Joseph G. Fortner, Jr.: Lawyer with Halloran & Sage LLP

Joseph G. Fortner, Jr.

Partner
Hartford,  CT  U.S.A.
Phone860-297-4609

Peer Rating
 4.4/5.0
BV® Distinguished

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Practice Areas

  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Product Liability & Toxic Tort
  • International Business
 
University Duke University, A.B., 1978
 
Law SchoolVanderbilt University Law School, J.D., 1982
 
Admitted1990, Connecticut; 1990, District of Connecticut; 1983, New York; 1995, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; 2013, District of Vermont; 1983, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
 
Memberships 

Associations

DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar, Chair
Commercial Litigation Committee
(Past Committee Chair)
ALFA International Business Litigation
Practice Group

 
BornNew York, NY, April 19, 1956
 
Biography

Joe Fortner is co-chair of the Firm's Commercial Litigation Practice Group, and has represented clients in a wide range of intellectual property, business and commercial matters. He regularly represents clients in claims arising from contractual disputes, business fraud and other commercial torts, software development and other technology-related claims, trade regulation, unfair trade practices, employee termination, land use and environmental litigation, class actions, and product-related commercial disputes. He has done so in State and Federal Courts in numerous jurisdictions, as well as in international and domestic arbitration.

Joe also assists clients in their intellectual property matters, and chairs the Firm's intellectual property practice. He represents clients in trademark and trade dress, copyright, and patent disputes, including in the financial services, information technology, firearms, music, and other industries, and has litigated before the Trademark Trial & Appeals Board. In addition, he has represented clients in trade secret, domain name and licensing disputes, cyber-defamation litigation, and the enforcement of other intellectual property rights.

In addition to - and in part based upon his experience in -- his litigation practice, Joe advises clients with respect to intellectual property issues, negotiates agreements and relationships, and oversees the securing of federal registrations. Joe also counsels and represents clients in their other commercial concerns, and helps the firm's clients take proactive steps to both protect their rights and manage risks.

Joe co-chairs the Firm's Product Liability and Toxic Tort Practice Area. He has litigated products liability cases for numerous companies, and has defended a wide range of products manufacturers and sellers, including electrical equipment, transportation devices, consumer goods, power tools and manufacturing systems, in commercial claims and litigation arising from personal injury.

From 2007 until 2009, Joe was the Chair of the 1200-member Commercial Litigation Committee of DRI - the Voice of the Defense Bar. He has written and lectured on such topics as trademark and trade dress litigation, trademark dilution, antitrust issues, equitable remedies, trial procedures, and e-commerce, including authoring the Connecticut portions of several compendiums regarding trade secrets and product liability. Before joining the firm, Mr. Fortner practiced in New York within the Litigation Department of a large, multi-national firm. There, he handled a wide range of commercial and litigation matters, including contract disputes, lender liability and banking matters, accountant liability, and Lanham Act claims.

Publication
Intellectual Property Litigation: Consider the Law of Unintended Consequences
The Voice, 01/09/2008

News/Events
Joseph Fortner Appointed DRI Commercial Litigation Chair

Free Time

When not practicing law, Joe works on his jazz and blues guitar skills (including in a guitar/vocal duo with his wife (who is also a practicing lawyer)). He spends free time on two wheels on New England's scenic roads, and participates in outdoor sporting activities.

