Andrew M. Morse

Shareholder

Andrew Morse is the President of SCM, serves on the firm’s Executive Committee, and its SnowTrial™ Consulting team.  He also leads the firm’s Transportation Practice Group.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.  He focuses on the defense – in state and federal trial and appeals courts – of government entities, trucking companies and healthcare providers.

Andrew defends governments and their employees – especially police departments and officers – against complaints involving deprivation of civil rights.  He created and led the bipartisan working group that drafted the Reenacted 2004 Governmental Immunity Act, which clarified this law following a Utah Supreme Court case that had restricted governmental immunity.

In addition, Andrew defends businesses in the transportation industry (including the nation’s largest trucking company) against personal injury lawsuits involving their drivers and vehicles.  He also defends prominent Utah healthcare providers and facilities against claims of medical malpractice.

Andrew is a highly experienced trial lawyer who concentrates his practice on particularly high-risk lawsuits that wind up in court.  For 30 years, he has meticulously studied courtroom practices and adapted what works in order to further the cases of his clients.  He has made a fine study of jury selection and witness preparation, which he not only applies to his active cases, but also draws on for his trial consulting services work through SnowTrial™ Consulting.

Andrew also handles a select number of personal injury cases and is uniquely experienced, and called upon, to represent clients in cases involving catastrophic brain injury.

For 15 years now, Andrew has been an active member and current co-chair of the Utah State Bar’s Committee on Character & Fitness. The committee screens all candidates for the Utah bar in determining their fitness to serve.  He also serves on the Admissions Committee, which oversees the Utah State bar exam.

Education

  • J.D., Vermont Law School, 1984
  • B.S., University of Vermont, Political Science, 1977

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Utah State Bar
  • Wyoming State Bar
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court, District of Utah
  • U.S. District Court, District of Wyoming
  • Speaker, The Loss of Consortium Claim and Defending It, Utah Association for Justice Brain Injury Conference, February 2018
  • Speaker, The Reptile Theory at Trial, The Harmonie Group, Vancouver, September 2017
  • Speaker, Implicit Bias in the Courtroom (panel discussion), S.J. Quinney College of Law, May 2017
  • Speaker, The Reptile Theory at Trial, The Harmonie Group, Boston, May 2017
  • Speaker, Benefit of using trial prep consulting services for significant cases, Utah State Bar Summer Convention, July 2016
  • Speaker, Brady v. Maryland: Criminal Procedural Rights and Civil Causes of Action, Lorman Education Services, 2015
  • Speaker, Meth and a Death: The Anantomy of a Trial, American Board of Trial Advocates, Utah Chapter, February 2015
  • Author, The New Respect for George Sutherland, Utah Bar Journal, Sept/Oct. 2012
  • Author, Name Federal Courthouse for George Sutherland, Salt Lake Tribune, Op. Ed., July 15, 2012
  • Author, Gallegos ex rel Rynes v. Dick Simon Trucking – Using Annuity Cost to Prove Present Value of Future Damages, Utah Bar Journal, April 2006
  • Author, Spoliation of Evidence: A Trap for the Unwary, Fidelity and Surety Law Committee Magazine, Spring 2002
*Peer review Rated Lawyer of AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5.* *AV® Preeminent™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Cost of annuity determines present value of trucking-accident long-term care costs. A loaded semi-trailer truck was going too fast around a corner on a Utah mountain highway.  It tipped over and slammed into a car – killing a mother and a six-year-old, and inflicting serious brain injuries requiring a lifetime of care on an eight-year-old.  Liability was admitted by Andrew’s client, the trucking company.  Based on the driver’s record of five prior accidents, representatives of the injured child sought punitive damages – but this claim was dismissed on summary judgment.  After a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict for $16.4 million.  We appealed on the basis that evidence excluded by the trial court should have been admitted.  The Utah Court of Appeals agreed, reversing the decision and calling for a new trial.  The trial court held that evidence of the cost of a single premium lifetime annuity could be used to prove the present value of long-term care costs.  The case settled for $13 million.

