Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara, LLP was retained to defend a Utah oilfield services company that was sued in Nevada for an alleged negligent breach of an oil well casing in an oil well located in Utah. The plaintiff is a Nevada company with interest in the well that sought over $4 million in damages. The matter was previously litigated in Utah where the Utah court determined that the plaintiff-company and individual with interest in the well could not prove their claim against the oilfield services company, dismissing their claims with prejudice. BWB&O’s client also prevailed via a motion for verdict and obtained a judgment against the plaintiff-company. Not happy with the developments during the Utah case, the plaintiff-company in Utah transferred some of its interest to another company in Nevada that was owned/managed by the same people involved in the Utah matter. After conclusion of the Utah case, the Nevada company filed suit against BWB&O’s client in the Second Judicial District Court, State of Nevada, County of Washoe.
After responding to the complaint and obtaining sufficient evidence, BWB&O filed a motion for summary judgment with the Nevada Court and Partner August Hotchkin successfully argued that nonmutual claim preclusion applied wherein collateral estoppel and res judicata barred the Nevada company from trying to take a second bite of the apple to avoid the Utah defense judgment. The court agreed with BWB&O that the Nevada company’s interests were adequately represented in the Utah matter because the same issues were already litigated and adjudicated there and, consequently, the Nevada company was in privity with the Utah plaintiffs. The court also agreed with BWB&O’s argument that the Nevada company was barred by Utah’s statute of limitations because Utah had the most significant relationship with the issues and allegations regarding the oil well and the Nevada company could not bypass it through forum-shopping. The judge agreed that BWB&O’s client was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on all issues.
This is a huge victory given that summary judgments are rarely granted in Nevada. Congratulations to the Reno team!