LAS VEGAS – (Aug. 20, 2020) – Attorneys with Las Vegas-based Pisanelli Bice PLLC have been recognized by Best Lawyers©, a national peer-reviewed lawyer-ranking service. Five attorneys with the boutique law firm will appear in the 27th edition of The Best Lawyers in America© publication for their litigation work in Las Vegas.
Founding partner James J. Pisanelli has been recognized by Best Lawyers for the past 15 years. For 2021, he was selected for his work in bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, construction law, construction litigation, and real estate litigation.
The Best Lawyers in America© publication listed partner Todd L. Bice for the 14th consecutive year. For 2021, he was selected for his work in bet-the company litigation, appellate practice, commercial litigation, First Amendment litigation, land use and zoning litigation, and mergers and acquisitions litigation. Notably, he was also honored as a 2021 Las Vegas “Lawyer of the Year” in the category of bet-the-company litigation.
Managing partner Debra Spinelli has been recognized by Best Lawyers for the past nine years. For 2021, she was listed for her work in commercial litigation, construction litigation and health care litigation. For the third consecutive year, of counsel attorney M. Magali Mercera was recognized for her work in commercial litigation.
New to Best Lawyers this year is associate attorney Brittnie Watkins who is a recipient of the Las Vegas “Ones to Watch” award in the categories of appellate practice and commercial litigation.
The 27th edition of The Best Lawyers in America© highlights the top six percent of private practicing attorneys in the US and is organized by state, city, and practice area for easy readability. Recognition by Best Lawyers is solely based on exhaustive peer review surveys and only a single lawyer in each practice area and community is honored with a “Lawyer of the Year” award. Best Lawyers has provided this ranking service for over 30 years and has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.
For more information about Best Lawyers, visit www.bestlawyers.com.
About Pisanelli Bice:
Pisanelli Bice is a Las Vegas-based firm focused primarily on commercial litigation. The firm, founded by attorneys James J. Pisanelli and Todd L. Bice, represents clients ranging from single-entity developers and entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies, municipalities, public agencies as well as some of Nevada’s largest gaming companies. For more information, please visit www.pisanellibice.com.
About Best Lawyers:
Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected lawyer ranking service in the world. For more than 30 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the lawyers best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Best Lawyers lists are published in leading local, regional, and national publications across the globe.
LAS VEGAS – (June 15, 2020) – James J. Pisanelli and Todd L. Bice, founding partners of Pisanelli Bice PLLC, announced today that five of the firm’s attorneys were among select lawyers recognized on the esteemed 2020 Mountain States Super Lawyers lists. Super Lawyers is a national rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Pisanelli, Bice and managing partner Debra L. Spinelli were honored once again as three of the leading top 100 lawyers in the mountain region, which includes Nevada, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Pisanelli and Bice have earned Top 100 Super Lawyers distinction every year since 2007. This is the ninth consecutive year Spinelli has been selected for a Super Lawyers list.
Spinelli was also selected to the Top 50 Women Mountain States Super Lawyers list again this year. The 2020 listing marks the fifth consecutive year that Spinelli has been selected to the Top 50 Women list.
Attorneys Dustun H. Holmes and Ava M. Schaefer were named 2020 Mountain States Rising Stars. This is Schaefer’s fifth consecutive year appearing on the list, and it is the fourth consecutive year that Holmes has been named a Rising Star.
Recognition by Super Lawyers is a prestigious and highly sought-after honor with only five percent of Nevada’s attorneys selected as Super Lawyers and 2.5 percent selected as Rising Stars. Attorneys are designated after undergoing a comprehensive nomination and evaluation process. This patented, multifaceted process includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. Super Lawyers’ parent company, Thomson Reuters, is the world’s most respected source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.
For more information about Super Lawyers, click here.
About Super Lawyers
Super Lawyers state and regional listings are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, click here.
Litigation comes naturally to Jordan Smith. “I’m from a family of lawyers, including my grandfather, father, mother, two uncles, aunt, brother and my wife,” Smith said. Having served as Deputy Solicitor General of Nevada, Smith is now a partner at Pisanelli Bice, one of the most prestigious law firms in the state.