 
Reported CasesRepresentative Matter: H & S Secures Notable Sanction Award During litigation of claims of insurance and bank fraud, Joseph Fortner secured what at the time was one of the largest sanctions awards against an individual attorney. The award for over $750,000 was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Joe represented a defendant against claims of cyberdefamation relating to postings on an Internet forum. Represented an international sporting goods company in international arbitration relating to its relationship with a foreign supplier. Defended numerous technology vendors regarding claims of breach of contract, negligence, and products liability. In a case involving an alleged breach of a real estate contract concerning property in Lebanon, fraud and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act... Baghdady v. Baghdady, 57 Fed.Appx. 484, 2003 WL 202436 (2d Cir. Jan. 29, 2003). In a case involving an alleged breach of a real estate contract concerning property in Lebanon, fraud and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Halloran & Sage defended the jury's verdict and the district court's entry of judgment as a matter of law on the contract and CUTPA claims in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff argued that the district court erred by not applying Lebanese law, by concluding that his contract claim was barred by the statute of frauds, and by finding that he had failed to establish a sufficient nexus between the alleged real estate transaction and trade or commerce within Connecticut. The Second Circuit rejected the plaintiff's arguments and affirmed the entry of the judgment in favor of the defendant. H & S Obtains Favorable Result in Environmental Matter Ann Catino , a partner in the Environmental and Land Use Group, and Joseph Fortner, Jr. , a partner in the Business and Commercial Litigation Group, of Halloran & Sage recently secured a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, disposing of virtually all claims asserted against its municipal client in an environmental class action. This decision is a substantial victory for municipalities and for clients who undertake investigation and remedial responsibilities pursuant to a Consent Order with an administrative agency. In Collins, et al. v. Olin Corp., et al., 3:03CV945 (CFD), the Town of Hamden was sued by some of its residents, who claimed that their homes had been built on locations used as dumps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The plaintiffs sued the Town, and the successor of the company which allegedly generated and disposed of industrial waste. Their claims included certain common law and statutory claims for damages and injunctive relief, including claims for negligence, abnormally dangerous activity, recklessness, nuisance and other specific claims arising various state and federal environmental laws. The plaintiffs filed their action immediately after a Consent Order was entered by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection between the Town, the company co-defendant, and certain other parties DEP alleged to be responsible for the environmental conditions existing at a middle school, public parks and approximately 300 homes. The Consent Order allocated responsibility among the parties and provided that the Town was to investigate and remediate only the public parks; Olin was to investigate and remediate the residential neighborhood. The residents, proposing class status, requested the Court to essentially undue the allocation of responsibility set forth in the Consent Order and requested the Town to undertake investigation and remediation of the very conditions that were covered in the DEP administrative proceeding. Halloran & Sage moved to dismiss all claims ordering the Town to undertake such actions, and, while the motion to dismiss was pending, also moved for partial summary judgment precluding any assessment of damages against the town under the doctrine of governmental immunity. In his decision dated February 28, 2006, the Hon. Christopher Droney, U.S.D.J., ruled in favor of the Town on both motions. First, the court dismissed the claims for injunctive relief under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. The Court readily acknowledged that the lawsuit would largely undue the allocation of responsibility set forth in the Consent Order and that the decisions required for proper remediation of the properties are more properly within the environmental agency's field of expertise and discretion. The court next granted summary disposition of the claims alleging negligence, gross negligence, negligence per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, on the grounds that the doctrine of governmental immunity barred those claims and any claims for damages. While the plaintiffs had been given an opportunity to search for any evidence reflecting that the Town engaged in a proprietary function in allegedly permitting the filling of waste materials in the low-lying areas, the court concluded that the historical Town records indisputably show that any filling activities or control of filling by the Town occurred to redress and control mosquito breeding places and the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. Further, the plaintiffs could not demonstrate that the Town received any proprietary benefit from the development of homes, parks and a school other than the general benefits arising from the normal growth and development of a residential community. Fees from building permits, certificates of occupancy or even an enhanced tax base were not considered by the Court to represent proprietary acts. Similarly, despite plaintiffs' best efforts to create a factual dispute about the Town's recklessness, in allowing such filling and future development, the court noted that the Town needed to control landfilling and garbage collection and disposal activities primarily to address issues of health and safety present at the time and that there was no evidence at the relevant time that this landfill material posed a health or safety threat to later developers. Thus, with the exception of a single claim under CERCLA (regarding which