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Kutak Rock Secures $11.1 Million Jury Verdict in Legal Malpractice Suit

News - Press Release | November 7, 2018

Kutak Rock is pleased to announce that a jury returned a verdict of $11.1 million on behalf of Universal Engraving, Inc. (UEI) against Polsinelli, one of Missouri’s largest law firms, for a claim of negligence in handling a trade secrets misappropriation case six years ago.

UEI hired Polsinelli in 2007 when the head of its research and development department left and took trade secrets to Metal Magic, Inc., a competitor company. An Arizona jury heard the case in 2012 and found in favor of Metal Magic.

In Universal Engraving, Inc. v. Polsinelli PC et al., UEI presented evidence that in the 2012 trade secrets misappropriation case, Polsinelli attorneys missed key deadlines and failed to explain how the trade secrets theft damaged UEI. The Jackson County jury found that UEI would have prevailed against Metal Magic if the Polsinelli attorneys had met the standard of care required by lawyers. The jury awarded UEI $11.1 million in compensatory damages and found Polsinelli liable for punitive damages. The jury also denied Polsinelli’s counterclaim against UEI for unpaid legal fees of $737,000 for representation in the previous case. UEI and Polsinelli reached a confidential settlement prior to the punitive damages phase of the trial.

Trade secrets cases can be complex because they require an identification of what is and what isn’t a trade secret, and the damages available in these cases actually stem from intellectual property case law,

said Julie Cox, Kutak Rock partner who served as lead counsel in the case.

“It is critical that lawyers handling these cases be well informed on trade secret law early in their representation of a client.  We are pleased that the jury was able to understand the complex issues in this case and that UEI finally was able to recover for its loss.”