Late last year, a client came to the firm seeking assistance with recovering the copyright to a book about her life story. The editor and publisher of her life story attempted to obtain exclusive copyright to the story. The firm immediately jumped into action and filed a Federal Lawsuit for copyright infringement under the United States Copyright Act. Prior to conducting expensive discovery, the firm pushed the Court for early mediation of the matter. As a result of that mediation, a settlement agreement was reached and now the client holds sole copyright to her book. The client is now able to exclusively publish and market her legacy. The firm’s aggressive, passionate and loyal approach to its client enabled the client to achieve this result in a cost effective and timely manner.
This past week, Adam Spence obtained a significant jury trial verdict in favor of his client. In its verdict, the jury set aside a transaction between close family members obtained through undue influence.
Over a year ago, Mr. Spence was hired by a daughter to bring suit against her mother for the recovery of $150,000 in life insurance proceeds belonging to the daughter. The mother pressured the daughter to turn over those proceeds, which the daughter did. In return for turning over the money, the mother promised to continue to take care of the daughter’s housing, food, clothing and significant health care costs. Yet, less than three months later, the mother not only removed the daughter from the house after a family fight but also completely cut the daughter off financially. The mother then proceeded to spend the entirety of the monies on herself.
This was a hard-fought case. Throughout the litigation, for example, the mother repeatedly refused to respond to simple discovery requests. Not one to be bullied or ignored, Mr. Spence obtained two separate orders compelling mother to ultimately produce over a thousand pages of damaging records.
This case ended with a five day jury trial. After combative exchanges of both expert and lay witness testimony, the Jury found that the mother wrongfully kept the insurance proceeds from her daughter. The jury also found that the mother’s attempted use of a power of attorney related to the monies was also unlawful. Finding in favor of daughter on her claims of unjust enrichment, detrimental reliance and undue influence, the Jury awarded Mr. Spence’s client a six figure verdict!
Congratulations to Adam on a hard-fought victory!
This past week Towson Attorney Adam Spence was able to negotiate a settlement of nearly $250,000 for his client in resolution of a construction dispute.
Complex Construction Claims
Adam Spence was hired by his client to pursue payment on work on two separate projects. Adam took steps to perfect a mechanic’s lien on one of those projects and ultimately filed suit to enforce that mechanic’s lien claim. Adam also filed a separate lawsuit for breach of contract and unjust enrichment on the second project. In response, the developer counter-claimed, asserting that change orders were not approved and that there were considerable delay damages (general condition damages).
The Lead Up to Mediation
Many businesses are able to resolve their own disputes if provided with the right opportunities. Believing that the parties would be able to work through many of their issues long before trial, Adam was able to position his client’s case to provide those opportunities.
Indeed, Adam reached out to opposing counsel and worked with him to encourage the parties to resolve as many issues as they could even before mediation.
With this encouragement, the parties were able to resolve many of the smaller issues between them and enter into the mediation with a clear picture of the remaining disputed issues.
The Marathon Mediation
Having narrowed the issues for resolution, the parties met for mediation.
After nine and a half hours of intense negotiations, Adam was able to obtain a settlement worth nearly $250,000 for his client. By the time that the parties left the mediation, they had a typed-signed settlement agreement with specific obligations and protections for both sides.
The Benefit to the Client
While not all cases are appropriate for early mediation, this case was a good candidate.
Because settlement was reached before discovery began in earnest, the parties were able to save significant sums in attorneys fees.
Also, the parties were able to avoid the considerable loss of business productivity that is involved with written discovery, depositions, hearings and trial.
How We Roll
Adam has extensive experience with settlement negotiations and mediation, having settled well over a thousand cases over his career. Adam also co-taught “Obtaining Power Settlements in Litigation” presented to attorneys by the National Business Institute.
The attorneys at SPENCE | BRIERLEY have handled many construction disputes for their clients. These disputes have ranged from exploding boilers to rock-strewn athletic fields to simple mechanic’s liens and breach of contract cases. Should you have a construction-related matter, do not hesitate to contact us to see how we may help you.
Of course, not all cases are alike and the results of one case do not necessarily mean that your case will have the same result. Take a minute to look over this important disclaimer.
