On September 9, 2022, Santa Fe Partner Rosalind Bienvenu, current Chair of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section, moderated the Section’s 33rd Annual Appellate Practice Institute, a daylong webinar featuring distinguished panel members from the appellate bench and bar. The Institute addressed topics such as United States Supreme Court jurisprudence, recent developments in New Mexico appellate practice, best practices for appellate briefing and oral argument, and working with trial counsel to prepare for appeal.
DP&S is pleased to announce that Phil Kovnat has joined the firm as an attorney in the Santa Fe Office. Phil comes to us from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia where he was an appellate and trial attorney handling all phases of litigation. Phil also worked closely with the Office of the Solicitor General and other offices within the Department of Justice on certiorari-level and merits-stage proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court. Before joining the EEOC, Phil served as a law clerk to the Honorable Bruce D. Black in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, and then went on to clerk for the Honorable Dolores K. Sloviter of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Phil obtained his law degree from American University-Washington College of Law, where he served on the American University Law Review and the Washington College of Law Moot Court Honor Society, and is licensed to practice in the State of New York, as well as the United States Supreme Court, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits.
Congratulations to Jeffrey Pitman and Benjamin Reyes of Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice on their victory in the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Mr. Pitman and Mr. Reyes, along with Feliz Rael of The Law Offices of Feliz A. Rael, and Keller & Keller, successfully defended an $11 million jury verdict on appeal in a nursing home wrongful death case. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals rejected the defendants’ bid to overturn the verdict and procure a new trial and, on cross-appeal, reinstated a jury finding that the various defendant-entities operated as a joint venture, making them all responsible for the nursing home’s conduct. DP&S partners Justin Kaufman and Caren Friedman assisted with the appellate strategy and briefing.
Congratulations to DP&S partners Dana Levy and Kirk Pittard on back-to-back wins in the Texas Supreme Court!
On May 6, 2022, Dana successfully reversed a court of appeals’ opinion that the plaintiff’s expert report failed to satisfy Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. In E.D. v. Tex. Health Care, P.L.L.C., No. 20-0657, — S.W.3d —, 2022 WL 1434658 (Tex. May 6, 2022), the Texas Supreme Court held that the expert report was sufficient, confirming that Chapter 74’s “‘fair summary’ benchmark is not an evidentiary standard.” You can read a Law360 article about Dana’s case here.
The following week, Kirk Pittard successfully reversed a court of appeals’ opinion dismissing an appeal on jurisdiction grounds. In Mitschke v. Borromeo, No. 21-0326, — S.W.3d —, 2022 WL 1510317 (Tex. May 13, 2022), the Texas Supreme Court overruled Philbrook v. Berry, 683 S.W.2d 378 (Tex. 1985), and clarified that (1) a motion for new trial filed in the original cause is sufficient to extend the appellate deadlines in a severed, final judgment, and (2) the application of stare decisis generally and in cases transferred from one court of appeals to another. You can read a Law360 article about Kirk’s case here.
Congratulations to DP&S partner, Thad Spalding, who successfully defeated a police officer’s qualified immunity appeal to the Fifth Circuit. The case involves the fatal shooting of a teenager, Jordan Edwards, by Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver. Oliver moved for summary judgment, claiming his shooting–into a car full of teenagers who were leaving a party and driving away–was justified based on his belief that the vehicle was an immediate threat to his partner, Officer Gross. Officer Gross, however, testified that the vehicle was not a threat to him and the officers’ body cam video shows the vehicle passing and driving away from the officers at the time Oliver opened fire into the vehicle. The district court denied Oliver’s motion for summary judgment and Oliver appealed that ruling. The Fifth Circuit rejected Oliver’s appeal, allowing the claims against Oliver to proceed to trial. You can read the opinion here. You can also read a Dallas Morning News article about the case and the ruling here.
DP&S is proud to announce that Santa Fe-based partners Caren Friedman and Justin Kaufman have been named Southwest (New Mexico and Arizona) “Super Lawyers” for 2022, an honor based on professional achievement and peer recognition.
Caren was named in the Appellate practice category. She is one of only eight New Mexico appellate practitioners, and the only one from Santa Fe, to be recognized. This is Caren’s 16th consecutive year to be included on this list.
Justin was named in the Plaintiff’s Product Liability category. This is Justin’s 6th year to be named to the list, and he is the only New Mexico attorney listed in the category.