• 27 Sep 2017 4:46 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    The following is reprinted from DRI's The Voice of September 27, 2017.  Congratulations to KDC member, John Tate, on a his defense victory!

    A federal court in Indiana issued multiple rulings on September 14, 2017, excluding two of plaintiff’s expert witnesses in a product liability lawsuit and granting summary judgment for the defendant, safety equipment manufacturer Leatt Corporation. 

    Plaintiff Brock Lyons sued Leatt Corporation for damages incurred after suffering permanent paraplegia in April 2014 as a result of losing control of his 450cc dirt bike and crashing during a motocross practice session at Wildcat Creek MX in northern Indiana.  Lyons estimated he was traveling 40 mph when he was thrown over the handlebars and landed head first, fracturing his thoracic spine at T5–T6.   Lyons alleged that his Leatt-Brace, a neck protection device he wore for seven years, either caused injury to his lower spine or failed to protect him from that injury. 

    Excluded by the court were biomechanical engineer Tyler Kress, Ph.D., and a former motocross champion and riding instructor Ryan Hughes.  

    Assessing the proposed testimony of Dr. Kress, who claimed the Leatt-Brace caused a restricted range of motion that led to thoracic fractures, Judge Paul Cherry wrote: “Dr. Kress has not specifically identified any mathematical equation, principle of physics or biomechanics, formula, or test results that support his hypothesis.”  Discussing the fact that Dr. Kress performed laboratory testing at Virginia Tech in 2012 to measure forces imparted to the spine in head-first impacts with and without a Leatt-Brace, the court ruled the 2012 testing “provides no scientific support for Dr. Kress’ opinion…that wearing the brace causes higher force on the thoracic spine.”  Instead, the court found, Kress’s own testing “showed no increase in the transfer of forces to the thoracic spine when wearing the Leatt Brace.”

    Equally important in the court’s view was the fact that Dr. Kress did “not address an obvious alternative explanation for Plaintiff’s injuries.”  Judge Cherry pointed out that “multiple scientific and medical research articles” show “the most common spinal injury caused by a severe, head-first impact is the very mid-thoracic spine injury suffered by Plaintiff, and the literature explains the anatomical reasons for the injuries.  All of the articles were published before Dr. Leatt invented the Leatt Brace.”  

    Ryan Hughes, notwithstanding years of motocross racing, was excluded from testifying because he was “not qualified to express opinions on product design, product testing, medical causation, or accident reconstruction.”  The court also ruled that Hughes “failed to employ a reliable methodology.”  The court did not ignore Hughes’ qualifications “on the sport of motocross,” but held that Hughes is not qualified to testify on “technical or scientific topics regarding the mechanism of Plaintiff’s injury.” 

    With both of plaintiff’s liability experts excluded, the court turned to Leatt Corporation’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of strict liability, breach of warranty, negligence, and failure to warn.  Noting that “[t]he purpose of the Leatt Brace ‘is to reduce neck forces in various combinations and at various times during a crash,’” the court described the product as designed to reduce “‘the incidence and severity of cervical spine trauma.’”   The court held that plaintiff produced no testimony “demonstrating that the Leatt Brace deviated from its intended design” or that Brock Lyons’ thoracic injury was even “the type of catastrophic injury the Leatt Brace is designed to protect against.” 

    Construing Brock Lyons’ description of his accident in a light “most favorable” to the plaintiff, and drawing “all legitimate inferences” in his favor, the court determined the evidence simply did not support the allegation that the Leatt-Brace did not provide sufficient freedom of movement to the wearer. 

    Dr. Chris Leatt, a South African physician, motorcycle enthusiast, and pilot, invented and patented the Leatt-Brace to help reduce catastrophic neck injuries in extreme sports.  Intended to be worn with a full-face helmet, the Leatt-Brace is designed to reduce extreme ranges of neck motion and create an Alternative Load Path for forces inflicted on unrestrained motorcycle, ATV, mountain bike, and snowmobile riders.