Towson Trust and Estate Dispute Litigation Attorney Adam Spence fully admits that he is a disrupter.
DIGITAL DISRUPTION AFFECTS EVERY INDUSTRY
Evidence of digital disruption of industries is everywhere. By its use of technology, Amazon has displaced traditional retailers in many market sectors including clothing and electronics. For example, Amazon is beating Macy’s, JC Penny’s, Nordstrom’s and Kohl’s as the largest retailer of clothing and is second in electronic sales only to Best Buy.
But retail is not the only industry being digitally disrupted. Disruption is occurring at a blistering pace even among professionals long considered immune. Accountants have lost considerable clients, being displaced by the explosive growth of tax preparation software. Doctors are faced with patients who are often more informed (sometimes misinformed) by internet research regarding the patient’s medical condition(s). Realtors have also lost business to DIY sales listing sites.
If you believe that your industry is immune from this digital disruption, you are already obsolete.
LAWYERS AND CLIENTS MUST EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY TO SURVIVE
For attorneys and their clients to survive in this digital disruption, they must embrace this digital disruption. Lawyers are losing business to internet sites that now prepare leases, wills and other simple legal documents for a small fee (See below for a cautionary tale!). And the Courts are requiring attorneys to come into the digital age: Maryland is currently rolling out an electronic filing system and Federal Courts already have electronic case filing.
ADAM SPENCE AND SPENCE | BRIERLEY HAVE EMBRACED THE DIGITAL DISRUPTION
Having grown up raised on technology, even programming a Commodore-64 Computer using a cassette tape drive for storage (no kidding), Adam Spence has embraced this disruption for the past 20 years in his law practice. Adam’s comfort with technology led him to adopt it when he entered the legal field. Indeed, Adam was scanning rough images using a fax machine in the early 90s and now uses state-of-the-art
Adam’s comfort with technology led him to adopt it when he entered the legal field. Indeed, Adam was scanning rough images using a fax machine in the early 90s and now uses state-of-the-art high-speed scanners and legal software, a solid state hard drive (Geek-speak for a really high-tech, fast, and stable hard drive) and 4 monitors on his computer. Adam readily admits he has not used a fax machine for the past 15 years, preferring electronic faxing and email.
USING TECHNOLOGY TO SAVE CLIENTS MONEY AND WIN CASES
Adam and SPENCE | BRIERLEY have embraced digital technology not only to lower client fees but also to present their cases in a clear, coherent fashion. Last year, for example, Mr. Spence adeptly used MS
Last year, for example, Mr. Spence adeptly used MS Power Point, MS Excel and LexisNexis Time Matters, Case Map, Text Map and Sanction to obtain a considerable jury verdict for one of its clients. Never heard of LexisNexis Time Matters, Case Map, Text Map and Sanction? Neither have most other attorneys. Yet, Adam’s use of this technology not only helped him efficiently compile, organize and develop case information, documents and strategy, but also quickly access that information for deposition preparation and presentation at trial.
Never heard of LexisNexis Time Matters, Case Map, Text Map and Sanction? Neither have most other attorneys. Yet, Adam’s use of this technology not only helped him efficiently compile, organize and develop case information, documents and strategy, but also quickly access that information for deposition preparation and presentation at trial.
Indeed, in a different case, after a week -long bench trial, the court awarded an upward adjustment in Mr. Spence’s fee request noting that “[t]here was the handling of countless exhibits, including those delineating the final contract terms between the parties. The Court also notes Attorney Spence’s masterful control of the facts and documents related thereto by use of a computer program, including an 80-page power point presentation that was extremely helpful to the Court. In sum, the Court finds that this factor supports an upward adjustment of the fees.”
The use of technology by SPENCE | BRIERLEY has been employed time and time again to the benefit of the firm’s clients in trust & estate disputes, business contract disputes and other civil litigation.
Admittedly the outcome of a case depends on the facts and law. However, selecting a competent, skilled lawyer who can use cutting-edge technology to manage and present case information goes a long way towards having “zealous representation” of your interests.
