The Elements for the Claim of Bailment

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of  Bailment are:

  1. On [DATE], Plaintiff was a patron of Defendants’ business [NAME OF BUSINESS];
  2. On [DATE], Plaintiff placed [DESCRIBE PROPERTY] (the “Property”) in Defendants’ exclusive possession or control;
  3. On [DATE], Defendants [FOR HIRE OR GRATUITOUSLY] accepted exclusive control of Plaintiff’s Property;
  4. Defendants agreed to keep the Property for Plaintiff and was entrusted with care and custody of the Property;
  5. Plaintiff and Defendants created a bailment when Plaintiff placed [ITS/HIS/HER] valuable Property with Defendants;
  6. Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty to return the Property to Plaintiff without damage or loss;
  7. Defendants breached their duty to Plaintiff;
  8. Plaintiff has suffered damages; and
  9. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages.

The Elements for the Claim of Attractive Nuisance

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of Attractive Nuisance are:

  1. Defendants owned or were in lawful possession of real property known as [ADDRESS] (the “Property”);
  2. Defendants knew that young children are likely to trespass on the Property;
  3. Defendants knew or should have known the condition of the Property involves unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to trespassing children;
  4. Trespassing children, because of their youth, do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling in the condition or in coming within the area made dangerous by the condition;
  5. The utility of maintaining the condition to Defendants and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared to the risk to young children;
  6. Defendants failed to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children;
  7. Plaintiff has suffered damages; and
  8. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages.

The Elements for the Claim of Animal Trespass

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of Animal Trespass are:

  1. Defendants owned a [NON-HOUSEHOLD PET ANIMAL] described as _________ (the “Animal”);
  2. Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty to control the Animal;
  3. On or about [DATE], the Animal trespassed on Plaintiff’s property, causing damage (the “Trespass”);
  4. The Trespass was reasonably foreseeable;
  5. Defendants breached their duty of due care by failing to control the Animal;
  6. Plaintiff has suffered damages; and
  7. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages.

The Elements for the Claim of Civil Responsibility for Wild Animal Attack

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of Civil Responsibility for Wild Animal Attack are:

  1. At all times relevant hereto, Defendants owned a [LION, BEAR, SNAKE, ETC;] described as __________________________________ (the “Wild Animal”);
  2. Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty to control the Wild Animal;
  3. Defendants negligently failed to control the Wild Animal;
  4. On or about [DATE], the Wild Animal attacked Plaintiff, causing personal injury (the “Attack”);
  5. Defendants are strictly liable for injuries caused by the Wild Animal;
  6. Plaintiff has suffered damages;
  7. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages; and
  8. [ALTERNATIVE] Plaintiff is entitled to an award of punitive damages.

The Elements for the Claim of Civil Responsibility for Animal Attack

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of Civil Responsibility for Animal Attack are:

  1. At all times relevant hereto, Defendants owned a [DOG, CAT, SNAKE, ETC;] described as __________________________________ (the “Animal”);
  2. On or about [DATE], the Animal attacked Plaintiff, causing personal injury (the “Attack”);
  3. Defendants were aware of the Animal’s dangerous disposition;
  4. [ALTERNATIVE] Defendants were aware that the Animal was behaving in an irregular or dangerous manner but neglected to take action or prevent the Attack;
  5. [ALTERNATIVE] Defendants’ actions led the Animal to Attack Plaintiff;
  6. [ALTERNATIVE] Defendants witnessed Animal Attack Plaintiff and failed to try to prevent or stop the Animal from attacking Plaintiff;
  7. [ALTERNATIVE] The Animal is a vicious dog that continued to act menacingly after being classified as “dangerous” or has previously caused substantial bodily harm or death to a person;
  8. [ALTERNATIVE] The Animal has behaved menacingly toward people on at least two occasions in the 18 months prior to the Attack without having been provoked by pain or torment, and while the Animal was either off-leash or “at large”;
  9. [ALTERNATIVE] The Animal has previously bitten someone, and the owner was aware of this fact;
  10. [ALTERNATIVE] The Animal has been classified by animal control as a “dangerous” or “vicious” animal;
  11. [ALTERNATIVE] Defendants were in violation of a law regarding Animal ownership;
  12. Defendants owed Plaintiff a duty to control the Animal;
  13. At all times relevant hereto, Defendants negligently failed to control the Animal;
  14. Plaintiff has suffered damages;
  15. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages; and
  16. [ALTERNATIVE] Plaintiff is entitled to an award of punitive damages.

The Elements for the Claim of Abuse of Control

In Nevada, the elements for the claim of Abuse of Control are:

  1. Defendants are officers and/or directors of [CORPORATE NAME] (the “Company”);
  2. Defendants are fiduciaries to the Company;
  3. Defendants breached their fiduciary duty to the Company;
  4. Defendants engaged in misconduct in their capacity as officers and/or directors of the Company as alleged hereinabove;
  5. Defendants’ conduct constituted an abuse of their ability to control and influence the Company, for which they are legally responsible;
  6. Damages;
  7. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of punitive damages; and
  8. Plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs as damages.

What are Expectation Damages in Nevada?

Expectation damages award the plaintiff the difference between the value of the benefit reasonably expected as a result of the defendant’s agreed performance and the value she actually received (a.k.a., benefit of the bargain damages).  The plaintiff is basically put into the position he or she would have been in had the defendant fully performed.  Dalton Props., Inc. v. Jones, 683 P.2d 30, 31 (Nev. 1984).

What are Restitutionary Damages in Nevada?

Restitutionary Damages

The general goal of contract damages is to provide compensation for the injured party based on the injured party’s expectation interest.[1]  More specifically, it gives the injured party the “benefit of his bargain by awarding him a sum of money that will, to the extent possible, put him in as good a position as he would have been in had the contract been performed,” and no better.[2]

Restitutionary damages restore to the plaintiff the goods he or she provided the defendant, the fair market value of the services he or she rendered for the benefit of the defendant, or otherwise require the defendant to disgorge any benefit received on account of the contract, in order to prevent the defendant’s unjust enrichment. An award of restitutionary damages puts the plaintiff in the position he or she would have been in had the defendant never come along.

[1] 3 D. Dobbs, Law of Remedies § 12.2(1) at 22 (2d ed., 1993); Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 347 (1981).

[2] See Colo. Env., Inc. v. Valley Grading Corp., 105 Nev. 464, 470; 779 P.2d 80, 84 (1989); Dalton Prop., Inc. v. Jones, 100 Nev. 422, 424, 683 P.2d 30, 31 (1984); Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 347 cmt. a. (1981).

What is the Market Value Measure of Damages in Nevada?

Generally, the market value measure of damages “allows the … victim to recover the market value of the very performance he should have had, less the contract price.”[1]  “[T]he measure of damage is the difference between the contract price and the market price of the goods at the time and place when the contract should have been performed.”[2]  Nevada has applied the market value measure to contracts involving the sale of real estate and the sale of goods.[3]

[1] Id.

[2] Turner Lumber Co. v. Tonopah Lumber Co., 38 Nev. 338, 339, 153 P. 254, 255 (1915).

[3] See generally Turner Lumber Co., 38 Nev. 338; J.J. Indus., LLC v. Bennett, 119 Nev. 269, 71 P.3d 1264 (2003); Regent Int’l v. Lear, 103 Nev. 33, 732 P.2d 861 (1987); Harris v. Shell Dev. Corp., 95 Nev. 348, 594 P.2d 731 (1979).

What are Special Damages in Nevada?

Unlike general damages, special or consequential damages are not based on the value of the promised performance, but on the “benefits [the performance] can produce or the losses that may be caused by [the performance’s] absence.”[1]  Special damages are those that do not flow from breach of the contract.[2]

For a more in-depth treatment of the subject, see this excellent article.


[1] See Dobbs, § 12.2(3) at 40.

[2] Diaz Irizarry v. Ennia, N.V., 678 F. Supp. 957, 959 (D. P.R. 1988).


What Are General Damages in Nevada?

General damages have been described as the “present value of the thing promised,” or the “value of the very performance contracted for.”[1]  Nevada has formulated a very broad definition of general damages, including damages which ordinarily flow from a breach.  In Bradley,[2] the Court held that even a small loss of profit is considered a general damage where the loss is a “direct and natural result which the law will presume to follow from the breach of contract.”[3]  The Supreme Court of Nevada also held in Eaton v. J.H. Inc.[4] that lost profits are generally an appropriate measure of damages where a party is prevented from performing according to the full terms of the contract.[5]

[1] Id.

[2] Bradley, 179 P. at 909

[3] Id.