When life is threatened, children can be treated against the will of their parents. A child in Utah was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue.  When the child’s parents refused to treat him, the State of Utah brought medical neglect proceedings against them in Juvenile Court – which ordered the treatment.  The parents left the State with their son.  The State dropped the case.  Then, the plaintiffs sued the State-employed pediatric oncologists who had sought the order for deprivation of their civil rights.  Andrew represented the oncologists in this matter.  After lengthy discovery, summary judgment was granted.  When the plaintiffs appealed, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court affirmed the decision and sent the case back to the State court, where it was dismissed once again on a summary judgment that was affirmed by the Utah Supreme Court.  These important cases established that, in life-threatening cases, the State of Utah has the duty and power to use the Juvenile Courts to obtain orders to treat children against the will of their parents.

Medical centers prevails against wrongful discharge lawsuit. A 26-year-old patient with a complicated medical history had surgery to repair a fractured Achilles tendon.  After two days of recovery, the patient was discharged.  After the two-hour trip to her home in Wyoming, the patient went into cardiac arrest and died.  Her family filed a lawsuit against the medical center, claiming that the young woman had pneumonia and had therefore been wrongfully discharged.  The week-long trial in 2013 ended in a verdict for Andrew’s client, the medical center.

Orem police officers justified in killing of car thief.  A police officer was in pursuit of a car thief.  After a lengthy chase on a winter’s night, the man abandoned the stolen car and began to run away.  The officer chased him.  When the officer was within six feet of him, the car thief turned and assumed a three-point shooter’s stance with what appeared to be a pistol in his hand.  While backing up to seek cover, the officer fired two shots – one of which hit the car thief in the hip.  In the meantime, another officer had arrived on the scene.  This officer shot the car thief two times – killing him.  A wrongful death claim was filed against the officers and Andrew undertook their defense.  A two-week jury trial resulted in a defense verdict for both officers.

Jury assesses 80 percent of fault for trucking fatality to third party The driver of a truck for an excavating company was involved in a fatal accident in which a man burned to death — leaving behind a wife and two daughters.  Twelve hours before the accident, the truck driver had taken methamphetamine.  He was charged with various methamphetamine-related offenses, including driving under the influence.  Andrew’s defense of the driver was that the accident was started by a third party (with whom the plaintiffs had already settled).  After a seven-day trial in 2013, the court directed a verdict against the truck driver.  The plaintiff had asked the jury for $6 million, but Andrew proposed that the jury assess the third party with 80 percent of the fault, the driver (our client) with 15 percent of the fault and the deceased plaintiff with five percent of the fault.  The jury accepted this suggestion.  As a result, the net verdict was for $411,000. 

Outside of the office, Andrew is an avid golfer. He enjoys spending time with his family cross-country skiing, camping and traveling to remote locations.

Government Entity

  • Stoedter v. Unified Police Department, Ken Gates and Kenneth Madsen – Defended police department in excessive force claim – wrongful arrest. Obtained favorable outcome. Directed verdict on liability, but no damages found by jury.  $450,000 asked for in closing.

Medical Malpractice

  • Herd v. Davis Behavioral Health, Inc. – Favorably settled medical malpractice case for mental health facility after plaintiff rested.
  • Jones v. University of Utah Hospital – Obtained favorable defense verdict in a medical malpractice claim of Wrongful death. Plaintiff fatally arrest 6 hours after discharge from heel and Achilles operation. Plaintiff asked for $2 million at closing.
  • Wagstaff v. Ogilvie & Roundy – Obtained favorable defense verdict in a medical malpractice claim for two medical doctors’ treatment of psychotic and very ill woman.

Personal Injury

  • Ballilf v. Cardon – Obtained favorable defense verdict in brain injury case from automobile crash.
  • Favero v. Werner Transportation – Won a $6 million verdict net of client’s comparative fault in representation of plaintiff. Serious Traumatic Brain Injury and Personal Injury Claim /Consortium Plaintiff’s case arising from multi-vehicle automobile crash in foggy conditions.
  • Jones v Sysco – Obtained a favorable defense verdict in a personal injury claim arising from an auto pedestrian accident.

