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Newsletter Omaha Bar Association

Vol. XXXIX No. 3 September 2013

OBA Continues to be ‘On the Move’ with New Leaders

INSIDE Page 2-3…President’s Message Page 4…Executive Director’s Column Page 5…Fall Kickoff BBQ Page 6…Uniform Bar Exam Page 7…Get to Know YL Division Page 8…Field Day Page 9…Judge Edna Atkins

Stuart J. Dornan President

Douglas J. Law President-Elect

Richard P. McGowan Treasurer-Elect

Pages 10…Family Night Pages 11…Milestones & Moves Page 12-13…Library Guides Page 14-16…Civil Jury Verdicts Page 17… OBA Memorial Day Page 18…NePA Page 19…OLPA

Aaron D. Weiner Executive Council

Denise A. Hill Executive Council

Kenneth W. Hartman Executive Council

Young Lawyers Division

Pages 20…OBA Presidents’ Reception Page 21…Notice Page 22…Law Day Page 23…YLD Event

and twitter!

Ken Wentz YLD President

T.R. O’Brien Secretary

JoAnna Thomas Vice President

Torri Criger Exec. Committee

Nickie Hanson Treasurer

Garrett Lutowsky Exec. Committee

James Boesen Exec. Committee


President’s Message ‘A Call to Action’

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye. Calling all lawyers and judges – retired and still practicing. To paraphrase Bing Crosby, “can you spare some time” to mentor some less experienced brethren? As your newly inducted president of the Omaha Bar Association, I have chosen to focus my energies on creating and growing a mentoring program for lawyers just beginning their careers in the Omaha area. It is my belief that we experienced members of the bar owe it to the newest members of the bar some of our time, experience and expertise. Let me explain why. When I graduated from law school, nearly everyone in our class could find a job in the legal field as a lawyer. Not so now. Nationally, recent law school graduates are having difficulty finding and landing a law-related job. A recent survey showed • 10.6% are unemployed and • 62.8% are employed at a position that requires bar 1 passage. Graduates in Nebraska are not fairing much better either: • UNL law grads have an 8.59% unemployment rate and • 68.57% are working in positions that require 2 bar passage, While Creighton Law grads • Have an 11.5% unemployment rate and • 64.85% have a position that requires bar 2 passage. Consequently, newly sworn in attorneys find themselves in a crucible of competition. Any young lawyer, recent graduate or law student stands to benefit tremendously from pearls of wisdom from experienced practitioners. Whether you are retired, (are you listening Richard L. and J. Terry?) nearing the end, or are still going strong, your experience is valuable and can be put to use in a manner that will help our bar grow and mature in a positive way. While large firms

often have mentoring practices in place for their new employees, a recent graduate or young lawyer who chooses solo practice (or still looking for that first legal job) may have little or no opportunity to interact with experienced lawyers in a mentoring relationship. Whether it be over a cup of coffee or in a more formal meeting, many varied and important topics can be discussed and strategized. For example • what makes a good lawyer; • challenges, traps and snares one is likely to encounter in the profession; • the value of being honest and candid; • handling oneself with integrity and civility; • equipping oneself to meet the call of service to one’s client; • the importance of zealous, and fair, advocacy for one’s client; • securing and retaining clients; • job searching strategies; • career development; • preventative practices to avoid malpractice; • and, last but not least, balancing the often stressful practice of law with other important priorities in life. These efforts are consistent with mentoring 3 programs springing up around the country. Statewide programs, modeled on trend-setting mentoring initiatives in Georgia and Ohio, are operating in more 4 than 20 states. Ultimately, one goal of mentoring is to improve the standards of practice for new lawyers and to increase job satisfaction. Another positive result would be a decrease in the number of complaints leveled against lawyers for lack of professionalism. Creighton University School of Law is establishing a formal mentoring program with second year students and practicing members of the Bar. Additionally, the Young Lawyer Division (YLD) of the Omaha Bar Association in conjunction with the OBA has formed a task force to implement a less formal mentoring opportunity to match mentor with mentee. Please Continued on next page


President’s Message Continued from page 2 contact or DaveSommers@ to get involved. So, step up prospective mentors. Consider paying your experience forward. Mentees, I invite you to take advantage of others whose shoulders you may lean on in striving to put the best practices in place to envelope consummate professionalism. More on this topic and ways to get involved will appear as the task force moves forward. I have two other goals I hope to achieve during my tenure as President of the OBA. One is to continue to support the excellent foundation laid by past president Jennifer Petersen and Executive Director Dave Sommers in providing the most efficient technology for Association members to communicate with the OBA in order to better serve you more economically and efficiently. In that regard, please check-out the new Lawyer Referral Service video at http://youtu. be/dhMHoGWDqBE. Also, I intend to provide ample support for the bustling and burgeoning members of the YLD as they move forward with projects to enrich their professional lives and those of others in the community.

Stuart J. Dornan

Mentoring Sign-Up

q Yes, I’m willing to mentor!

Name: ____________________________________ Phone: ____________________________________ I’m willing to mentor:

q Attorneys q Law Students q Both Attorneys & Law Students Please send this competed form to: OBA, PO Box 11195, Omaha, NE 68111 or Fax to (402) 290-3808

Sign up on the OBA website by looking under the Committee Banner. September 12 Fall Kickoff BBQ Register online!


Executive Director’s Column The OBA enters its 124th year of operation this fall and Lawyer Referral Service is celebrating its 50th year of service this year. The longevity and strength of the organization is a testament to the dedication and leadership we have enjoyed over the years. This past year the OBA implemented a number of changes which hopefully will serve to enhance the organization and further engage the membership. Change isn’t easy to embrace – let alone adopt sometimes – and I want to thank everyone for their willingness to try something new, whether it be the online event registration, reading a digital version of the newsletter, or attending the Young Lawyers Division events. I’ll warn you now – the changes are not done yet. The website will be getting a major facelift this fall. As you just read in Stu’s message, a mentorship initiative is in the works. And as you will read elsewhere in the newsletter, the Young Lawyers Division continues to grow and develop into an active and involved component of the OBA.