[4] Eaton v. J.H. Inc., 94 Nev. 446, 581 P.2d 14 (1978).

[5] Id. at 450.

Is an Unsigned Contract Enforceable?

As with many questions in the law, the answer to this inquiry is “it depends.” “The essential elements of a valid contract include offer, acceptance, and bargained for consideration.”[1]  The creation of a contract requires that two parties mutually assent to the same bargain at the same time-an assent which is usually in the form of an offeree’s acceptance of a definite and certain offer by the offeror.[2]

Courts have identified several factors to consider when determining whether an agreement is binding:  “(1) whether there has been an express reservation of the right not to be bound in the absence of a writing; (2) whether there has been partial performance of the contract; (3) whether all of the terms of the alleged contract have been agreed upon; and (4) whether the agreement at issue is the type of contract that is usually committed to writing.”[3]  The construction of a contract is a question of law, not fact.[4]

One way of determining whether the parties have reached such an agreement is that they reduce that agreement to an executed writing.  It is well established that even where a party does not sign a contract, however, its terms may still be binding based on the party’s conduct.[5]  Assent or mutuality can be shown by the fact that the parties accepted the writing as a binding contract and acted on it as such, even though it was not signed.[6]  In Vaughan v. Rehab One, Inc.,[7] a defendant allowed the plaintiff to work for the company for several months without a signed employment agreement.  The Court held that plaintiff’s conduct ratified the employment agreement, even though it was not signed.[8]

The execution of a formalized written agreement is not necessarily essential to the formation of a contract that is made orally: “[I]f the respective parties orally agreed upon all of the terms and conditions of a proposed written agreement with the mutual intention that the oral agreement should thereupon become binding, the mere fact that a formal written agreement to the same effect has not yet been signed does not alter the binding validity of the oral agreement.”[9]

The determination whether an unsigned contract is enforceable is determined on the facts before the court.  Best practices obviously dictate entering into a written, executed contract to help ensure enforceability.

[1] D’Angelo v. Gardner, 819 P.2d 206 (Nev.1991).

[2] In re Mapes Enterprises, Inc., 15 B.R. 192, 194–95 (Bankr. D. Nev. 1981) (citing Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 1, (1979).

[3] Winston v. Mediafare Enter’t Corp., 777 F.2d 78 (2d. Cir. 1985).

[4] Fed. Ins. Co. v. Coast Converters, 130 Nev. 960, 965, 339 P.3d 1281, 1284 (2014) (quoting Galardi v. Naples Polaris, L.L.C., 129 Nev. ––––, ––––, 301 P.3d 364, 366 (2013) (quoting Ellison v. Cal. State Auto. Ass’n, 106 Nev. 601, 603, 797 P.2d 975, 977 (1990)); see also Farmers Ins. Exch. v. Neal, 119 Nev. 62, 64, 64 P.3d 472, 473 (2003) (noting that the task of interpreting a contract is a question of law)).

[5] Welsh v. Barnes-Duluth Shipbuilding Co., 221 Minn. 37, 43, 21 N.W.2d 43, 46 (1945).

[6] Id.

[7] 1994 WL 91198 (Minn. App.,1994.) (unreported).

[8] Id.

[9] Banner Entertainment, Inc. v. Superior Court, 62Cal.App.4th 348, 358, 72 Cal.Rptr.2d 598 (1988) (internal citation omitted).

Disqualification of an Attorney to Prevent Disclosure of Confidential Information

The Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct generally govern the issue of attorney disqualification.[1]  In United States v. Walker River Irrigation Dist., the court recited the standards applied in considering attorney disqualification motions.  The court correctly suggests:

Disqualification is a “drastic measure which courts should hesitate to impose except when absolutely necessary[,]” Freeman v. Chicago Musical Instrument Co., 689 F.2d 715, 721-22 (7th Cir. 1982), because it takes away one party’s ability to choose his own representation, and it is often a tactic used to create delay or harassment, Miller v. Alagna, 138 F.Supp.2d 1252, 1258-59 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Motions to disqualify are therefore subject to strict judicial scrutiny, Optyl Eyewear Fashion Intern. Corp. v. Style Companies, Ltd., 760 F.2d 1045, 1050 (9th Cir. 1985), and courts have wide discretion in their rulings to further the interests of fairness to all parties, Int’l Bus. Mach. Corp. v. Levin, 579 F.2d 271,279 (3d Cir. 1978).[2]

Tribunals “have broad discretion in determining whether disqualification is required in a particular case.”[3] However, in deciding disqualification based on possible disclosure of confidential information obtained from a former client, a court must: (1) make a factual determination concerning the scope of the former representation; (2) evaluate whether it is reasonable to infer that the confidential information allegedly given would have been given to a lawyer representing a client in those matters; and (3) determine whether that information is relevant to the issues raised in the present litigation.[4]

The court must make a Robbins v. Gillock, “realistic appraisal of whether confidences might have been disclosed that will be harmful to the client in the latter matter”.[5]   The court must make a factual finding regarding what actually happened.[6]

Rule 1.9(a) of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which the person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing. The party seeking disqualification must establish three elements under Rule 1.9(a): (1) that it had an attorney-client relationship with the lawyer, (2) that the former matter and the current matter are substantially related, and (3) that the current representation is adverse to the party seeking disqualification.[7]

Under Nevada law, mere similarity or superficial resemblance between prior and present representation (even had there been a representation) is insufficient to justify disqualification of an attorney; rather, the focus is properly on the precise relationship between the present and former representation.[8]  Further, the burden of proving that two matters are the same or substantially related falls upon the movant.[9]

[1] See In re County of Los Angeles, 223 F. 3d 990, 995 (9th Cir. 2000); United States v. Walker River Irrigation Dist., Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2006 WL 618823 (D. Nev. 2006); In-N-Out Burger v. In & Out Tire & Auto, Inc., 2008 WL 2937294 (D. Nev. 2008).

[2] U.S. v. Walker River Irrigation Disk, 2006 WL 618823, *3 (emphasis added).

[3] Brown v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court ex rel. County of Clark, 116 Nev. 1200, 1205, 14 P.3d 1266, 1269 (Nev. 2000) (citing Robbins v. Gillock, 109 Nev. 1015, 1018, 862 P.2d 1195, 1197 (1993)).

[4] Waid v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 119 P.3d 1219, 121 Nev. 605 (2005); Coles v. Arizona Charlie’s, 973 F. Supp. 971 (1997).

[5] 109 Nev. 1015, 862 P.2d 1195 (1993).

[6] Waid v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 119 P.3d 1219, 121 Nev. 605 (2005); Coles v. Arizona Charlie’s, 973 F. Supp. 971 (1997).

[7] Nevada Yellow Cab Corp. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court ex rel. County of Clark., 123 Nev. 44, 50, 152 P.3d 737 (2007).

[8] Waid, 119 P.3d 1219, 121 Nev. 605 (2005); Coles v. Arizona Charlie’s, 973 F. Supp. 971 (1997).

[9] Coles, 973 F.Supp. 971.

Are Nevada Common Law Trade Secret Claims “Displaced” by the Uniform Trade Secret Act?

A majority of courts have held that all common law claims which might otherwise be made against an employee who uses his employer’s confidential information are abrogated when the legislature enacts the Uniform Trade Secret Act.  Nevada has codified both the Nevada Uniform Trade Secret Act (“NUTSA”), and the idea that common law claims are displaced, in NRS 600A.090:

1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, this chapter displaces conflicting tort, restitutionary, and other law of this state providing civil remedies for misappropriation of a trade secret.

2. This chapter does not affect:

(a)        Contractual remedies, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret;

(b)        Other civil remedies that are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret; or

(c)       Except as otherwise provided in NRS 600A.035, criminal sanctions, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret.

(Emphasis added).  By its very language, then, common law torts “conflict” with the statute and are therefore displaced by it.  The Nevada Supreme Court has held that this statutory language is plain and unambiguous.[1]

A Question of Statutory Interpretation?

All questions of statutory construction must start with the language of the statute itself.[2]  In other words, the Court must begin its inquiry with the statute’s plain language.[3]  The Court may not look beyond the statute’s language if it is clear and unambiguous on its face.[4]  Stated another way, in circumstances where the statute’s language is plain, there is no room for constructive gymnastics, and the court is not permitted to search for meaning beyond the statute itself.[5]

NRS 600A.090 is Unambiguous. Or is it?

