Steve is an experienced first-chair trial lawyer in a wide range of civil matters. He has tried many bench and jury cases to verdict and has been a frequent speaker and writer on trial practice. Steve has served in the following representative trials:
- As lead trial counsel, won a defense verdict in state court in the largest-ever commercial eminent domain trial in Ohio history, enabling the City of Cleveland to expand Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The defense verdict prevented the neighboring city of Brook Park from taking Cleveland’s property by eminent domain for its economic development purposes. Because the 180-acre tract was the only reasonable location for planned and necessary airport expansion, including a new international runway, building an entirely new airport at a green field site was not an option, and Cleveland stood to incurbillions of dollars in economic development damages. The Cleveland Plain Dealer hailed the four-week trial victory as a victory for the entire Northeast Ohio region.
- As lead trial counsel in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, for a trustee of a large Northeast Ohio foundation that was the plaintiff for claims for breach of fiduciary duties and Ohio law against the co-trustees of the foundation. This case arose out of the sale of the public company that controlled the foundation and certain related actions taken to spin-off control of the foundation under the lifetime control of some of the trustees. Highly favorable settlement reached after the first week of a bench trial.
- As lead trial counsel for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority in a five-week bench trial in an eminent domain action to acquire 14 commercial properties for the largest downtown Cleveland real estate redevelopment project in over 30 years, involving a $400 million mixed-use housing, office, and retail redevelopment project on the East Bank of the Cuyahoga River. The case settled after five weeks of trial when all property owners agreed to settle and transfer all property to the project.
- As Ohio trial counsel on trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, obtained a trial verdict in a patent infringement litigation upholding the validity of the patent on behalf of a major worldwide pharmaceutical manufacturer, and against a generic drug maker involving one of the most commercially successful over-the-counter drugs.
- As co-lead counsel, won a unanimous ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court in an election contest action on behalf of the successful candidate for Ohio Attorney General, who won the statewide election by only 1,234 votes.
- As co-trial counsel, won injunction trial allowing the most significant public development project in Cleveland in 30 years to proceed. Won a TRO permitting the $275 million financing to close and then won a week-long trial, obtaining a preliminary injunction against an architectural firm that tried to block the $275 million Flats East Bank redevelopment project in a dispute over the ownership of the project drawings. A state court judge found that the developer had the right to maintain ownership of and use the drawings and that not recognizing this right would irreparably harm the developer, the project, and the Greater Cleveland area.
- As lead counsel on behalf of the Cuyahoga County Government Transition Committee, won the defense of a mandamus action before the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the County Charter Reform Government Transition in an action brought by the ACLU challenging the Public/Private collaborative transition process regarding Public Open Meetings and Records Acts practices. The 2010 County Charter reform had replaced a 200-year-old form of County Commissioner Government with a new County Executive led government with a County Council. A unanimous Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the clients based on the non-public body nature of the Transition Committee and its rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
- Secured multiple significant monetary jury trial verdicts in favor of property owners in eminent domain litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Other Representative Matters
Steve’s clients have succeeded in many cases where he has served as lead counsel before the cases advanced to trial:
- Represented, as lead counsel, multiple AmLaw200 law firms in defense of professional liability claims, as well as companies and large privately held companies in professional liability claims and litigation advice to AmLaw 100 and 200 law firms.
- Represented a publicly held REIT plaintiff in litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, against sellers regarding the earn out portion of the purchase agreement for the sale of a $330 million commercial shopping center development portfolio in Idaho and Utah. After winning a hotly contested battle over venue and jurisdiction, and after succeeding on motions to dismiss many of the sellers’ counterclaims, the matter resulted in a highly favorable confidential settlement.
- Represented a financial institution with a major national mortgage lending business unit in mortgage fraud related claims in numerous litigations against title companies, closing agents, attorneys, appraisers, and others in claims for breaches of contract, fiduciary duty, fraud, and RICO in state and federal courts throughout the United States, each of which resulted in multimillion dollar recoveries.
