Pisanelli Bice is a boutique law firm focused on complex litigation.

Pisanelli Bice was named in Vegas Inc.’s “Legal notes: Local award winners, Aug. 13, 2018″, highlighting a number of their top attorneys for locally won awards.

  • James Pisanelli — general commercial litigation
  • Todd Bice — business litigation (Top 100)
  • Dustun Holmes — business litigation (Rising Star)
  • Kirill Mikhaylov — business litigation (Rising Star)
  • James Pisanelli — business litigation (Top 100)
  • Ava Schaefer — business litigation (Rising Star)
  • Debra Spinelli — business litigation (Top 100, Top 50 Women)


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LAS VEGAS – (Aug. 16, 2018) – James J. Pisanelli and Todd L. Bice, founding partners of Pisanelli Bice PLLC, announced today that five of the firm’s attorneys were recognized by Best Lawyers©, a national peer-reviewed lawyer-ranking service. Pisanelli Bice attorneys will appear in the 25th edition of The Best Lawyers in America© publication for their litigation work in Las Vegas.

Founding partner Pisanelli has been recognized by Best Lawyers for the past 13 years. For 2019, he has been selected for his work in bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, construction law, construction litigation, and real estate litigation. He was honored as a “Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 and 2016 for his work in construction law.

The Best Lawyers in America publication listed partner Bice for the 12th consecutive year. For 2019, he has been selected for his work in commercial litigation, appellate practice, first amendment litigation, land use and zoning litigation, and mergers and acquisitions litigation. Bice was recognized as a “Lawyer of the Year” in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Managing partner Debra Spinelli has been recognized for the past seven years for her work in commercial and construction litigation. Attorney Barry Langberg was recognized again this year by Best Lawyers and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America publication for a total of 11 years.

New to Best Lawyers this year is associate attorney Magali Mercera who was recognized for her work in commercial litigation.

Recognition by Best Lawyers is solely based on an exhaustive peer review 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. Those selected to the Best Lawyers lists are recognized in the Best Lawyers publication, The Best Lawyers in America.

For more information about Best Lawyers, visit www.bestlawyers.com.

A drug company’s lawsuit halted the Wednesday night execution of condemned killer Scott Dozier about nine hours before he was set to die.

District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez heard arguments in the civil case for about two hours before barring the Nevada Department of Corrections from using one of the three drugs it had planned to include in Dozier’s lethal injection.

The Department of Corrections later announced that it had postponed the execution.

“The execution, which was ordered by the court, will not take place until further notice,” according to the announcement.

Dozier, 47, was to be executed at 8 p.m. at Ely State Prison with a drug combination never before used in capital punishment. It would have been the first execution in Nevada since 2006.

District Judge Jennifer Togliatti signed Dozier’s execution warrant last month.

‘Irreparable harm’

Alvogen Inc., which started distributing the sedative midazolam in August, filed a lawsuit Tuesday that accused the Department of Corrections of surreptitiously obtaining the drug for use in the execution.

In an April 20 letter distributed to governors, attorneys general and prison directors in each of the 31 states that carry the death penalty, the multibillion-dollar drug company “wrote in the clearest possible terms that Alvogen strongly objects to use of its products in capital punishment,” according to the lawsuit.

Within days of learning that their product was obtained by Nevada prison authorities, the company moved to stop the execution, arguing that Alvogen would suffer “immediate and irreparable harm” should it proceed.


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When the US Postal Service rolled out its Forever stamps in 2010 featuring a close-up of the Statue of Liberty, it wasn’t actually of the iconic symbol of freedom.

Instead, it was the face of the more diminutive replica that stands on the Las Vegas Strip and occasionally gets dolled up in sports jerseys to celebrate events in Sin City. As if the mix-up wasn’t embarrassing enough, it’s also going to cost the Postal Service.

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the Postal Service should pay $3.5 million to Robert Davidson, the sculptor of the Las Vegas replica.

Davidson filed suit in 2013, saying that the Postal Service had infringed on his work, which was original and therefore protected. In his lawsuit, Davidson said his replica “brought a new face to the iconic statue – a face which audiences found appeared more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and even ‘sexier’ than the original located in New York.”

The government argued that it owed Davidson nothing because the statue is a replica and doesn’t contain original work, which would make his copyright invalid. But the court disagreed, ruling that Davidson’s work is original in “making the statue his own creation, particularly the face.”

“A comparison of the two faces unmistakably shows that they are different,” Judge Eric Bruggink wrote.

