Chris Montville's legal practice focuses on legal malpractice, franchise, and complex commercial litigation at both the trial and appellate level. Chris's work in recent years has included the following matters:
- Successfully tried and defended on appeal protests filed by two Las Vegas automobile dealerships against the establishment of a new dealership approved by WTO's client, a major automotive manufacturer. Chris and WTO partner Steven Kelso defended the manufacturer in a 12-day trial in Las Vegas. The case presented a major test of the manufacturer's ability to expand its dealer network following its predecessor's bankruptcy, particularly into markets where it had terminated dealers though the bankruptcy process. The judge found in favor of WTO's client, holding that the protesting dealers had waived their right to protest. Chris then successfully briefed and argued in opposition the dealers' appeal.
- Obtained a favorable damages verdict in a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. In a matter involving a failed Texas real-estate development, the plaintiffs had sought over $8 million on a loan guarantee signed by WTO's client. At trial with WTO lawyer Paul Hultin, Chris presented opening and closing statements and all the arguments, and cross-examined the president of the plaintiff corporation. Chris and Paul obtained a verdict that was less than 12% of the liability claimed by the plaintiffs and prevailed against the plaintiffs' motion for prejudgment interest.
- Tried four arbitrations to decision in a three-month period in the 2010 Chrysler Group LLC franchise arbitrations. In December 2009, Congress granted dealers whose agreements were rejected in the Chrysler LLC bankruptcy the right to binding arbitration in seeking addition to Chrysler Group's dealer network. WTO was national co-counsel that represented Chrysler Group in responding to arbitration demands from 418 rejected dealers. Chris was counsel on over 10 matters in Utah and Colorado, and personally participated in four arbitrations. Chris also served a lead role on the national briefing team drafting Chrysler Group's model briefs that were used as the basis for briefs filed in more than 100 arbitrations nationwide.
- Assisted in briefing a successful motion for summary judgment on a federal statutory issue of first impression. In 2010, Congress enacted Section 747 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010. This statute gave former automotive dealerships, rejected during the 2009 bankruptcies of two major American automotive manufacturers, including WTO's client, the right to arbitrate and, if successful, receive a "customary and usual letter of intent." A prevailing arbitrating dealer received a letter of intent and then filed suit against WTO's client on the basis that the letter of intent did not comply with the statute. The dealer also brought several pendant state-law claims. Chris and WTO partners Hugh Gottschalk and Mark Clouatre persuaded the Court to grant summary judgment in favor of WTO's client on all claims.
- In Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC v. Star Automobile Co., 2011 WL 2175037 (Georgia), Chris and WTO partner Steven Kelso successfully obtained a preliminary injunction for a major luxury vehicle distributor. A Georgia dealership had attempted to sell its three dealerships in one transaction to a proposed buyer that WTO's client did not want as an authorized dealer. WTO initiated a federal court action on behalf of the client, seeking to enjoin the sale because packaging multiple dealerships together abrogated the client's contractual and statutory rights of first refusal. The Court granted the motion for a preliminary injunction in favor of WTO's client and enjoined the sale. The dealer eventually sold the dealerships to the distributor's preferred candidate.
- Drafted a successful summary judgment motion on behalf of a major footwear manufacturer in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiff, who had been entrapped in an escalator, claimed that footwear manufactured by WTO's client caused the entrapment, alleging design defects and failure to warn. In a decision of significance in nationwide escalator entrapment litigation, the Court granted full summary judgment in favor of WTO's client.
- Assisted WTO partners Carolyn Fairless and LaMar Jost in briefing a matter that resulted in partial summary judgment on behalf of a large national law firm that had been sued for malpractice, aiding and abetting, conspiracy and violations of RICO. The Court's decision reduced the nine-figure damage claim by over 98% and paved the way for a favorable settlement of the case.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Chris designed and developed financial software systems supporting the international trading and brokerage business for a well-known investment company.
Won a complete defense jury verdict in a $12 million legal malpractice case. The jury found in favor of WTO's client on all claims and also awarded unpaid legal fees owed by plaintiffs.
Won a complete defense jury verdict in federal court for a large international law firm accused of malpractice. The plaintiff hired WTO's client to resolve a complex patent infringement matter, then sued the firm for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.
Secured a favorable outcome for WTO's client in a real estate finance trial in Colorado federal court.
Won a crucial verdict for Chrysler in a three-week franchise trial in Nevada that tested Chrysler's ability to expand its dealership network after the termination of 800 dealers in the Chrysler bankruptcy reorganization.
Defended Chrysler Group against automobile dealership's allegations of oppressive and unreasonable terms in letter of intent to enter into franchise agreement after Chrysler's bankruptcy in a franchise case of national significance. Star Chrysler-Jeep v. Chrysler Group LLC (C.D.Cal. Apr. 9, 2012).
Obtained a preliminary injunction in Georgia for Mercedes-Benz USA in a dealership breach-of-contract dispute. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC v. Star Automobile Co., No. 3:11-cv-73 (CAR), 2011 WL 2175037 (M.D. Ga. Jun. 3, 2011).
Following Chrysler LLC's bankruptcy, WTO co-managed with one other law firm the response to requests from 418 dealers for arbitration following Chrysler Group's termination of their dealerships. WTO litigated 187 of these Section 747 arbitrations.
Obtained partial summary judgment in federal court on behalf of a large national law firm that had been sued for malpractice, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, and violations of RICO. The ruling reduced the damage claim from over $150 million to less than $2 million and paved the way for a favorable settlement of the case.
Represented footwear manufacturer Crocs in nationwide litigation involving allegations of defectively designed footwear and failure to warn with respect to alleged risks associated with wearing the shoes on escalators.
- New York
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Judicial Clerk to The Honorable Carlos F. Lucero, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Goldman Sachs & Co.
Colorado Rising Stars
Professional Liability, 2014
Business Litigation, 2013