Litigation & Appeals

Professional Liability Litigation

Stites & Harbison has a 150-year history of engaging in litigation involving allegations of professional liability defense or misconduct. And, in recent history, the need for professionals to represent other professionals has never been greater. At Stites & Harbison, we do just that on a daily basis.

We invest significant time and resources in understanding the practices and duties unique to each profession. Some of these professions include attorneys, accountants, auditors, counselors, land surveyors, travel agents, debt collectors, engineers, architects, construction professionals, bankers, real estate professionals, structural inspectors, appraisers, title agents, public officials, crop dusters, mortgage brokers, financial advisors, directors and officers, insurance agents and brokers, and the insurance industry as a whole. Often these cases overlap with litigation involving the financial services industry, and we handle these types of claims almost every day.

We also aid professionals in actions before administrative agencies or professional boards, and work with professionals when incidents occur to mitigate or eliminate potential liability.

In context of civil suits, our work begins long before a complaint is filed. First, we push to prevent filing altogether through argument and, if merited, we aim for negotiation. When complaints are filed, clients can count on aggressive, effective, and efficient representation.

We have also assisted insurers in coverage disputes with their insureds under professional liability policies.

The attorneys of our professional liability team frequently publish and lecture on issues related to ethics, professional liability and trial practice. Members of our group also participate in a number of bar-related activities and roles, including:

  • the former Chairman of the Kentucky Bar Association's Civil Litigation Section,
  • the former President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Federal Bar Association,
  • the former President of the Kentucky Defense Counsel, and
  • the former Chairman of DRI's Professional Liability Committee's Steering Committee.

Other team members are active in DRI, the Kentucky Defense Counsel, the Professional Liability Underwriting Society, the ABA's Professional Liability Litigation Committee, and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.

Experience

  • We recently obtained summary judgment for a prosecutor on the issue of absolute immunity, which was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Originally engaged as trial counsel and retained throughout the process, we obtained a positive outcome in a legal malpractice case in which the Kentucky Supreme Court provided much-needed analysis on Kentucky’s "case within the case" requirements.
  • We recently briefed, argued, and obtained a successful result from the Kentucky Supreme Court affirming twice, the summary judgment we secured for a lawyer client involving the assignment of a claim against him.
  • We have obtained multiple summary judgments for attorney clients. The two most recent were defending malicious prosecution actions against lawyers. Another involved allegedly negligent advice in the sale of a business, in which we successfully argued lack of "but for" causation. That case was affirmed on appeal.
  • In another matter involving the failure to bring suit on an assault at a correctional institution, we secured judgment on seven separate grounds; all finding there was no viable "case within a case."
  • Our lawyers have obtained summary judgments for architects and engineers based on the "government contractor" defense. These victories, to our knowledge, were the first of their kind in Kentucky.
  • On the eve of trial in a recent and complex accountant malpractice case, we successfully deployed a Daubert challenge to convince the trial court to exclude the plaintiff's sole expert witness.
  • After being contacted by an insurance carrier about a potential claim against one of its insured attorneys, we were able to convince the claimant's counsel that the attorney not only should not be sued, but was owed a significant amount of money by his former client.
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Events

2021 Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities (KAHCF) Annual Meeting and Expo

Date: 11/9/21 - 11/11/21

Galt House Hotel & Suites, 140 North Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Stites & Harbison is a sponsor and Louisville office attorney Matt Breetz will be a presenter at the KAHCF Annual Meeting and Expo in Louisville November 9-11, 2021.

Matthew W. Breetz October 22, 2021
Press Releases

Jeffrey Melcher Joins Stites & Harbison

ATLANTA—Stites & Harbison, PLLC is pleased to announce attorney Jeffrey W. Melcher has joined its Atlanta office as a Member (Partner). He will be based in Atlanta while also serving clients in Nashville, Tenn.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC October 15, 2021
Press Releases

Benchmark Litigation 2022 Honors 15 Stites & Harbison Attorneys

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The 2022 edition of Benchmark Litigation names 12 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys as “Litigation Stars” and three as “Future Stars” in Kentucky.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC October 08, 2021
Events

Fall 2021 National Legal Malpractice Conference

Date: 9/22/21 - 9/24/21

JW Marriott Nashville, 201 8th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Louisville office attorney Matt Breetz will be moderating a panel discussion on Case Law Updates on September 23rd in Nashville TN at this conference.

Matthew W. Breetz September 17, 2021
Events

2021 Women in Litigation Joint CLE Conference

Date: 11/17/21 - 11/19/21

Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116-39014

Louisville office attorney Whitney Watt will be a member of the panel for a presentation at this ABA Conference in Boston, Mass., November 17-19, 2021.

Whitney Frazier Watt September 17, 2021
Press Releases

Michael Kleinert Appointed to Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2021)—Governor Andy Beshear has appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Michael Kleinert to the Kentucky Board of Physical Therapy (KBPT). Kleinert’s term will expire on April 30, 2025.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC August 10, 2021
Press Releases

Ashley Ward Appointed to EKU Board of Regents

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Governor Andy Beshear has appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Ashley Ward as a member of the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Board of Regents with a term expiring in June 2027. EKU is governed by an 11-member Board of Regents.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC July 27, 2021
Press Releases

Stites & Harbison Welcomes Litigator Robin Miller

COVINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 9, 2021)—Stites & Harbison, PLLC welcomes attorney Robin D. Miller to its Covington, Ky., office.

by Robin D. Miller February 09, 2021
Client Alerts

Will COVID-19 Toll the Statute of Limitations in Product Liability Actions?

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into 2021 with no clear end in sight, a good question for product liability defendants is whether the pandemic will have a tolling effect on the applicable statute of limitations. In product liability cases, state law provides a statute of limitations to bar untimely-filed claims against the product manufacturer, distributor, or retailer. The point is to provide a predictable time period for a plaintiff to investigate the claim, identify the proper parties, and file suit.

by Daniel E. Danford and Harlee Havens, Summer Associate (2020) December 21, 2020
Press Releases

Whitney Frazier Watt Appointed to Governor’s Scholars Board of Directors

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Whitney Frazier Watt to the Board of Directors of the Governor’s Scholars Program.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC December 02, 2020
Press Releases

Marjorie Farris to Be First Woman to Lead Stites & Harbison Law Firm

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Stites & Harbison, PLLC, announced today that Kentucky native Marjorie A. Farris will become the firm’s new Chair effective January 2021. She will be the first woman to lead the firm since its founding in 1832.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC November 06, 2020