Notable and Newsworthy Cases
Wuliger & Wuliger has represented clients in high profile cases. Below are some highlights from the firm’s history and other news clippings.
Mother Sues Hudson School District over risks of returning to in-person learning during coronavirus pandemic
Cleveland.com – Oct. 21, 2020 “A parent of two Hudson students has sued the district and Superintendent Phil Herman over the district’s decision to bring back daily in-person classes for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.” “Grega filed in Summit County Court of Common Pleas on Friday, four days after the school board decided that, beginning Oct. 19, all elementary and middle school students will begin the so-called “All-In” model and attend five days a week, the district said in a news release.”
Parent Sues Hudson City School District for Risking ‘Health and Safety’ of Students With Return to In-Person Education
FOX 8 News – Oct. 20, 2020
Lynna Lai – WKYC – Oct. 20, 2020
Joe Pagonakis – News 5 ABC – Oct. 20, 2020
Akron Beacon Journal – Oct. 19, 2020 “A Hudson parent is suing over a districtwide decision last week that returned thousands of children to classrooms Monday as COVID-19 cases surge in Ohio and Summit County.The lawsuit may be the first in Ohio as parents and school districts have tried for months to comfortably balance the social well-being and education of students with the risks of exposing them, their families and their communities to the coronavirus.”
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal – July-Aug 2020
National Law Journal – June 2020 Mark Kremser was recognized by Lawyers of Distinction in 2020 for his excellence in Legal Malpractice
Ohio State Bar Association – June 29, 2020 – Emily Chapman “The OSBA Leadership Academy is designed to nurture and prepare lawyers for effective leadership in the association, the legal profession and their communities. The interactive training program takes place across a five-month period in six sessions during which participants interact with a diverse group of seasoned attorneys and other professionals, learning about topics such as civility, ethics and professionalism. This year, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the sessions took place online beginning with the class’s second meeting on March 12. The 2020 graduating class includes three attorneys from OSBA District 12, which encompasses Cuyahoga County. Brenden Kelley is a litigator with Wuliger & Wuliger in Cleveland, where he first started working at the age of 17 as a document clerk. He attended Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree and earned his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.”
Crain’s Cleveland Business – Jun. 16, 2020 – Judy Stringer “Wuliger & Wuliger owner and managing partner Amy Wuliger is the first to admit she “inherited” Brenden Kelley when she assumed leadership at the boutique litigation firm following her father’s passing in 2019. Yet, she’s grateful for this hand-me-down.” “So many lawyers are good at either trial presentation or research and writing,” Wuliger said. “But in my dad’s words, ‘Brenden is the total package.’ Bill Wuliger took Kelley under his wing way back in 2008, when the illustrious trial lawyer allowed the Gilmour Academy student to shadow and assist him as part of a senior project. Kelley returned to work at the firm during his breaks from Washington & Jefferson College and then even more while he attended Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. Upon graduating law school in 2015, Kelley said it was only natural that he join his mentor full-time.”
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland – Sept. 9, 2019 “With sadness, Legal Aid shares news of William Wuliger’s passing. Bill was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His father owned a steel company, and his mother was a schoolteacher. After graduating from high school, he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and then returned to Cleveland to attend law school at Case Western Reserve University. Although his career was primarily focused on civil litigation, Bill spent five of his first six years as a lawyer representing indigents accused of felonies in state and federal courts. He was First Assistant in the Legal Aid Public Defender’s Office for Cuyahoga County from 1970 to 1975 and served as the first Director of The Legal Aid’s Federal Defender Program from 1973 to 1975. Before forming Wuliger & Wuliger with his daughter, Amy, in 2016, Bill was a founding partner of Wuliger, Fadel & Beyer, established in 1983. Bill tried more than two hundred cases to verdict, and was the attorney of record in dozens of appeals, including many precedent-setting cases. Bill was named to the 100 Best Trial Lawyers in the country by the American Association for Justice and was the recipient of other professional service awards as well, including the University of Pennsylvania, School of Law’s Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship; the Legal Aid Society’s Claude E. Clark Outstanding Service Award; and the Cleveland Bar Association’s Certificate of Merit. In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family request donations be made to Legal Aid in his memory.”