Dave Sommers

Even with all these new OBA activities, we are ever mindful of our long history, and embrace traditions our members rd have grown to love and expect. Case in point: we are proud to be partnering once again with First National for our 43 Annual Fall Kickoff BBQ on September 12. The event serves as an opportunity to reconnect the local legal community after the summer, and is an opportunity for the newly-minted lawyers to meet the membership. We are humbled and honored by those who have volunteered their time and talents to the Omaha Bar Association and our activities. We sincerely thank you. We also look forward to engaging more members in the months and years to come. Finally, welcome to our new OBA Executive Council members Denise Hill, Ken Hartman, Doug Law and Aaron Weiner. Best wishes, Dave


OBA Kickoff BBQ on September 12

Your Safety.

Our Priority.

By Alan Thelen The OBA will kick off its 124th year of activities with its Annual Kickoff BBQ on Thursday, September 12, at First National Wealth Management, 14010 FNB Parkway. rd This will be the 43 Annual Kickoff BBQ, and Tom Gaughen of First National will be the head organizer for nd the 32 year. Gaughen said that Hap Abraham Catering will provide a full barbecue menu for hungry lawyers. The event will feature the usual combination of good food, good drinks, good company, and the music of the Platte Valley Ramblers. Gaughen said that the event, which will run from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. is expected to draw 300 to 400 local attorneys. The event will be open to all OBA members, but no guests. The cost is $20 per person. Reservations can be made on the OBA’s event registration page on its website – www.omahabarassociation. com – or by contacting Dave Sommers at (402)-280-3607 or


Be proactive - get your clients help before they see the judge!

National Safety Council, Nebraska programs are used by the Douglas County Court and approved by the state of Nebraska Probation Department for diversion and probation. PROBATION OPPORTUNITIES DUI First Offender Program (English & Spanish) 10 hours, two 3 1/2 hour sessions 6pm-9:30pm and one 3 hour session 6pm-9pm..............................Tuition: $169 Includes Victim Impact Panel.

DIVERSION OPPORTUNITIES Alcohol Education/Minor in Possession (English & Spanish) 8 hours, one session, 8am-5pm ...................................Tuition: $79

Adult Anger Management 9 hours, three sessions, 6pm-9pm ..............................Tuition: $119 Spanish Adult Anger Management (call for details)

Juvenile/Teen Anger Management 9 hours, three sessions, 6pm-9pm ...............................Tuition: $79

Appropriate Decision Making for Adults 8 hours, one session, 8am-5pm ...................................Tuition: $99 Spanish Decision Making for Adults (call for details)

Appropriate Decision Making for Teens 8 hours, one session 8am-4pm or two sessions 6pm-10pm ..........................................Tuition: $79

TRAFFIC TICKET DISMISSAL PROGRAMS 4-Hour Defensive Driving (STOP) 8-Hour Defensive Driving (STAR/ADD) 11620 M Circle, Omaha, NE 68137 402-898-7361 • Fax 402-896-6331

We appreciate your Membership!


Uniform Bar Exam in Nebraska By Monica Stoney

Beginning in February 2013, Nebraska became one of a growing number of jurisdictions to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). In a time where an unpredictable job market is the norm, Erica Moeser, president of the National Commission of Bar Examiners (NCBE), stated, “If there’s one group that should care about the UBE, it’s those students currently enrolled in law school looking to take the bar exam, find a job, and deal with debt, especially in this economy.” The purpose of the UBE is to help new lawyers achieve mobility without taking a second bar exam in another jurisdiction. Thus, the NCBE developed the UBE to allow a smooth transfer of scores from one jurisdiction to another. Missouri was the first to adopt the UBE, followed by Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and North Dakota. This year, Nebraska adopted the UBE along with Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Beginning in 2014, Minnesota and New Hampshire will begin offering the exam as well. Jim Rigos, owner of Rigos Professional Education Programs, anticipates that a majority of states will adopt the UBE within three years. He believes we are reaching a point where schools and students in states not using the UBE are at a disadvantage. The exam itself is administered over two days. Day 1 consists of six, 30-minute Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions and two, 90-minute Multistate Performance Test (MPT) problems. Day 2 is the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE); a 200 question multiple-choice exam. Among the subjects covered in the MEE are agency law, commercial paper, conflict of laws, corporations, family law, federal civil procedure, partnerships, sales, secured transactions, trusts and future interests, and wills. The MPT problems are “closed universe” practical

problems that require the test-taker to use instructions, factual data, cases, statutes, and other reference material supplied by the examiners. Finally, the 200 multiple choice questions that comprise the MBE cover constitutional law, contracts/sales, criminal law and criminal procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. While the UBE seems to be a good deal for everyone, it has not been adopted without criticisms, the most salient of which is that the test-takers are not tested on specific state laws. However, the NCBE had this in mind when it left each jurisdiction the discretion to assess candidates’ knowledge of jurisdiction-specific content through a separate test, course, or a combination of the two. Additionally, each jurisdiction reserves the power to decide who may sit for the exam and who will be admitted to practice, to determine underlying educational requirements, to make all character and fitness decisions, to set policies regarding the number of times candidates may retake the exam, to make ADA decisions, to grade the MEE and MPT portions of the test, to accept MBE scores earned in a previous exam for the purpose of making local admission decisions, to set their own passing scores, and to determine how long income UBE scores will be accepted. It is worth noting, however, that candidates for admission

to the bar must sit for the entire UBE in a single administration to earn a portable score. A common misconception is that one UBE jurisdiction must accept a score from a candidate hailing from another UBE jurisdiction. But this is not the case: each jurisdiction, at its discretion, sets minimum levels of competence to practice law within that jurisdiction. The process of transferring a score from one jurisdiction to another, however, is substantially simplified through the state’s adoption of the UBE. The rationale is that the standardized testing conditions associated with UBE administration leads to score comparability across jurisdictions. Nebraska, alongside other UBE states, is leading the way for bar exam score portability; a change that will promote easier transition from practice in one jurisdiction to another. This, in turn, renders sitting for more than one bar exam exceedingly unlikely—a fact about which both law students and attorneys alike can be grateful. Sources:

