DAN HELPS COMPANIES EFFICIENTLY EXTRACT THEMSELVES FROM EXPENSIVE AND CONTENTIOUS LITIGATION.
Dan is a litigator who focuses on defending manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and premises owners involving product liability and toxic tort claims. He has particular experience with asbestos litigation, having successfully resolved more than 100 cases in various jurisdictions across the country. Dan’s experience includes representing all major U.S. automakers in asbestos litigation for more than a decade, and he currently serves as trial counsel for auto manufacturers in asbestos, mesothelioma and lung cancer cases.
While Dan’s practice centers on products liability, he regularly represents companies and individuals in other types of litigation, including commercial business litigation, consumer class actions, construction litigation and civil rights defense. With clients in a wide range of industries, he has successfully prosecuted and defended numerous federal and state trials representing automotive manufacturers, law enforcement officials, governmental officials, medical providers, construction project owners, and real estate developers.
Dan served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Utah Attorney General's Office from 1986-2003. As a member of the Litigation Division, he defended a variety of state and federal lawsuits seeking damages against the state, school districts and their employees. His diverse caseload comprised § 1983 civil rights actions involving constitutional and statutory claims, including defense of police officers in wrongful death and excessive force litigation. As Chief of the Civil Rights Section, Dan handled high-profile civil rights cases, including federal lawsuits involving gay clubs and religious music in public high schools. Before joining the Litigation Division, Dan was a prosecutor in the Criminal Appeals Division where he briefed and argued more than 60 felony criminal appellate cases before the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Key Reported Cases
- Bauchman v. West High School, et al., 900 F.Supp.2d 254 (D.Utah 1995), affirmed, 132 F.2d 542 (10th Cir.1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 953 (1998) High school choir student challenged constitutionality of singing religious songs in public school. Case dismissed on motion, affirmed on appeal and certiorari denied by U.S. Supreme Court.
- East High Gay/Straight Alliance v. Salt Lake City School Dist., et al., 30 F.Supp.2d 1356 (D.Utah Nov. 24, 1998), 81 F.Supp.2d 1199 (D.Utah Jan. 9, 1999), 81 F.Supp.2d 1166 (D.Utah Oct. 6, 1999), 1999 WL1390255 (D.Utah Nov. 24, 1999) Gay club challenged school district's closed forum policy under the Equal Access Act. Judge dismissed case at final pretrial conference. While plaintiff's appeal was pending, school district adopted limited open forum policy for school clubs. Case voluntarily dismissed.
- UDOT v. Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., (4th Dist. Ct. 2014) Breach of contract suit by Utah Department of Transportation against engineering design firm for landslides during construction of $87 million dollar highway project in Provo Canyon. Matter settled before trial for $15 million.
- Deer Crest Associates L.L.C. v. Deer Crest Resort Group, LLC, Avalon Deer Valley, LLC, Willamette Landing Development, Inc. and A. Paul Breneke: Breach of Contract action on behalf of landowner against hotel developer arising out of resort hotel/condo project in Park City, Utah. Court awarded $1.4 million in contract damages, plus interest, costs and attorney fees.
- Meadow Valley Construction v. UDOT: Breach of contract action for $1.3 million by highway contractor against Utah Department of Transportation involving I-215 highway project. After bench trial, judge found partial breach and awarded $450,000, plus interest. On appeal, the Utah Supreme Court reversed award and ordered summary judgment for UDOT.
- Chidester, et al. v. Southern Utah University: Tenured professors terminated when college program eliminated. Jury returned "no cause" verdict after 2 1/2 week trial.
- Ellis v. Lemons (D. Utah 2016): Defended Dr. Richard Lemons, a University of Utah oncologist, in a federal civil rights lawsuit arising out of life-saving chemotherapy treatment provided to a child cancer patient. The case was dismissed on motion, affirmed on appeal and certiorari denied by SCOTUS.
- Finnegan v. Laskey (D. Ind. 2016): Defended a current University of Utah forensic pediatrician and others in a $30 million federal civil rights judgment involving a previous child abuse homicide investigation for Indiana University School of Medicine. Negotiated a post-judgment settlement with plaintiffs’ counsel and Indiana University’s insurance carrier.
