Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Our appellate attorneys showcase what makes Goldberg Segalla different. Much more than a last line of defense, GS appellate attorneys are key partners from the initial stages of litigation, bringing a unique skill set, trial assistance, formidable writing talents, and a global perspective to every matter.

The leaders of our Appellate Practice Group have a combined 90 years of legal experience, and have together handled over 800 appeals and participated in drafting over 300 appellate decisions. They manage a roster of proven appellate attorneys — experienced strategists and tested advocates — commanding deep knowledge and understanding of each of the firm’s other practice areas. These attorneys not only excel at writing briefs and oral argument, but are intimately familiar with the unique motion practice, bond, and stay issues so often involved in appellate litigation. Our group includes former state Appellate Division staff attorneys, and over 20 of our members have clerked in the highest state courts, in U.S. District Courts, and in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. All are at the forefront of appellate practice nationally, keeping our clients up to date on important developments and frequently writing for publications such as Law360, New York Law Journal, and For the Defense.

Goldberg Segalla’s footprint stretches from Los Angeles to London, with teams based in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, St. Louis, and other major business and economic centers across 10 states — and there is an experienced appellate litigator in each of our U.S. offices. Prepared to go wherever our clients need us, our appellate attorneys have handled appeals in state courts of last resort, intermediate appellate courts, and federal circuits across the country. But our record of success on appeals alone does not entirely reflect the full suite of services the appellate team can provide. Whether accepting a referral of a difficult, high-stakes appeal, or assisting with defense strategy and motion practice during the course of litigation, our work is comprehensive and seamlessly integrated. From inception to conclusion, our appellate attorneys support all aspects of the firm’s litigation and insurance coverage practices.

Success Written in Stone

Lawyers “don’t write well and they have no clue that they don’t write well.”

Or so says Bryan Garner, editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and author of Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage and (with the late Justice Antonin Scalia) Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

Poor writing — in laws, contracts, briefs, motions, and even judicial decisions — can be an expensive shortcoming, leading to devastating losses and precedents that send shockwaves across industries and whole economies.

And nowhere are clarity and precision more important than in appellate practice. It is imperative that appellate counsel be highly skilled readers, writers, and orators — and in these areas our attorneys excel. The appellate team is deeply connected to our litigation practice, preparing motions, memoranda of law, and trial memoranda. Always seeking ways to improve their analytical and writing skills as well as to expand their understanding of developments in case law and trends in judicial decision-making, our attorneys assist with all types of legal writing, help to interpret complex written agreements and other documents, and draft the briefs that win cases at the appellate level. The ultimate goal is to present a clear and concise argument that makes it easy for judges to side with our clients.

Amicus Curiae Briefs

We regularly represent leading organizations and businesses as amici in the New York Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of New Jersey, as well as other federal and state appellate courts. Given our appellate attorneys’ depth of knowledge, we can write amicus curiae briefs on a wide range of issues. We have also been extremely successful in securing support from amici to support our clients’ appeals and raise key arguments on important legal and public policy considerations.

Motion Practice

Appellate practice is not only a matter of scholarly research, dispassionate analysis, polished writing, and pseudo-Socratic dialogues with justices. Our appellate attorneys are also ready to descend into the trenches of a trial and assist with motion practice — drafting stays and bonds, and striking an appendix or brief that includes improper material — all things that could be critical to the success or failure of an appeal. Our team can intervene early to secure a stay and prevent an appeal from becoming moot.

Post-trial motions are also an important part of the group’s practice. Whether it’s a motion to set aside a verdict, a question of sustainable damages, or another concern, post-trial motions are often the first step before an appeal. Our appellate team’s superior research, writing, and analytical skills shine here, too. Our constant tracking of court decisions — combined with our robust writing and analytical skills — provides a solid foundation for successful post-trial motions. In addition, our appellate team can either assist with or handle collateral source hearing; where appropriate, we can provide a CPLR 50-B judgment analysis and litigate those issues. Whether you need our help following an adverse verdict or we’ve been litigating the case since day one, our appellate team has handled dozens of post-trial motions and is adept at digesting the trial record to make effective, timely arguments in your favor.

Pre-Trial Support

Because of Goldberg Segalla’s collaborative culture, our work begins long before an appeal — and savvy use of the appellate team from the first stages of litigation could obviate an appeal altogether, helping to secure unshakeable success at trial. When the stakes are high, bringing appellate counsel on board early is often more cost-efficient than waiting until the first signs of difficulty.

