In 2012, the Secretary of the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) entered an Order finding that Business Communications, Inc. (“BCI”) retaliated in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) in terminating an employee after he made wage-related complaints. The DOE ordered BCI to pay back wages and to reinstate the former employee. On behalf of BCI, Steve Carmody and Cody Bailey appealed the DOE’s Order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Carmody and Bailey argued that the DOE deprived BCI of its constitutional right to due process by ordering BCI to pay damages and to reinstate the former employee without allowing BCI an opportunity for a hearing to defend itself. Likewise on behalf of BCI, Carmody and Bailey also argued that the whistleblower provisions of ARRA, found in section 1553, are facially unconstitutional because they do not allow for a due-process hearing. The Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of BCI, granting BCI’s petition for review and vacating the Secretary of Education’s Order. The Court held that “minimum due process for BCI in this context requires either a pre- or post-deprivation hearing that provides BCI with the opportunity to confront adverse evidence and cross examine adverse witnesses.” The Court further held that “BCI’s due process rights were violated because the DOE never provided BCI a hearing and because the post-deprivation procedures available under § 1553 do not provide any opportunity for BCI ‘to confront and cross examine adverse witnesses,’ thereby depriving BCI of an essential element of due process.”
Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC has made the short list of Litigation Law Firm of the Year for Mississippi in the 2014 edition of Benchmark Litigation. Brunini is one of only four firms in Mississippi to achieve this honor, with the following attorneys ranked as “Mississippi Local Litigation Stars” in their respective practice areas:
- Cheri Green : Commercial Litigation, Health Care, Personal Injury and Product Liability
- William Trey Jones III : Appellate, Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Environmental, Personal Injury and Product Liability
- R. David Kaufman: Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Environmental, Personal Injury and Product Liability
- Patrick McDowell: Appellate
- Christopher Shapley: Appellate, Commercial Litigation and Litigation – Environmental
- Joseph Sclafani: recognized as a “Mississippi Future Star.”
Benchmark Litigation is a guide to America’s leading litigation firms and attorneys. Their results stem from the culmination of a research period that was conducted between March and November 2013, where researchers conducted interviews with litigators and their clients to identify the leading litigators and firms.
All winners will be announced at a ceremony held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at the Essex House in New York. For more information on Benchmark Litigation’s shortlist, please visit http://www.benchmarklitigation.com/article/4327-us-benchmark-annual-awards-2014-shortlist-announced-12-05-2013.
Watts Ueltschey will speak at the National Business Institute’s seminar, “FRACLAW: From Land Contract Negotiations to Environmental Disputes, What You Need to Know about the Key Legal Issues in Oil and Gas Extraction.” The seminar will take place on Nov. 14, 2013 at the BancorpSouth Conference Center in Tupelo, Miss., from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ueltschey’s presentation will cover Lease/Ownership Challenges and Disputes.
Ueltschey has represented a number of companies in the energy sector on a variety of matters, including handling disputes with land owners; preparation of mining, drilling and division order title opinions; transactions involving the purchase and sale of producing properties; and representation before the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board. He has represented clients in connection with gas storage, including acquisition of existing storage facilities; acquisition of surface and subsurface rights for the construction of storage facilities in salt domes and depleted gas fields; and obtaining regulatory authority for such facilities at the state level.
Ueltschey’s litigation experience also includes controversies over deed construction, joint operating agreements, boundary line disputes and expiration of oil and gas leases on school lands.
To register for this seminar, call 1(800) 930-6182 FREE or visit www.nbi-sems.com
Curt Hébert of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC has been named by Smart Grid Today as one of the 50 Smart Grid Pioneers of 2013. SmartGridToday.com delivers comprehensive daily reporting on the modern utility industry and those named as Pioneers are the experts and risk-takers to whom the website turns to explain in detail the industry’s most newsworthy moves, insights, advances, setbacks and new concerns.
Honorees ranged from industry leaders working inside conglomerates such as General Electric and IBM to entrepreneurs at small firms like Retroficiency and TEMIX. Also included were utility executives, regulators and political figures working on smart grid solutions to electricity challenges around the world.
“These interviews reveal the details of this evolving industry from perspectives that give it depth, with guide markers on what works and warnings about where the risks lie,” Smart Grid Today Publisher Sam Spencer said. “We salute all the pioneers who are forging ahead and invite them to look to the 50 people in this report for guidance.”