- Childs v. Rawle: Civil rights action against parole officers who mistakenly arrested and detained at gunpoint two black males believed to be fugitives. Jury awarded $35k to each plaintiff.
- Fitches v. Mercer: Civil rights action involving alleged strip search of plaintiff on I-15 following drug dog alert. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Foote v. Spiegel: Civil rights action against Utah Highway Patrol officers for traffic stop, detention, arrest and strip search at Davis County Jail. Summary judgment granted for plaintiff on Fourth Amendment claim. On interlocutory appeal to 10th Circuit, case affirmed in part, reversed in part, dismissed in part and remanded for trial. After two week trial, jury awarded $1.00 for strip search.
- Johnson v. Gallegos: Civil rights action against Utah Highway Patrol Trooper for allegedly requesting strip search at Davis County Jail. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Kohagen v. Nichols: Civil rights action against Utah Highway Patrol Trooper for illegal detention, search and arrest for possession of marijuana following traffic stop on I-15. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Seamons v. Snow: Civil rights action against school district and football coach alleging plaintiff was kicked off the football team for speaking out about a hazing incident. After two dismissals and two reversals by the 10th Circuit, jury returned verdict for $275,000 for free speech retaliation.
- Sequaptewa v. Jones: Civil rights action against Utah Highway Patrol Officers for excessive force arising out of DUI arrest. Plaintiff claimed he was beaten unconscious by flashlight and nightstick, even though he offered no resistance. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Simpson v. Lundell: Civil rights action by inmate against prison officer for fondling his penis during pat down search after plaintiff was observed digging at prison window in mental health ward. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Sutton v. Moore: Civil rights action against principal of the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind involving a blind student who was sexually assaulted by another student in the school bathroom. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Tyler Tweed vs. Chris Bertram, et al.: Civil rights action against Utah Highway Patrol Troopers and Salt Lake County Sheriffs Deputy for excessive force during traffic accident investigation on I-215. Unanimous jury verdict of "no cause.
- Currie v. Ford Motor Company (Los Angeles Superior Court 2017): Personal injury action for mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos-containing automotive products. Defense verdict after three-week jury trial in Los Angeles County.
- Dowland et al., v. University of Utah et al., (3rd Dist. Ct. 2014) Insulation workers burned during construction of underground steam tunnels on University of Utah campus. Case resolved at mediation.
- Kier Property Management and Real Estate, LLC v. Mack, (2nd Dist. Ct. 2014) Injunctive relief and damage action for publication of personal Social Security information on Facebook and YouTube. Judgment and permanent injunction granted for client.
- Cumins v. University of Utah: Slip and fall on darkened stairwell in dormitory housing. Jury awarded 51% of medical expenses and no general damages.
- Finster v. Bona: Personal injury case arising out of auto accident involving school district snow plow. Jury awarded plaintiff limited medical expenses and apportioned 49% fault to plaintiff.
- King v. Provo School District: Premises liability action against Provo School District involving collision with a tree. Jury awarded nominal medical expenses.
- Knight v. College of Eastern Utah: Premises liability action against College of Eastern Utah involving slip and fall on a patch of ice on a sidewalk. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Meyer v. State, et al.: Medical malpractice action against state physician involving a heart attack and triple by-pass surgery allegedly induced by an overdose of migraine prescription. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Gadd v. U.S., et al., 971 F.Supp. 502 (D.Utah 1997): 9-year-old girl mauled by black bear at Strawberry Reservoir. Plaintiff sued State Division of Wildlife Resources and U.S. Forest Service for negligence. Case dismissed on summary judgment.
- Roxanne Richards, et al., v. Ford Motor Company, et al.(Cook County, IL): Wrongful death action for mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos-containing automotive products. Case resolved during three-week jury trial in Chicago.
- Butler v. Ford Motor Company et al., (2nd Dist. Ct. Nevada 2013) Product liability action for wrongful death alleging exposure to asbestos-containing products. Case dismissed following exclusion of plaintiff’s medical causation expert testimony.
- Dee Clayton, et al. v. Ford Motor Company, et al.(3rd Dist. Utah): Wrongful death and brain injury claims arising out of Ford Explorer rollover. Jury returned "no cause" verdict after 6-week trial.
