On the Pulse…Our Wilmington, Delaware Office

Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 3, September 2019

By Kevin J. Connors, Esq.*

Marshall Dennehey opened its Delaware office in 1995 as a natural forum for expansion of its multi-faceted defense practice. Delaware, the home of many Fortune 100 and 500 companies, is widely viewed by many organizations as having the best courts in the nation. It has provided our attorneys with a wide range of opportunities to serve national, regional and local clients. Our Delaware lawyers are fortunate to be able to work in a state which embraces and encourages a spirit of civility in litigation and transaction matters, and camaraderie within the Bar. Attorneys and judges interact in and out of the courtroom. Our attorneys participate actively in the various Inns of Court and the well-attended annual Bench and Bar Conference in June of each year. We are members of national and local defense groups, including Defense Counsel of Delaware, Delaware Claims Association and Defense Research Institute. We routinely serve as panel members in seminars on Delaware and national law with members of the Delaware judiciary and fellow Bar members.

Since I opened the Delaware office almost 25 years ago, it has expanded to a roster of 20 attorneys who are assisted by 7 paralegals and 16 administrative and support co-workers. This office is now the largest law firm in Delaware devoted chiefly to civil defense litigation.

Our Wilmington office is located in the iconic Nemours Building, one of the DuPont Company’s original buildings in downtown Wilmington. The Nemours Building at 1007 N. Orange Street is just five blocks from the federal courthouse for the United State District Court for the District of Delaware and seven blocks from the New Castle County courthouse. In recent years, Wilmington has seen increasing commercial and residential activity, both downtown and along the Christina River waterfront, which is home to the Delaware Blue Rocks minor league baseball team and the Riverfront Convention Center.

Our attorneys practice in each of Delaware’s three counties: New Castle in the north where Wilmington, the state’s largest city, is located; Kent in mid-state, where Dover, our state capital, is located; and Sussex in the south where Georgetown, the county seat, is located. All of Delaware’s county courthouses are new or recently renovated, and they allow our attorneys and clients to litigate in courtrooms with up-to-date technology.

Our Delaware attorneys practice at the state court level in the Supreme Court of Delaware, Chancery Court, Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, Justice of the Peace Courts, before the Department of Labor, the Industrial Accident Board in Wilmington and Milford, and other Boards and Commissions with specific jurisdiction. We also litigate in the United State District Court for the District of Delaware and appear before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Out-of-state counsel are required to associate with Delaware attorneys. Thus, we are regularly called upon to assist as local counsel in these courts.

Our office has four general departments: Casualty, Health Care, Professional Liability and Workers’ Compensation, each of which has multiple sub-practice areas. I serve as the Wilmington office managing shareholder and oversee the four departments. A former law clerk for the Supreme Court of Delaware, I have almost 40 years of defense litigation practice with significant experience in product liability, toxic tort and class action litigation. Until recently, I served as chair of the Delaware Casualty Department, a position now assumed by Sarah Cole, Esquire, of our office.

The largest practice in the Delaware office is the Casualty Department. In addition to Sarah Cole and me, shareholders Armand Della Porta, Tom Gerard, Tracy Burleigh and Joshua Scheets count many years of experience defending construction casualty, premises liability, automobile, first-party benefits and lemon law cases. Shareholder Douglas Walsh’s practice is devoted to the defense of Delaware’s public transit agency. Armand Della Porta has significant experience in the defense of asbestos cases, and he is assisted in that practice area by special counsel Ana McCann and associate Jessica Tyler. Associate Lisa Grubb is the latest addition to the department and possesses a wealth of experience in all facets of automobile litigation.

Special counsel Art Aranilla handles professional liability cases. His experience encompasses multiple professional disciplines, including architects/engineers, zoning, construction defect, legal malpractice and real estate cases.

The office’s Health Care Department is supervised by shareholder Bradley Goewert, who has over 30 years of litigation experience in medical malpractice defense in Delaware, Florida and Pennsylvania. Fellow shareholders Lorenza Wolhar and Thomas Marcoz, both of whom possess nursing degrees, add substantial medical knowledge to our medical malpractice defense team. Associate Catherine Cramer is the newest member of the health care group. Together, the Delaware Health Care Department has amassed an impressive string of defense verdicts.

The office’s Workers’ Compensation Practice Group, one of the largest in the state, is led by shareholder Jessica Julian. Jessica and fellow shareholders Paul Tatlow, Linda Wilson, and Keri Morris-Johnston and associate Benjamin Durstein defend both insureds and self-insureds before the Industrial Accident Board and handle appeals in our appellate courts. They routinely and regularly volunteer to provide seminars to Delaware attorneys, employers, clients and workers’ compensation claims professionals on issues affecting the workers’ compensation area. Keri Morris-Johnston also has an extensive practice in employment law.

Like our colleagues in the firm’s other offices, we understand that responsive service fosters a strong partnership with our clients. We manage our cases to achieve dismissals or favored outcomes in every instance. We try cases when they should and must be tried, and we resolve cases when they should and must be resolved. We strive to follow our clients’ guidelines, and we work hard to keep litigation expenses down while concurrently strictly minding our clients’ best interests and mounting a vigorous defense of their causes.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that our attorneys serve on a number of boards and volunteer in areas within the Delaware Bar and in the general community. We understand that our responsibilities are first and foremost to our clients, but we also strive to serve the Delaware Bar and the community.

The Wilmington office stands ready to assist in all aspects of defense litigation and non-litigation counsel. We understand the nuances of Delaware’s unique Bar, and we have a wealth of litigation experience and legal knowledge to provide our clients with the highest level of professional representation. We welcome the opportunity to serve and work with you in the future.

*Kevin is a shareholder and the managing attorney for our Wilmington, Delaware office. He can be reached at 302-552-4302 or kjconnors@mdwcg.com.



Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 3, September 2019. Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1. © 2019 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints, contact tamontemuro@mdwcg.com.