Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“What is most unique about this firm is that they take absolute pride in their work and deliver an accurate work product.”

Skip Kriss – Executive Vice President, The Richmond Corporation

Trial

Trial

Experience.

At Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram, every trial is a big trial. With decades of experience behind them, our litigators know that on trial day, they need to tighten up their dress shoes, straighten their necktie, and come prepared for battle. Why? Because it’s what our clients deserve, and beyond that, what they’ve come to expect. We don’t discount that litigation is a complex process, requiring the delicate execution of pre-trial motions and discovery. But we also recognize that at the end of the day, the trial itself is what separates the men from the boys.

It is because of our experience that we produce results. Our trial lawyers are regularly active with a wide array of complex civil litigation matters, including complex commercial disputes, real estate conflicts, corporate control and shareholders litigation, securities litigation, contracts, shareholder derivative actions, partnership disputes, government contracts and creditors’ rights. All types of trials, conducted in states nationwide, before all manner of courts, boards of contract appeals and arbitration panels. But across this myriad of platforms, we find one common denominator: success.

The reason is simple: we are fully dedicated to our client’s needs, and armed with the talent and work ethic to achieve their goals. Whether it involves small cases or large, trials that run for weeks or months, our experience has led to success at each turn. You might say we know how to win. Because we appreciate the value of our client’s time and money, we regularly utilize mediation proceedings in an attempt to reach a pre-trial settlement when appropriate. In those instances, we prepare for ADR proceedings with the same meticulous methods as we do for trial. With our deep experience in construction law, we represent a variety of local, national and international construction contractors and subcontractors, design professionals, as well as owners and sureties, often in connection with complex, highly technical contract claims and disputes. In addition to representing private parties in construction and government contract matters, our lawyers act as counsel to state and local governments and public agencies. Our experience covers a full range of projects including heavy highway, sports stadiums, power plants, military construction, subway and transportation projects, condominiums and industrial construction. We represent clients in disputes related to changes, delays, disruption, impact, terminations, breach and default, defective construction and design, design professional malpractice, surety and insurance claims, mechanics’ liens and bond claims. For complex cases, our work is complemented by the use of cutting-edge litigation support technology, which includes sophisticated computerized document control, imaging and e-discovery systems, as well as courtroom graphics technology. From start to finish, we put our experience to work for our clients, and it shows.

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Passion.

Our experience alone isn’t what sets our trial team apart, but rather it’s our experience teamed with our passion for the law. That passion is what drives our commitment to client relationships and fuels our track record of trial success.

Having worked as a tight-knit team for so many years, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but our results, we know, are serious. Our approach is straightforward, simple and, most importantly, client-focused. It is our passion that reminds us that every client deserves our highest-level effort and complete attention, every time.

We appreciate that each case is different and that our job is to understand our clients’ business, goals, and aspirations. We work collaboratively with our clients to identify their most important objectives in litigation. If we have a bit of fun along the way, all the better. Our clients routinely applaud our willingness to push the envelope to find the best solution, not just any solution, and our ability to put our client’s interest ahead of our own. It is a trait we’ve found to be a harbinger of success, in law, and in life. Our approach to litigation is tough, but our interaction with our clients is human. We understand the risks and costs of litigation and we counsel our clients accordingly. Our trial attorneys’ practical and experienced advice ensures that our clients know the prospects for success, the risks involved, and the likely financial results and consequences. With our clients fully informed, we work together on key decisions so their best interests are always served. We love to try cases, and gain a rush from surmounting challenges in the courtroom en route to achieving positive results. More than that, we genuinely value the trust our clients put in us to help them navigate through disputes. Once you get to know us, we hope it will go without saying that above all, we enjoy the thrill of winning on behalf of our clients, whether that occurs inside the courtroom or out. As they say, a win is a win, and we’re passionate about victory.

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Solutions.

Finally, our experience and our passion come together to create your solutions. Here are five examples of big-ticket complex litigation matters that we guided to a successful outcome. The descriptions may be clinical – after all, this is the complex litigation we’re talking about – but the outcomes certainly spurred plenty of excitement from our clients. Examples of Our Solutions »