Courts must not render any part of the statute meaningless, and must not read the statute’s language so as to produce absurd or unreasonable results.[6]  They must consider “the policy and spirit of the law and will seek to avoid an interpretation that leads to an absurd result.”[7]  In fact, “The meaning of words used in a statute may be sought by examining the context and by considering the reason or spirit of the law or the causes which induced the legislature to enact it.  The entire subject matter and the policy of the law may also be involved to aid in its interpretation, and it should always be construed so as to avoid absurd results.”[8]  Finally, the Courts must conform their decisions to reason and the public policy behind the statute.[9]

The Nevada Supreme Court considered the application of NRS 600A.090 sua sponte in Frantz v. Johnson.  The court said ‘[t]he plain language of NRS 600A.090 precludes a plaintiff from bringing a tort or restitutionary action ‘based upon’ misappropriation of a trade secret beyond that provided by the UTSA.”[10]  As the court determined, the statute contains plain language; a court may not look past the “plain” language on the face of the statute.  That plain language shows that common law claims are in “conflict” with the statute and are therefore displaced, or abrogated, by the statutory scheme.

Courts must enforce the statute as written, displacing all common law torts to the extent they are based on the same nexus of facts.  To displace means to “crowd out” or “to take the place of.”[11]  The UTSA was written to “codify all the various common law remedies for theft of ideas,”[12] not to add one more remedy on top of already existing common law remedies.  In fact, the weight of authority among courts that have considered preemption, consider its “history, purpose, and interpretation of the statutory scheme” to preclude the ability to simultaneously maintain common law torts and an UTSA claim based on the same facts.[13]

Allowing a common law claim for unauthorized use of trade secrets alongside a NUTSA claim would “undermine the uniformity and clarity that motivated the creation and passage of the [UTSA].”[14]  In fact, the entire purpose of preemption is to preserve a single tort action for any and all misappropriation of trade secrets as defined under the NUTSA, thus eliminating all other tort causes of action founded on that misappropriation even if that use does not rise to the level sufficient to qualify for a NUTSA claim.[15]  NUTSA created a system in which information is either a protected trade secret covered by NUTSA, or it is unprotected general knowledge.[16]  Therefore, a majority of courts agree that common law claims are preempted when they are based solely on or to the extent they are based on alleged misappropriated trade secrets.[17]

In an unpublished opinion, the Supreme Court stated, the “statute explicitly provides that it does not affect other civil remedies that are not based on misappropriation.”[18]  Other Courts, including the U.S. District Court for Nevada,[19] have held that common law claims may be tried simultaneously with a NUTSA claim under Rule 8’s alternative pleading allowance.[20]  The court reasoned, “[e]ven if any of the above claims are duplicative of the misappropriation of trade secret claims and therefore preempted by the Nevada Unfair (sic) Trade Secrets Act, eTrippid is entitled to plead the claims in the alternative under Rule 8.”[21]

The Frantz Court calls those common law claims “explicitly excluded by the statute, as they all relate[] to a misappropriation of a trade secret.”[22]  While the Frantz court did allow for the possibility that a common law claim might be brought in the same suit, it only recognized that was possible where the facts “do not depend on the information at issue being deemed a trade secret, and thus are not precluded by the UTSA.”[23]

[1] Frantz v. Johnson, 116 Nev. 455, 464-65, 999 P.2d 352, 357 (2000) (emphasis added).  The U.S. District Court for Nevada has expressly followed this holding in Menalco v. Buchan, 2010 WL 428911 (D. Nev. 2010); Montgomery v. eTreppid Tech., LLC, 2008 WL 942524 (D. Nev. 2008); Custom Teleconnect, Inc. v. Int’l Tele-Services, Inc., 254 F.Supp.2d 1173 (D. Nev. 2003).

[2] See 2A Norman J. Singer & J.D. Shambie Singer, Statutes and Statutory Construction § 47:1, at 274–75 (7th ed. 2007) (“The starting point in statutory construction is to read and examine the text of the act and draw inferences concerning the meaning from its composition and structure.” (footnote omitted)) – as quoted by In re Nevada State Eng’r Ruling No. 5823, 128 Nev. Adv. Op. 22, __ P.3d __, 2012 WL 1949859, May 31, 2012 (2012).

[3] Arguello v. Sunset Station, Inc., 127 Nev. ___, 252 P.3d 206, 209 (2011).

[4] See Washoe Med. Ctr. v. Second Jud. Dist. Ct. ex rel. Washoe, 122 Nev. 1298, 1302, 148 P.3d 790, 792-793 (2006).  See also Valdez v. Emp’rs Ins. Co. of Nev., 123 Nev. 170, 162 P.3d 148 (2007);  Hobbs v. Nev., 127 Nev. Adv. Op. 18, 251 P.3d 177, 179 (2011); Pro-Max Corp. v. Feenstra, 117 Nev. 90, 95, 16 P.3d 1074, 1078 (2001).

[5] See Pro-Max Corp. v. Feenstra, 117 Nev. 90, 95, 16 P.3d 1074 1078 (2001).

[6] Leven v. Frye, 123 Nev. 399, 405, 168 P.3d 712, 716 (2007).

[7] Id. (quoting CityPlan Dev. v. State Labor Comm’r, 121 Nev. 419, 435, 117 P.3d 182, 192 (2005)).

[8] Welfare Division of State Dept. of Health, Welfare and Rehabilitation v. Washoe County Welfare Dept., 88 Nev. 635, 637 (1972); Ex parte Siebenhauer, 14 Nev. 365, 368 (1879); Western Pacific R.R. v. State, 69 Nev. 66, 69 (1952).

[9] Great Basin Water Network v. State Eng’r, 126 Nev. ___, ___, 234 P.3d 912, 918 (2010).

[10] 116 Nev. 455, 464-65, 999 P.2d 352, 357 (2000) (emphasis added).  The U.S. District Court for Nevada has expressly followed this holding in Menalco v. Buchan, 2010 WL 428911 (D. Nev. 2010); Montgomery v. eTreppid Tech., LLC, 2008 WL 942524 (D. Nev. 2008); Custom Teleconnect, Inc. v. Int’l Tele-Services, Inc., 254 F.Supp.2d 1173 (D. Nev. 2003).

[11] Black’s Law Dictionary, 423 (5th ed. 1979).

[12] Thomas & Betts Corp. v. Panduit Corp., 108 F.Supp.2d 968, 971 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (quotation omitted).

[13] Mortgage Specialists, Inc. v. Davey, 153 N.H. 764, 766, 904 A.2d 652, 663 (2006).  Since this is a “uniform” act, case law from sister jurisdictions should be considered as persuasive authority to the extent they are interpreting the same section.

[14] Id.; quoting Burbank Grease Serv., LLC v. Sokolowski, 278 Wis.2d 698, 693 N.W.2d 89 (Ct. App. 2005).

[15] Id.; Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entm’t, Inc., 782 F.Supp.2d 911 (C.D. Cal. 2011); see also Miami Valley Mobile Health Srvc., Inc. v. Examone Worldwide, Inc., 2012 WL 441148 *13 (S.D. Ohio 2012).

[16] Id. quoting Unikel, Bridging the “Trade Secret” Gap: “Confidential Information” not Rising to the Level of Trade Secrets, 29 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 841, 867-68 (1998).

[17] Id. 904 A.2d at 665 (citations omitted).

[18] Allegiant Air, LLC v. AAMG Mktg. Grp., LLC, No. 64182, 2015 WL 6709144, at *2 (Nev. Oct. 29, 2015).

[19] Montgomery v. eTreppid Tech., LLC, 2008 WL 942524 *3 (D. Nev. 2008).

[20] Newmark Grp., Inc. v. Avison Young (Canada) Inc., No. 215CV00531RFBGWF, 2019 WL 575476, at *10 (D. Nev. Jan. 7, 2019), report and recommendation adopted sub nom. BGC Partners, Inc. v. Avison Young (Canada), Inc., No. 215CV00531RFBGWF, 2019 WL 570724 (D. Nev. Feb. 11, 2019) (“Given the clear conflict among other jurisdictions and some indication in Frantz that the Nevada Supreme Court may adopt the plain language interpretation, however, Plaintiffs should be permitted to allege noncontractual claims for misappropriation of confidential information that does not constitute a trade secret.”)

[21] Id.

[22] 116 Nev. at 65, 999 P.2d at 357-58.

[23] Id., n.3.

What is Trade Name Dilution in Nevada?

Under Nevada law “the owner of a mark that is famous in this State may bring an action to enjoin commercial use of the mark by a person if such use: (a) Begins after the mark has become famous; and (b) Causes dilution of the mark.”  NRS 600.435See also Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 903 (9th Cir. 2002) (“Whereas trademark law targets interference with the source signaling function of trademarks, dilution protects owners from an appropriation of or free riding on the substantial investment that they have made in their marks.”).