• National Jurist • • UNL College of Law bar exam information •American Bar Association website

OBA Members The OBA Lawyer Referral Service is seeking additional attorneys in the following practice areas: Federal Worker’s Compensation Federal and General Employment Law School Law Municipal Law Administrative Law Foreclosure Please call Donna at (402)280-3606 for more details.


Get to Know the Young Lawyers Division Nicole R. Hanson

By James C. Boesen

In this installment of “Get to Know the Young Lawyers Division,” we learn more about the YLD Continuing Legal Education Chair and her efforts to provide practical and entertaining CLE opportunities to the masses. YLD CLE Chair, Nicole “Nickie” Hanson, is an associate at Fraser Stryker, P.C. L.L.O., where her practice focuses primarily on business and corporate law, including business formation, continuation, and dissolution as well as contract negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate tax law. A former Papillion-La Vista Monarch, Hanson fostered her love for all things transactional while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree, with highest distinction, in Business Administration. Upon graduation, Hanson remained a Husker, enrolling in the Nebraska College of Law’s Juris Doctor and Masters of Professional Accountancy Joint Degree Program, earning degrees in each, with highest distinction in both. Ultimately, Hanson opted to pursue a career in law, accepting a full-time position at Fraser Stryker, where she had clerked as a law student. Hanson credits a varied client base, with ever changing (and often pressing) needs, with keeping her engaged and energized on a day to day basis. She revels in high pressure problem solving situations that call for creative solutions to complex business needs. As a student and young professional, Nickie has continued to commit substantial time and effort to both scholastic and charitable endeavors. While at Nebraska, she competed on the National Moot Court Team, coordinated the UNL College of Law Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, and served a stint as Executive Editor of the Nebraska Law Review. She has since become a founding member of the OBA YLD, served as a Nebraska DECA mentor, and volunteered on various Omaha Jaycees committees. As Chair of the YLD CLE Committee, Nickie has synthesized the ideas and recommendations of fellow young lawyers into a cohesive vision for future CLE offerings from the YLD and OBA at large, with an eye toward providing CLE opportunities that are at the same time practical, affordable, and entertaining. The first such offering, the YLD Watch Party Webinar on September 5th at D.J.’s Dugout, offers a free webcast ethics seminar and an opportunity to network and socialize with fellow new attorneys. Hanson will also serve as moderator of the upcoming YLD sponsored contract basics roundtable at the NSBA Annual Meeting, a CLE aimed at bridging the gap between abstract contract concepts and real world contract drafting and dispute resolution. When she is not drafting corporate charter documents or

soliciting future CLE speakers, Nickie enjoys riding her bike, reading, and (with little success so far) attempting to master the game of golf. If you wish to donate your time and talents to the YLD CLE Committee or have suggestions for future CLE programming, please contact Nickie at or Dave Sommers at

Young Lawyers Division to Begin Outreach Partnerships in Near Future

The Young Lawyers Division Communications and Outreach Committee is in the process of establishing a comprehensive Outreach and Volunteer Program aimed at providing YLD and OBA members with various opportunities to partner with Omaha-based nonprofit organizations on short and long term outreach projects. The goal of the Program is to provide one-time and ongoing opportunities to volunteer with local and national nonprofits to satisfy the varying needs of those nonprofits. The Program is designed to encourage YLD members to give back to the community while allowing each member to contribute as much or as little time as individual circumstances allow. Program participants will not be asked to provide pro bono legal advice or perform legal services. Those who sign up as Program participants will receive notice when there is a community project. Participation in each event is optional. In other words, there is no automatic commitment for signing up! Several opportunities will be offered throughout the year to help our nonprofit partners with various immediate and short-term needs. Some projects will necessarily involve shorter notice times and may involve service and manual labor related tasks. More involved and skill oriented one-time and long term opportunities will also be available in which YLD members can use their wealth of personal and professional knowledge to provide advice and services to our partner organizations and their constituents. The Committee is in the process of identifying potential community partners. If you are aware of an organization that could use our help, or would like to add your name to the pool of Program participants, please Contact T.R. O’Brien at


FIELD DAY 2013 Champions’ Run

GOLF Winners: First Flight Teams: 1. Andy Simpson, Jason Ausman, Andy SIbbernsen, Chris Welsh 2. Patrick Turner, Jarod Reece, Allison Hardy, Mark Greul 3. David O’Neill, Mark Weber, Joe Hefflinger, Dave Hefflinger Last Place in First Flight: Hon. Mike Pirtle, Mike Mooney, Bob Mooney, Dennis Thomte Second Flight Teams: 1. David S. Houghton, Robert Mullin, Hon. Lyle Strom, Warren Whitted 2. Tom Locher, Tom Braddy, Matt Eck, Joel Feistner 3. David A. Houghton, Adam Astley, Kevin Gaughan, Dan Epstein Last Place in Second Flight: Brian Brislen, Stacy Morris, Dan Waters, Gage Cobb Flag Prizes: #1 Longest Putt Made – Dick Lydick #2 Closest to Pin – 3rd Shot – Patrick Turner #3 Closest to Pin – 1st Shot – Chris Lathrop #4 Closest to Pin – 2nd Shot – Bob Mooney/Mark Greul #5 Closest to Pin from Off Green – Jim Connor #6 Longest Drive in Fairway – Jason Ausman #7 Longest Putt Made – Andrew Wilson #8 Closest to Pin – 1st Shot – Brenda Beadle #9 Closest to Pin - 2nd Shot – J.J. Puk #10 Closest to Pin – 3rd Shot – Mark Greul #11 Longest Putt Made – Tom Ostdiek #12 Closest to Pin – 1st Shot – Ron Krause #13 Longest Drive in Fairway – Dave Houghton #14 Closest to Pin – 2nd Shot – Andy Simpson #15 Closest to Pin – 2nd Shot – Mike Pirtle #16 Closest to Pin – 1st Shot – Mike Scahill #17 Longest Putt Made – Craig Martin #18 Longest Drive in Fairway – Joel Feistner/Patrick Turner