Hébert, a partner in the Brunini Law Firm, former FERC chairman, former Mississippi state regulator and former Executive Vice President of Entergy Corporation commented, “I am honored to have been selected as a Smart Grid Pioneer. It is critical that we better understand the evolving needs of customers while also mitigating risks against cyber security on the electric grid. Reliable energy is essential to attracting necessary industry to our region and smarter networks provide more certainty to those industries.” Hébert is a visiting scholar with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he co-chairs the Energy Reliability Task Force and The Electric Grid Cyber Security Initiative.
About Smart Grid Today:
Smart Grid Today’s mission is to deliver daily, unbiased, comprehensive and original reporting on emerging trends, applications and policies driving the modern utility industry — in a signature format our founders have developed over decades in the trade news business, featuring highly concise and easy-to-understand news copy based on trusted reporting, exclusive interviews, informed analysis and strategic insights that our subscribers rely on to succeed every business day. Smart Grid Today is published by Modern Markets Intelligence, Inc.
Sam Kelly of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC has been selected as the Construction Industry Person of the Year by the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors (MABC).
Kelly was recognized at the annual Mississippi ABC Merit Awards Banquet at the Jackson Country Club on November 1 and delivered a speech after the award was presented.
“This is a high honor for which Sam is well deserving. We are extremely proud of his achievement and this outstanding recognition for the leadership he provides to the construction industry and to our firm in this important practice area,” said Granville Tate, Jr., chairman of Brunini’s Board of Directors.
The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Inc. is the fastest-growing construction trade association in America, operating through 25,000 nationwide member firms. The Mississippi Chapter of ABC is the largest trade association of its kind in the state, setting standards for the industry in its attempt to promote a fair and profitable business way of life.
Brunini’s Kelly is an active member of and serves as General Counsel to the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors and the Mississippi Road Builders Association. He is also an active member of the Associated General Contractors of Mississippi. Kelly’s practice focuses on the construction industry and includes contract preparation and negotiations, bid protests, claim preparation and evaluation and dispute resolution. In the field of Construction Litigation, he has been recognized by Best Lawyers® in America, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers, and Mid-South Super Lawyers®. Kelly was named Best Lawyer® Lawyer of the Year 2012 Jackson-MS in Construction Litigation.
Curt Hébert, a partner with the law firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, was recently interviewed and quoted in four national major media outlets concerning national energy policy.
The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR) quoted Hébert, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in stories regarding strategy and preparedness of the country’s power grid against a possible cyber-attack. Hébert was also one of several participants in a mid-August Washington conference on the need to better protect the electric grid from such attacks, which most experts believe are inevitable.
Hébert contributed his knowledge and insights for the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and was featured in a video summary of the report.
Additionally, Fox Business Channel’s Liz Claman interviewed Hébert on the subject of news reports that the United States Department of Justice is investigating trading in energy markets by JPMorgan Chase.
Hébert’s recent interviews and articles can be found by visiting the following websites:
Fox Business Channel video – DOJ Investigating J.P. Morgan’s Energy Business
ASCE Report Card – http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#e/energy-video-01
Hébert recently wrote and published “The Most Critical of Economic Needs (Risks): A Quick Look at Cybersecurity and the Electric Grid” for the prestigious Electricity Journal. The article centered on the need for increased focus on cybersecurity as it relates to the national electric grid.
Hébert is a visiting scholar with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he co-chairs the Energy Reliability Task Force. He most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of Lexicon Strategy Group, an energy, finance and regulatory law advisory firm with offices in Mississippi, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
On September 4, 2013, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted summary judgment to CenterPoint Energy. The order dismissed the Plaintiff’s wrongful death action which sought damages for the death of his father allegedly caused by a residential natural gas explosion. Plaintiff alleged CenterPoint was negligent in supplying gas and maintaining the gas lines around his father’s home, which resulted in the alleged gas leak and explosion. Plaintiff further alleged his father called CenterPoint on at least two occasions in the months before the explosion to report the smell of gas and that CenterPoint failed to repair the leak. The Court found no evidence was presented of a gas leak on CenterPoint’s side of the meter, and even assuming a leak existed on the customer’s side of the meter, Plaintiff submitted no evidence that CenterPoint was ever placed on notice of a gas leak. Accordingly, the Court held CenterPoint could not be held liable under Mississippi law. Opinion and Order
Close to half of all the Mississippi lawyers recognized as “IP Stars” by Managing Intellectual Property (IP) magazine are Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC principals.