- As co-lead counsel, represented the client in litigation initiated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against Northfield Park Associates LLC. The client is an association of all owners, breeders, and drivers of harness horses in the State of Ohio. This case alleged violations of the Interstate Horseracing Act, 15 U.S.C. § 3001, et. seq., as well as breach of the “Horsemen’s Agreement” providing for the custody and handling of horsemen’s monies that the horsemen alleged were subject to the duties associated with a trust. This was a case of first impression under the Interstate Horseracing Act and under Ohio trust law regarding issues between Horsemen’s groups and race tracks that was followed in the industry. The case resolved amicably in a confidential and comprehensive settlement agreement.
- Represented a manufacturer in Ohio state court in its claim for multimillion dollars in damages arising out of the legal malpractice by its law firm, which represented it in trade secret litigation. The matter was settled confidentially and for a significant insurance limits result.
- As lead counsel, defended the developer of Pinecrest, a large Northeast Ohio mixed-use commercial development project in the east suburbs of Cleveland, where an oil and gas well operation on the development of the site had obtained issuance of a TRO before the firm’s engagement, drawing a halt to prevent the dismantling of the well, and effectively shutting down development across a substantial portion of the site. Successfully litigated the defense position in a Preliminary Injunction hearing to oppose the well interest-holders’ position. First succeeded in persuading the court to increase the bond to a very high amount in order to continue the temporary restraining order. Following the first day of the PI hearing, with the new high bond due to be filed, the plaintiffs dropped their opposition and settled the matter, allowing the resumption of the development with only a minor project delay.
- Represented a CT imaging medical practice in defending claims against a major area hospital that asserted breach of contract claims seeking $15 million in damages arising out of a contractual arrangement for the provisions of CT services to the hospital. The case was then settled confidentially for a significant monetary recovery after the court ruled it would allow the jury to consider the plaintiff’s punitive damages claims.
- Averted a major shutdown of an appliance manufacturer’s plants throughout Ohio after successful preliminary injunction hearing results in consent order and settlement. After the first day of Whirlpool’s testimony in a preliminary injunction hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, helped negotiate the return to Whirlpool of critical equipment being withheld by a supplier in a dispute over financial issues. The supplier entered into a stipulated order providing for the return of the equipment after the preliminary injunction hearing at which the judge questioned the supplier on the record asking, “But what’s the dispute? [The agreement] says immediate possession of [the] tools.” The supplier had initially refused to allow the return of the equipment on demand as the parties’ agreements required. The return of the equipment was critical to preventing costly disruptions at Whirlpool plants, including the threatened shutdown of production line shifts in Ohio. A settlement of the remaining claims and counterclaims, including claims of breach of contract and fraud, was successfully obtained following the return of the equipment to the client. Served as lead trial counsel and Ohio co-counsel.
- Represented the limited partner investors in a residential condominium development as plaintiffs in an action in Ohio state court for legal malpractice action, breach of fiduciary duty, and securities fraud claims against the general partner and its law firm. This matter settled favorably following a unanimous landmark decision in the Ohio Supreme Court in favor of the investors and against the law firm.
- Represented a large U.S. aerospace manufacturing company against one of the largest Canadian insurance companies involving claims in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for breaches of duty and contract in connection with the termination of a corporate pension plan in place at the time of the sale of the company. A very favorable confidential settlement was reached only months after instituting the litigation.
Representative Reported Cases
- State ex rel. Am. Civ. Liberties Union of Ohio, Inc. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. Of Commrs., 128 Ohio St.3d 256, 2011-Ohio-625
- Peterson v. Progressive Corp., 2006-Ohio-6175
- Arpadi v. First MSP Corp., 68 Ohio St.3d 453, 628 N.E.2d 1335 (1994)
- In Re Election of November 6, 1990 For the Office of Attorney General, 57 Ohio St.3d 614