Trial Lawyer National Portrait Gallery – May 16, 2019 – Trevor Goring
Legal NewsLine – Mar. 16, 2019 – Noddy A. Fernandez Wuliger & Wuliger represents a class of former employees of G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc. Plaintiffs alleged that G4S was responsible for allegedly created a scheme to defraud employees of funds owed to them under the terms of the paid time off polices “in order to advance their own careers and create a financial windfall for G4S and its parent company.” U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division case number 1:18-cv-00488-DCN. Wuliger & Wuliger secured a settlement in this case for their clients in 2020.
Employment Law Daily – Feb. 27, 2019 – Ronald Miller, J.D. “A federal district court in Ohio refused to dismiss claims for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and fraudulent misrepresentation brought by security guards who alleged that an employer’s loss of its contract with GM triggered their entitlement to termination benefits under its PTO Policies. According to the employees, the employer assured them it would be distributing checks for “full vacation pay” in accordance with the policy, but later notified them that it had decided not to make any payouts. (King v. G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc., February 22, 2019, Nugent, D.).
The News-Herald – May 11, 2018 – Tracey Read “The estate of Mentor developer Jerome T. Osborne is suing Kirtland Hills for fraudulent misrepresentation over work Osborne Co. Ltd. performed on the East Branch Chagrin River. According to the lawsuit filed this week in Lake County Common Pleas Court by attorneys William Wuliger, Mark Kremser and Amy Wuliger. Osborne, who died in 2014, was a Kirtland Hills resident who often donated money to the village as well as equipment and services. Then-Mayor Jerome Hinkel first solicited Osborne in 1978 to maintain the riverbank to protect the adjacent lands from flooding and erosion. In July 2007, an official with the Ohio EPA visited the site and discovered an Osborne employee dredging the river. After the Environmental Protection Agency began an investigation, Kirtland Hills officials claimed they were unaware of the extent or scale of the dredging operations undertaken by Osborne. The estate is now asking Collins for an order declaring Kirtland Hills to be in breach of the agreement, and for unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees. According to the lawsuit, Kirtland Hills officials knew or should have known its employees were not trained of all applicable local, state and federal laws protecting and maintaining the East Branch Chagrin River.”
News-Herald – Jul. 20, 2016 – Tracey Read “A Cleveland-based natural gas distributor has reached a severance agreement with Mentor developer Richard M. Osborne, who claimed he was illegally fired from the company. Osborne sued Gas Natural Inc., previously located in Mentor, in Lake County Common Pleas Court in 2014 for misconduct, breach of settlement agreement, breach of contract, illegal termination of employment and fraudulent inducement.”
Law360 – May 27, 2015 “An Ohio federal judge on Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss Cobra Pipeline Co. Ltd.’s suit accusing partner-turned-rival Gas Natural Inc. of illegally tracking Cobra’s trucks and workers based on the possible existence of confidential information stored on a secure website. U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin denied the motion by Gas Natural and its subsidiaries.”
Great Falls Tribune – Oct. 9, 2014 – Jo Dee Black A federal judge in Ohio ruled that ousted Gas Natural chairman and CEO Richard M. Osborne needs to get approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission before sending any more letters to shareholders of the company. Wuliger & Wuliger successfully appealed this decision to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, vacating the injunction. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, case number 14-3999.
Crain’s Cleveland Business – Jul. 30, 2014 – Scott Suttell A legal dispute between Mentor-based Gas Natural Inc. and former CEO Richard M. Osborne, which appeared to be moving toward a resolution earlier this month, is back on.
The Plain Dealer – Jun. 18, 2013 – James F. McCarty “Co-founder James Ferraro confirmed Tuesday the firing on June 10 of partner Thomas Wilson. Ferraro said loss of partnership also means Wilson loses his 20 percent ownership of the firm. Ferraro accused Wilson of delaying the filing of more than a thousand death benefit cases involving victims of asbestos-related lung disease. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the widow last week in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, states that Wilson schemed to keep the firm’s revenues below a threshold established in the settlement that would have required that payments be made to Lynn Arko Kelley.”
