Government Abandons Prior Interpretation of 2006 Veterans Act in New Brief to the Supreme Court

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court on September 29, 2015 in the case Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, 14-916, the government abandoned the restrictive interpretation of the 2006 Veterans Act that it pressed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (background on the case may be found here). The 2006 Veterans Act requires that the VA prioritize competitive bidding by veteran-owned small businesses, but the VA has for years declined to follow that mandate to the full extent Congress required. In briefing before various courts, including the Supreme Court, the government had for several years (and as recently as May 1, 2015) contended that the VA was allowed to limit competitive bidding by veteran-owned small businesses for VA contracts, but the government has now – six weeks before oral argument before the Supreme Court – abandoned that position. Instead, the government now contends that VA “orders” that may be filled through the Federal Supply Schedule should be excluded from mandatory competitive bidding, while VA “contracts” should not. Continue reading “Government Abandons Prior Interpretation of 2006 Veterans Act in New Brief to the Supreme Court”

Duane Morris’ Robert L. Byer Named by Best Lawyers as “Lawyer of the Year” for 2016

Duane Morris is pleased to announce that partner  Robert L. Byer has been selected as the “Lawyer of the Year” in Pittsburgh Appellate Practice, an honor he previously received in 2011. Only one lawyer in each practice area and city is given this honor. Lawyers are selected based on high marks received during peer-review assessments conducted by Best Lawyers each year.

Mr. Byer is head of the Appellate division of Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group. His appellate work and legal-issues litigation experience covers a wide variety of legal areas, including corporate governance, intellectual property, administration law, tax cases, Constitutional law, insurance coverage, contracts, professional liability, products liability and toxic torts.

Duane Morris Partner Paul Killion Appointed Chair of California State Bar’s Committee on Appellate Courts

Duane Morris partner Paul J. Killion of the firm’s San Francisco office has recently been appointed chair of the California State Bar’s Committee on Appellate Courts for the term commencing at the close of the 2015 State Bar Annual Meeting on October 11, 2015.

Killion is a Certified Appellate Specialist and practices in the area of complex civil litigation. He has argued or briefed over 100 appellate matters, including appeals, writs, petitions for review, merits briefing and amicus curiae briefing. He has handled a variety of litigation and appeals, including significant national experience in asbestos, pollution, toxic tort insurance coverage litigation and large personal injury claims. He has a broad range of appellate experience, with a particular focus on appeals from complex jury trials. Killion has appeared before all Districts of the California Courts of Appeal and before the California Supreme Court, as well as the Ninth and Tenth Circuits and the Supreme Courts of Washington and Oregon. He also represents clients as amici counsel in the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.

Pennsylvania Powerhouse Duane Morris Recognized by Law360

This year, Law360 recognized Duane Morris as a Pennsylvania Powerhouse. Leaders from the firm suggested that the high court’s reliance on the 111-year-old firm during the high-profile scandal was a testament to the firm’s status as a major player in a state well-known for a deep bench of legal talent. Duane Morris’ appellate practice and its chair, Robert L. Byer were a focus of this article on the firm as a Pennsylvania Powerhouse.

To read the full text of the article, please visit the Duane Morris website.

Duane Morris Partner Robert M. Palumbos Appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee

Duane Morris LLP is pleased to announce that Robert M. Palumbos, a partner in the firm’s Philadelphia office, has been appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee. Palumbos’ three-year term will commence on July 15, 2015. The committee’s principal function is to make recommendations to the state Supreme Court for refining and updating the rules of appellate procedure in light of experience, developing case law and new legislation.

To read the full text, please visit the Duane Morris website.

Supreme Court Grants Certiorari In Case Involving Competitive Bidding by Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States (14-916), a case involving competitive bidding by veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

Kingdomware seeks reversal of a 2-1 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that limits the opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to competitively bid for contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).  Duane Morris LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of veteran-owned small businesses in support of Kingdomware.  The American Legion also filed an amicus brief in support of Kingdomware. Continue reading “Supreme Court Grants Certiorari In Case Involving Competitive Bidding by Veteran-Owned Small Businesses”

Duane Morris Attorney Thomas Newman Co-Authors “Urging a Change in the Law: When to Set Aside Precedent?”

Duane Morris of counsel Thomas R. Newman co-authored an article that was recently published in the New York Law Journal. “Urging a Change in the Law: When to Set Aside Precedent?” explores the common law doctrine of stare decisis, which provides that once a court has decided a legal issue, subsequent cases presenting similar facts should be decided in conformity with the earlier decision. But the doctrine is not an inflexible rule. Judicial decisions simply determine the rights of the parties to an action that is before the court at a particular time in history. They are not, and are not meant to be, immutable laws governing the conduct of mankind and designed for the ages, such as the Ten Commandments. Rather, opinions “must be read in the setting of the particular cases and as the product of preoccupation with their special facts.” The “precedential value of a judicial opinion is limited to the question presented by the facts of the case before the court.”

