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DeForest Koscelnik Yokitis & Berardinelli

2 National Rankings & 9 Metro Rankings | Website

Significant Matters

Walter routinely takes on cases that are highly significant to his clients. The following are examples in just the last few years. When a preeminent nationally recognized plaintiffs' law firm which challenges acquisitions sought to stop an acquisition by one of Walter's clients, instead of paying a settlement, the client resisted and Walter filed a motion to dismiss. When the Court indicated it would deny a stay of the acquisition and rule on the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff withdrew the challenge.

In another case, when the actions of a local religious diocese leader indicated that the organization's endowment (in excess of $20 million in funds) could be the subject of dispute and potential separation from the national church of which the local diocese was a part, Walter brought suit as plaintiff's counsel on behalf of one of the parishes in the diocese. He obtained a consent order protecting the endowment funds and other property, and, despite claims by the group that ultimately did separate, reached the successful result that the funds remained with those persons who did not leave the national church.

Similarly, when a client facing in excess of $20 million in exposure in a product liability death case in Georgia decided to change lead defense counsel three weeks before trial, it came to Walter. In a two-week trial, he obtained dismissal of one defendant, tried the case to verdict and obtained a verdict awarding only a comparatively minor amount against the remaining defendant, less than one-tenth of the damages sought by plaintiffs.

Also, when a company which had acquired a high-tech business was concerned that the former head of the company was engaging in a potentially competing enterprise, Walter filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida. He litigated the issues that included alleged use of confidential information and alleged breach of non-compete contract issues, and the matter was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the company.

In a major aviation products liability case, we obtained summary judgment in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County for our clients on claims by an upstream component manufacturer.

In a multimillion-dollar ERISA lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, we obtained dismissal of all claims in a purported class action against our client hospitals in Ohio and West Virginia.

Our firm was retained after default judgments had been entered against a bankrupt component parts manufacturer, and we opened an ancillary action in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama seeking a declaration of non-liability as to our client, the alleged guarantor or insurer of the obligations of the defaulting party. The defendants removed the case to federal court. We obtained a remand to the state court system, successfully making the innovative argument that a bankrupt party is not a "nominal party" for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. The remand ultimately helped achieve a successful resolution for our client.

In a case of first impression under Pennsylvania environmental law, we obtained dismissal of a complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, against a purported generator of hazardous waste on the basis that the state Department of Environmental Protection failed to first pursue the owners and operators of the landfill. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed the action in federal court under federal environmental laws, where we again successfully obtained dismissal.

A former salesman brought a breach of contract suit alleging six-figure damages against our client, an industrial company. The employee claimed that he was owed commissions from an approximately $2 million transaction. We won the case for the defendant; we argued that no commissions were due and the employee was not entitled to any damages. The case was tried by a jury over the course of approximately one week in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The jury returned a complete defense verdict finding that no breach of contract had occurred.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted our motion for summary judgment in favor of our client, a major financial institution, in a Title VII and Pregnancy Discrimination Act case brought by an employee who alleged discrimination in a decision to terminate her.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted our motion for summary judgment in favor of our client, a high-profile engineering company, in a Title VII case brought by an engineer and manager who alleged race and sex discrimination in a promotion decision.

Over a four-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, we won a defense verdict in favor of our client, a prominent class action law firm that faced fraud claims.

We successfully defended an executive in an export fraud investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. After a multi-year investigation, no criminal charges were brought against our client.

We defended a U.S. citizen who resides in the Philippines against charges of illegally exporting prohibited defense articles. The client was already indicted when we were retained. We took an aggressive approach to defending our client and challenged the Government's case pre-trial. After much labor, we convinced the U.S. Attorneys' Office that its main witness had falsified evidence and that they should polygraph him. After the witness failed the polygraph, all charges against our client were dismissed.

We successfully obtained a non-jail, probationary sentence for a public employee who was investigated and charged in conjunction with a large-scale public corruption investigation.

We successfully obtained a non-jail, probationary sentence for an accountant who was investigated and charged with federal tax violations and faced a Guidelines sentence that would have required him to be incarcerated.