Michele C. Sears Partner

     

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Michele Sears focuses her practice of defense litigation in the areas of aviation, professional liability, premises liability, personal injury, product liability and personal and commercial automotive liability. She is a co-chair of the firm’s national Aviation practice. Michele also directly represents insurance carriers in coverage and bad faith matters. She has represented major insurers and other clients in both state and federal courts in a wide range of complex claims and disputes. Many of these matters have included issues involving contracts, insurance coverage and indemnity claims. Michele has 15 years of complex tort litigation and trial experience. She served an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division.

Michele believes, first, in delivering value to her clients. She consistently stays ahead of the opposition, leveraging her knowledge of the case and her relationship with her client to find the right strategy every time. Michele uses her superior communication skills at every level – from regular reports for clients to dealing with difficult situations in the courtroom or at the conference table.

Areas of Focus

General Litigation / Premises
Michele represents property owners, lessors and third-party contractors in complex premises liability claims, including negligent hiring or retention, slip and fall, inadequate safety conditions and others. Michele is well experienced in asserting and defending claims for defense and indemnity arising out of contracts and leases as well as the insurance coverage issues that commonly arise in premises liability claims.

Aviation
Michele represents major airlines and a host of other entities in the aviation field, including fixed-base operators, third-party airport operators and airline contractors in a myriad of claims in the aviation field. She has defended aircraft crash cases involving claims of pilot error, defective components and negligent maintenance. Michele’s aviation practice also includes handling personal injury, wrongful death, property damage and civil rights claims within the aviation field, as well as complex indemnity and insurance coverage issues that often arise in aviation litigation.

Transportation
In addition to her experience in Aviation, Michele defends individual and carrier clients in a variety of automotive and transportation matters, including emergency response and catastrophic personal injury matters.

Professional Liability
Michele represents professionals such as attorneys, insurance brokers, agents, broker-dealers and registered representatives in malpractice suits and regulatory actions in state and federal courts as well as before state regulatory entities.

Insurance Coverage
Michele has represented major insurers and other clients in both state and federal courts in a wide range of claims and disputes, including bad faith insurance claims and declaratory judgment actions. Michele provides coverage analysis concerning aviation, errors and omissions, professional and general liability and personal and commercial auto policies.

Employment & Labor
Michele represents employers before administrative agencies and in state and federal court, defending claims of discrimination and sexual harassment, retaliation, and wage-and-hour disputes. She advises clients regarding the management of employment and labor issues and policies, conducts internal investigations, and assists with enforcement of non-compete agreements. 

Representative Matters

Professional Liability

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of workers’ compensation attorney in a negligence claim based on an alleged failure to identify and bring a third-party action on behalf of injured employee.

Successfully defended a family law practitioner in federal court who served as a guardian for an elderly resident of a nursing home and who was accused of improperly obtaining a guardianship, false imprisonment and conversion. Obtained jury verdict in our favor on all counts.

Obtained dismissal of legal malpractice claim concerning settlement of underlying Catholic priest abuse case.

Aviation

Obtained dismissal of passenger’s federal action concerning alleged wrongful exclusion from a commercial flight.

Represented airport contractor in multi-party wrongful death action.

Advised international air carrier on emergency response procedures, contracts of carriage, operating agreements and vendor contracts.

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