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Practices

Appellate Practice

Tompkins, McGuire’s litigators have appeared before the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, the New Jersey Supreme Court, and United States Court of Appeals on behalf of clients seeking the reversal or affirmance of administrative and lower court determinations. The vast majority of our attorneys are litigators, and our appellate practice is a natural extension of our trial-level work. Two of our partners clerked for the New Jersey Supreme Court. Our attorneys are prepared to handle emergent and interlocutory appellate motions, merits appeals, and petitions for certification, both on behalf of party litigants and for amici curiae. We also assist other attorneys in strategizing appeals, writing briefs and preparing for oral argument.

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Arbitration and Mediation

With the costs and risks associated with litigating a matter through the court system, indvidiuals and companies often turn to alternate dispute resolution ("ADR"), whether mediation or arbitration, as a means of efficiently resolving their disputes. Mediation involves the use of a third-party neutral to assist the parties in negotiating an agreement that each can accept. Arbitration, whether voluntary or mandatory, involves the third-party neutral conducting a private, simplified version of a trial, and providing the parties with a decision as to liability and, when appropriate, damages. Dennis F. Carey III, a former litigator and Superior Court Presiding Civil Part judge in Essex, the busiest vicinage in the state, offers customized ADR solutions to a wide variety of disputes.

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Auto/Commercial Trucking

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, and it is a transit and commerce hub. Trucking accidents are not uncommon here. Tompkins, McGuire has extensive experience defending trucking businesses, from large interstate carriers to small local owner/operators. Because it is critical to mobilize the defense effort as quickly as possible, we have a rapid response team comprised of attorneys, investigators and experts that can be activated at a moment’s notice. We work with clients and their insurers to preserve evidence, establish and record the sequence of events and prepare an appropriate defense strategy, whether it be an early resolution or litigation through trial.

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Class Actions

Tompkins, McGuire has been indepedently involved in class actions in both federal and state court, including defending a class action with over 1,000,000 potential class members. We have also served as local counsel, assisting national firms involved in New Jersey-based litigations in navigating the complex laws, practices and procedures that govern these large-scale disputes

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Commercial Litigation

We understand the needs of business clients. We have experience handling a substantial variety of commercial disputes before suit, at the trial and appellate levels, and in alternative dispute resolution fora. Our attorneys have handled controversies involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, consumer fraud, executive errors and omissions, intellectual property, real estate, shareholder/partnership disputes, trade secret misappropriation and other business torts. We are mindful of the cost of litigation, and its effect on our corporate clients, and work efficiently and aggressively in an attempt to promptly reach positive outcomes.

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Construction Defect Litigation

Tompkins, McGuire's attorneys are keenly aware that construction defect litigation can be lengthy, frustrating and expensive. We understand that defense costs can often eclipse the liability exposure to a client in a large, multi-defendant case. These cases demand a practical approach. Our attorneys strive to find creative strategies to minimize the cost and impact construction litigation can have on clients, including appropriate staffing and regular client consultation. We are experienced in spreading exposure to other responsible parties through indemnification agreements and additional insured endorsements. If necessary, we have seen these cases through to judgment, whether it be at arbitration or trial.

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Employment Law

We defend companies, governmental entities and their personnel against claims of breach of contract, discrimination, wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, unfair labor practices, and whistleblower and retaliation actions. Insurance companies trust us to defend cases covered under EPLI policies at trial and on appeal. Our attorneys also assists our clients in avoiding litigation through compliance efforts in the development of internal policies, practices and procedures. We also help our clients negotiate employment contracts, severance agreements, and agreements not to compete, taking into account the myriad of laws and other requirements in this highly regulated field.

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Insurance

Tompkins, McGuire has long been privileged to work with some of the finest insurance companies in the world. We have handled thousands of cases on behalf of insureds, and our attorneys are frequently consulted by insurers on a constellation of coverage issues involving a range of insurance products. We have counseled insurers, and litigated coverage disputes, involving professional liability, bad faith, property, casualty, directors and officers, employment practices, environmental, and excess and umbrella policies. We are conversant with the budgeting, reporting and billing requirements of the insurance industry, and work with a number of independent bill review services used by leading carriers. Decades of working both directly with carriers, and with third-party claims administrators, have provided Tompkins, McGuire with the skill and experience required by the most demanding insurers.