- Farley v. UDOT (3rd Dist. Utah): Wrongful death action against Utah Department of Transportation arising out of oil tanker rollover on state highway. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
- Keegan v. State (3rd Dist. Utah): Wrongful death action alleging defective highway design against Utah Department of Transportation arising out of rollover on I-80 in Parley's Canyon. Jury awarded $500,000. Utah Supreme Court reversed and dismissed case based upon discretionary function doctrine.
- Armstrong v. McCotter, et al. (D.Utah 2001): Mentally ill prison inmate died of pulmonary embolism after 16 hours in a psychiatric restraint chair. Case settled while motion for summary judgment pending.
- Utah Valley Community College v. Robertson (3rd Dist. Utah): State sued for property damage to college bus that collided with defendants' horse on I-80. Jury returned "no cause" verdict.
Other Significant Litigation
- In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation (ND CA): Represented auto manufacturer in numerous class action cases in Utah, Montana, and California involving emission defeat devices.
- Best Rate Towing and Repair v. Ziplocal, LP, (D. Utah 2014) and Jones Heating v. Ziplocal, LP, (4th Dist. Ct, Utah): Two federal and state class action lawsuits against telephone directory company for breach of contract involving distribution of telephone books. Both cases dismissed on motion and abandoned on appeal.
- East High PRISM Club v. Cynthia Seidel, 95 F.Supp.2d 1239 (D.Utah 2000): Gay club challenged denial of application for approval as curriculum-related club in closed forum under Equal Access Act. Preliminary injunction granted for plaintiffs, interlocutory appeal filed, case voluntarily dismissed before briefing.
- Jurasek v. Payne, 959 F.Supp. 1441 (D.Utah 1997), affirmed, 158 F.3d 506 (10th Cir. 1998): Schizophrenic patient at Utah State Hospital sued physicians and administrators for imposing forced medication treatment plan consisting of anti-psychotic drugs. Case dismissed on summary judgment after evidentiary hearing, affirmed on appeal, cert. denied by SCOTUS.
- Weitzel v. Utah Div. Occupational Professional Licensing (DOPL) et al. (D.Utah 1999): Psychiatrist sued DOPL and its director in three consecutive state and federal lawsuits seeking injunctive relief and damages arising out of his license suspension imposed by psychiatrist’s refusal to submit to a fitness evaluation. At the time, plaintiff was under investigation for murdering patients by opiod overdoses and for illegal use of prescriptions for personal use. In each case, plaintiff’s preliminary injunction motions were denied and the cases dismissed.
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
- Trial Lessons Learned, Ford Webex (2017)
- Protecting Your Business from Harm on the Internet, Association of Corporate Counsel (2015)
- Overcoming Heeding Presumption in Warnings Cases, Webinar (2014)
- Defending Lung Cancer Cases, Trial Counsel Conference (2014)
- Litigation and Trial Technology, Aldon J. Anderson Inn of Court (2014)
- Unauthorized Practice of Law, Utah Attorney General’s Office (2012)
- New Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, Utah Attorney General’s Conference (2011)
- Negotiation Skills, Utah Attorney General’s Conference (2011)
- Experts 101: What You Really Need to Know, Snell & Wilmer (2010)
- Unauthorized Practice of Law, Utah State Bar, Paralegal Division (2009)
- New Rule 702, Utah Rules of Evidence, Snell & Wilmer (2007)
- Drafting Complaints, Snell & Wilmer (2006)
- Civil Rights Lawsuits Under 42 USC - 1983, Utah Police Liability, Lorman Educational Services, Salt Lake (2004)
- 2003 Case Law Update, Utah Prosecution Council, Spring Conference Salt Lake City (2003)
- Racial Profiling, Police Liability in Utah, Lorman Educational Services, Salt Lake City (Fall 2002)
- Regulation of Speech on Public Property, And Government Law For All, Utah Law and Justice Center (Spring 2000)
- What Jurors Really Think, Utah Attorney General's Annual CLE Conference, Park City (Fall 1999)
- Civil Rights, Utah Attorney General's Annual CLE Conference, Park City (Fall 1997)
Industries & Practices
- Class Action Litigation
- Construction & Design
- Construction Litigation
- Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
- Products Liability
- Real Estate & Land Use