Motion for a New Trial Under Rule 59

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 governs motions for a new trial, as well as motions to alter or amend a judgment in certain cases where summary judgment has been granted.[1]  Although not granted except with a showing of “highly unusual circumstances,”[2] the Ninth Circuit has listed grounds for amending or altering a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e): (1) to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the judgment rests; (2) to present newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) to prevent manifest injustice; and (4) if the amendment is justified by an intervening change in controlling law.[3]  A district court, however, “has considerable discretion when considering a motion to amend a judgment under Rule 59(e).”[4]

[1] Fed.R.Civ.P. 59; see School Dist. No. 1J v. AC&S, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1262 (9th Cir.1993), cert. denied, 512 U.S. 1236 (1994) (as cited by Olin Corp. v. Cont’l Cas. Co., 2:10-CV-00623-GMN, 2013 WL 6837799 (D. Nev. Dec. 23, 2013)).

[2] Carroll v. Nakatini, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039, 1044 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc)). (“a Rule 59(e) motion should not be granted absent “highly unusual circumstances, unless the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law.”)

[3]  Olin, 2013 WL 6837799 (citing Allstate Ins. Co. v. Herron, 634 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2011)).

[4] Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

Relief From Final Judgment Under Rule 60

Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a standard by which the Court might reconsider its Order.  This rule, governing relief from a judgment or order, provides in part:

(b) Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;

(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);

(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;

(4) the judgment is void;

(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or

(6) any other reason that justifies relief.[1]

The Ninth Circuit has distilled the grounds for reconsideration into three primary categories: (1) newly discovered evidence; (2) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice; and (3) an intervening change in controlling law.[2]  This Nevada District Court has recognized the same factors, while articulating a four-part test: “(1) the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the judgment is based; (2) the moving party presents newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) the motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) there is an intervening change in controlling law.”[3]

[1] Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).

[2] School Dist. No. 1J v. AC&S, Inc., 5 F.3d at 1263 (as cited by Centeno v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 2:11-CV-02105-GMN, 2013 WL 2558262 (D. Nev. June 8, 2013), appeal dismissed (Nov. 7, 2013)).

[3] Turner v. High Desert State Prison, 2:13-CV-01752-GMN, 2014 WL 321070 (D. Nev. Jan. 29, 2014) (citing Turner v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2003).


Force Majeure Clauses and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The term “force majeure” translates literally from French as superior force.[1] Black’s Law Dictionary defines force majeure as “[a]n event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled.”[2]  In the law, it is the term for a contract provision that allocates the risk of specified events including natural and man-made events.  If that unlikely event occurs, the impacted party is excused from performance. [3] The events can include acts of God, floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., war, terrorism, government orders, embargoes, organized labor strikes, etc.

A force majeure clause relieves a party from performing contractual obligations when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal, or impossible.[4]  While the economic recession in 2008 was found not to be a force majeure event,[5] government orders to shut down non-essential businesses in favor of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic may constitute force majeure.

As is so often the case in the law, the answer will depend on the language in your contract.  If your contract does not have a force majeure clause, you have not bargained for its protection, and the argument will be much harder to make.  If you do have the language in your contract, a judge will have to determine whether this event fits the parameters you bargained for and wrote in your contract.  Nevada courts have held that when a party makes a contract and reduces it to writing, he must abide by its terms as plainly stated therein.[6]  If the clause is clear and unambiguous, the court must construe it from the language therein.[7]

Please contact one of our attorneys to review your contract if it contains a force majeure clause.  You may be excused from performance.


[1], accessed March 19, 2020.

[2], accessed March 19, 2020.

[3] One World Trade Ctr., LLC v. Cantor Fitzgerald Sec., 789 N.Y.S.2d 652, 655 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2004).

[4], accessed March 19, 2020.

[5] See Elavon, Inc. v. Wachovia Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 841 F. Supp. 2d 1298 (N.D. Ga. 2011).

[6] See Chiquita Mining Co. V. Fairbanks, Morse & Co., 60 Nev. 142, 104 P.2d 191 (1940); Ellison v. California State Auto Ass’n, 106 Nev. 601, 797 P.2d 975 (1990).

[7] Southern Trust Mortg. Co. v. K&B Door Co., Inc., 104 Nev. 564, 763 P.2d 353 (1988).

Commercial Business Litigation Causes of Action

While not exhaustive, the following is a list of possible claims/remedies that you may consider making in your commercial litigation matters, linked to the elements for each claim.

Abuse of Process
Account Stated
Accounting, a Remedy
Anticipatory Repudiation
Appointment Of A Receiver
Breach of Contract
Breach of Duty of Loyalty
Breach of Express Warranty
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Breach of Fiduciary Duty; Aiding and Abetting Another’s
Breach of Fiduciary Duty; Breach of the Duty of Loyalty; Usurpation of Corporate Opportunity; the Corporate Opportunity Doctrine
Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability
Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability
Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Contract
Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Tort
Breach of the Covenant Not To Compete; Anti-Competition Covenant; Restrictive Covenant
Breach of Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose
Civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
Conversion (Theft)
Declaratory Relief
Defamation; Business Disparagement
Defamation by Libel
Defamation by Slander
False Advertising; Lanham Act Violation; Unfair Competition
False Designation of Origin, Description, and Dilution; Lanham Act Violation; Unfair Competition
False Light, Disclosure of; Invasion of Privacy
Fraud (Intentional Misrepresentation)
Fraud; Promise Without Intent To Perform
Fraud, Constructive
Fraud In The Inducement
Fraudulent Concealment
Fraudulent Transfer
Interference With Contractual Relations
Interference With Prospective Economic Advantage or Prospective Contractual Relationship
Malicious Prosecution
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets; Uniform Trade Secrets Act Violation; NRS Chapter 600A
Prima Facie Tort
Promissory Estoppel; Equitable Estoppel
Quantum Meruit; Quasi Contract; Unjust Enrichment
Receiver, Appointment of
Trademark Infringement

Elements of the Claim of Prima Facie Tort

The elements of the prima facie tort are:

  1. an intentional, otherwise lawful act by the defendant;
  2. an intent to injure the plaintiff;
  3. injury to the plaintiff;
  4. action does not give rise to any other recognized tort;
  5. absence of justification, or insufficient justification for the defendant’s actions;
  6. causation; and
  7. damages.

Checklist: Move for the Admission of Evidence

Jay Young, top business lawyer

  1. Present the court with competent witness (witness has the mental capacity, and the ability to perceive, remember, and testify in an understandable manner)
  2. The witness must testify from his or her personal knowledge
  3. Mark the desired Exhibit with the clerk. “Your Honor, may I have permission to approach the Clerk for the purpose of marking this document as proposed Exhibit 12?”
  4. Provide a copy to opposing counsel (unless pre-marked and agreed to, which you should always attempt) “Your Honor, may the record reflect that I am handing a copy of proposed Exhibit 12 to Defense Counsel?”
  5. Ask for permission to approach the witness, “Your Honor, may I approach the witness?”
  6. Record the fact that the witness has the proposed exhibit, “Your honor, may the record reflect that I have handed the witness what has been marked as Exhibit 12 for identification purposes?”;
  7. Have the witness identify the document
    • “Do you recognize Exhibit 12?”
    • “What is it?”
    • “Is that your signature on the 4th page of Exhibit 12?
  8. Ask the court to admit the evidence.  “Your honor, we move for the admission of Exhibit 12 into evidence”
  9. Now that the document has been admitted, seek relevant testimony about the document.  “Now, turning to the second paragraph on page one of Exhibit 12, why did . . . ”

Does it meet the test?

  1. Competent witness (FRE 602; NRS 50.025)
  2. Relevant evidence (FRE 401; NRS 48.015): tendency to make a fact more or less probable
  3. Admissible evidence (FRE 402; NRS 48.025): personal knowledge and the witness saw, felt, touched, or experienced it
  4. Tested for hearsay? (FRE 801-805; NRS 51.045-51.096)
  5. Authentication (FRE 901/902; NRS 52.015-52.165)

When Does a Nevada Complaint Need to be Verified?

There are few circumstances in which the law requires that a party must file a complaint under oath.  The requirement is called “verification.”  NRS 15.010 requires that where verification is required, a pleading shall contain “the affidavit of the party shall state that the same is true of the party’s own knowledge, except as to the matters which are therein stated on the party’s information and belief, and as to those matters that the party believes it to be true.”  The affidavit may be in substantially the following form and need not be subscribed before a notary public:

Under penalties of perjury, the undersigned declares that he or she is the ………………………….. (plaintiff, defendant) named in the foregoing ………………………….. (complaint, answer) and knows the contents thereof; that the pleading is true of his or her own knowledge, except as to those matters stated on information and belief, and that as to such matters he or she believes it to be true.