“I’ve been a part of some of the most significant recent cases in Nevada. With Pisanelli Bice, I am lead counsel in the State’s litigation against the Department of Energy related to a secret plutonium shipment to the Nevada National Security Site and part of the team contesting the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository,” Smith said. While previously working at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Smith contributed to numerous other high-profile cases but considers being promoted to partner of Pisanelli Bice his greatest professional accomplishment to date.
Click here to read the full article.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge has upheld an arbitrator’s finding in an ongoing legal battle over one of the few remaining U.S. newspaper joint-operating agreements, ruling that the dominant Las Vegas Review-Journal has to submit to an audit and pay profits and expenses that its crosstown rival Las Vegas Sun claims have been improperly deducted in recent years.
Clark County District Court Judge Timothy Williams acknowledged during a Wednesday hearing that, with appeals expected and a separate federal lawsuit pending, his decision won’t settle an increasingly bitter fight over an operations pact entered in 1989 with an end date of 2040.
The judge put a hold on the state breach-of-contract case to allow a separate federal antitrust and unfair trade practices action filed by the Sun against the Review-Journal to be heard. He allowed the arbitration finding to remain sealed.
Williams’ written decision did not specify a dollar amount at stake, and attorneys and executives on both sides declined to disclose the amount. It is expected to be in the millions of dollars.
“The court will not reassess and weigh the evidence that the arbitrator relied on to make his decision,” the judge wrote. “The arbitrator noted that while the Review-Journal has done just about everything possible to blunt, avoid, deter and postpone an audit … the arbitrator simply ordered that an audit be conducted and this decision is affirmed.”
Sun publisher and chief executive Brian Greenspun on Thursday called the ruling a victory in what he and Sun lawyers say is an attempt by the Review-Journal to kill the Sun.
“One of the ways they do that is through vexatious litigation,” Sun attorney James Pisanelli told Williams on Wednesday. “Another way they have done it … is to starve the Las Vegas Sun.”
Benjamin Lipman, Review-Journal legal counsel, focused on the stay that Williams put on the state case. Lipman denied Review-Journal owners want to eliminate the Sun.
“Nothing has been resolved,” he said. “The state court action is on hold. The federal case could have a significant effect. We’re not seeking to shut the Sun down. We’re saying they should stand on their own two feet.”
The Sun, formerly an afternoon daily, is printed and delivered as one section within the morning Review-Journal, which owns the printing presses. Their joint-operating agreement was amended in 2005 to require each newspaper to bear its own editorial costs and the Review-Journal to share an agreed-upon percentage of profits with the Sun.
The Sun argued in 2016 that it was due at least $6 million amassed during 10 years of business with former Review-Journal owner Stephens Media. That matter was settled after arbitration for an amount that was not made public.
The Review-Journal is now owned by the family of billionaire casino mogul and conservative Republican political donor Sheldon Adelson. He’s the 86-year-old founder, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and casino-hotels in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.
Adelson’s family bought the Review-Journal in December 2015 and owns it through a limited liability corporation called News + Media Capital Group. The Review-Journal was one of few U.S. newspapers to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016.
Greenspun’s newspaper characterizes itself as “a left-leaning editorial voice” and maintains a robust internet presence.
Pisanelli suggested in court Wednesday that the Review-Journal has violated federal antitrust law and declared that collecting the arbitrator’s judgment was a matter of survival for the Sun.
“The weaker party, the Las Vegas Sun … has been at the mercy of the good faith of the R-J for all these decades,” the attorney said. “It’s only since Sheldon Adelson bought the paper that the good faith came to an end and the new strategy of starvation came into play.”
Newspaper joint operating agreements stem from the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, passed by Congress to exempt newspapers from some antitrust laws to allow them to combine business functions while remaining editorially independent.
Las Vegas is one of a handful of U.S. cities with newspapers still operating under such an agreement, according to the News Media Alliance trade association. Others include York, Pennsylvania, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Detroit. A joint-operating agreement between the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News could expire next year.
