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Won a jury verdict for a major auto parts manufacturer in a commercial dispute in federal court in Kentucky. WTO was hired six months before trial after the case had already made two trips to the Sixth Circuit.

Date: 05.23.17

WTO attorneys won a complete defense jury verdict for a leading auto parts maker in federal court in Kentucky. At issue was a nine-year-old breach of contract claim brought against WTO’s client by a sub-subcontractor—a third-party beneficiary to the contract in question—who alleged WTO’s client’s termination of the contract entitled the plaintiff to millions of dollars in damages and penalty payments under the contract.

The Court had twice dismissed the case in separate dispositive rulings, only to see the plaintiff successfully appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which both times reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. After nearly nine years of litigation, the manufacturer hired WTO sixth months before trial. By then, discovery was nearly complete, three key witnesses for the defense had left the company, and the passage of time meant WTO’s ability to gather additional evidence in support of its case was limited. 

Dealing with Uncertainty
The client and WTO faced other challenges. WTO filed multiple motions with the Court four months before trial. The judge did not address them until a week before trial, ruling against WTO’s client in each instance. Only then did WTO lawyers know what kind of defense they must mount to successfully advocate for their client.

WTO associate Chris McCall served as second chair of the WTO team and performed the functions of paralegal and trial director. When McCall was hospitalized with acute appendicitis the third night of trial, WTO’s trial support manager, Bob Mason, caught a redeye and was on hand when court convened the following morning. Lead counsel Carolyn Fairless examined the primary defense witness that morning with uninterrupted trial support. The case continued seamlessly even as McCall underwent appendectomy surgery.

Following over a week of trial, the jury needed just 90 minutes to find for the defense on multiple grounds, exceeding the Court’s instructions. The ruling is welcome relief after so many years.


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