Litigation and Risk Management
Litigation is more than the Rules of Evidence and the Rules of Civil Procedure. A true litigator learns the client’s business objectives and then leverages the rules to the client’s greatest advantage. A client’s goals must remain foremost in any litigation and whether it is achieving a quick and advantageous settlement or taking a case on appeal to expand a point of law, Martin & Seibert can assign attorneys best suited to meet a client’s goals.
Historically an insurance defense firm, the firm has deep roots in the state and federal courts of West Virginia. The firm has tried a number of cases of first impression on issues from insurance coverage to attempts to expand defenses to punitive damages as well as institutional attacks against a multitude of business interests. A successful defense begins with assessing the merits of any claim and how a case impacts a client regardless of whether the client is an individual or a multi-national corporation. Martin & Seibert devotes significant resources to training its lawyers and para-professional staff in a number of specialty areas so that expertise is available at all times. The firm stresses ongoing education and specialization in areas that spawn significant litigation such as asbestos, toxic tort, insurance bad faith and medical monitoring actions. This deeper level of knowledge enables the Firm to provide unique insights and a broader perspective as to any given claim and its impact on a client’s overall business activities. From the outset, the Firm and the client work in partnership to attain the goals set by the client.
Evaluation of a case is an ongoing process developing through the discovery process. A key distinction of Martin & Seibert attorneys is the ability and flexibility to quickly discover critical facts necessary to an advantageous defense, whether it is information to defeat a claim or data to demonstrate the propriety of a client’s action. As discovery continues, Martin & Seibert repeatedly re-evaluates cases and potential exposure in order to constantly provide a client the specific information necessary to make informed decisions. Attorneys and para-professionals use technology to streamline the discovery process so that vast amounts of data can be synthesized at minimal expense to clients.
This technical knowledge and capability also distinguishes the Firm through the use of its e-discovery and document management teams. These teams can quickly develop case-specific databases to manage discovery data and promptly and accurately summarize deposition testimony to distill only the most critical facts. Additional information about the Firm’s e-discovery team is available at http://www.martinandseibert.com/practices/discovery.htm
An exacting insight of the jurisdiction is as important as an understanding of the procedural and evidentiary rules. Martin & Seibert attorneys are licensed in a number of jurisdictions and at all state and federal levels. Attorneys also routinely appear before administrative tribunals so that any need of a client is met. Strategic placement of offices and resources in the Eastern Panhandle and Charleston also gives the Firm the ability to provide litigation services to a client in any jurisdiction in the Mid-Atlantic without undue expense. Location, expertise and experience gives Martin & Seibert the ability to deliver the same or better results than many national law firms at a more cost-advantageous price to clients. The Firm has attorneys licensed in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and California.
In addition to the ability to deliver results, Martin & Seibert attorneys have been recognized as “Super Lawyers” and these leaders are sought after as lecturers, authors and expert witnesses in their respective practice areas. This distinction from clients, peers and courts is yet another testament to the fact the Firm is dedicated to the highest and most effective level of representation and advocacy. This knowledge base is also utilized to assist clients in developing internal protocols and procedures and often casts the Firm in pilot projects ranging from alternative billing, auditing and authoring best practices.
Trial history runs deep with Martin & Seibert being the home of some of West Virginia’s most respected litigators over the last century. Many Martin & Seibert litigators have tried and won cases of first impression returning verdicts favorable primarily to defense clients even in a jurisdiction frequently referred to as a “Judicial Hellhole.” Additionally, members of the litigation team have been recognized as outstanding trial attorneys by Litigation Counsel of America. The ability to defeat the odds comes from the unrelenting dedication of Firm resources to stay ahead of the curve, to anticipate the next wave of litigation and to counsel proactively as much as litigating reactively.
Likewise, the firm’s appellate work is well known through the Mid-Atlantic. Numerous issues are first litigated in West Virginia, often identified as a hot-bed of litigation theories. Martin & Seibert has been at the forefront of these successful appeals as well. The Firm is often retained to serve solely as appellate counsel and many clients and organizations return time and again retaining Martin & Seibert as amicus counsel. A listing of the Firm’s reported decisions is available at http://www.martinandseibert.com/articles/appellate Decisions.htm
Privacy Specialty Practice
A growing area of the law nationally concerns individual privacy rights and the tension between individual rights and a business’s legitimate need for sensitive private information from consumers. For more than a decade, Martin & Seibert attorneys have analyzed and litigated these issues for business clients. Attorneys have defended the privacy rights of employees when personnel files are sought in institutional discovery to a company’s obligation to divulge sensitive customer information in response to judicial process. Most recently, the Firm litigated the first medical privacy case in the United States concerning an insurer’s ability to obtain and retain medical information submitted by a claimant in electronic format and successfully argued that federal and state privacy safeguards were sufficient so as to defeat the request for individual medical confidentiality orders. Martin & Seibert attorneys continue at the forefront of these compelling privacy issues to the advantage of the Firm’s clients and has been consulted on the development of appropriate privacy protection protocols.
Risk Management Practice
Litigation is more than courtroom activity. A significant amount of senior resources are dedicated to risk management counseling. This entails the ability to analyze litigation trends, forecast future attacks and provide cost-benefit analyses from an objective viewpoint. This counseling requires sensible judgment to discuss the best ways to approach sensitive and expensive challenges facing a client. Issues can also be resolved via legislation or regulation, through arbitration, negotiation or management of business activities. This multi-disciplinary approach sets Martin & Seibert apart from traditional litigation firms that can only provide standard defense activities. Martin & Seibert, recognized as a “Go To” Law Firm, applies this multi-faceted approach with the appropriate level of staffing in a cost-beneficial and outcome-driven manner that consistently returns the results clients demand and deserve.
Local Counsel Activity
In recent years, the West Virginia Supreme Court and Lawyer Disciplinary Board have released ethics opinions and revised Rules for the Practice of Law which require West Virginia attorneys to serve as responsible local counsel. Pro hac vice rules have been expanded and in a recent advisory opinion, the Committee on Unlawful Practice of the West Virginia State Bar held that attorneys not licensed in West Virginia may not appear in a West Virginia court nor take any act that falls within the definition of the practice of law without local counsel regardless of whether a suit or other proceeding is actually pending. While some see this as parochial, the State Bar views this approach as the only means to ensure the public is served by qualified counsel over whom the Bar has disciplinary jurisdiction. A copy of the Advisory Opinion is available at
Proper selection of local counsel is a key decision in effective litigation. Appropriate local counsel should be well versed in the subject area and possess a keen insight into the jurisdiction. The Firm’s strategic locations again gives it an advantage since Martin & Seibert attorneys routinely appear in all state and federal courts in West Virginia and are at the forefront of their respective practice areas. In addition, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia has appointed a Martin & Seibert litigator as the only attorney on its Pro Hac Vice Committee joining with court personnel to oversee the pro hac vice process and proper administration of pro hac vice funds.
The acumen provided by proper local counsel can be invaluable to the ultimate resolution and is a decision a client must seriously consider rather than simply picking a lawyer conveniently located near a courthouse. Martin & Seibert has served as local counsel to a number of national firms and clients repeatedly advise that the foresight and practical guidance has been instrumental to successful resolution of a matter, whether it be by settlement, arbitration, trial or appeal.
Whether it be traditional courtroom litigation, resolving matters through the legislative/regulatory arena or providing one-on-one risk management and counseling, the ability of Martin & Seibert to quickly and effectively combine its collective resources to the single advantage of a client is unmatched.