Williams observed that the agreement in Las Vegas has not quieted what he termed “rolling disputes” between the two papers. The two sides have sued each other several times over the years in state and federal courts. The Review-Journal on Aug. 30 published a front-page editorial titled, “Why we want to stop printing the Sun.”
It called the joint-operating agreement a “relic” and argued the Sun doesn’t meet contractual obligations to produce a “high-quality metropolitan print newspaper.”
The Sun in September filed the separate federal civil antitrust and unfair trade practices complaint.
Review-Journal attorney Randall Jones on Wednesday urged Williams to delay his decision, keep the arbitration findings sealed, and stop state court proceedings until the federal case is heard.
Hearings before U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware have not yet been scheduled.
“It is practically creating a quagmire,” Jones told Williams, “because we don’t know what the federal court is going to do.”
Click here to view the full article.
A Clark County judge imposed a partial stay in a battle between Las Vegas’ two daily newspapers, citing serious concerns over whether a state court had jurisdiction in several matters also being litigated in federal courts.
Judge Timothy Williams issued the pause of one disputed matter, pending a ruling from the federal court over whether it will hear a case filed by the Las Vegas Sun against the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In late September, the R-J announced its plans to try to dissolve the joint operating agreement under which the R-J and the Sun have operated since 1989 and which was amended in 2005. The R-J filed this action as a counterclaim to a pending state court action by the Sun accusing the R-J of changing its front page and diminishing the Sun’s presence on it in a manner not allowed under the contract.
When the R-J announced its plans, the Sun went to federal court and filed suit saying this effort and other R-J actions constituted an attempt to create an illegal monopoly in Clark County.
In Wednesday’s hearing, Williams expressed serious concerns — echoed by the Sun attorneys — about whether a state court has jurisdiction over antitrust issues raised by the R-J’s counterclaim, while reserving final judgment.
“I’m going to take a cautious approach,” Williams said at the end of a two-hour hearing. “I’m not going to rule for dismissal outright, but I’m going to stay this matter pending resolution to the Sun’s action in federal court.”
Williams stressed he wasn’t ruling that his court did not have jurisdiction in the matter, just that he wanted to see what happened in federal court. No date for hearing the case in federal court has been set.
“We have the utmost respect for the court, though we respectfully disagree with the decision,” said Benjamin Lipman, general counsel for the R-J. “It is a shame the Sun continues to waste the parties’ and court’s time and money in ongoing efforts to avoid its day of reckoning for failing to live up to the promises it made and continues to fight against allowing our justice system to rule on the Review-Journal’s claims.”
The Sun filed a lawsuit against Sheldon Adelson and the ownership group of the R-J in September in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, alleging Adelson is trying to stop the Sun from publishing in order to silence an alternative editorial voice in Las Vegas.
The goal, as alleged by the Sun, is for Adelson — a billionaire casino owner and megadonor to the Republican Party — to muffle his local media critics, monopolize the local newspaper industry and squelch dissent to his newspaper’s right-leaning editorial views.
In federal court, the Sun seeks to force the R-J to cease its “abusive, unlawful and anticompetitive practices,” and a judgment ordering the R-J’s owners to either divest themselves of the newspaper or to at least turn over the newspaper’s non-editorial business operations to an independent agency or trustee.
“Today was a very important day,” Sun attorney James Pisanelli said. “While the court reserved its ruling on whether to dismiss the R-J’s counterclaims, which are designed to put the Sun out of business, the court expressed serious concerns over whether it had subject matter jurisdiction over those claims due to the preemptive effect of the Newspaper Preservation Act (NPA) and federal antitrust laws.”
The JOA structure was created under the act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law in the 1970s. The legislation provides limited antitrust protection for newspapers to combine business functions while remaining editorially independent.
The Sun and the Review-Journal have several distinct matters before Williams that will remain in state court. He promised a pre-Thanksgiving ruling on one of them, whether to affirm an arbitration award that found the Adelson-owned R-J engaged in improper accounting practices that deprived the Sun of profit payments.
Sun lawyers have asked Williams to affirm most of what the arbitrator ruled. R-J attorneys have argued to keep the arbitrator’s findings out of public view.
Click here to view the full article