NRS 15.010(5).

The law requires a verified complaint in the following circumstances:

  1. A derivative action by a shareholder against a corporate entity.  NRCP 23.1
  2. A petition to perpetuate testimony prior to filing a suit.  NRCP 27(a)(1)
  3. A petition for an ex parte temporary restraining order.  NRCP 65(b)(1)
  4. Petition for eminent domain, or public taking.  NRS 37.060
  5. Complaint for adverse possession.  NRS 40.090
  6. Quiet Title.  NRS 40.090; 40.091
  7. Eviction.  NRS 40.370
  8. Petition to establish the termination of a life estate.  NRS 40.515
  9. Petition for the termination of the interest of a deceased person in real property.  NRS 40.525
  10. Compromise the claim of a minor.  NRS 41.200
  11. Petition to determine and establish facts relative to vital statistics.  NRS 41.220
  12. Petition for a name change.  NRS 41.270
  13. Emancipation of a minor.  NRS 41.295
  14. Complaint by shareholder against corporation or association to enforce secondary rights.  NRS 41.520
  15. Divorce.  NRS 125.020
  16. Expedited relief for unlawful removal or exclusion of tenant from premises.  NRS 118A.390

What is a Motion in Limine?

Litigator's Guide to Nevada Evidentiary ObjectionsA motion in limine (Latin: [ɪn ˈliːmɪˌne]; “at the start”, literally, “on the threshold”) is a motion filed for the purpose of making an evidentiary decision outside the presence of the jury and before trial begins.  There are generally two types of motions in limine in a civil setting.  The first is to procure a definitive ruling on the admissibility of certain evidence, often on the basis that the evidence is prejudicial, irrelevant, or otherwise inadmissible.  Born v. Eisenman, 114 Nev.  854, 962 P.2d 1227 (1998).  The second is a prophylactic Motion that seeks to prevent counsel for the other party from mentioning inadmissible evidence or limiting the use of the evidence.  NRS 47.080.

The use of a motion in limine is not specifically authorized by  NRCP, but it is authorized by EDCR 2.47 after counsel has made a good faith effort to “meet and confer” and resolve the matter prior to filing the motion.  Further, the Nevada Supreme Court approved the practice in State ex. Rel. Dept. of Highways v. Nevada Aggregates & Asphalt Co., 92 Nev. 370, 551 P.2d 1095 (1976).  Trial judges are authorized to rule on motions in limine pursuant to their inherent authority to manage trials. See Luce v. U.S., 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984) (citing Fed. R. Evid. 103(c) (providing that trial should be conducted so as to “prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to the jury by any means”)) (as cited by  Demaree, Lindsay and Hostetler, Jennifer K.,  Making the Most of Motions In Limine, COMMUNIQUÉ (April 2014, Vol. 35, No. 4).

Consider filing a motion in limine to exclude certain testimony or witness, to exclude evidence, publicity, obtain approval of demonstrative exhibits, PowerPoint presentations, to declare a witness unavailable, and to determine which portions of testimony are to be read to the jury, etc.  

Nevada Supreme Court Strikes Down Statute Requiring “Special Authorization” for Arbitration Provision in Contract

Top Las Vegag Arbitrator

The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which has been the law in the United States since 1925, preempts any state law that disfavors the ability of two parties to contractually bind themselves to arbitrate a dispute.  Since 2013, Nevada law has required that any contract containing an arbitration provision must include a “specific authorization for the provision which indicates that the person has affirmatively agreed to the provision”.  Not surprisingly, the Nevada Supreme Court recently held that the Nevada law is preempted by the FAA.  (For an overview of the FAA, see this post)

MMAWC (then doing business as the World Series of Fighting) and its affiliates (collectively “MMAWC”), together with the Zion Wood Obi Wan Trust and its affiliates (collectively “Zion Wood”), were involved in litigation that resolved by negotiated settlement agreement.  That settlement agreement incorporated and restated portions of two other agreements, including a requirement that any dispute between the parties be resolved by litigation.  Zion Wood alleged that MMAWC breached the settlement agreement and sued.  MMAWC, LLC v. Zion Wood Obiu Wan Trust, 135 Nev. Adv. Op. 38, __ P.3d __ (Sep. 5, 2019).

MMAWC filed a motion to dismiss the suit and to compel arbitration pursuant to the incorporated arbitration clause.  The Honorable Nancy L. Allf denied the motion on the basis that the arbitration clause failed to include the “specific authorization” required by NRS 597.995 and was therefore unenforceable.  MMAWC appealed.

In coming to its decision, the Nevada Supreme Court relied heavily on Doctor’s Associates, Inc. v. Casarotto, 517 U.S. 681, 683, 687, 116 S.Ct. 1652, 134 L.Ed.2d 902 (1996), which explained “that under the FAA. courts may not ‘invalidate arbitration agreements under state laws applicable only to arbitration provisions,’ as Congress has ‘precluded [s]tates from singling out arbitration provisions for suspect status’ and requires arbitration provisions to be placed on ‘the same footing as other contracts.’”  The Court concluded that NRS 597.995 similarly imposes a special requirement on arbitration clauses that is not applicable to other contracts, “it singles out arbitration provisions as suspect and violates the FAA.”  The Court therefore held the FAA preempts NRS 597.995.

For some history on this statute, see Is Your Arbitration Agreement Enforceable in Nevada? and Is Your Arbitration Agreement Void, or Enforceable in Nevada?

Jay Young Publishes 3rd Edition of Popular Nevada State Court Litigation Checklist

Jay Young has published the third edition of his popular Nevada State Court Litigation Checklist.  The third edition not only reflects recent changes to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, but also includes a new chapter on Alternative Dispute Resolution, as well as the elements of hundreds of causes of action, defenses, and remedies. The book contains over 275 pages of helpful practice hints for new and seasoned attorneys alike.  Many claim that Young’s Checklist belongs in every litigator’s library.  A sneak peak at its contents is included below.


Some praise for the checklist includes:

“An essential guide to state court practice for the newly admitted Nevada lawyer, and insight of traps-for-the-unwary for all other lawyers, Jay Young’s new checklist for state court litigation goes beyond expectations by offering helpful examples of the documents a lawyer needs to create the client relationship through the conclusion of a litigation matter,”

Von Heinz, Esq.

“Jay Young’s Litigation Checklist is an invaluable tool for any litigator. What might otherwise take a careful practitioner many years of trial and error to learn and master, Jay has managed to simplify in an easy-to- understand “soup to nuts” checklist. Not only does this checklist significantly shorten the learning curve for young litigators, it will also help even experienced lawyers avoid costly mistakes. This ideal combination of practical and technical advice will tremendously aid litigation partners in training associates. Jay’s checklist will be a must-read for the litigators in our firm.”

Nicholas Santoro, Esq.

“Mr. Young’s Guide to Nevada Rules of Evidence; Guide to Nevada Evidentiary Objections; and Nevada State Court Litigation Check List are geared specifically to Nevada practitioners and are useful books to anyone who is litigating or trying cases in Nevada state courts, I would recommend that anyone who is trying cases in Nevada state courts have these materials in his library.”

Steven M. Burris, Esq.

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Impossibility of Performance

Impossibility of performance is a defense to breach of contract or excuse of non-performance for events that occur after a contract is entered into.  Mere unexpected difficulty, expense, or hardship involved in the performance of a contract does not excuse performance.  Where the difficulty or obstacle does not make performance objectively impossible, and the personal inability of a promisor to perform (frequently designated as subjective impossibility, being impossibility which is personal to the promisor and does not inhere in the nature of the act to be performed) does not excuse nonperformance of the contractual obligation.  84 A.L.R.2d 12, Modern Status of the Rules Regarding Impossibility of Performance as Defense in Action for Breach of Contract (2005).

In Nebaco, Inc. v. Riverview Realty Co., the Nevada Supreme Court determined that one who contracts to render a performance for which government approval is required, assumed duty of obtaining such approval and risk of its refusal is on him.  87 Nev. 55, 57-58, 482 P.2d 305, 307.  Nebaco sought to set aside its obligations under a lease executed with Riverview Realty on the ground that performance became impossible because improvement contingent upon approval by a bank authority was denied.  The lease specified that Nebaco would have a period of time to obtain interim or long-term financing for the improvements.  If Nebaco failed to terminate the lease prior to the deadline or when it obtained financing the lease termination option expired.  The Court concluded that termination of the lease rested upon the inability to obtain the required permission of the banking authority, not upon failure to obtain financing.  The doctrine of impossibility becomes unavailable because the contingency which arose should have been foreseen.

