Litigation & Insurance Defense

Megan N. Sandone

William M. Wuestenfeld

Allison G. Strickland

An Eye on Your Bottom Line and Strategic Goals

Business disputes and litigation are inevitable. Successfully managing and resolving them helps keep a manageable “cost of doing business” from turning into a major hit to your bottom line that derails profitability and strategic objectives.

Our job is helping you assess each threat pragmatically. So together we can design a strategy for resolving it most effectively – always keeping an eye on your bottom line and strategic goals.

Often, lawsuits are won with aggressive and focused action early in the process, before the costs and distractions of litigation begin to mount. Other matters are ripe for mediation or other forms of alterative dispute resolution. In either event, we help our clients resolve matters satisfactorily, and often for much less than they anticipated.

Seasoned Team

When full-scale litigation is necessary, we bring our clients a highly seasoned team with significant jury trial experience. Our attorneys have handled literally thousands of litigation matters in state and federal courts, and routinely go “toe-to-toe” with the nation’s largest and most sophisticated law firms.

We offer particular expertise in complex commercial and business disputes, tort claims, professional malpractice claims, employment and labor disputes and constitutional and public law claims. We also regularly represent clients in appeals before the Alaska Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – often helping set precedent and influence public policy.

Increasingly, we serve as local counsel for law firms from around the country when their clients have legal disputes in Alaska. We bring them our keen understanding of Alaska’s distinctive legal culture and personality. We also help them navigate the unique challenges of litigating in remote Alaska communities.

Our diverse litigation expertise and experience includes:

Complex Commercial and Business Disputes

Representing businesses involved in contract disputes, franchise disputes, anti-trust claims, breach of fiduciary duty claims, fraud, unfair trade practice claims and other common business law torts. Representative cases include:

  • Favorably settling a matter for a large engineering firm sued for breach of contract by the three major oil companies in connection with a feasibility study for the Trans-Alaska gas line.
  • Winning judgment exceeding $6 million in complex fraud scheme involving real property and bank transfers utilizing offshore corporations.
  • Winning judgment at trial in excess of $10 million for a small village corporation in a breach of trust case against Alaska National Bank. This was one of the longest civil trials in Alaska history.
  • Handling a dispute between commercial real estate partners that established the Alaska legal standards under which courts allow testimony regarding the meaning of ambiguous contract terms.
  • Successfully defending Alaska’s largest real estate brokerage and various automobile dealerships against consumer class action claims.
  • Achieving a significant settlement in favor of a local business in a real estate dispute concerning environmental contamination on a former gas station property.
  • Representing a Fisherman’s Cooperative in a products liability action against the manufacturer and supplier of urethane foam insulation connected to the loss of an entire season’s fish catch.

Tort Defense

Successfully defending businesses, public institutions and insurance companies in tort matters including wrongful death claims, defamation actions, premises liability cases, automobile and school bus accidents, trespass and conversion claims, and all forms of negligence actions. Representative cases include:

  • Obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a village government in a wrongful death case arising from the arrest of a drunken perpetrator by a village police officer.
  • Achieving a favorable verdict in a school bus accident case involving complex medical causation issues.
  • Obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a nonprofit economic development corporation in a tort action arising from denial of halibut fishing rights.
  • Obtaining a defense verdict from federal jury in a defamation lawsuit.

Professional Malpractice Claims

Representing businesses and individuals in professional negligence and malpractice actions against attorneys, doctors and financial advisors for lost profits and economic loss. Representative cases include:

  • Representing a large class of public employees in a malpractice action against the actuarial firm which had provided investment advice to State employees who invested in guaranteed investment contracts.
  • Achieving a favorable settlement for a bankrupt environmental engineering and construction company in a professional negligence case against its accounting firm for failing to discover financial fraud that led to the deepening insolvency of the company.
  • Obtaining a favorable settlement for partners in a real estate general partnership in malpractice and breach of fiduciary duties claims against their attorney.

Employment and Labor Disputes

Representing parties in a broad range of employment-related claims including breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge, discrimination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, whistleblower claims and FSLA. Representative cases include:

  • Obtaining a defense verdict following trial for a school district in a case involving assertions of wrongful termination, defamation, breach of contract and invasion of privacy related to alleged rumors regarding a former employee’s HIV-positive diagnosis.
  • Obtaining a jury verdict in excess of $750,000 for a former airline pilot who had suffered gender discrimination.
  • Handling the appeal in which the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a decision to terminate an employee who was improperly involved sexually with a student.
  • Representing a city in a whistleblower action filed by a former employee.
  • Successfully defending municipalities in numerous wrongful termination and wage and hour claims by former employees.
  • Handling the appeal in which the Alaska Supreme Court decided that union employees on strike were entitled to unemployment compensation.
  • Obtaining a significant settlement on behalf of Denali bus drivers for improper compensation on hours driving tourist buses in Denali Park.

Constitutional and Public Law Claims

Handling precedent-setting litigation involving school law, statewide education policy and laws relating to public officials. Representative cases include:

  • Obtaining a ruling requiring the state legislature to remedy the under-funding of rural districts with a more equitable distribution of maintenance and construction funds.
  • Successfully representing public officials who were under grand jury investigation and threat of criminal prosecution for actions that did not constitute any crime. Persuaded the Superior Court to enter an order instructing the grand jury that no crime had been committed as a matter of law, and that no charges should be brought.
  • Establishing a new rule of law that a school district cannot be held liable when a contractor fails to obtain a required bond.
  • Successfully defending a school district in an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court challenging the district’s “best interest” decision to change its transportation provider.