Representation of Institution of Higher Education
Allegations of age discrimination against an international media company
Prior to trial, we successfully moved the court to dismiss plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, arguing that pursuant to Kentucky law the claim was precluded by his age discrimination claim. We also successfully limited the evidence plaintiff sought to use at trial, including evidence of the company’s overall financial state as described in public filings.
During the eight-day trial in Jefferson Circuit Court, we established the company’s non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination: his highly paid job position was eliminated for business reasons due to a corporate restructuring. The jury of seven men and five women determined that age was not a “substantial motivating factor” in terminating the executive or in refusing to offer him another job position, finding for the defendant on both counts of age discrimination. The plaintiff did not appeal the jury’s verdict and the case is now final.
Captive Audience Legislation in West Virginia (2010)
Testified on behalf of West Virginia Chamber of Commerce regarding Captive Audience Legislation in West Virginia and appeared on television program "Decision Makers" to debate issue against UMWA official and Delegate who proposed bill.
Representation of Energy Industry Companies (2010)
Multi-National Package Delivery Business (DHL Express), 9-CB-11361
Represented in unfair labor practice charges against Teamster, Local 505 in violent strike situation.
Multi-State Utility Company
Represented company in West Virginia employment law cases, unfair labor practice charges and grievance arbitration hearings.
District 17, UMWA v. Marrowbone Development Company, 232 F.3d 383 (4th Cir. 2000)
Defended company in union's effort to overturn arbitration decision. Case eventually remanded to arbitrator in order to take additional evidence.
Flexsys America, L.P. v. Local Union 12610, 88 F.Supp.2d 600 (S.D. W.Va. 2000)
After hearing, arbitrator held ex parte conversation with employer advocate requesting company re-open hearing to investigate whether discharged employee's supervisor was "gay" which would influence arbitrator's decision. Obtained judgment to set aside arbitrator's decision due to discriminatory bias.
Superior Pocahontas Coal Company v. Island Creek Coal Company, 840 F.2d 11 (4th Cir. 1988)
Defended company in claim for pension plan withdrawal liability claim incurred by other company when it ceased operations, where adhesion contract claimed.
Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) v. Mid-America Mining
The U.S. issued a Section 105(c) citation to this Arkansas mining company, claiming that it fired its general manager after he has made formal complaints about the safety of the mine and its practices. This matter was settled on favorable terms to the client.
EEOC v. Brooks Run Mining, LLC, (S.D.W.V. 5:08-CV-71) (2009)
Defended client in sex discrimination case brought by the EEOC on behalf of female security guards employed by a contractor and assigned to work at our client’s facilities. Case was resolved favorably for the client after we filed a dispositive motion showing significant deficiencies in the EEOC’s proof against our client.
Hildebrand v. Ashland v. Chemtreat, Inc. - S.D.W.V. 2:07-CV-585 (2008)
Represented a publicly held company in non-compete litigation. Reached beneficial compromise following testimony at injunction hearing.
Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. United Mine Workers of America, District 17, et al., 531 U.S. 57 (2000)
U.S. Supreme Court held that public policy considerations do not require courts to refuse to enforce an arbitration award ordering an employer to reinstate an employee truck driver even though he twice tested positive for drug use. Worked with now-Chief Justice John Roberts, who was retained to do oral argument to the Supreme Court.
District 29, UMWA v. Royal Coal Company, 786 F.2d 588 (4Cir. 1985)
Case involved company's obligation to provide health benefits to retired and disabled miners after expiration of 1981 Wage Agreement when it ceased all active mining and did not execute 1984 Wage Agreement.
Abels v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. et al., (S.D. W.Va. 1993)
Affirmative Action Matters
Allegations of Employment Discrimination Relating To FMLA
Allegations of Wrongful Termination by Ex-Employee of Medical Device Manufacturer
Anonymous Plaintiff v. Health Care Facility
Anonymous Plaintiff v. Transportation Management Services Company
Anonymous Plaintiff v. Transportation Management Services Company
Anonymous Plaintiffs v. Tobacco Company
1) Nord v. The Black & Decker Disability Plan, 538 U.S. 822 (2003): Employee sued employer-sponsored disability plan alleging that the plan wrongfully denied his claim for benefits by failing to give proper weight to his treating physician's opinion. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether ERISA's requirement for a full and fair consideration of the employee's claim included giving deference to the treating physician's opinion. The Court held in favor of the benefit plan and reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling, a position advocated by the National Association of Manufacturers' amicus brief.