a motion has yet to be filed), all substantive claims against the Town have been effectively dismissed. The significance of the decision lies in (1) the court's discussion of the application of governmental immunity and whether a municipality can be sued for disposal and filling activities that happens within the municipality when any such activity allegedly permitted or conducted by the Town is for the benefit of its citizens at the time and (2) that a party to a Consent Order cannot be required to perform a clean up independent of or separate from any agreements (eg., a Consent Order) that party has with DEP. H & S Obtains a Summary Disposition of Claims Against Municipal Client Ann Catino , a partner in the Environmental and Land Use Group, and Joseph Fortner, Jr. , a partner in the Business and Commercial Litigation Group, of Halloran & Sage recently secured a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, disposing of virtually all claims asserted against its municipal client in an environmental class action. This decision is a substantial victory for municipalities and for clients who undertake investigation and remedial responsibilities pursuant to a Consent Order with an administrative agency. In Collins, et al. v. Olin Corp. , et al., 3:03CV945 (CFD), the Town of Hamden was sued by some of its residents, who claimed that their homes had been built on locations used as dumps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The plaintiffs sued the Town, and the successor of the company which allegedly generated and disposed of industrial waste. Their claims included certain common law and statutory claims for damages and injunctive relief, including claims for negligence, abnormally dangerous activity, recklessness, nuisance and other specific claims arising various state and federal environmental laws. The plaintiffs filed their action immediately after a Consent Order was entered by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection between the Town, the company co-defendant, and certain other parties DEP alleged to be responsible for the environmental conditions existing at a middle school, public parks and approximately 300 homes. The Consent Order allocated responsibility among the parties and provided that the Town was to investigate and remediate only the public parks; Olin was to investigate and remediate the residential neighborhood. The residents, proposing class status, requested the Court to essentially undue the allocation of responsibility set forth in the Consent Order and requested the Town to undertake investigation and remediation of the very conditions that were covered in the DEP administrative proceeding. Halloran & Sage moved to dismiss all claims ordering the Town to undertake such actions, and, while the motion to dismiss was pending, also moved for partial summary judgment precluding any assessment of damages against the town under the doctrine of governmental immunity. In his decision dated February 28, 2006, the Hon. Christopher Droney, U.S.D.J., ruled in favor of the Town on both motions. First, the court dismissed the claims for injunctive relief under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. The Court readily acknowledged that the lawsuit would largely undue the allocation of responsibility set forth in the Consent Order and that the decisions required for proper remediation of the properties are more properly within the environmental agency's field of expertise and discretion. The court next granted summary disposition of the claims alleging negligence, gross negligence, negligence per se, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, on the grounds that the doctrine of governmental immunity barred those claims and any claims for damages. While the plaintiffs had been given an opportunity to search for any evidence reflecting that the Town engaged in a proprietary function in allegedly permitting the filling of waste materials in the low-lying areas, the court concluded that the historical Town records indisputably show that any filling activities or control of filling by the Town occurred to redress and control mosquito breeding places and the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. Further, the plaintiffs could not demonstrate that the Town received any proprietary benefit from the development of homes, parks and a school other than the general benefits arising from the normal growth and development of a residential community. Fees from building permits, certificates of occupancy or even an enhanced tax base were not considered by the Court to represent proprietary acts. Similarly, despite plaintiffs' best efforts to create a factual dispute about the Town's recklessness, in allowing such filling and future development, the court noted that the Town needed to control landfilling and garbage collection and disposal activities primarily to address issues of health and safety present at the time and that there was no evidence at the relevant time that this landfill material posed a health or safety threat to later developers. Thus, with the exception of a single claim under CERCLA (regarding which a motion has yet to be filed), all substantive claims against the Town have been effectively dismissed. The significance of the decision lies in (1) the court's discussion of the application of governmental immunity and whether a municipality can be sued for disposal and filling activities that happens within the municipality when any such activity allegedly permitted or conducted by the Town is for the benefit of its citizens at the time and (2) that a party to a Consent Order cannot be required to perform a clean up independent of or separate from any agreements (eg., a Consent Order) that party has with DEP. New Colt Holding Corp. v. RJG Holdings of Florida, Inc. Joseph Fortner, Jr. defended a small manufacturer of replica firearms against claims that its revolvers infringed the trademarks and trade dress of a large competitor.
 
ISLN907329013
 


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Office Information

Joseph G. Fortner, Jr.

225 Asylum Street
HartfordCT 06103




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