60 61 62 68 68 68 68

OBA Members in attendance were Judge Bob Burkhard, Aaron Weiner, Joe Lopez-Wilson, Judge Dan Morris, Mark Dickhute, and Tyler Block. Singles Winner: Joe Lopez-Wilson Doubles Winners: Aaron Weiner and Mark Dickhute Trap: At Valley Trap Range The trap shooting event was organized by Bill Stockdale and attended by Adam Astley, Jon Natvig, and Jesse Krause. Winner: Jesse Krause Thanks to the Field Day Committee Members: Sheila Benson Lunch/Dinner Hon. J. Michael Coffey Chairperson Registration Jennifer Petersen OBA President Jean Roeder Lunch/Dinner T.R. O’Brien Golf Registration James Boesen Golf Sherry Mitchell Dinner Registration Hon. Daniel Morries Tennis Donna Birkby Ex-officio Bill Stockdale Trap Dave Sommers Ex-officio Tom Rowen Door Prizes

9 Golf, Tennis, Trap, Prizes, Good Food and Drink, and Great Company … What’s not to like?!

Field Day Chairman Mike Coffey greets newly-elected Omaha City Council member Aimee Melton (left) and OBA member Stephanie Shearer.

Judge Atkins’ Retirement and Reflections from the Bench


any members of the Omaha Bar Association have appeared before the Honorable Edna Atkins during her 21 years of service on the Douglas County Court Bench. Judge Atkins will retire at the end of September, but she considers herself fortunate to have served in the Douglas County Court. During a recent interview, Judge Atkins reflected upon her time with the Court and the significant changes she has witnessed during her tenure as a judge. Community service has been the hallmark of Judge Atkins’ judicial career. Throughout her time on the bench, Judge Atkins frequently traveled to local public schools to speak to students of all grade levels about the law and its role in society. Several students even had the opportunity to shadow Judge Atkins as she performed her judicial duties. Judge Atkins was instrumental in establishing the Midlands Bar Association as a vehicle to address legal issues specific to minorities. Judge Atkins has seen a number of changes in the Court during her

By: William M. Bradshaw time on the bench. The number of cases on the docket has increased tremendously but technological advances, such as e-filing, have increased judicial efficiency. One of the most challenging statistics cited by Judge Atkins is that “offenders are entering the criminal system at younger and younger ages.” According to Judge Atkins, this trend underscores the need to mentor and provide guidance to young people. “We all need to give back,” she says. The courts have also become a more diverse environment since Judge Atkins began her judicial service. “The number of females on the Bench has doubled during my tenure,” she said. Juries have also become more racially and ethnically diverse, and the Court has expanded its ability to accommodate people with disabilities, she explained. The court has also expanded its interpreter services and is now able to assist speakers of nearly any language. “These advances have expanded public access to the judicial system and assist judges as they work

to ensure justice is being done.” Judge Atkins has had many fulfilling experiences during her judicial career. One of her most memorable experiences was witnessing the change that occurred in a young man’s life when, after completing probation, he fulfilled his promise to stay out of the criminal system and is now a practicing physician. Having seen the difference mentoring can make, Judge Atkins intends to remain involved in the community during her retirement. Judge Atkins also plans to seize the opportunity to travel with her husband. “I would like to visit London, Paris, Johannesburg, and all the major cities and countries I have read so much about,” she said. The judge loves to read and write and even plans to write a book about her experiences in the practice of law. On behalf of the Omaha Bar Association, we wish Judge Atkins an enjoyable retirement, and we look forward to reading her book.

10 OBA Family Night at the Durham Museum

L to R: OBA President Stu Dornan greets OBA Secretary Natasha Preston and Stephanie Gunter at the Durham Museum.



Berkshire & Burmeister welcomes new associate Kaitlynn Boone to the firm; Baird Holm is pleased to welcome Amy L. Lawrenson to its Real Estate Section; Husch Blackwell welcomes Jason F. Maus as associate; Lamson Dugan and Murray welcomes Sarah M. Smith to the firm as associate; Thompson Law Office welcomes Maurice R. Johnson and Laird T. Moore to the firm; Spencer Fane welcomes Shilee Mullin to the firm as Of Counsel; Carlson & Burnett welcomes Mark A. Weber to the firm as partner; Lieben Whitted welcomes Daniel J. Epstein to the firm as shareholder; Mutual of Omaha Bank announces Janet Melchior-Kopp has been appointed vice president and trust manager; and Jackson Lewis welcomes new associate B. Tyler Philippi to its Omaha office. Woods & Aitken has added Rachel K. Boyle to its Omaha office.

Nebraska Chief Justice Michael Heavican has been named president of the Conference of Chief Justices and chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts; Roger Miller of McGrath North has been elected Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers; Lamson Dugan and Murray congratulates John M. Walker on being named firm partner; Walentine O’Toole announces J. Joseph McQuillan has become Of Counsel to the firm; the Omaha Legal Professionals Association announces Bonnie Kudron has assumed the role of president; and Pansing Hogan congratulates David Welch on his election to the American Board of Trial Advocates.

