         in which businesses face increasing numbers
       An aggressive plaintiffs’ bar                   and Tori have assisted companies affected
                                                                                                         of these lawsuits and potentially costly
                                                       by mass torts in presenting their side in
     No matter the substance in question,                                                                claims, Wilson Elser is at the ready to
                                                       newspapers and on radio and television.
the defense must present a sound case based                                                              defend.
                                                       Tori worked with a large chemical company

     Let’s follow up . . .
                                                                                   Patrick M. Kelly Named ATL Fellow
                                                                                        Patrick M. Kelly (Western Regional Managing Partner-
                                                                                   Los Angeles) was named a Fellow of the International
                                                                                   Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) in April. Membership in
                                                                                   the IATL is by invitation only and is limited to 500 active trial
                                                                                   lawyers from the United States, 50 Judicial Fellows and 100
                                                                                   Fellows from more than 40 countries throughout the world.
                                                                                        Chairman of the Executive Committee Thomas W.
                                                                                   Wilson Sr. said, “We congratulate Pat on this high profes-
                                                                                   sional honor and recognize that his achievement also demon-
                                                                                   strates the caliber of the attorneys at Wilson Elser.”
                                                                                         The Academy honors those who have achieved a career
                                                                                   of excellence through demonstrated skill and ability in jury
                                                                                   trials, trials before the court, and appellate practice. Members,
     Left to Right: Dicky Grigg, President of the International Association of     drawn from around the world, are engaged in civil practice on
     Trial Lawyers, Patrick Kelly (Partner-Los Angeles), Gail Kelly, Pat’s wife,   both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ sides of the courtroom,
     and Walter Lack, IATL member.                                                 and in the trial of criminal cases.

Dean Simon
    Michelle S. Simon, who was an               already completed one leg of that journey.       would throw one of those things at the wall
Associate with Wilson Elser in the 1980s, is    After graduating from the State University       behind me,” Tom recalled, laughing.
serving as interim dean of the Pace             of New York at Albany and the Syracuse
                                                                                                      After four years at the firm doing prod-
University School of Law in White Plains.       University College of Law, she clerked for
                                                                                                 uct liability and insurance defense work,
Michelle was named to the position in June,     Judge A. Simon Chrein, a Magistrate for the
                                                                                                 Michelle’s life was about to change – she was
succeeding Stephen J. Friedman, who             U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
                                                                                                 expecting a baby. “The firm was only a few
became interim president of Pace                of New York. While working at the federal
                                                                                                 years old,” she recalled, “and I was the first
University.                                     court, she met another clerk, Thomas A.
                                                                                                 associate there to become pregnant. In fact,
                                                Leghorn (Partner-Metro New York), who
     In announcing Michelle’s appointment,                                                       I helped put together a maternity policy for
                                                was later hired along with her at Wilson
Friedman noted her “breadth in scholarship,                                                      associates.”
teaching and administration.” Michelle has
                                                                                                      After her baby was born, she wondered
been a member of the Pace law faculty since          Tom, who focuses on intellectual prop-
                                                                                                 how she would handle the demands of
1985 and a full professor since 2003, teach-    erty and professional liability, got to know
                                                                                                 motherhood and a busy legal practice. “The
ing criminal law, civil procedure and legal
                                                                                                 timing was right for me to turn to teaching,”
writing. Her administrative experience
                                                                                                 she said. “I went back to Wilson Elser, but
included acting as associate dean of acade-
                                                                                                 then decided to pursue what had always
mic affairs and directing the school’s pro-
                                                                                                 been my goal.”
grams in judicial studies and legal writing.