Generally, the defense of impossibility of performance is available to promisor where his performance is made impossible or highly impractical by occurrence of unforeseen contingencies, but if the unforeseen contingency is one which the promisor should have foreseen, and for which he should have provided, the defense is unavailable to him.  Id. at 57.  Although, the Court did qualify that if the foreseeable consequence is provided for in the contract, its occurrence does provide an excuse for non-performance.  Id. at 57 (citing Williston on Contracts sec. 1968 (1938)).  The distinction here involved the fact that the lease specified financing as a contingency and not approval by the banking authority.  Id. at 57.

Impossibility is a doctrine of contract interpretation. W.R. Grace and Co. v. Local Union 759, Intern. Union of United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers of America, 103 S.Ct. 2177 (1983).  Foreseeability of impossibility of performance is generally a relevant but not dispositive factor in determining applicability of impossibility defense.  There is no reason to look further when risk was foreseen to be more than minimally likely, goes to the central purpose of the contract, and can easily be allocated in different manner had parties chosen to do so. U.S. v. Winstar Corp., 116 S.Ct. 2432 (1996).

Official Form 3. Consent to Service by Electronic Means Under Rule 5


The undersigned party hereby consents to service of documents by electronic means as designated below in accordance with Rule 5(b)(2)(E) of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure.

Party name(s):



Documents served by electronic means must be transmitted to the following person(s):



Facsimile transmission to the following facsimile number(s):



Electronic mail to the following email address(es):



Attachments to email must be in the following format(s):



Other electronic means (specify how the documents must be transmitted)





The undersigned party also acknowledges that this consent does not require service by the specified means unless the serving party elects to serve by that means.

Dated this __________ day of _______________, 20_____.


                                                                                         Attorney for Consenting Party

                                                                                                  or Consenting Party

                                                                      Address:  __________________________

                                                                      Telephone:  ________________________

                                                                      Fax number:  ________________________

                                                                      Email address:  ______________________

      [Added; effective March 1, 2019.]

Mediation and Overconfidence Bias

According to Russell Korobkin, “Psychological Impediments to Mediation Success,” 21 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resolution 281, 287 (2006), 80% of professional truckers believe they are safer than average and 94% of college professors think they are above average.
Lawyers and litigants tend to suffer from the same fate–having overconfidence in their likelihood of success.  In fact, 44% of attorneys who were asked in one study to predict outcomes at trial were overconfident in their prediction of their success.  Goodman-Delahunty, “Insightful or Wishful: Lawyers’ Ability to Predict Case Outcomes,” 16 Psych., Pub. Policy & Law 133 (2010).  Most of my attorney friends who just read that statistic are thinking, “I would be one of the 79% who predicted my success correctly.”[1]

The Randall Kiser Study, released in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, found that parties who reject the last and best offer at mediation overwhelmingly regret the decision.  The study surveyed thousands of cases in California and New York over a five-year period.  It found that plaintiffs who rejected the last settlement offer and proceeded to trial do worse a whopping 61% of the time, while defendants did worse than their last offer 24% of the time.  In only 15% of the cases did both sides obtain a better result at trial.

All is not good news for defendants, however.  Although they seem to do better at predicting outcomes, the 24% of the time they are wrong ends up being much more costly to them.  Defendants who fail to do better than the Plaintiff’s last demand, ended up with a verdict that was on average $1.1 Million more than the Plaintiff’s last demand.  On the other hand, plaintiffs received on average $43,000 less than the last offer given before trial.

Mediators assist often entrenched parties who each have a greater belief in the value of their position than they ought to have, to reach a middle position. The uncertainty of a litigated outcome alone justifies considering alternatives to a litigated result.  Every experienced and honest litigator can point to cases they won when they didn’t think they had a chance winning.  They can also point to times when if there was any justice, they would have won, but lost.  There simply is no way to accurately predict with certainty the outcome of a litigated case whether decided by a judge, a jury, or an arbitrator.

Some studies suggest that 95% or more of lawsuits settle rather than go to trial.  Assuming that is true, your case seems destined to settle; therefore, why not resolve it now rather than later?  Doing so may save time, aggravation, stress, and money.  That said, mediation will not be an easy process.  At times, you may feel uncomfortable, pressured, and perhaps even emotional.  If the process were easy, the parties wouldn’t need a mediator’s assistance to settle the matter.  A mediated result gives you certainty without the risk of litigation.

[1] Attorneys are also not known to be terribly good at math.

8th Judicial District Court’s Administrative Order 19-03 Brings EDCR Into Alignment With the Amended NRCP

Eighth Judicial District Court Rules are amended to comply with 2019 Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure

Chief Judge Linda Marie Bell issued Administrative Order 19-03 on behalf of the Eighth Judicial District Court on March 12, 2019.   It suspends many Eighth Judicial District Court Rules which are in conflict with the amended NRCP.  The purpose of the order is stated:

[f]or the benefit of the bar and to ease confusion until the EJDC amends its local rules to conform to the amended NRCP, NRAP, and NEFCR, the EJDC finds it necessary to suspend or modify certain District Court Rules.  Additionally, to the extent any other rule of the Eighth Judicial District Court conflicts with the revised NRCP, NRAP, and NEFCR, the NRCP, NRAP, and NEFCR control.  

The Order alters the rules as follows until the EDCR can be amended (the stricken language below is suspended by the Order):

Rule 1.14.  Time; judicial days; service by mail.

Continue reading 8th Judicial District Court’s Administrative Order 19-03 Brings EDCR Into Alignment With the Amended NRCP

Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure; Rule 62.1

Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 62.1. Indicative Ruling on a Motion for Relief That Is Barred by a Pending Appeal

(a)    Relief Pending Appeal. If a timely motion is made for relief that the court lacks authority to grant because of an appeal that has been docketed and is pending, the court may:

(1)     defer considering the motion;

(2)     deny the motion; or

(3)    state either that it would grant the motion if the appellate court remands for that purpose or that the motion raises a substantial issue.

(b)    Notice to the Appellate Court. The movant must promptly notify the clerk of the supreme court under NRAP 12A if the district court states that it would grant the motion or that the motion raises a substantial issue.

(c)    Remand. The district court may decide the motion if the appellate court remands for that purpose.

Advisory Committee Note—2019 Amendment

This new rule is modeled on FRCP 62.1 and works in conjunction with new NRAP 12A. Like its federal counterpart, Rule 62.1 does not attempt to define the circumstances in which a pending appeal limits or defeats the district court’s authority to act. See FRCP 62.1 advisory committee’s note (2009 amendment). Rather, these rules provide the procedure to follow when a party seeks relief in the district court from an order or judgment that the district court has lost jurisdiction over due to a pending appeal of the order or judgment, consistent with Huneycutt v. Huneycutt, 94 Nev. 79, 575 P.2d 585 (1978), and its progeny.

Sample Joint Defense Agreement

For a word copy of this Sample Joint Defense Agreement, click here


            This Joint Defense (the “Agreement”) is made and entered into as of {DATE} by and among the undersigned counsel, for themselves and on behalf of their respective clients {LIST PARTIES} (each individually a “Party,” and collectively, “Parties”).


            WHEREAS, the Parties have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by {PLAINTIFF NAME} entitled {CAPTION}, which was initially filed on {DATE}, in the {COURT NAME} (the “Lawsuit”).

            WHEREAS, for purposes of this Agreement, the term “Counsel” means and includes any attorney representing any Party, including in-house attorneys, any and all paralegals, law clerks, and any outside vendors of the Parties’ respective outside counsel acting at the direction of outside counsel, and any other persons expressly agreed to in writing by the Parties.  The term “Outside Counsel” means and includes any attorney representing any Party at an outside law firm, as well as paralegals and law clerks working for such attorneys.  The term “Joint Defense Group” means and includes the Parties and Counsel. Continue reading Sample Joint Defense Agreement

Explaining Nevada’s Statute of Frauds

The statute of frauds has its roots in an English law from 1677 called an Act for Prevention of Frauds and Perjuries.  It declares that certain types of contracts encourage either fraud or perjury and the state should therefore refuse to recognize that they are enforceable unless they are in writing.