The magazine recognized a total of seven Mississippi-based “IP Stars” for their skill in identifying, securing, and protecting clients’ innovations. Three of those seven are Brunini attorneys:
- Steve Carmody
- Chuck McBride
- Richard Cirilli
The designation is part of a new state-by-state analysis of the U.S. IP market included in the magazine’s annual World IP Handbook and Survey.
“Brunini is consistently singled out for its technical expertise and has been recognized for many years as one of Mississippi’s top law firms,” said Carmody, chair of the IP Litigation Practice Group. “We are thrilled that our intellectual property attorneys are being recognized locally, nationally and now internationally, and we thank our clients for trusting us with some of their most prized assets.”
The Brunini attorneys honored as “IP Stars” develop and manage trademark and copyright portfolios; handle licensing and other transactional matters; and protect trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets – with particular expertise in the technology, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries.
Brunini IP attorneys work in state and federal courts on trademark, copyright and patent litigation, including litigation of issues involving opposition, cancellation, infringement, and breach of contract. The firm’s attorneys also advise clients concerning intellectual property issues, including advertising, labeling, and federal regulatory compliance, as well as protecting their interests in computer software and related materials.
The World IP Handbook and Survey covers more than 80 countries, with rankings based on extensive research conducted among IP practitioners over a six-month period starting in September 2012. The complete listing is available online at www.miphandbook.com.
Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC has been named one of the 2013 “Go-To Law Firms®” by Corporate Counselmagazine.
This honor recognizes law firms that provide exceptional corporate litigation work for in-house legal departments at Fortune 500 companies.
Brunini’s commercial litigation group is led by Sam Kelly and John Wade.
“To be acknowledged by our peers is truly an honor, and it confirms our core values and commitment to doing good work for our corporate clients,” Kelly said.
“We take immense pride in Mississippi’s top companies, and this national award also honors our partners, the in-house legal departments, and raises the state’s economic profile,” Wade said.
American Lawyer Media, publisher of Corporate Counsel’s annual reference guide, “In-House Law Departments at the Top 500 Companies,” surveyed Fortune 500 companies’ general counsels to determine which law firms they rely on for outside counsel in key practice areas. Based on this input, as well as in-depth research of select industry databases, public filings and other resources, firms were selected for inclusion in the “Go-To Law Firms®” guide. The guide is distributed nationally to all Fortune 500 in-house counsels, as well as to leading business executives and other major U.S. law firms.
The 2013 edition of Chambers USA, which lists leading law firms and individual lawyers in an extensive range of practice areas, jointly awarded high rankings to nine Brunini attorneys and five of the firm’s practice areas.
Chambers USA ranked five of Brunini’s practices, with the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment practices receiving the highest ranking possible in the state. The firm’s Real Estate and Corporate/Commercial practice were also highly ranked.
Each year, Chambers USA conducts thousands of interviews and surveys with lawyers and their clients, as well as analyzes its own database resources, to determine rankings for top law firms and individual attorneys. The qualities on which rankings are assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment and other qualities valued by clients.
“The Brunini firm is truly honored to have its practice groups recognized by our clients as among the best in Mississippi through one of the nation’s most respected legal directories,” said Granville Tate Jr., Chairman of the firm’s Board of Directors. “Our commitment to client service and a long history of legal excellence are hallmarks that set us apart in Mississippi, and those are good reasons to earn the respect of business leaders and peers.”
Four Brunini attorneys also received the highest individual rankings awarded by Chambers: R. David Kaufman, John E. Milner, Christopher A. Shapley and Granville Tate Jr. A collective list of the nine Brunini attorneys recognized as among the best in their fields in Mississippi by Chambers USA include:
Walter S. Weems
Corporate/Commercial: Banking & Finance
Granville Tate Jr.
Energy & Natural Resources
James L. Halford
Watts C. Ueltschey
John A. Brunini
John E. Milner
Samuel C. Kelly
Litigation: General Commercial
R. David Kaufman
Christopher A. Shapley