                                                                                                      Michelle applied to Pace Law School
     Michelle spent four years at Wilson
                                                                                                 and was offered a teaching position. She
Elser before leaving to take a teaching posi-
                                                                                                 decided quickly that she had made the right
tion at Pace Law School. “What I remem-
                                                                                                 move. “I came to Pace originally to teach
ber most about Wilson Elser in the early
                                                                                                 legal writing, then became a tenure track
1980s is that it was a small, but up-and-com-
                                                                                                 faculty member. I got tenure and ultimately
ing, firm,” Michelle said recently. She liked
                                                                                                 became associate dean of academic affairs,”
the feel of the firm, even during her job
                                                                                                 a post she held for five years.
interview. “I chose Wilson Elser because I
was very impressed with the work I would                                                              She would like to be considered for the
be able to do there. I knew I would get                                                          position of law school dean on a permanent
involved with litigation right away and                                                          basis. “It was a condition of my taking the
would not just be pushing paper around.”                                                         interim post,” Michelle said. She is uncer-
                                                                                                 tain how long it might be before the school’s
     She was working on these cases under
                                                                                                 board decides who will ultimately take the
the guidance of Michael D. Glatt (Partner-
                                                                                                 reins. In the meantime, she said, she looks
Metro New York). “Mike was a wonderful                       Michelle S. Simon
                                                                                                 forward to “strengthening Pace Law
partner to work for,” she said. “He was my
                                                                                                 School’s national reputation.”
mentor in many ways and taught me things        Michelle when they shared an office at the
that I continue to teach the students today.”   federal courthouse in 1981. Having presti-            Her experiences as an attorney and
                                                gious clerkships, the two often received let-    professor of law have yielded many oppor-
     Michelle’s mentor has distinct memo-
                                                ters of invitation to interview for jobs at      tunities for Michelle to pursue another of
ries of their early association as well. “I
                                                Wall Street law firms. “But we chose Wilson      her loves – writing. She has authored or co-
remember how effectively and efficiently
                                                Elser because it was the only firm that year     authored 17 articles and book chapters on a
Michelle worked,” said Michael, “how well
                                                sending young lawyers into federal court to      wide variety of legal topics.
she wrote and what a wonderful work ethic
                                                do work other than carrying the briefcases            Michelle is not the only Wilson Elser
she had.” He also recalled that “she was a
                                                of other lawyers,” Tom recalled. “We want-       alumnus involved with guiding Pace Law
self-starter and had good instincts and judg-
                                                ed to be real lawyers, and Wilson Elser          School. Jerold R. Ruderman (Managing
                                                offered us that opportunity.”                    Partner-White Plains) sits on the school’s
      Despite her enthusiasm for the practice
                                                      “At the time, Michelle was doing prod-     Board of Visitors, which advises the law
of law, Michelle’s ultimate goal was to teach
                                                uct liability, including fireworks,” he remem-   school and the dean. Jerry is one of the
at a law school. “I had always been interest-
                                                bered. “Her office was always full of the        original members of the board, which was
ed in teaching, even while working at the law
                                                offending fireworks from clients.” One of        created about 10 years ago.
firm. The path to becoming a law school
                                                her cases involved small fireworks known as           So it seems that Michelle really has not
professor was to first be a federal law clerk
                                                “poppers,” for the loud popping noise they       left Wilson Elser behind. Two decades later,
and then to work at a firm.”
                                                make when thrown at the ground.                  she has friends, mentors and advisers at the
    Before joining Wilson Elser, she had        “Whenever I would annoy Michelle, she
                                                                                                 firm. We wish her continued success.
 8                                                                                                                                  Wemedia

                              In Memoriam Keith Von Glahn 1952-2007
                                   Keith G.          Many of Keith’s cases were in the area        would connect very easily with people,” Bill
                              Von Glahn, 55,     of medical malpractice defense. Tina A.           remembered. Bill and Keith were personal
                              a Partner in our   Jordan (Partner-New Jersey) worked closely        friends who got to know each other over
                              New       Jersey   with him on these kinds of cases.                 nearly 20 years working together in the
                              office, passed     According to Tina, Keith was “a great guy to      Newark office.