Tort Action

  • Alpine Cleaning & Restoration Specialists, Inc. v. Brian and Letitia Durant – Favorably represented plaintiff in contract and tort action over fire repair to plaintiff’s home.
  • Armed Forces Insurance Exchange v. C.W. Reece, Inc. – Obtained $400,000 for client in tort and contract action against insurance agent for hiring an unethical contractor.
  • Stapley v. Cedar City – Obtained favorable defense verdict in property damage and tort against City arising from subsidence.

Wrongful Arrest

  • Jimenez v. Murray City – Obtained favorable defense verdict in excessive force – wrongful arrest under 42 USC § 1983.
  • Olsen v. Layton City – Obtained favorable defense verdict in excessive force – wrongful arrest under 42 USC § 1983.
  • Petrokavitz v. Orem City – Obtained favorable defense verdict in excessive force – wrongful arrest under 42 USC § 1983.

Wrongful Death

  • Aguilar v. Morgan Excavation – Favorably directed verdict on liability, but only 15% of fault. This was a wrongful death case involving a semi-truck driver on methamphetamine who crashed into another vehicle and killed the driver.  Plaintiff’s counsel asked for $5 million at closing against truck driver.
  • Gallegos v. Dick Simon Trucking – Favorable: Admitted liability case lost $16.5 million in face of closing argument pleas for $30 million. Reversed and remanded on appeal; settled for $10 million. Wrongful death and serious brain injury including serious traumatic brain injury against trucking company for killing a mother and her six-year-old son and injuring her eight-year-old son.
  • Teller v. Huff Trucking – Obtained a $2 million verdict for a young mother and her four-year-old daughter in a wrongful death claim against a trucking company.

Appeals

  • 42 USC § 1983 Claim by parents who refused cancer treatment for child. Established limits to parents’ right to control child’s medical care when child diagnosed with fatal but treatable disease.
  • Walker v. Orem City – Obtained favorable defense verdict in a wrongful death/excessive force claim under 42 USC § 1983.
  • Cache County v. Beus, Court of Appeals of Utah – REAL PROPERTY – Attorney Fees. Lessee was entitled to attorney fees attributable to the successful vindication of its contractual rights.
  • Gallegos ex rel. Rynes v. Dick Simon Trucking, Inc., Court of Appeals of Utah – TRANSPORTATION – Evidence. Expert testimony regarding annuity calculations and cost was admissible in action arising from automobile accident.
  • Jensen ex rel. Jensen v. Cunningham, Supreme Court of Utah – Litigation – Judgment – Federal Court’s dismissal of § 1983 claim did not collaterally estop plaintiffs from litigating state constitutional claims in state court
  • P.J. ex rel. Jensen v. Wagner, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit – Civil Rights – Immunity. Parents did not have a clearly established constitutional right to direct child’s medical care.
  • R & R Industrial Park, LLC v Utah Property and Casualty Insurance Guarantee Association, Supreme Court of Utah – INSURANCE – Guaranty Associations. UPCIGA required to guaranty multiple claims and could not offset obligation by amounts recovered from third party insurers.
  • Tiscareno v. Anderson, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit – Background: Operator of licensed day care brought §1983 action against former director of Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) alleging her due process rights were violated during child abuse investigation and prosecution. The United District Court for the District of Utah, Clark County.
  • Tiscareno v. Frasier, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit – Torts 42 USC § 1983 claim. Physician was not liable for malicious prosecution of infant daycare services provider.
  • Walker v. City of Orem, United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit – CIVIL RIGHTS – Arrest and Detention. Constitutional rights of crime witnesses to not be detained for 90 minutes was not clearly established.

Depostions and Trial Expert Testimony

  • Auto Owners v. Smith, legal malpractice. Worked for Plaintiff. Deposition (2013).
  • Handy v. Siegfried and Jensen, shareholder dispute. Worked for plaintiff. Deposition and trial testimony (2015).