How did the mistake happen?

In 2008, the Postal Service began the process of looking for new images for the Forever stamp. Its then-manager of stamp development had been looking for something “different and unique” in the Statue of Liberty image because it had already been used in at least 20 different stamps, according to his court testimony that’s summarized in the court’s opinion.

The decision came down to an image of the Las Vegas statue that had appeared on a photo service. The Postal Service purchased a license of that photograph. Several Postal Service officials testified that they wouldn’t have selected that image had they known that it wasn’t the real Statue of Liberty.

Then, the stamp bearing the face of the Las Vegas statue went on sale in December 2010, paired with a US flag Forever stamp.

Three months later, USPS learned about the mix-up. But by then, the face of the Las Vegas replica was on nearly 3 billion stamps that had already been printed. The Postal Service attempted to make the best of it in its public statements.

“We really like the image and are thrilled that people have noticed in a sense,” a USPS spokesman told CNN in 2011. “It’s something that people really like. If you ask people in Vegas, they’re saying, ‘Hey, That’s great. That’s wonderful.’ It’s certainly injected some excitement into our stamp program.”

Eventually, the Lady Liberty stamp was retired in 2014 after about 4.9 billion had been sold, which amounts to about $2.1 billion in sales.

Was Las Vegas work sufficiently original?

The lawsuit hinged on whether Davidson’s statue, which stands in front of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino, could be considered an original work.

The sculptor said that his Lady Liberty was not a direct duplicate and that her face was “more modern” and “definitely more feminine.” Davidson also drew attention to differences in the eyes, eyelids and upper lip. He said he was influenced by a picture of his mother-in-law, which he used to form his final version of the statue, which was completed in 1996.

The question facing the the US Court of Federal Claims was whether the replica was “sufficiently original to be afforded copyright protection, whether the government’s use was infringing.”
Ultimately, the court sided with Davidson.

“The portion used was entirely of what we consider to have been the original work contributed by Mr. Davidson,” Bruggink wrote. “The government’s only real defense is that its use did not particularly harm plaintiff’s business as an industrial sculptor. That may be true, but we also note that it certainly did not benefit him. The Postal Service offered neither public attribution nor apology.”

Todd Bice, Davidson’s attorney, said in response to the ruling: “As the court noted, Mr. Davidson’s artistic creation of the Las Vegas Lady Liberty is highly unique and attractive which is what prompted the US Postal Service to select a photo of his work for the second ever Forever Stamp, over hundreds of other images.”

“For too long, the Postal Service has endeavored to ignore the rights of artists like Mr. Davidson, simply taking intellectual property with after-the-fact offers of nominal compensation,” he said in an email statement to CNN.

The Postal Service told CNN by email that it is “reviewing the decision and will comment if and when appropriate.”

The Las Vegas artist behind the Statue of Liberty replica outside New York-New York will have several million reasons to celebrate this Independence Day.

Robert Davidson was awarded nearly $3.6 million last week by a federal court that ruled the U.S. Postal Service infringed his copyright when it mistakenly used an image of his statue on a stamp.

The government agency began issuing the stamp that depicted a close-up of the Las Vegas-based Lady Liberty in December 2010. The Postal Service believed it was the face of the Lady Liberty that has stood in the New York Harbor since 1886.

“Originally, they didn’t know it wasn’t the real Liberty, but it is a great picture, so I’m not at all surprised that they would use it,” said Randy Shepard, owner of Vegas Stamps and Hobbies on West Washington Avenue and North Rainbow Boulevard. “And I think it’s pretty cool that it ended being a Vegas statue.”

Davidson did not return a request for comment, but his lawyer Todd Bice released a statement to the Review-Journal Tuesday.

“Robert Davidson is pleased that after a full trial, the Federal Court of Claims recognized the significance of his artistic work in creating the Las Vegas Lady Liberty statue and enforcing his copyright,” said Bice, of the Las Vegas law firm Pisanelli Bice.

Bice said he expects the Postal Service to appeal the decision.

Davidson, born and raised in Las Vegas, completed the Statue of Liberty replica in 1996 for MGM Resorts International when the casino operator opened its latest theme casino New York-New York.

Davidson said in court documents that he wanted to give his replica a face that was “a little more modern, a little more feminine” and looked for inspiration from a photograph of his mother-in-law, Lucille Schwartz.

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Pisanelli Bice Receives Tier One Ranking in U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” for 2017
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