If you are aware of anyone within the Nebraska legal community (lawyers, law office personnel, judges, courthouse employees or law students) who suffers a sudden, catastrophic loss due to an unexpected event, illness or injury, the NSBA’s SOLACE Program can likely assist that person in some meaningful way. Contact Mike Kinney at and/or Jane Schoenike at


Library Guides By George Butterfield Library Guides or “LibGuides” is a new software designed to assist the library in organizing resources, creating subject guides, and giving reference assistance. This is a great resource for the faculty and students but also for the legal practitioner. The Creighton Law Library’s homepage has a link to the guides in the left-hand column.

The term “Guides” can be confusing because the software is so flexible that it can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, the Law Library uses some of the guides as a repository for subject resources (e.g., Nebraska Supreme Court Advance Sheets). You can also use the guides to find out what materials on a subject are available in the Library. Using a computer in your home or office, you can easily discover the key resources that the library has on, say, Health Law. You click on the Guide with that name and see the [chart on the] following [page 13]: Notice the tabs at the top: Print Resources, Electronic Resources, Blogs, Journals, and News. Each tab opens to at least one page of resources and sometimes more and each page can go on forever, depending on the number of resources available. Although the Library uses the guides as repositories, there are also guides that are, in fact, “guides.” Their goal as guides is not simply to list what materials are available in the library but to actually guide you as you study a particular topic. The Library includes guides that originate from different sources and have different purposes. First, there are guides created by the Library staff. These guides have various purposes. There are guides for pro ses (Pro Se Assistance in Simple Divorce), for students (1L Survival Guide), and for legal practitioners (European Union Law: Institutions and Sources). Second, there are guides created by the pupilages of the Robert M. Spire American Inn of Court. In


2011-2012 their pupilages studied and produced materials on trials. In cooperation with the Law Library, those materials led to eight Library Guides on the following topics: closing arguments, crossexamination, direct examination, expert testimony, motions, opening statements, technology in the courtroom, and voir dire. In 2012-2013 materials led to several guides on the Nebraska courts. New guides will be created in 2013-2014 on ethics. Finally, Creighton Law School students who take the Advanced Legal Research seminar have an assignment to create a pathfinder. The idea is that they develop a paper that would lead an attorney through the resources that are available on a particular topic in a particular jurisdiction. The pathfinders are more like the Library subject guides in that they focus mostly on the available resources but they tend to be more narrow in focus and, thus, are a valuable resource for someone who wants to practice in a particular field in the jurisdiction covered (e.g., Dog Searches in Nebraska: Has the Dog Eaten Our Constitution? Where to Find Nebraska Law When a Canine Sticks His Nose in a Drug Bust). The pathfinders are then turned into Library Guides. These guides include the critical primary, secondary, and, perhaps most importantly, the practice materials in the subject area. Each source is briefly analyzed for its value to the practitioner. Library Guides are a new way to organize and present information. They are flexible and make it easy for the Law Library to put together materials that can assist the legal practitioner. Check out the 80+ Guides available from the Law Library homepage and send your own thoughts and ideas to


Civil Jury Verdicts

Editor’s Note: Every effort is made to ensure accuracy. However, if you note an error in your case, please notify the OBA office.

DOUGLAS COUNTY DISTRICT COURT Jury Verdicts March - June 2013 Compiled by Michael D. Havlik

March 2013

Judge: Plaintiff’s Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdict:

1107-011: Joy Malchow v. Mary Michaelsen

Shelly R. Stratman Terrance J. Salerno Daniel H. Ketcham Motor-Vehicle Negligence [left turn @ intersection] $22,781.79 [medical expenses] Plaintiff, $10,000.00

Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that, as she was driving northbound on 90th St. at intersection of Western Ave. with green traffic signal, Defendant (D) turned left in front of P’s vehicle, causing collision. P further alleged that D had been negli-gent (1) in failing to keep proper lookout; (2) in failing to maintain proper control of her vehicle; (3) in failing to yield right of way; & (4) by violating Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6,212 [careless driving]. In Amended Answer, D admitted liability for collision, but she denied that P had been injured to the extent claimed.

CI 11-6505: Stephanie Houston v. Russell I. Pratt Judge: Gary B. Randall Plaintiff’s Attorney: Gregory R. Abboud Defendant’s Attorney: Robert S. Keith Case Type: Motor-Vehicle Negligence [crossing median] Special Damages: $4,446.23 [medical expenses] Verdict: Plaintiff, $6,002.23 Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that her vehicle, stopped for traffic signal on southbound Highway 50, had been struck by Defendant’s (D) westbound vehicle which, after descending Highway 370 exit ramp, had crossed northbound traffic lanes, jumped curbed median, & struck P’s vehicle. P further alleged that D had been negligent (1) in failing to maintain proper lookout; (2) in failing to keep his vehicle under reason-able control; (3) in failing to use due care for safety of himself & others; (4) in failing to yield right of way pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6,146; & (5) by driving recklessly, in violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6,213. D admitted that he had been negligent, but he denied extent of P’s injuries. Judge: Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdicts:

CI 12-4874: Melinda I. & Sara Baker v. Aaron Geary

W. Mark Ashford Jerry W. Katskee Sean A. Minahan Motor-Vehicle Negligence [rear-end collision] $ 9,115.62 [$ 7,728.92 medical expenses, M. Baker; $ 988.35 medical expenses, S. Baker; $398.35 lost income, M. Baker] Plaintiff Melinda Baker, $5,500.0 Plaintiff Sara Baker, $2,000.00

Remarks: P-Melinda Baker [P-Melinda] alleged that, as she was driving eastbound on Dodge St. near 78th St. intersection, with P-Sara Baker as her passenger, Defendant’s [D] vehicle struck P-Melinda’s vehicle from behind, causing injuries to both Ps. P-Melinda further alleged that D had been negligent (1) in failing to maintain proper lookout; (2) in failing to maintain

15 reasonable control of his vehicle; (3) in violating Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-6,185 by operating his vehicle at excessive speed for existing conditions; & (4) in failing to avoid collision with object within his range of vision. D admitted that his vehicle had collided with P-Melinda’s vehicle, but he denied that he had been negligent.