Should you have a case involving trust & estate disputes, contract law disputes, an automobile accident, divorce, custody or other civil litigation, contact SPENCE | BRIERLEY and let us show you how our embrace of digital disruption can assist you.
You probably already know this, but past results do not and cannot guarantee future success in your case: you should read this important disclaimer.
Ryan Ullman and William Rice to attend the University of Maryland Law School
SPENCE | BRIERLEY is pleased to announce that two of our legal assistants, Ryan Z. Ullman and William H.T. Rice, have been accepted to and will be attending the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law starting on August 15, 2016.
Recognition of Ryan Ullman and William Rice’s Accomplishments
Based on their grades, test scores and work experience with SPENCE | BRIERLEY, both were awarded substantial scholarships by the Law School, nearly covering each of their entire costs to attend.
Contribution to the SPENCE | BRIERLEY Team
Ryan and Will have been effective members of our team for two and three years, respectively.
SPENCE | BRIERLEY strives to use technology and a business approach to the practice of law to lower costs for clients. Ryan and Will have been part of this effort and both have increased efficiency within the firm and substantially reduced the costs of litigation for our clients.
As they embark on their law school journey, I am reminded of the classic law school movie, The Paper Chase, where one of the law professors told his students “You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer.”
Hopefully, because of their work experience with SPENCE | BRIERLEY, Ryan and Will have a head start in the process of “thinking like a lawyer.”
SPENCE | BRIERLEY is a law firm that resolves disputes for its clients through settlement negotiations and trial verdicts, if necessary.
Disputes handled by the firm include matters ranging from trust & estate disputes, contract law disputes, personal injury, divorce, custody and other civil litigation.
Should you need help in resolving your own dispute, please contact us to see how we may be able to provide assistance to you.
Towson Attorneys Spence | Brierley Obtain $150,000 for Client in Settlement of Will Caveat Dispute.
Attorneys Adam Spence and Garrett Brierley obtained $150,000 for the sister of a decedent as part of a Petition to Caveat a Will. The Will was alleged to have been procured by undue influence.
After a nearly two year battle and exhaustive investigation into the mental competency of Decedent and the financial affairs of the decedent and Defendant, Spence | Brierley was able to negotiate a payment of $150,000 from the estate to successfully resolve the matter.
SPENCE | BRIERLEY regularly handles disputes involving Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney involving allegations of undue influence, fraud and other illegalities.
If you believe that a family member or friend is the victim of fraud or undue influence in the creation of a will, trust or other document, contact Adam Spence promptly to discuss how Spence | Brierley may be able to help you by filing a Will Caveat or other proceeding. Please note that any challenge to a Will must be brought almost immediately or any such challenge will be time-barred.
Mr. Spence has been involved in will and trust disputes for over 17 years and regularly brings challenges to Wills and also defends Personal Representatives defending Wills. Mr. Spence also regularly represents clients in trust disputes and abuses of Powers of Attorney.
This past week, Garrett Brierley obtained nearly $ 100,000 for a Commercial Landlord.
Previously, Garrett took two Defendants to trial and obtained a judgment for their failure to abide by the terms of a Commercial Lease. Because the Tenants refused to pay the Judgment, Garrett initiated an aggressive round of garnishments against Defendants’ bank accounts. Ultimately, as a result of those garnishments and settlement discussions, Garrett obtained $95,000 for the firm’s very pleased client.
Senate Bill 397, proposed by Sen. Wayne Norman, R-Cecil and Harford Counties, sought to eliminate the protections currently afforded to non-debtor spouses relating to bank accounts held Tenants by the Entireties with the debtor-spouse. Currently, in Maryland if a husband and wife hold property jointly (whether a bank account, a house or otherwise), the property cannot be attached to satisfy a judgment against only one of them. The same is true in DC and most of the other eastern states.
SB397 will change that law to make joint bank accounts no longer protected in Maryland and fully attachable, even if the innocent spouse had no judgment against them.
Simply stated, couples that are working jointly to support the family could lose significant amounts of money earned by a non-debtor spouse with no judgment against them. This is not only grossly unfair, it is the reason the exemption existed in the first place.