To read the article in its entirety, please visit: http://www.duanemorris.com/articles/urging_a_change_in_the_law_when_to_set_aside_precedent_5578.html.

Two Important Insurance Matters Set For The California Supreme Court’s May Calendar

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court set two important and much anticipated insurance cases for May oral argument.

On May 26, 2015, the Court will hear argument in Fluor v. S.C. (Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company), No. S205889, which presents the following issue: Are the limitations on assignment of third party liability insurance policy benefits recognized in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 934 inconsistent with the provisions of Insurance Code section 520?

On May 28, 2015, the Court will hear argument in J.R. Marketing, L.L.C. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance, No. S211645, which presents a rare opportunity for guidance from the Supreme Court on independent Cumis counsel issues. The case present the following question: After an insured has secured a judgment requiring an insurer to provide independent counsel to the insured (see San Diego Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Society Inc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358), can the insurer seek reimbursement of defense fees and costs it considers unreasonable and unnecessary by pursuing a reimbursement action against independent counsel or can the insurer seek reimbursement only from its insured?

Both matters will be heard in San Francisco on the 9:00 a.m. calendars. Under California rules, the Supreme Court must issue its decisions in the matters within 90 days after the argument.

A Judge’s Perspective on Interlocutory Appeals

It is one thing to know the high standards that govern requests for discretionary interlocutory appeals. It is quite another to hear two federal judges describe first-hand their extreme reluctance to permit such appeals.

Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and District Judge Harvey Bartle of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania offered that perspective at a meeting of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Committee on April 15. The most striking theme of their presentation was that it is—and, in their view, should be—very hard to obtain permission for a discretionary interlocutory appeal.

Judge Bartle recalled entering no more than two Rule 54(b) orders to permit an interlocutory appeal and certifying only one interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) in his 23-year judicial career. He noted that district judges are very reluctant to permit interlocutory appeals because they tend to cause delay in trial proceedings.

With respect to appeals under § 1292(b) specifically, Judge Bartle said that he rarely sees grounds for a substantial difference of opinion on the legal issue involved. In particular, he noted that district judges tend not to be moved by a split in authority between themselves and a court in another district. The circumstance in which a substantial difference of opinion is most likely to be found is where district judges within the same district are split on an issue.

Judge Ambro discussed interlocutory appeals under § 1292(b) as well. He said that while § 1292(b) is intended to be a flexible path for immediate appeal, it is an avenue that, in his experience, is not often used. The Third Circuit is most likely to take an appeal under § 1292(b) where it sees a controlling issue of law that could recur in other cases. Where the primary rationale for an interlocutory appeal under § 1292(b) is dispute resolution, Judge Ambro said that the court is much less likely to grant permission to appeal.

Judge Ambro also spoke about interlocutory appeals of class certification decisions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). He suggested that the Third Circuit is more likely to grant an appeal under Rule 23(f) if the district court has certified the class than it is where the district court has denied certification. Judge Ambro also reported that certifications under Rule 23(f) have declined significantly over the last three years as compared to the several previous years.

With regard to mandamus petitions, Judge Ambro said, “In my 15 years, I’ve seen mandamus work maybe once.” Mandamus is simply “not part of the culture” of the Third Circuit. Even compared to other types of interlocutory appeals, seeking mandamus stands out as particularly unlikely to be effective.

Litigators who do not often practice in appellate courts can easily underestimate the difficulty in obtaining permission for an interlocutory appeal. By underscoring these difficulties, Judge Ambro and Judge Bartle’s presentation offered an important strategic insight for lawyers practicing in the Third Circuit.

VA’s Restriction on Competitive Bidding by Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Challenged Before the Supreme Court

On May 1, 2015, the government is expected to submit its response to the petition for certiorari filed by Kingdomware Technologies, Inc., which seeks to reverse a 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, 754 F.3d 923 (Fed. Cir. 2014).  Kingdomware contends in its petition that the Federal Circuit’s decision improperly limits the opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to competitively bid for contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).

The Kingdomware petition is one to watch in light of the significant adverse impact imposed by the Federal Circuit’s ruling on veteran-owned small businesses.  If Kingdomware’s petition is granted, the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to restore the prospects for competitive bidding by veteran-owned small businesses to the full extent that Congress intended.  (Full disclosure:  Duane Morris LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of veteran-owned small businesses in support of Kingdomware.  The American Legion also filed an amicus brief in support of Kingdomware). Continue reading “VA’s Restriction on Competitive Bidding by Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Challenged Before the Supreme Court”