2) Chambers v. Trettco, 463 Mich. 297, 614 N.W.2d 910 (2000): Employee sued employer under Michigan's Civil Rights Act alleging sexual harassment by a supervisory employee. The employer argued that it was not vicariously liable under the Michigan Civil Rights Act, citing key differences in the Michigan statute and Title VII. The Michigan Court of Appeals applied an analysis consistent with Title VII and held the employer liable. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed, following position advocated by the Michigan Manufacturers' Association's amicus brief, relying on differences in the text of the state law to hold that the principles stated in the federal civil rights cases did not control.
3) Sniecinski v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan, 469 Mich. 124, 666 N.W.2d 186 (2002): Employee sued employer under Michigan's Civil Rights Act alleging pregnancy discrimination. The trial court denied the employer's motion for summary disposition and the matter was tried to a jury, which found in favor of the employee. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal and reversed and remanded, following position advocated by the Michigan Manufacturers' Association's amicus, with direction to enter a finding of no cause of action as a matter of law.
Lira has also represented appellants in federal and state courts. Representative cases include:
4) Taunt v. General Retirement Sys. of the City of Detroit (In Re: Wilcox), 233 F.3d 899 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 533 U.S. 929 (June 2001): Bankruptcy trustee sought access to debtor's retirement benefits on behalf of creditors, and debtor's municipal retirement plan sought to protect the benefits under 11 U.S.C. § 541(c)(2). The bankruptcy court held that the plan's anti-assignment provision was not enforceable under § 541(c)(2), and the district court agreed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the anti-assignment provision satisfied § 541(c)(2) and that the benefits could not be reached by creditors.
5) Preston v. John Alden Life Ins. Co., et al., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48260 (S. Dist. Ohio 2006): Former employee sued his employer and insurance company administrating the employer's disability benefit plan, contending that he was wrongfully denied benefits. The insurer and employer moved for judgment as a matter of law on the basis that ERISA preempted the employee's claims and that the employee failed to state an actionable claim. The court ruled in favor of defendants and granted summary judgment.
6) Prudential Property and Casualty Ins. v. Delfield Co. Group Health Plan, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 18708 (Sixth Circuit 1999): Plaintiff insurance carrier sued defendant self-funded employee benefit plan, contending that the employee benefit plan was primarily responsible for medical expenses incurred by its insured in an automobile accident. The employee benefit plan sought to require the insurer to pursue its claim administratively before resorting to litigation. The district court ruled in favor of the benefits plan, but the appeals court reversed on the basis that it was bound to follow a prior panel's ruling and allow litigation, although the concurrence pointed out that the prior ruling was inconsistent with subsequent case law.
7) Alstork v. AIG Life Ins. Co. et al., United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Case No. 08-4339 (2008): Plaintiff beneficiary of employee's life insurance policy sued defendant employer, employee benefit plan, and insurer, contending that Plaintiff should have been paid accidental death benefits when employee died following an automobile accident. Defendants denied benefits based on the terms of the benefit plan and results of post-accident medical review. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio upheld denial of benefits, and Plaintiff appealed. Case successfully settled on appeal.
8) Hodges v. American Heritage Life Ins. Co., United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Case No. 08-5777 (2008) (pending): Plaintiff former employee sued defendant employer, employee benefit plan, and insurer, contending that Plaintiff should have been paid disability benefits for chronic condition characterized by subjective complaints of pain. Defendants denied benefits based on the terms of the benefit plan and results of independent medical reviews. The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky upheld denial of benefits, and Plaintiff appealed. Case is pending.
Archie Allen v. Superior Beverages and Wine Distributors
AT&T Corp. Deliberate Intent Litigation (Kanawha, County, WV 2008)
Baldwin v. General Electric Co.
Baron v. Watson Pharms., Inc.
Basinger, et al. v. Pilarczyk. et al.
Bell v. Ashland Oil, Inc.(S.D. W.Va. 1998)
Beverly Coda v. Thorntons, Inc.
Bond v. General Motors
Booker v. Garden Manor
Carla Cornicelli v. Large National Insurance Company
Christine Skidmore v. Affordable Denture Laboratories
Cornell v. General Electric Plastics, 853 F. Supp. 221 (S.D. W. Va. 1994)
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