For example, if Bill owed money to Sam, they could together claim that Sally agreed to pay Bill’s debt.  Both Sam and Bill might be encouraged to commit perjury in that circumstance, lying in order for Bill’s debt to be paid and for Sam to receive the money.  Poor Sally, who might know nothing of the debt, might be forced to pay Bill’s debt.  Since that type of arrangement encourages perjury, the statute of frauds requires that the agreement be in writing. Continue reading Explaining Nevada’s Statute of Frauds

U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Arbitrators, Not Courts, Decide Arbitrability

Jay Young, Top Nevada Arbitrator and Mediator

In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), “when the parties’ contract delegates the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, a court may not override the contract even if the court thinks that the arbitrability claim is wholly groundless.”  The decision in Henry Shein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., issued January 8, 2019, addresses a split among the six circuit courts which have heard similar matters and vacates the decision of the Fifth Circuit which held that when a court determines that the request to have the matter arbitrated is “wholly groundless,” the court may deny a motion to allow an arbitrator to determine whether a matter is subject to arbitration.

Continue reading U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Arbitrators, Not Courts, Decide Arbitrability

The Changes Coming to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure: an Overview

     The Nevada Supreme Court calls its changes to the 2019 Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (“NRCP”) “exhaustive.”  Although the changes do not take effect until March 1, 2019, since they are so comprehensive, a complete read would be advisable for all practitioners.  The amended rules (with the committee’s explanatory notes) are available in this post; a red-lined PDF version can be found here.  The amendments largely bring our rules into alignment with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”), while retaining some Nevada-centric practices.  Those familiar with the FRCP may find the version of NRCP red-lined against FRCP a most helpful document.  The changes are too many to summarize here, but I have noted some which may impact civil practice the most regularly.  They are presented in numerical order.  For a table of the new deadlines and due dates, here.

Rule 4.1 Waiver of Service:

Rule 4.1 incorporates the federal waiver of service rule, and without FRCP 4(d)(2)’s penalty provision.  I’m uncertain what the rule committee intended, but the lack of penalty would seem to result in a defendant merely taking the full 30 days to delay the matter, refuse to waive service, and force the plaintiff to serve the old fashioned way, costing time and money.  I have reached out a member of the committee to get a better understanding of the intention and how practitioners can comply with Rule 4.1(a)(1)(4), which requires that the notice contain a discussion of the consequences of failing to waive service.  See the Official Form here.

[1.28.19 EDIT]On 1.25.19, the Supreme Court issued an amendment to ADKT 522 which addresses this concerns and adds the federal-style penalties into the rule.  The amendment also alters the official form.  A copy of the Order can be found here.

Continue reading The Changes Coming to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure: an Overview

Model Nevada Affirmative Defenses

Sample Nevada Affirmative Defenses*

* Not all defenses are appropriate for all matters or in all jurisdictions.  You should seek the advice of competent counsel in your jurisdiction before claiming any defense, as you may be responsible for the attorneys fees of your opponent if a claimed defense has no merit.  See Rule 11.


NRCP 8(c)(1).     In responding to a pleading, a party must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense, including: accord and satisfaction; arbitration and award; assumption of risk; contributory negligence; discharge in bankruptcy; duress; estoppel; failure of consideration; fraud; illegality; injury by fellow servant; laches; license; payment; release; res judicata; statute of frauds; statute of limitations; and waiver.

Continue reading Model Nevada Affirmative Defenses

Writ Petition for Denial of Motion to Dismiss in Nevada

The Supreme Court will entertain writ petitions in the context of a denial of a motion to dismiss when (1) no factual dispute exists and the district court is obligated to dismiss an action pursuant to clear authority under a statute or rule; or (2) an important issue of law needs clarification and considerations of sound judicial economy and administration militate in favor of granting the petition.  Beazer Homes Nev., Inc. v. Dist. Ct., 120 Nev. 575, 97 P.3d 1132 (2004).

An NRCP 12(b)(5) motion to dismiss shall be reviewed as a summary judgment where the district court treated it as a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment by entertaining matters outside the pleadings.  NRCP 12(b).

This Court reviews the denial of dismissal in these circumstance as though it were an order denying summary judgment.  Witherow v. State Bd. of Parole Comm’rs, 123 Nev. 305, 308, 167 P.3d 408, 409 (2007) (citing Coblentz v. Union Welfare Fund, 112 Nev. 1161, 1167, 925 P.2d 496, 499 (1996)) (granting of motion to dismiss where matters outside the pleadings were considered will be reviewed as granting a motion for summary judgment).

Orders granting or denying summary judgment are reviewed de novo.  Wood v. Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724, 729, 121 P.3d 1026, 1029 (2005). Therefore, as the Order was issued after consideration of matters outside the pleadings, it should be reviewed de novo.

Although reviewing denial of a motion to dismiss with summary judgment treatment is available to petitioners, this Court reserves its discretion to cases in where there is “no question of fact, and in which a clear question of law, dispositive of the suit, [is] presented for our review.”  Poulos v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of State of Nev. In & For Clark Cnty., 98 Nev. 453, 455, 652 P.2d 1177, 1178 (1982) (citing Bottorff v. O’Donnell, 96 Nev. 606, 614 P.2d 7 (1980)).

Writs of Mandamus and Prohibition in Nevada

Pursuant to Article 6, Section 4 of the Nevada Constitution: “[t]he court shall also have power to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and habeas corpus and also all writs necessary or proper to the complete exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.” NRS 34.160 provides that “[t]he writ [of mandamus] may be issued by the Supreme Court … to compel the performance of an act which the law especially enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station …” For more than a century, the Supreme Court has interpreted Nevada’s constitutional and statutory law to vest original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court to issue writs of mandamus.  See State v. Dist. Ct., 116 Nev. 127, 994 P.2d 692 (2000) (citing State ex rel. Curtis v. McCollough, 3 Nev. 202 (1867)).  Thus, the court has the constitutional and statutory authority to issue a writ of mandamus when, in the court’s discretion, circumstances warrant.

A writ of mandamus is available to compel the performance of an act which the law requires as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, or to control a manifest abuse of discretion.  See Beazer Homes, Nev., Inc. v. Dist. Ct., 120 Nev. 575, 97 P.3d 1132, 1135 (2004); NRS 34.160.)  An abuse of discretion occurs if the district court’s decision is arbitrary and capricious or if it exceeds the bounds of law or reason.  Crawford v. State, 121 P.3d 582, 585 (Nev. 2005) (citation omitted). “Abuse of discretion” is defined as the failure to exercise a sound, reasonable, and legal discretion.  State v. Draper, 27 P.2d 39, 50 (Utah 1933) (citations omitted).  “Abuse of discretion” is a strict legal term indicating that the appellate court is of the opinion that there was a commission of an error of law by the trial court.  Id.  It does not imply intentional wrongdoing or bad faith, or misconduct, nor any reflection on the judge but refers to the clearly erroneous conclusion and judgment – one that is clearly against logic.  Id. Continue reading Writs of Mandamus and Prohibition in Nevada

Rule 12(f) Motion to Strike Complaint

Rule 12(f) provides that a court “may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). “[M]otions to strike should not be granted unless it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation.” Colaprico v. Sun Microsys., Inc., 758 F. Supp. 1335, 1339 (N.D. Cal. 1991).

“Courts will not grant motions to strike unless ‘convinced that there are no questions of fact, that any questions of law are clear and not in dispute, and that under no set of circumstances could the claim or defense succeed.’”  Novick v. UNUM Life Ins. Co. of America, 570 F.Supp.2d 1207, 1208 (C.D. Cal. 2008) (quoting RDF Media Ltd. v. Fox Broad. Co., 372 F. Supp. 2d 556, 561 (C.D. Cal. 2005)).  “When ruling on a motion to strike, this Court ‘must view the pleading under attack in the light most favorable to the pleader.” Id. (citing RDF Media Ltd., 372 F. Supp. 2d at 561).  “Motions to strike apply only to pleadings, and courts are unwilling to construe the rule broadly and refuse to strike motions, briefs, objections, affidavits, or exhibits attached thereto.” Foley v. Pont, No. 11cv1769-ECR-VCF, 2013 WL 782856, at *4 (D. Nev. Mar. 1, 2013); Caldwell v. Smith, No. 94-3066-CO, 1995 WL 555080, at *1 (D. Or. Sept. 1, 1995) (denying motion to strike since motion to dismiss is not a pleading). Continue reading Rule 12(f) Motion to Strike Complaint

Nevada Law Defines Superseding Intervening Cause

The law in Nevada has consistently held that a superseding intervening cause is an interfering act that overcomes the original culpable act, and where the intervening act is an unforeseeable, independent, non-concurrent cause of the injury. Thomas v. Bokelman, 86 Nev. 10, 13, 462 P.2d 1020, 1022 (1970) (a negligence action will not stand when there is an intervening cause that in and of itself is “the natural and logical cause of the harm.”).  In effect, the intervening cause must break the chain of causation.