April 2013

Judge: Plaintiff’s Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdict:

CI 11-7734: Candace Becher v. Alegent Health Lakeside Healthpark Gary B. Randall Timothy J. O’Brien David L. Welch General Negligence [slip/fall] $17,670.50 [$16,420.50 medical expenses; $1,250.00 lost wages] Defendant

Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that, as she was walking in parking lot on Defendant’s (D) premises, she tripped in pothole in cement & fell, sustaining injuries. P alleged that D had been negligent (1) by failing to provide safe premises for visitors & patients at its facility; (2) by failing to warn P of hole in cement; & (3) by failing to perform reasonable inspection of its premises. D denied (1) that it had been negligent & (2) that P had been injured to the extent claimed. D alleged that P had been contributorily negligent (1) by failing to keep proper lookout & (2) by failing to exercise reasonable care for her own safety.

May 2013

Judge: Plaintiff’s Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdict:

CI 11-533: Joseph Dilts v. Jose C. Dionicio

Timothy P. Burns Eric R. Chandler Stacy L. Morris Motor-Vehicle Negligence [rear-end collision; changing lanes] $18,260.00 [medical expenses] Plaintiff, $30,450.00

Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that he had been injured when his vehicle, southbound in right-hand lane of 168th St. approaching West Dodge Road, had been struck from behind by Defendant’s [D] southbound vehicle. P further alleged that D had been negligent (1) in following too closely; (2) in failing to keep proper look-out; (3) in failing to keep his vehicle under reasonable control; & (4) in failing to stop his vehicle before colliding w/ P’s vehicle. D admitted that there had been contact between his vehicle & P’s vehicle, but he denied that he had been negligent. D alleged that P had been contributorily negligent (1) in failing to maintain proper lookout; (2) in failing to maintain reasonable control of his vehicle; (3) in chang-ing lanes [from center lane to right-hand lane] without proper signal; & (4) in failing to yield right-of-way to D’s vehicle. The jury determined P’s total damages to be $30,450.00, & it then allocated 60% of negligence to D & 40% of negligence to P. The trial judge entered judgment for P in amount of $18,270.00.

CI 11-7574: Philip Jonak v. Nebraska Medical Center

Judge: Plaintiff’s Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdict:

Leigh Ann Retelsdorf Gage R. Cobb Kathryn J. Cheatle Motor-Vehicle Negligence [overtaking & passing; left turn] $9,375.25 [property damage, P’s vehicle] Defendant

Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that “Bobcat” construction utility vehicle owned by Defendant (D), & being operated westbound on Douglas St. near 44th St. by D’s employee, had collided with P’s westbound vehicle. P alleged that D’s employee had been negligent (1) in failing to maintain proper lookout; (2) in failing to maintain reasonable control of D’s vehicle; & (3) in making improper/unsignaled turn. D denied that its employee had been negligent. [A related case based on same factual situation is indexed at Doc. 1103-766, Nebraska Medical Center v. Jonak.] Continued on next page

16 CI 11-8173: Martha Blankenbecler v. Ginger L. Rogers, et al. Judge: Joseph S. Troia Plaintiff’s Attorney: Jason M. Bruno & Robert S. Sherrets Defendant Ross’s Attorney: Angela Jensen-Blackford Case Type: Motor-Vehicle Negligence [collision with parked vehicle] Special Damages: $9,500.00 [property damage] Verdict: Plaintiff, $4,178.20 Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that Defendant Ross [D-Ross], driving vehicle owned by party against whom P had voluntarily dismissed her claim of negligent entrustment, had collided with P’s vehicle while it was parked on residential street. P further alleged (1) that D-Ross had been negligent & (2) that damage to P’s vehicle had rendered it unusable. D-Ross admitted that she had been negligent, but she denied that P’s vehicle had been damaged to the extent claimed.

Judge: Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Defendants’ Attorney: Case Type: Special Damages: Verdict:

CI 11-9000: Linda & Dennis Wildner v. Terrence J. Kolbeck, M.D., et al. Kimberly M. Pankonin Joseph P. Cullan; Patrick J. Cullan David D. Ernst Professional [medical] Malpractice [surgery] Not specified in Amended Complaint Defendants [10-2]

Remarks: Plaintiff Linda Wildner (P-Linda) alleged that, while performing surgical procedure (mid-urethral vaginal sling placement) on her, Defendant Kolbeck (D-Kolbeck) had punctured her colon. P-Linda further alleged that D-Kolbeck had been negligent in performing surgical procedure & that his negligence should be imputed to medical-practice entities in which he was principal. Plaintiff Dennis Wildner (P-Dennis) alleged that, as result of D-Kolbeck’s negligence, he had suffered loss of P-Linda’s consortium. Ds admitted that, during D-Kolbeck’s performance of surgical procedure, P-Linda’s colon had been inadvertently punctured, but they asserted that this is one of known risks & complications of such procedure. Ds alleged (1) that D-Kolbeck’s care & treatment of P-Linda had met applicable standard of care at all relevant times & (2) that P’s injuries were recognized risk of surgical procedure, which risk D-Kolbeck had made known to P-Linda & to which she had given her fully informed consent. Ds further alleged that P-Linda had also been hospitalized to under-go another medical procedure (anterior colporrhaphy for symptomatic pelvic relaxation w/ grade 3-4/4 cystocele w/ possible enterocele).