The strength of a party's case at trial depends on how the attorneys have framed the issues and litigated the matter up to that point. Because of this, there is palpable value to an appellate attorney collaborating with the litigation team at the early stages of a lawsuit, especially when the lawsuit has the potential for a large verdict or concerns complex legal issues. While a trial attorney’s pre-trial strategizing will involve pre-suit investigation and laying the groundwork for closing arguments, an appellate attorney’s focus during trial preparation will be on framing legal issues in light of the applicable statutory and common law and on preserving those issues in anticipation of an appeal — first to an intermediate appellate court and possibly to a court of last resort. Neither perspective is more important to setting up a successful trial; but trial and appellate attorneys working together, layering their very different perspectives, can make all the difference in the early stages of litigation.

In other instances, the appellate attorney might take an even more expansive global view of the lawsuit because it impacts related litigation throughout the state, across several states, or nationwide — tapping into the juridical-historical currents that shape industries and the law. The appellate attorney can oversee a client's initiative in influencing the common law on certain issues across a number of jurisdictions. Appellate attorneys are especially apt at doing so because a large part of their skill set is identifying trends and changes in the common law and finding commonalities or differences to provide support for their clients' position. Monitoring statewide and nationwide trends while keeping our clients’ objectives in sharp focus, our appellate attorneys can make sure that arguments across all jurisdictions are uniform and effectively framing issues to support the client's broader initiatives.

Trial Support and the Appellate Perspective

Trial lawyers and appellate lawyers see the same case from different perspectives. Where the trial lawyer is focused on investigating, collecting evidence, and shaping a compelling narrative for a judge and jury, an appellate lawyer asks how legal issues in the case can be preserved and raised later in an appellate court. The presence of an appellate attorney at trial alone can help, in ways subtle but profound. As part of a trial team, an appellate attorney gently reminds a judge that the defense is prepared to go the distance, preserving every possible issue for appeal.

But an appellate attorney is never present at trial just for “show.” Our clients often ask our appellate attorneys to monitor trials and present a more dispassionate view of the proceedings: How are the jurors reacting to the evidence? What kinds of rulings has the trial judge made? How is the court receiving the evidence? What is the overall impression? Reporting on these issues not only provides clients with a different perspective, but also allows the trial lawyer to concentrate on one thing: trying the case.

If it’s more than just monitoring a client wants, our appellate attorneys can leverage their distinct skill sets and work seamlessly with trial teams, both before and during trial. Preparing motions in limine, trial memoranda, and other written submissions are just some of the ways appellate attorneys can utilize their skills while easing a trial lawyer’s burden. We also frequently serve primary and excess carriers and other clients to monitor full liability and damages trials, helping to craft arguments and consulting on objections to preserve the record — while striving to work fluently and constructively with experienced trial counsel, never stepping on toes and sharing the common objective of protecting the clients’ rights.

At the same time, our attorneys watch cases nationwide and inform clients and trial attorneys of important developments — during trials to make sure our arguments are based on the latest case law, but also in times of relative calm, seven days a week and 365 days a year, to keep our clients cognizant of trends that could affect their business.

Proven Problem Solvers

Often, our appellate team steps in when the stakes are the highest — when our client or our adversary has obtained a substantial monetary judgment — and the time has come to file or defend against post-trial motions. This is when the value of an in-house appellate lawyer becomes manifest. Trial counsel are exhausted from a bruising court battle, and pass the matter to an appellate attorney, the last resort — the “fixer.” In these situations the appellate attorneys start with no knowledge of the case — and in addition, some states have very limited periods to file post-trial motions.

We’re the fixers. Our attorneys master voluminous material in a short period of time. Excellent researchers, analytical thinkers, and bold writers and orators, they have the skills to defend our clients’ rights when the stakes are highest.

Our Experience

Our appellate attorneys have held judicial clerkships in federal and state appeals courts across the country, and have handled appeals for our clients in:

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • State Courts of Appeals across our footprint in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, and North Carolina as well as Ohio and Wisconsin

We have also written U.S. Supreme Court Petitions for Writ of Certiorari and briefs in opposition to such petitions.