In the case of Milwaukee and St. Paul Ry. Co. v. Kellogg, 94 U.S. 469, 24 L. Ed. 256, Mr. Justice Strong, speaking for the supreme Court of the United States, said:  “In the nature of things, there is in every transaction a succession of events more or less dependent upon those preceding, and it is the province of a jury to look at this succession of events or facts and ascertain whether they are naturally and probably connected with each other by a continuous sequence or are dissevered by new and independent agencies, and this must be determined in view of the circumstances existing at the time.”

Konig v. C.C.O. Ry., 36 Nev 181, 212, 135 P. 141, (1913).

Complying with the Meet and Confer Requirement in Nevada Discovery Disputes

Nevada law requires that counsel, before filing a motion regarding a discovery dispute, meet and confer in an attempt to resolve the matter without court intervention.  This article discusses the requirements of that obligation, together with the mechanics of how the parties must be prove compliance with the requirement to the court.

The Eighth Judicial Court Rule (“EDCR”) 2.34 provides, in relevant part:

(d) Discovery motions may not be filed unless an affidavit of moving counsel is attached thereto setting forth that after a discovery dispute conference or a good faith effort to confer, counsel have been unable to resolve the matter satisfactorily. A conference requires either a personal or telephone conference between or among counsel. Moving counsel must set forth in the affidavit what attempts to resolve the discovery dispute were made, what was resolved and what was not resolved, and the reasons therefor. If a personal or telephone conference was not possible, the affidavit shall set forth the reasons.

Continue reading Complying with the Meet and Confer Requirement in Nevada Discovery Disputes

Can the Confidential Documents of a Non-Party be Subpoenaed?

If you have documents which require that you hold them in confidence, but receive a subpoena requiring the disclosure of those documents, can you withhold the documents?  In this situation, non-parties served with a subpoena can file a timely objection and ask the court to quash or modify the subpoena to protect them from disclosing privileged or protected matter, trade secrets or confidential commercial information.  See Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(3); see also United States v. Fed’n of Physicians & Dentists, Inc., 63 F. Supp. 2d 475, 479 (D. Del. 1999).

A confidentiality requirement alone is generally not sufficient to warrant a protective order. “[P]rivate confidentiality agreements do not preclude the production of documents for the purpose of discovery.”  In re C.R. Bard, Inc. Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation, 287 F.R.D 377, 384 (S.D. W.Va. 2012) (citing Zoom Imaging, L.P. v. St. Luke’s Hosp. and Health Network, 513 F.Supp.2d 411, 417 (E.D.Pa.2007); Niester v. Moore, No. 08–5160, 2009 WL 2179356, at *3 (E.D.Pa. July 22, 2009)). Continue reading Can the Confidential Documents of a Non-Party be Subpoenaed?

Rule 45 Requires That a Party Imposing an Undue Financial Burden on a Third Party Must Reimburse its Costs

Rule 45 provides that “[a] party or attorney responsible for issuing and serving a subpoena must take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(1).  Discoverable information from a non-party is construed more narrowly, and is weighed against the potential prejudice to the non-party.  See Laxalt v. McClatchy, 116 F.R.D. 455, 458 (D.Nev.1986) (“The standards for non-party discovery … require a stronger showing of relevance than for simple party discovery.”); Litton Indus., Inc. v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co., 129 F.R.D. 528, 529-30 (E. D. Wis. 1990) (providing that “records of non-party shipbuilder concerning ship construction” were germane to establishing ship construction costs for damage purposes and would not prejudice the producing non-party; however, the other vast categories of  documents sought regarding business operations were not discoverable from the non-party).  The rules require that the courts be sensitive to the costs imposed on third parties, protecting them against significant cost.  Watts v. S.E.C., 482 F.3d 501, 509, 375 U.S.App.D.C. 409, 417 (D.C. Cir. 2007). Continue reading Rule 45 Requires That a Party Imposing an Undue Financial Burden on a Third Party Must Reimburse its Costs

Abuse of Process Claim Requires an Allegation of Abusive Acts After the Filing of a Claim

An abuse of process claim in Nevada has two fundamental elements: (1) an ulterior purpose, and (2) a willful act in the use of the process not proper in the regular conduct of a proceeding.  Executive Mgmt. Ltd. v. Ticor Title Ins. Co., 114 Nev. 823, 843, 963 P.2d 465, 478 (1998).  The action for abuse of process hinges on the misuse of regularly-issued process.  Nevada Credit Rating Bureau, Inc. v. Williams, 88 Nev. 601, 606, 503 P.2d 9 (1972).

The mere filing of a complaint itself is insufficient to establish the tort of abuse of process.  Hampton v. Nustar Managment Financial Group, Dist. Court, (D. Nev. 2007); Laxalt v. McClatchy, 622 F. Supp. 737, 752 (D. Nev. 1985).  Instead, the complaining party must include some allegation of abusive measures taken after the filing of the complaint in order to state a claim.  Id.  Merely alleging that an opposing party has a malicious motive in commencing a lawsuit does not give rise to a cause of action for abuse of process.  Id.; Curiano v. Suozzi, 469 N.E.2d 1324, 1326 (N.Y. 1984). Continue reading Abuse of Process Claim Requires an Allegation of Abusive Acts After the Filing of a Claim

Practice Pointer: How to use an Adverse Witness to Help Your Case

Besides obtaining information from an adverse witness regarding the events which are the subject of the suit, you should also try understand how this witness will attack your claims.  Finally, you should attempt to do what you can to turn the witness into a witness for your case.  There is certain information you can get from each witness that allows you to attack the witness at trial.   Explore lines of questioning designed to elicit the following:

  1. What information must the witness admit?
  2. What information shows bias or impeaches the witness’ credibility?
  3. On what items may the witness’ testimony be limited (didn’t hear or see or experience X, Y, and Z)?
  4. Where is the witness weak?
  5. What does the witness know that agrees with your case?

Nevada Standards of Review on Appeal

A Digest

Abuse of Discretion

In General

“An abuse of discretion is a plain error, discretion exercised to an end not justified by the evidence, a judgment that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts as are found.”  Rabkin v. Oregon Health Sciences Univ., 350 F.3d 967, 977 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); In re Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., 642 F.3d 685, 698 n.11 (9th Cir. 2011).

Under the abuse of discretion standard, a reviewing court cannot reverse absent a definite and firm conviction that the district court committed a clear error of judgment in the conclusion it reached upon a weighing of relevant factors.  McCollough v. Johnson, Rodenburg & Lauinger, LLC, 637 F.3d 939, 953 (9th Cir. 2011); Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 599 F.3d 984, 988 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing SEC v. Coldicutt, 258 F.3d 939, 941 (9th Cir. 2001)); Harman v. Apfel, 211 F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting reversal under abuse of discretion standard is possible only “when the appellate court is convinced firmly that the reviewed decision lies beyond the pale of reasonable justification under the circumstances”). Continue reading Nevada Standards of Review on Appeal

Readiness Checklist for Mediation: Eight Things You Should Discuss With Your Client Before Mediation

 Readiness Checklist for Mediation:

Eight Things You Should Discuss With Your Client Before Mediation

The Mediation Process

  • For a printer-friendly version of this checklist, click here
  • What is mediation and how is it different from court or arbitration?
  • Why should the client consider mediation?
  • What is the mediator’s role?
  • What is the client’s role in mediation?
  • Who may attend the mediation?
  • Confidentiality in mediation
  • Discuss joint and separate sessions (also called caucuses)
  • Discuss whether an apology to or from a party might be appropriate
  • Discuss whether the client will speak directly with the mediator and/or the other party
  • Discuss whether an opening presentation at mediation is desirable or appropriate
  • Are there desirable non-monetary solutions, such as future business or payment in-kind?

Continue reading Readiness Checklist for Mediation: Eight Things You Should Discuss With Your Client Before Mediation

Can an Arbitrator be Removed During the Pendency of an Arbitration?

What do you do if you feel that the arbitrator appointed to hear your dispute isn’t providing a fair and impartial atmosphere in which your matter can be heard?  Can you challenge the Arbitrator before he or she makes the final decision in the matter?  What cause is sufficient to have an arbitrator removed?  As is the case with so many questions in the law, the answer is: it depends.  For the most part, parties to an arbitration who feel there is cause to remove an arbitrator are better off if it is a proceeding under the rules of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) or JAMS than if it a proceeding governed under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) or the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (“RUAA”). Continue reading Can an Arbitrator be Removed During the Pendency of an Arbitration?