The AM Law Daily – Apr. 20, 2011 – Brian Baxter “Kelley & Ferraro, one of the nation’s largest asbestos litigation firms, emerged from bankruptcy this week after reaching a confidential settlement with the widow of cofounding partner Michael Kelley. The settlement ends five years of litigation between Lynn Arko Kelley and Kelley & Ferraro name partner James Ferraro, according to the Daily Business Review, a sibling publication. Ferraro told the DBR that the settlement is somewhere between the $10 million he offered Lynn Kelley and the $35 million she requested in years of litigation against the firm cofounded by her late husband. ‘I think it became self-evident to everyone that this was a very destructive war and that my client deserves a lot of credit for her courage and for her compassion,’ Wuliger said. ‘And Mr. Ferraro deserve a lot of credit for his skillful direction of his defense and for his appreciation of the wisdom of resolving this dispute. We have been at each other’s throats since 2006.’”
The Plain Dealer – Apr. 20, 2011 – James F. McCarty After winning a verdict in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in 2008, the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals ordered that Kelley & Ferraro dissolved in accordance with the partnership agreement signed by Michael V. Kelley and Jim Ferraro. “The judges also said that Kelley should receive 40% of the firm’s revenues, estimated at $35 million.” “The exact amount of the award to be paid to Arko Kelley is confidential and will be filed under seal with the bankruptcy court for competitive reasons, according to court documents. But lawyers for both sides confirmed the amount is between $10 million and $35 million.”
International Business Times – Feb. 1, 2011 – IBT Staff Reporter “Florida-based asbestos litigation law firm Kelley & Ferraro LLP has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy seeking reprieve from an Ohio appeals court’s ruling that the law firm must be dissolved as part of an agreement with the firm’s deceased partner and co-founder Michael Kelley. According to Lynn’s lawyer, Bill Wuliger, the agreement requires 40 percent of the firm’s revenues to be paid to the Kelley estate. Lynn, Wuliger said, is owed at least $35 million but has so far received only a couple of hundred thousand dollars to date. The agreement also requires dissolution of the law firm and division of the assets.”
ABAJournal – Jan. 28, 2011 – Martha Neil “Faced with a $4.2 million claim by a deceased name partner’s widow, a Florida-based asbestos law firm has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy seeking respite. A state appeals court has since ordered the firm to dissolve and ordered a new trial on damages, the article explains. Kelley’s lawyer contends she is actually entitled to $35 million, according to dissolution provisions of the law firm’s partnership agreement.”
Crain’s Cleveland Business – Jan. 28, 2011 – Michelle Park Lazette “The legal battle between the asbestos litigation law firm Kelley & Ferraro LLP and the widow of one of the firm’s namesake partners took a turn this week when the firm filed for bankruptcy in Florida. Kelley & Ferraro filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Wednesday, Jan. 26, in a move that partner Tom Wilson said is aimed at resolving the nearly 5-year-old civil litigation pending against it. The legal feud between Ms. Kelley and Mr. Ferraro began in April 2006, four months after Michael Kelley died. Ms. Kelley alleged Mr. Ferraro was not following the company contract he signed with her late husband and claimed, among other things, that Mr. Ferraro had cut off her salary and refused to dissolve the firm and divide the assets as the contract required.”
ABAJournal – Jun. 18, 2010 – Martha Neil “A lucrative asbestos litigation law firm must dissolve, an Ohio appeals court has ruled, because its partnership agreement wasn’t updated to reflect changes in the composition of its partnership roster. It overruled a number of determinations by the trial judge that shaped the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas verdict, including his determination that the partnership agreement was invalid because Ferraro wasn’t admitted in Ohio at the time he signed it. “The plain language of the agreement required Ferraro to treat Michael Kelley’s death as an event triggering the dissolution and winding up of the K&F partnership,” the appeals court held. Attorney William Wuliger, who represents Lynn Kelley, now says she is owed about $90 million.”
The Plain Dealer – Jun. 18, 2010 – Patrick O’Donnell “The Eighth Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the partnership agreement between Kelley and firm co-founder Jim Ferraro, owner of the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, should have been followed after Kelley died. The agreement called for the Cleveland firm to be dissolved if it has only one partner. The court ruled that other lawyers named partner as the firm grew do not count, because a revised partnership agreement was never signed.”
The Plain Dealer – Apr. 12, 2008 – John C. Kuehner “The jury awarded the widow of lawyer Michael Kelley $4.25 million Friday. Wuliger said he was disappointed the jury could not use that contract to set an amount owed to his client. He also said that if the partnership agreement was invalid because Kelley was the only lawyer licensed in Ohio, then the firm was entirely his and Ferraro personally owes the estate money.”