The attorneys on our team take great pride in being members of the community of appellate practitioners, while at the same time fostering the Goldberg Segalla culture of collaboration and communication, and being active in the broader legal and business communities. Beyond appellate work, our attorneys have distinguished themselves as noteworthy practitioners and leaders in practices and industries including:

  • Construction disputes
  • Professional liability for architects, engineers, and design professionals
  • Professional liability for physicians, dentists and other medical professionals
  • Professional liability for attorneys and law firms
  • Municipal and public entity liability
  • Products liability
  • Transportation
  • Environmental law and toxic torts
  • Sports and entertainment
  • Constitutional law and civil rights
  • Global insurance services

Representative Matters

  • Won dismissal of plaintiff’s lawsuit against foreign manufacturer of washing machine hose in Ohio state court on ground that the exercise of jurisdiction over this foreign corporation would violate the corporation’s constitutional due process rights and would not satisfy the requirements of Ohio’s long-arm statute
  • Won reversal of $5.2 million jury verdict against our client nursing home in a New York Labor Law case upon grounds that the trial court erred in refusing the defendant client’s request for an expanded jury instruction on sole proximate cause; case settled for $1.7 million
  • Won dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint on statute of limitations grounds where plaintiff’s erroneous e-filing on the last day of limitations period was not corrected in accordance with the prescribed remedy authorized by Ohio’s new e-filing rules
  • After $1.8 million adverse verdict against client insured, won reduction of $572,000 based on arguments in post-trial motion that jury’s award for future pain and suffering was excessive and award for future pain management should be vacated
  • Won affirmance of summary judgment ruling holding that the plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his accident as a matter of law for failing to make any effort to remove a pile of sheetrock that was obstructing the location of his ladder, and failing to raise a triable issue as to whether his coworker was readily available to assist in moving the sheetrock
  • Won summary judgment dismissal of infant plaintiff’s lawsuit against mid-level distributor of sulfuric acid drain opener on the grounds that the distributor owed no common-law duty to police the conduct of retail sales to purchasers; the alleged breach by the distributor of its agreement with the manufacturer to limit sales to professionals did not create or exacerbate a dangerous condition; and the injury was too remote to be a proximate cause of the infant’s injury where the mother placed the unsecured product in the family’s bathroom, where it was accessible to the child
  • Won affirmance of order granting summary dismissal holding that because worker admitted during his deposition that he was engaged in routine maintenance when his accident occurred, Labor Law § 240(1) did not apply.
  • Obtained reversal of an order that denied summary judgment to department store owner. Plaintiff claimed that she was injured when a protruding piece of metal on an escalator caught her pocketbook and dragged her backwards, causing injury. Photographs taken minutes after the accident revealed that the escalator was in pristine condition.
  • Obtained reversal of an order that had granted summary judgment on liability to plaintiff in a rear-end motor vehicle collision. Although plaintiffs are frequently granted summary judgment in such cases, we persuasively argued that our driver was faced with an emergency not of his own making, thereby providing a reasonable, non-negligent explanation for the accident.
  • In a post-trial appeal on behalf of a major Western New York hospital, obtained affirmance of an order denying plaintiffs’ motion to set aside a defense verdict. Plaintiffs claimed that the hospital lab’s error caused them to terminate a pregnancy. The jury found that although the hospital was negligent, it did not cause plaintiffs’ decision.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a landlord in a high profile case where its tenant-actress was murdered by a contractor’s employee who was also an undocumented immigrant. The order was affirmed on appeal, the appellate court affirming the trial court’s finding that the landlord could not be responsible for an independent contractor’s employee’s actions.
  • In another high profile case, obtained reversal of an order denying a motion to dismiss general negligence claims against a psychiatrist where a former patient abruptly left an outpatient facility, traveled to his mother’s house, and murdered his neighbor while high on cocaine.
  • In a legal malpractice action, obtained reversal of a trial court’s order denying summary judgment, where plaintiff could not demonstrate that he would have succeeded in the underlying action. Plaintiff had secured a high interest rate mortgage for his home but defaulted on the note, claiming he had rescinded the mortgage within 72 hours. He sued his attorneys when they could not prevent foreclosure. Plaintiff was never able to obtain proof of the rescission, which persuaded the appellate court to dismiss the case.

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for Michael Rubin by a Partner on 05/28/15 in Civil Litigation

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary. Read less

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Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.

We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:

  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.

The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.

For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.

Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.

In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.

Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.


Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.

We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.

Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.

On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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