                              away July 23,      work with.” She handled cases with him for
                              2007. His loss                                                            “We would go back and forth to each
                                                 12 years.
                              is felt by all                                                       other’s offices and talk about what was
                              those         he       Tina recalled Keith as a “lawyer who          going on in our lives,” Bill said. During
                              worked with at     was aggressive, but a gentleman.” She said        those chats, Keith never dwelled on his own
                              Wilson Elser.      Keith had charisma that gave him an edge          interests or accomplishments. “When you
                              Keith, a 23-year   with juries. “He could sell ice to Eskimos,”      got into a discussion with Keith, he always
veteran of the firm, is remembered as much       she joked. “Juries loved him.” Like any           would show an interest in you and what was
for his caring attitude as for his hard work.    good litigator, Keith conveyed an air of          happening in your life. He would make sure
                                                 confidence in the courtroom, Tina said, yet       he would find out what your kids had done
     A resident of Short Hills, NJ, Keith was    he never took any jury verdict for granted.       and where you had been on vacation. He
married and the father of three children.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years,               It may have been the inherent uncer-         showed a genuine interest in others … that
Judith, and his daughters, Courtney, Ashley      tainty of the jury system that fostered           is something that is rare.”
and Hilary.                                      another side of Keith’s personality. “He was           When eulogizing Keith, Jim told of
                                                 superstitious,” Tina remarked. She said           finding a quote from President Theodore
     At the funeral, Keith was eulogized by      Keith kept what might be called a lucky
James C. Orr (Managing Partner-New                                                                 Roosevelt under the glass on Keith’s desk.
                                                 notebook. “He had the same notebook for
Jersey). Jim described Keith as “generous                                                          For Jim, the quote perfectly summed up
                                                 every trial and he felt he had to write down
without an expectation of reward or notori-                                                        Keith’s life and aspirations:
                                                 every word he would use in his summa-
ety.” He recalled Keith walking the hallways     tions.”                                                “It is not the critic who counts; not the
of Wilson Elser’s Newark office “with a                                                            man who points out how the strong man
smile on his face and a cheering word of              One superstition had a payoff for his
                                                                                                   stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could
encouragement for all he met.”                   colleagues. Bringing in donuts to the office
                                                                                                   have done them better. The credit belongs
                                                 after a win was Keith’s way of “offering
     Jim said Keith brought intense focus to                                                       to the man who is actually in the arena,
                                                 something up to the jury gods,” Tina said.
his work, along with a steady commitment                                                           whose face is marred by dust and sweat and
                                                 And there were rules for the ritual. A direct-
to clients. He characterized his colleague as                                                      blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and
                                                 ed decision from a judge never triggered the
a “warrior lawyer” who was in his element in                                                       comes short again and again, because there
                                                 donut fest, she explained. “It had to be a
the courtroom. Keith was determined to                                                             is no effort without error and shortcoming;
                                                 jury decision!”
give all his clients an unrelenting defense.                                                       but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
                                                      While a sense of fun was very much a         who knows the great enthusiasms, the great
     “Keith would never capitulate in a
                                                 part of Keith’s nature, Tina said, so was a       devotions; who spends himself in a worthy
court fight and he rarely lost,” Jim said. In
recent times, Keith secured a remarkable         serious regard for those he worked with.          cause; who at the best knows in the end the
string of victories for clients. During the      “He never raised his voice and was very pro-      triumph of high achievement, and who at
year or so prior to his death, he had taken 13   tective of everyone in his group,” she said.      the worst, if he fails, at least fails while dar-
cases to jury verdict. All but one resulted in       William J. Riina (Partner-New Jersey)         ing greatly, so that his place shall never be
defense wins, and the sole adverse decision      agreed that Keith was not only a fine lawyer,     with those cold and timid souls who know
is on appeal.                                    but had exceptional people skills. “Keith         neither victory nor defeat.”

     This is a quarterly publication of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman                       &    Dicker   LLP   All Rights Reserved 2007 
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