ABAJournal – Feb. 5, 2008 – Martha Neil “The untimely death of one of Cleveland’s best-known plaintiffs lawyers has sparked an ugly court spat that could require dissolution of his super-profitable firm and the sale of its private jets and arena football team. The widow of Michael Kelley, known locally as the King of Torts, has filed suit in Ohio state court against his partner, James Ferraro. In the suit, she asks a Cuyahoga County judge to order Ferraro to liquidate the billion-dollar asbestos practice that the two men built up over nine years before Kelley died of a heart attack in 2006, reports the National Law Journal (sub. req.). Kelley’s lawyer, William Wuliger, says the partnership agreement calls for the firm to be dissolved and its assets divided if a “liquidating event” occurs. “And I believe a liquidating event includes death,” he states.”
National Law Journal – Feb. 4, 2008 – Julie Kay “For nine years, Michael Kelley and James Ferraro ran one of the most profitable plaintiffs’ law firms in Cleveland. So profitable that they were able to buy three jets, million-dollar mansions and an arena football team. In 2003, a Cleveland business magazine put Kelley on the cover, labeling him “The King of Torts” for his “billion-dollar asbestos practice.” Both partners were prominent political contributors and even lent their planes to Democratic heavyweights like Hillary Clinton. But following Kelley’s sudden death in 2006 of a heart attack, the fate of the law firm and the estimated billions of dollars, planes and arena football team is in the hands of a Cuyahoga County state court judge. In a law firm battle that has turned downright ugly, Kelley’s widow, Lynn, a former Cleveland Heights municipal judge, is battling Ferraro for half of the law firm’s total assets, once estimated at $3.5 billion.”
The Toledo Blade – Mar. 14, 2006 – Gary T. Pakulski “Six years after the collapse of Liberte Capital Group LLC, of Toledo, a court-appointed receiver is preparing to return a portion of the $100 million lost by 2,700 investors nationwide. If Judge Katz approves the agreement involving investors in the Toledo firm and New York-based Alpha Capital, Liberte investors will get $11.5 million collected by a court-appointed receiver from life insurance death benefit payments as well as commissions and other fees returned by people implicated in the scam. The first distribution to Liberte investors could be made as early as July, Mr. Wuliger said, although details aren’t completed. Mr. Wuliger said Liberte investors could get additional distributions if the collection actions are successful.”
Rogue Businessman? Mafia Poseur? Hollywood Playboy?: Searching for the real Jim Capwill — and the $50 million he seems to have lost.
Cleveland Scene Magazine – May 02, 2002 – Thomas Francis “At one time, Capwill’s company stood guard over $170 million — much of it the life savings of a few thousand hardworking people he never met. Somehow, that pool of money sprang a $50 million leak. Police arrived at one explanation: Capwill embezzled it. The remaining funds have steadily evaporated over the past three years, as the courts undertake the tortuously slow task of finding out what happened. The trail has led to strippers, half-baked investments, planes, cars, mansions, foolish business ventures, washed-up R&B singers, and mobsters. “It’s a den of thieves,” says attorney Bill Wuliger, whose job it is to make sense of the case. “But when you get to the bottom line, the dirtiest guy is the one with the most money.” And that, according to federal prosecutors, is Capwill.”
Dr. No – Dr. Robert Corn’s enemies say he’ll testify to anything insurance companies want – for a price.
Cleveland Scene Magazine – Oct. 18, 2001 – Erick Trickey “Robert Corn has been an orthopedic surgeon for 22 years, a success by any measure. He was chief of orthopedics at Huron Hospital and has his own practice in Highland Heights, all of which has given him a most comfortable life. He owns five and a half acres in Gates Mills, where he lives with his family in a half-million-dollar house with five bedrooms, six baths, and four fireplaces. But while building an impressive career, Corn has also built a notable stable of enemies. That’s because Corn has likely earned more than a million dollars from insurers like Allstate, Farmers, and State Farm. Corn is hardly the only doctor willing to testify as a defense expert. ‘What I think singled him out was, he probably did it more skillfully than a lot of other people,’ says attorney Bill Wuliger.”