June 2013 [partial]

Judge: Plaintiff’s Attorney: Defendant’s Attorney:

Case Type: Special Damages:


CI 11-8048: Jaci K. O’Brien v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. J Russell Derr John P. Inserra Courtney J. Vernon [Des Moines, Iowa] Motor-Vehicle Negligence [underinsured motorist] $6,985.47 [$6,754.07 medical expenses; $81.40 lost income; $150.00 medical-treatment mileage expense]

Plaintiff, $18,000.00

Remarks: Plaintiff (P) alleged that she had sustained injuries in collision with vehicle whose driver was underinsured & whose negligence had caused collision. P further alleged (1) that her automobile liability insurance policy, issued by Defendant (D), included underinsured motorist coverage; (2) that, with D’s permission, she had settled her claim against other driver’s insurer for limits of his liability policy, which were insuffi-cient to fully compensate her for her damages; (3) that she had made demand on D for payment of underinsured motorist benefits; & (4) that D had denied her claim. D admitted (1) that negligence of other vehicle’s driver had caused collision & (2) that it had issued auto liability insurance policy, including underinsured motorist coverage, to P. D alleged (1) that other vehicle’s driver was not “underinsured motorist” & (2) that P’s damages resulted, in part, from pre-existing condition and/or subsequent injury.


OBA Memorial Day

May 22, 2013 The Omaha Bar Remembers Deceased Members

It’s Monday, the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.

Too bad last Friday was the last day to file the Bergstrom motion. Did you know that missing deadlines continues to be one of the most common mistakes leading to malpractice claims? The failure to file a document is the second most common alleged error and the failure to calendar properly was the fifth most common mistake leading to a malpractice claim*. A dual calendaring system which includes a firm or team networked calendar should be used by every member of your firm.

At Minnesota Lawyers Mutual we don’t just sell you a policy. We work hard to give you the tools and knowledge necessary to reduce your risk of a malpractice claim. We invite you to give us a call at 800-422-1370 or go online at and find out for yourself what we mean when we say, “Protecting your practice is our policy.”

* American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability. (2008). Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims, 2004-2007. Chicago, IL: Haskins, Paul and Ewins, Kathleen Marie.



Protecting Your Practice is Our Policy.

Life - Omaha Bar Newsletter 2010


Nebraska Paralegal Association News By Amber Roberts, ACP


he Nebraska Paralegal Association (“NePA”) has been extremely busy these past few months. We’ve participated in Relay for Life, attended the national conference hosted by the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”), nominated a candidate for the Cengage Learning scholarship, and received approval from our membership to revamp our website. Our Relay for Life event was held at the Papillion-La Vista South High School and while the weather did not cooperate and the event was moved inside, it was still a memorable event filled with activities for all ages. As a first time attendee, I was truly moved by the Survivor and Caretaker laps at the beginning of the event. Seeing how many lives cancer affects and the people who support their loved

ones throughout their treatments and recoveries is something I will never forget. I’m committed to being more involved next year and increasing our fundraising goals in order to “Fight Back” harder than ever. NePA was extremely pleased to be recognized nd as the 2 place business of the event for fundraising. The NALA Convention was held July th 9-12 in Portland, OR. Many of our members attended and came back reenergized for their careers, the legal profession, and our local organization. We have several members of NePA serving in various roles throughout NALA and the experiences they bring back to our local community are insightful and put into use whenever possible. Earlier this year, NePA nominated Lori Chapman, one of our long-time members, as a candidate to receive the


Mock Trials and Focus Groups Witness Preparation Jury Selection Settlement Strategy Visual Presentation Contact Omaha trial consultant Karen Lisko, Ph.D., at 402.933.6298 or to learn more about how we can support your next case.

NALA Certified Paralegal Professional Scholarship Award offered by Cengage Learning. The purpose was to help the recipient obtain the Certified Paralegal credential. Of all the nominees nationwide, Lori was selected and the award was announced at the NALA Convention. Lori will work toward obtaining her CP credential over the next year and Cengage will pay for admittance to the exam and the preparation materials. NePA was thrilled to nominate Lori and we look forward to supporting her on this journey as she is a very deserving individual. Finally, NePA has been working on its branding efforts over the past year and revamping our website has been a goal during this time along with synchronizing our efforts throughout the organization including the new look for our newsletter, the In Brief. The website committee is working closely with our vendor to reorganize and revitalize our online presence. We plan to reveal the new website in September to our members and to go live shortly thereafter.

OBA October Dinner Meeting Thursday, October 20 Champions Run Speaker: Hon. Leigh Ann Retelsdorf

A Service of Holland & Hart LLP

Price: $30


Omaha Legal Professionals Association (OLPA)


By Bonnie J. Kudron, President

here has been a change in the leadership of the Omaha Legal Professionals Association. Effective June 19, 2013, Bonnie J. Kudron, HDR, Inc., replaced Laurie B. Nading, CP as President. Ms. Nading resigned after accepting a position in the Boulder, Colorado City Attorney’s office. The Association wishes her well in her new endeavors. Besides the election of a new president, OLPA members also had the opportunity for additional legal education when Michael J. Sands, from the Law Office of Michael J. Sands, PLC, spoke to the Association about the legal ethics of marketing. His presentation was very interesting and informative. On Saturday, July 13, 2013, members and guests enjoyed their summer activity by spending the day in Ashland, Nebraska. The afternoon and evening event included shopping, antiquing or visiting the beautiful museum.