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Personal Injury/Premises Liability

Tompkins, McGuire attorneys have litigated thousands of personal injury disputes, both for injured claimants and for those accused of causing harm. We have a long record of aggressively litigating vehicle accidents (including those involving pedestrians), slip and fall incidents, construction site injuries, and recreational accidents. We are familiar with the critical and unique laws that are triggered when suing, or defending, a governmental entity. Personal injury claims often involve the threat of substantial financial loss, and can require the analysis of complex and arcane legal issues. From the onset of our involvement, we work towards achiving a successful, cost-effective resolution. If necessary, we are fully prepared to take a case to verdict.

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Probate Litigation

Tompkins, McGuire attorneys have substantial experience arbitrating and litigating will disputes, including allegations of undue influence, lack of capacity, conflict of interest, power of attorney abuse and professional malpractice. We have handled probate litigation in matters involving modest sums, all the way to multi-million-dollar estates. We are sensitive to the fact that probate disputes often involve emotionally-charged disagreements among family members, and provide aggressive advocacy with compassion for our clients' situations.

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Products Liability

For decades, the firm has defended all manner of product liability claims ranging from exercise equipment and other consumer items, to heavy industrial machinery, to commercial chemicals. We are national products liability counsel to a chemical and manufacturing conglomerate. We also defend a major industrial services company in asbestos claims. We have helped to shape and develop the law, particularly when it comes to the comparative fault of plaintiffs, and the contributory liability of employers. Tompkins, McGuire understands that these cases have both financial and reputational implications. We work closely with our clients to implement a defense strategy that is both cost-effective and sensitive to your reputation.

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Professional Liability

Tompkins, McGuire has long defended licensed professionals – lawyers, accountants, engineers, agents and brokers, architects and others – accused of negligence and intentional wrongdoing. Our professional liability attorneys have historically concentrated on the defense of attorneys and law firms, both through their malpractice insurance carriers and, where coverage is unavailable, independently. We have been panel counsel to some of the state’s leading legal malpractice insurers, and have vigorously fought to protect the rights of their insureds. We have defended our clients against a variety of professional liability claims, including failure to file suit within the applicable statute of limitations; errors in the drafting of legal documents; negligence in pre-trial discovery or at trial; excessive billing; problems with settlement authority or settlements themselves; conflicts of interest and breach of fiduciary duty. Our attorneys continue to lecture on legal malpractice and are frequently consulted by their peers on issues of professional liability.

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Real Estate Litigation

Tompkins, McGuire acts as claims and coverage counsel for title insurance carriers, and have experience representing lenders in protecting their mortgage liens, in workouts and in foreclosure actions. We have litigated real estate and mortgage fraud, contested commercial and residential foreclosures, boundary line disputes, adverse possession, quiet title actions, lien priority actions, partition actions and real estate-related contract disputes.

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Trusts and Estates

Howard G. Wachenfeld, a fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel, has over sixty years of experience helping hundreds of clients help fullfill their estate planning objectives. In forming and administering estates and trusts, Howard takes the time to learn about his clients' circumstances and desires for the disposition of their assets, and advises clients of their options, including alternatives that minimize potential tax burdens when possible and seek to avoid future disputes. When challenges do arise, we can assist aggrieved beneficiaries and executors evaluate their rights and responsibilities, and chart a path forward.

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Workers' Compensation

For over a quarter of a decade, Tompkins, McGuire has defended both self-insured corporations and insurance carriers, directly and through third-party administrators, in Workers' Compensation proceedings. Using an aggressive approach and the experience that only a high-volume practice can offer, we competently and economically defend business owners against both the legitimate and the sometimes baseless claims brought by employees. Because we handle so many cases, we are assigned one day every third week in every regional court, thereby reducing in-court expenses — an important advantage to our business clients with an eye on the bottom line. When necessary, our attorneys also have the skills and experience to defend appeals to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court.

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