Commercial and Business Tort Litigation

Goodell DeVries’ Client Prevails on Key Issues in Complex Commercial Arbitration

Goodell DeVries’ client, a manufacturer of dental products, substantially prevailed on several key issues in a complex commercial arbitration involving contract and intellectual property issues.  The claimant alleged that the client breached a consulting agreement by not paying royalties on inventions that he claimed were incorporated into a number of the client’s products. 

During a three-week hearing, and extensive post-hearing briefing, Goodell DeVries attorneys, Richard M. Barnes, Linda S. Woolf, and Matthew D. Kohel presented fact and expert evidence demonstrating that all but one of the inventions failed to satisfy the contractual criteria that would entitle the claimant to royalties.  The Goodell DeVries team successfully established that the claimant conceived his most valuable invention under a prior contract between the parties, and as a result, he had assigned it to the client without any further compensation owed.


This result follows a prior award of partial summary judgment that the Goodell DeVries team obtained for the client on another invention at issue in the same arbitration.  

Partial Summary Judgment Obtained In Complex Commercial Arbitration

Goodell DeVries attorneys Richard M. Barnes, Linda S. Woolf, and Matthew D. Kohel obtained partial summary judgment on behalf of a manufacturer of dental products in a complex commercial arbitration involving various contract and intellectual property issues. The claimant alleged that our client breached a consulting agreement by not paying him royalties for a number of inventions that he claims have been incorporated into our client’s products. An invention that was the subject of the motion for partial summary judgment is a super-elastic metal alloy that undergoes a thermal treatment process to enhance its performance attributes. Mr. Barnes, Ms. Woolf, and Mr. Kohel successfully argued that the claimant is not entitled to royalties on this claimed invention because it was acquired by our client in a prior transaction between the parties, rather than the contract at issue in the arbitration.

Award Obtained by Goodell DeVries Attorneys in an International AAA Arbitration

Goodell DeVries attorneys Linda S. Woolf and Matthew D. Kohel obtained an award on behalf of a manufacturer of water quality and flow measurement instruments in an international AAA arbitration.  Both parties alleged that the other side committed various breaches of a distribution agreement governing the sale of products in Europe.  At the arbitration hearing, where the evidence included testimony from American and European witnesses, Ms. Woolf and Mr. Kohel demonstrated that the respondent breached the contact and obtained a monetary award for our client.  In addition, the arbitrator found in favor of our client on two of the respondent’s three counterclaims, and for the one claim in which respondent prevailed, the evidence presented by the Goodell DeVries team showed that its claimed damages were speculative and, therefore there could be no recovery on that claim.    


Goodell DeVries Obtains Federal Court Judgment on Behalf of National Property Management Firm, Defeats Multi-Million Dollar Counterclaim

Following a four-week bench trial, Goodell DeVries attorneys Linda S. Woolf, Thomas J.S. Waxter, III and Joseph B. Wolf obtained a judgment of $926,211 plus pre-judgment interest on behalf of their client, Georgia-based Ambling Management Company, and defeated a multi-million dollar counterclaim.  In his September 8, 2011 memorandum opinion in Ambling Management Company v. University View Partners, LLC, Judge William D. Quarles of the United States District Court of Maryland in Baltimore found that University View Partners, LLC, the entity that owned the University View Apartments student-housing property adjacent to the University of Maryland, College Park campus, had breached a five-year property management agreement with Ambling when it terminated the agreement without cause three years early.  The Court also found in favor of Ambling as to University View Partners’ counterclaim for breach of the management agreement in which University View was seeking more than $1.2 million as well as more than $1 million in attorney’s fees.  The court concluded that the alleged management deficiencies were actually caused or contributed to by one of the members of University View Partners, who had been appointed the Owner’s Representative under the management agreement.


Goodell DeVries Appellate Team Fends Off Landlords’ Constitutional Challenge to College Park Municipal Ordinance

Goodell DeVries attorneys secured an important win in Maryland’s highest court.  In Tyler v. City of College Park, September Term 2009, the Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed the Circuit Court’s summary judgment for Goodell DeVries' client, the City of College Park, Maryland.  Goodell DeVries' Managing Partner, Linda S. Woolf, and K. Nichole Nesbitt represented the City throughout the case and obtained summary judgment from the trial court on the plaintiffs’ state constitutional challenge to College Park’s housing policy and duly-enacted rent control ordinance.  Derek M. Stikeleather handled the appellate briefing, which included lifting an injunction pending appeal against the City.

Numerous landlords challenged the City ordinance, which capped rents that could be charged in traditional residential neighborhoods.  The popularly elected City Council passed the ordinance to promote affordable housing in the neighborhoods, reduce speculative investment pressure on the prices of single-family residential homes, and preserve the character of traditional residential neighborhoods.  The ordinance exempted apartment complexes and similar multi-unit housing from the cap in order to promote the construction of student-friendly apartments close to the University of Maryland’s main campus, an area that continues to face extensive student housing demands.

Goodell DeVries successfully argued that the ordinance could not be struck as unconstitutional because the applicable rational basis standard of review protects a municipality’s legislative decisions unless they are truly arbitrary or oppressive.  The Court agreed, observing that legislative decisions on issues such as housing policy are “left to the legislature itself and ultimately to the affected electorate,” and that judicial intervention here would be improper.  The Court of Appeals also affirmed summary judgment on the landlords’ other claims, which had alleged that the ordinance was impermissible “de facto zoning” and violated the State and County Fair Housing Acts. 


Goodell DeVries Assists Client to Prevent Debtor's Attempted Bankruptcy Filing

On July 23, 2008 Craig S. Brodsky, George S. Mahaffey, and Paula Krahn Merkle successfully obtained the dismissal of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case that had been filed on the eve of trial. In the case, In re Mortgage Banking Trust, the debtor was a trust established by the grantor as part of his overall estate plan. The trust filed for bankruptcy protection to avoid a state court trial in a proceeding to determine the amount of gift owed to the decedent's wife under his will. The Court held a two-day evidentiary hearing and concluded, in a 19-page opinion, that the trust was not eligible for bankruptcy protection because it was a donative trust rather than a business trust, and thus was not a person eligible for protection under the Bankruptcy Code.