Forensic Accounting Investigations Cody F. Carse, CPA Certified Fraud Examiner Certified in Financial Forensics 37 Years of Public & Private Accounting Experience 1304 N 56th STREET OMAHA, NEBRASKA 68132

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Wine tasting was enjoyed at Cellar 426; dinner was devoured at Parker’s Smokehouse and dessert followed at Cheri O’s. Two members, Christie Leupold, Koenig | Dunne Divorce Law P.C., L.L.O., and Laura Olson, CP, McGill Law, P.C., L.L.O., are busy preparing for OLPA to host the Nebraska Legal Professional Association’s fall seminar on October 19, 2013. The seminar will be held at the Westside Community Center, Lighthouse Suite, 3534 South th 108 Street in Omaha. The theme is, “An Apple a Day: Focusing on Your Legal Health.” Speakers will be Julie Medina from the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, where she specifically works with domestic abuse victims. The second speaker will be John Carroll of Watson & Carroll who will speak on medical malpractice. The third speaker, Michael Chase from Baird Holm, will speak on compliance with HIPAA laws. Please plan to join us on October 19. Watch for the registration form in The Daily Record. OLPA’s next General Membership meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. Details will be available soon on OLPA’s website or on our Facebook page. See below. OLPA is a professional organization open to all persons employed in, and/or interested in, work of a legal nature. Numerous opportunities are available in the areas of networking, professional development, education and leadership. As a member of the Omaha Legal Professionals Association, you are also a member of the Nebraska Legal Professionals Association. More information about OLPA membership, meetings, activities, etc. is available at www. and on OLPA’s Facebook page, Omaha Legal Professionals. Come join us!

Pay Event Fees Online


OBA President’s Reception

** Don’t Forget! **

Annual Fall Kickoff BBQ Thursday, September 12 RSVP by email to Dave @



he Americans with Disabilities Act is a comprehensive act which increases the opportunities for disables persons to have access to opportunities and activities which those without disabilities generally take for granted. Title III of the American with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq.) addresses public accommodations in the private sector. Under the general rule, Title III prohibits discrimination “…on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations on any place of public accommodations by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodations.” (42 U.S.C. § 12182) Title III applies to private law firms. This means lawyers are expected to

provide services to clients without discrimination and to provide reasonable accommodation to the client so that the disabled client may receive the lawyer’s services. The law firm, like any other public accommodation, is required to provide accommodation, provided the accommodation does not unduly burden the law form or alter the fundamental nature of services provided. For example, if a hearing impaired or sight impaired person seeks legal services, the lawyer has an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for effective communication between the lawyer and the client. Providing accommodation does not mean the lawyer must accept the disabled client if the lawyer would not accept the client if the client were not disabled.

For example, if the disabled client contacts an estate planning lawyer to handle a criminal matter, the lawyer can decline because the lawyer does not do criminal law. The lawyer and client should engage in a give and take discussion of what accommodation is necessary for the lawyer to provide adequate representation. The law firm, not the client, is responsible for the cost of the public accommodation. This underscores the importance of a give and take discussion to arrive at a practical plan of accommodation which is affordable for the lawyer while sufficient for the client. Citations: 42 U.S.C.S. § 12181, et. Seq Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers: http:www. q&aeng02.htm


Historic Inns of Court

2012 Best Lawyers © Mediator of the Year

David M. Woodke Woodke & Gibbons, PC, LLO 619 N. 90th St. Omaha, NE 68114 402-391-6000

· Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys · Nebraska Mediation Association · Nebraska Bar Association · Iowa Bar Association · Omaha Bar Association · Pottawattamie (Iowa) Bar Association · Fellow, International Society of Barristers 2000-2012 · Nebraska Association of Defense Attorneys · AV Rating by Martindale Hubbel

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Omaha Bar Association Law Day May 1, 2013

Doug Law, speaker Neb. Sen. Amanda McGill, Jennifer Petersen and John Menicucci.

2013 Bar Presidents: NSBA’s Marsha Fangmeyer and OBA’s Jennifer Petersen

2013 OBA Law Day Luncheon head table

2013 winners of the OBA Law Day Poster Contest

2013 OBA Essay Contest winners


OBA Young Lawyers Division: Play Ball!

OBA’s Young Lawyers Division organized a “Pre-Game” reception and game watch for the Creighton-Nebraska baseball game at TD Ameritrade Park. It was a chilly day, but the hot dogs were warm and the beer cold, and the teams hot, so it was a fun event for members and guests.

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John Borghoff

J.D., LL.M. VP & Sr. Trust Officer

Susan Rosburg

J.D. VP & Sr. Trust Officer

Steve Kryger

J.D. VP &Trust Officer

Leslie Gibbens CCTS VP & Trust Services Advisor

Doug Koenig

CTFA VP & Trust Services Advisor

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177th & West Center | | 402.827.6987

Omaha Bar Association



Omaha Bar Association 2133 California Street Omaha, Nebraska 68178

Omaha Bar Association Newsletter Managing Editors: Stephen M. Bruckner David Riley Dave Sommers

Contributing Reporters: James Boesen William Bradshaw George Butterfield Michael D. Havlik Bonnie Kudron (OLPA) Dave Sommers Monica Stoney Stuart Dornan Amber Roberts (NePA)

Photographers: Donna Birkby, Lorraine Boyd, and Dave Sommers

Design by:


12 Thursday

October 1 Tuesday

4 Friday 8 Tuesday

9 Wednesday 10 Thursday

Lorraine Boyd, Avant Garde Publications


Printed by:

Elman & Co. “Copyright © 2013 by Omaha Bar Association


12 Tuesday

43rd Annual OBA Kickoff BBQ First National Wealth Management Building

Red Mass St. John’s Church @ Creighton 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Young Lawyers Division CLE on Contract Drafting and Litigating NSBA Annual Meeting

Walk Through the Courts Omaha City Hall, Douglas County Courthouse & Federal District Courthouse 11:30 AM - 5:15 PM

Buy the Big O! Show CenturyLink Center

October Dinner

Champions Run 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

November Meeting

Marriott (Regency) 11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Please check the calendar on the OBA’s Website for more details on upcoming scheduled events.

OBA Newsletter September 2013  

Omaha Bar Association's Newsletter for September 2013.