For instance, if your own spouse had a water bill he or she didn’t pay in college, SB397 would now require you to pay that debt if your joint account with your spouse is garnished. The implications of such liability are truly frightening. Going into court, the burden would now be on the non-debtor spouse to prove its their own money. Currently, the non-debtor spouse has the presumption that the money is theirs and the creditor bears the burden to show that the money really belongs to the judgment debtor spouse.
The bill also had other problems, including a lack of due process. When a garnishment issues, a writ is issued to the bank and a letter is mailed to the judgment-debtor. Under the proposed law, the spouse will receive no notice by mail or formal service of a writ (as the original judgment debtor did). If a judgment-debtor spouse is hiding the debt (which occurs) while also controlling the account, the non-debtor spouse may not ever know he or she just lost their property under this statute. Absent a formal writ being issued and served on the non-debtor spouse, the law as proposed is constitutionally defective as lacking due process.
Perhaps most troubling, SB397 directly violates the Maryland Constitution.
The Maryland Constitution provides that “The property of the wife shall be protected from the debts of her husband.” MD CONST Art. 3, § 43. This provision applies equally to protect the husband from the debts of the wife based on the Equal Rights Amendment, Article 46 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Instead of protecting these important constitutional rights, SB397 unequivocally and unconstitutionally removes them.
Even though SPENCE | BRIERLEY’s commercial collections practice may have benefited, Adam still lobbied aggressively against SB 397 as an unacceptable intrusion upon the rights of married couples.
The End of SB 397?
As a result of Adam’s lobbying efforts as well as those of the Maryland Civil Justice Network and the Maryland Bankruptcy Bar Association, the whispers in Annapolis are that SB 397 has died in the House Judiciary Committee. Although the Committee technically has until 11:59 p.m. on Monday to bring the bill up for a vote, such vote appears unlikely.
This award recognizes attorneys who make their mark both in the courtroom and the community. In announcing the award, Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, Publisher of the Daily Record wrote that Mr. Spence was “selected by The Daily Record and a panel of previous winners because of your professional accomplishments, commitment to community service and dedication to mentoring. We received more than 100 nominations and yours was outstanding.”
SPENCE | BRIERLEY is proud of Adam Spence’s recognition as a 2016 Leader in the Law. This award is a reflection of the experience of Mr. Spence, his reputation as providing a high level of legal representation and his commitment to the local community. This award represents the hard work of Adam Spence and his staff for his clients. This award also represents Adam Spence’s dedication to the community he serves, including acting as a Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, District Chairman and a Board Member of the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
SPENCE | BRIERLEY serves clients across the state of Maryland and in Baltimore regarding matters involving trust and estate disputes, including will caveats, trust termination suits, trustee/personal representative theft and removal matters; complex commercial litigation including partnership disputes and business dissolution; divorce and custody matters, personal injury; general civil litigation and dispute resolution; and collections.
In 2012, Adam was selected as one of the 40 Under 40 Very Important Professionals by the Maryland Daily Record. In addition, Adam has been selected by U.S. News & World Reports as a Best Lawyer in America in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and has been recognized both as a Maryland Super Lawyer (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and a Baltimore Smart CEO Legal Elite.
Success in law is often measured in dollars recovered.
The Towson Law Firm of SPENCE | BRIERLEY had an incredibly successful month to kick off 2016, distributing nearly $900,000 in settlement payments to its clients in several different cases.
One of the larger settlement payouts was from settlement of a wrongful death action brought by Adam Spence in a nursing home negligence case involving the tragic death of a resident.
Two other large settlement payouts were related to Estate and Trust disputes, one of which involved a will caveat dispute and the dissipation of assets by a fiduciary family member.
Another large settlement came from Garrett Brierley and Adam Spence’s aggressive efforts to obtain payment for a client for a disputed life insurance policy. The insurance company refused to pay until the Firm became actively involved on our client’s behalf.
Should you have a case involving trust & estate disputes, contract law disputes, personal injury, divorce, custody or other civil litigation, contact SPENCE | BRIERLEY to see how we may be able to help you.
Of course, you probably know that every case is different and past success does not guarantee future results. In case you didn’t, read this Disclaimer.