    Leatt Corporation was represented by DRI members John L. Tate and Bruce B. Paul of Stites & Harbison PLLC in Louisville, Kentucky.  Lyons was represented by Trevor J. Crossen and Angela M. Pollard of Crossen Kooi LLP in Carmel, Indiana.

  • 24 Sep 2017 11:46 AM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    KDC member, Pete Pullen, is now practicing with the Breit Law Office, PLLC, Louisville.

  • 14 Sep 2017 2:49 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    On behalf of Kentucky Defense Counsel’s Awards Committee, we are very pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 KDC awards, all of whom were nominated by KDC members:

     Diplomat:         David A. Nunery (Retired) of Nunery & Call, PLLC, Campbellsville  

     Defense Attorneys of the Year:   Ashley K. Brown of Ward, Hocker & Thornton, PLLC, Lexington and Melanie Sublett Marrs of Kinkead & Stilz, Lexington

     Young Lawyer:  Tia J. Combs of Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Co., L.P.A., Lexington

     We received quite a few nominations and appreciate all members who took time to nominate their peers.  It was not an easy decision because so many of you are deserving of these awards.  If your nominee did not win this year, we hope this does not discourage you from nominating a KDC member in the future.

     The award recipients will be recognized at the 2017 KDC Fall Seminar, Annual Meeting & Awards Lunch being held on November 9 & 10 at the Marriott Griffin Gate, Lexington.  All registration fees for Friday’s seminar includes the Awards Lunch; however, if you are able to only attend the lunch, and possibly bringing along any and all staff, you will have the opportunity to do so.  A registration form is attached below (hard copies should be delivered in the next week) which you can mail in with your check or you can register online.  If you have any questions, please contact the KDC office.

     Congratulations to Dave, Ashley, Melanie & Tia for their great work on behalf of the defense bar of Kentucky!

    Beth Lochmiller, Mitch Hall & Jillian House

  • 14 Sep 2017 9:53 AM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    As the aftermath of Hurricane Irma continues to reap havoc on Florida and parts of the south, DRI has implemented its disaster assistance plan for our members who may be in need. Communication continues to be difficult due to widespread power outages. Our thoughts and prayers are with the all of the lawyers who live and practice in the impacted areas.
    If this storm has caused disruption of your practice or forced you to vacate your office, DRI will do whatever we can to aid in your return to normalcy. The DRI SOLACE program, which is part of the DRI for Life Committee, is designed to meet the needs of DRI members in these instances.  When prior disasters have occurred, DRI has assisted in locating temporary office space, computers, electronics, supplies and furniture. If you are located in one of the affected areas and need assistance, please contact our Customer Service Department at 312.698.6200, or e-mail us at
    If you are not directly affected by Hurricane Irma, but know of other DRI members in need of assistance, there are several ways in which you can help. 

    • Call DRI Customer Service at 312.698.6200 or email us at, and identify the members seeking assistance and the specifics of their needs.
    • Click here to make your donation to “Hurricane Irma Relief - Tribute.”  All proceeds will go directly to DRI members.  Unused funds will be donated to approved disaster relief organizations.
    • Log on the DRI website at, and post a message to any online community of which you are a member and identify DRI members who need assistance.

    When tragedy has fallen on our members and their communities, the entire DRI family has rallied around its stricken members who need assistance. This is certainly one of those moments. Thank you for your generosity and support.
    Warm regards,
    John R. Kouris
    Executive Director

  • 13 Sep 2017 1:15 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)
    Special Announcement

    Message from John R. Kouris, DRI Executive Director

    Due to recent violent and damaging weather affecting a large percentage of our membership, we are extending the early registration discount through the 2017 Annual Meeting.  The registration fees will remain at $895 for members, $1,095 for non-members, and $200 for in-house counsel and claims executive members.  This is a one-time occurrence due to the extraordinary circumstances our country is currently facing.