  • We successfully represented the owner, New Athens Generating Company, LLC, a merchant power company, on a $533 million power plant construction project in upstate New York in a series of complex arbitration proceedings, against the EPC contractor, Bechtel Power Corporation, one of the world's largest power plant construction contractors. Bechtel sought more than $94 million in additional compensation for alleged changes in the cutting-edge power generation technology incorporated into the plant, alleged force majeure severe winter weather encountered during construction, and other alleged changes, delays and force majeure events. New Athens, sought approximately $33 million in liquidated damages due to Bechtel completing the construction more than 200 days late. Due to the complexity of the case, the arbitrators divided the hearing into four phases, with each phase focusing on one of the areas of construction in dispute. The arbitration involved extensive testimony as to power plant combustion turbine engineering, construction scheduling, construction craft labor productivity and ergonomics, meteorology/climatology, chemistry, power industry economics, and construction cost accounting. Altogether, the arbitrators heard 53 days of testimony, from 53 witnesses, received more than 1,300 exhibits, with a transcript of nearly 15,000 pages. The arbitrators rendered several detailed written opinions throughout the arbitration. The final result of the arbitration was that New Athens successfully defeated nearly all of Bechtel's claims and the arbitrators awarded New Athens $26,950,000 in liquidated damages which constituted more than 80% of the liquidated damages sought by New Athens.
  • We represented several corporate officers and directors, and partnership managing partners, in a case that combined two shareholder derivative actions and a number of partnership rights actions. Minority shareholders and partners sought more than $200 million in damages for alleged mismanagement and abuse of corporate offices and partnership positions. Separate claims involving transactions over a 30-year period were advanced by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs’ claims related to companies incorporated in two different states and a number of partnerships in a third jurisdiction, so that the law of several jurisdictions was applicable to the various claims. Several motions, hearings and trial court rulings resulted in the plaintiffs abandoning their partnership claims and waiving their position that shareholder demand upon the two corporate boards of directors should be excused as futile. The plaintiffs then made demand upon the two boards to file suit against several officers and directors. We counseled our clients to form disinterested director “demand committees” to undertake, on behalf of the corporations, independent evaluations of the shareholder demands. The demand committee’s report, which found no mismanagement or abuse, was accepted by the trial court; the attempted shareholders derivative action was summarily dismissed; and the result was affirmed on appeal in a precedent setting and now frequently cited decision in the State of Maryland.
  • We defended the State of New Jersey in a lawsuit brought against the State by a major international contractor on a large Superfund remediation project. The engineering firm which designed the project was also made a defendant and cross-defendant. The contractor sought more than $60 million from the State and the State counterclaimed for millions of dollars of liquidated damages due to late completion of the project. Thorough discovery led to effective motions for partial summary judgments which were rendered on the eve of trial forcing the contractor to settle “on the courthouse steps” The contractor’s numerous claims involved both civil construction work, as well as vertical construction and complex water purification equipment mechanical work. By utilizing the testimony of an expert in estimating costs for this type of environmental remediation project, we showed that the contractor had underbid the job by millions of dollars. With that expert testimony, we also showed that the contractor’s claims for alleged extra costs were, in fact, costs that should have been anticipated and included in the lump sum bid.
  • Our client, a European company, was sued in an eastern United States court for millions of dollars in claims arising from complex financial and corporate transactions. This presented the prospect of these complicated claims against our client, a foreign company, being tried before an American jury. Unquestionably, the American court had jurisdiction to hear the case. However, utilizing a careful analysis and presentation to the court of both the factual and legal issues to be resolved, we were able to show that crucial witnesses, whose appearance in the American court we could not require, were located in Europe and that crucial legal issues were governed by foreign statutory law which would be difficult for an American court to interpret and apply. Based upon those factors, we successfully argued that, notwithstanding the court’s jurisdiction, prudence and the legal doctrine of forum non conveniens dictated that the American court should dismiss the case without prejudice so that it could be refiled in Europe. Later, the case was tried in Europe without a jury and the client prevailed.
  • Our client was a real estate developer and owner. A large new development was constructed immediately adjacent to a downtown office building owned by our client. The construction included a large excavation for a multi-story underground parking garage. As a result of the excavation, our client’s building was destabilized, damaged structurally, and had to be evacuated. We filed suit against the excavation and construction firm and the insurer. All parties agreed to mediate the dispute before a mutually agreed-upon professional mediator. Although there was little local legal precedent on point, we presented arguments that the excavation and construction firm was liable under a legal theory of strict liability and that the earth movement exclusion was applicable only to natural earth movement, e.g., earthquake, and not to manmade earth movement. With the assistance of the mediator, the case was settled upon very favorable terms for our client, which included the repair and restoration of the building, compensation for lost rental revenues, and compensation for other expenses.

For more information regarding Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram’s Trial Practice, contact Department Chair Judah (“Judd”) Lifschitz at lifschitz@slslaw.com

Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?