    In addition, we are extending an offer to those of you who had to cancel their registrations at the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Seminar, Strictly Automotive Seminar, Managing Partners and Law Firm Leaders Conference, and/or Nursing Home/ALF Litigation Seminar due to weather related issues.  You may transfer your seminar registration fee to the Annual Meeting without any additional increase cost to you provided you are not already registered for the Annual Meeting.  Please contact DRI Customer Service at 312.795.1101 to transfer your registration fee to the Annual Meeting.

    Our best wishes for a speedy recovery to those of you who have experienced hardship and loss as a result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  If DRI can assist you in that recovery, please contact our Customer Service Department at 312.698.6200, or e-mail us at  I hope you will be able to take time to connect with your fellow members in the weeks to come and enjoy the goodwill that is such a strong part of membership in DRI.

    Warm regards, 

    John R. Kouris

  • 12 Sep 2017 12:42 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    CHICAGO ­– (September 8, 2017)— DRI–The Voice of the Defense Bar has filed an amicus brief in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, Supreme Court No. 15-1439. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Cyan to determine whether state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over covered class actions that allege only Securities Act of 1933 claims. The brief was filed by DRI’s Center for Law and Public Policy.

    Respondents, shareholders of Cyan stock, filed a class action in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, on behalf of purchasers of Cyan’s IPO stock after an announcement of weaker-than-expected results.  Respondents sought strict liability remedies under the Securities Act of 1933 alone; no state law claims were raised. Accordingly, Petitioners moved for judgment on the pleadings for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but the Superior Court denied the motion.  Petitioners’ subsequent petition for writ relief to the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First District was denied without opinion. 

    Supporting Petitioners (Cyan), the DRI amicus brief argues that under the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA), “covered class actions” (a damages action filed on behalf of more than 50 people)—like the one at issue here—that allege only violations of the Securities Act of 1933, are to be litigated in federal court only.  

    Based on the legislative history of securities laws from 1933 to present, the DRI amicus brief advocates that the SLUSA was designed to curb plaintiffs’ efforts to circumvent the protections of the earlier-enacted Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (Reform Act).  Specifically, plaintiffs flocked to state courts where the federal Reform Act’s provisions were not routinely applied, to avoid the protections granted to defendants by the Reform Act.  In response, Congress enacted the SLUSA to make federal court “the exclusive venue for most securities class action lawsuits.”

    The DRI brief warns that an affirmance of the Superior Court’s decision will create a host of problems for individuals and businesses. These problems include clever plaintiffs searching for “hellhole” or “magic” jurisdictions in which to file their claims.  Such jurisdictions lack the qualities associated with the rule of law and often render incomprehensible verdicts against defendants. This leads to an associated problem: settlement of even meritless claims for fear of a sizeable and debilitating verdict.  Moreover, this risk of liability often hinders publicly held companies from attracting and maintaining qualified board members, which can have a direct negative impact on a company’s performance.

     For all these reasons, and to adhere to the legislative intent of the SLUSA, the DRI amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to reverse the decision and hold that covered class actions that are limited to claimed violations of the Securities Act of 1933 be litigated in federal court only.

     The DRI amicus brief was authored by Mary Massaron and Hilary A. Ballentine of Plunkett Cooney, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  Ms. Massaron is a past president of DRI.  Ms. Ballentine is the Immediate Past President of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel. They are available for interview or for expert comment through the contact information above.

    For the full text of the amicus brief, click here.

  • 12 Sep 2017 12:40 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    KDC member, Mauritia G. Kamer, is now practicing with Steptoe & Johnson in their Lexington office.

  • 12 Sep 2017 12:39 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    KDC member, Langdon Worley, is now practicing with Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, Lexington.

  • 29 Aug 2017 12:35 PM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    KDC welcomes its newest member:

    James M. Burd of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, Louisville is a graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law.  Mr. Burd practices in the areas of Auto, Commercial, General Liability, insurance, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability, Tort and Trucking.

  • 21 Aug 2017 11:07 AM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

    Jessica Droste is now practicing with Phillips Parker Orberson & Arnett in their Lexington office.

    Jennifer Peterson is now practicing with Travis & Herbert Attorneys PLLC in Louisville.

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