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  Law Firm News/Wyoming

Supreme Court  nominee Amy Coney Barrett vows to be a justice “fearless of criticism” as the split Senate charges ahead with confirmation hearings on President Donald Trump’s pick to cement a conservative court majority before Election Day.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, draws on faith and family in her prepared opening remarks for the hearings, which begin Monday as the country is in the grips of the coronavirus  pandemic. She says courts “should not try” to make policy, but leave those decisions to the government’s political branches. She believes she would bring “a few new perspectives” as the first mother of school-age children on the nine-member court.

Trump chose the 48-year-old judge after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon. “I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place,” Barrett says in her remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Associated Press obtained a copy of her statement on Sunday.

Barrett says she has resolved to maintain the same perspective as her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was “devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism.” Republicans who control the Senate are moving at a breakneck pace to seat Barrett before the Nov. 3 election, in time to hear a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and any election-related challenges that may follow the voting.

Another reason for moving quickly: It’s unclear whether the election results would make it harder to confirm Barrett before the end of the year if Democrat Joe Biden were to win the White House and Democrats were to gain seats in the Senate. The hearings are taking place less than a month after the death of Ginsburg gave Trump the chance to entrench a conservative majority on the court with his third justice.

Democrats have pressed in vain to delay the hearings, first because of the proximity to the election and now the virus threat. No Supreme Court has ever been confirmed so close to a presidential election. The country will get an extended look at Barrett over three days, beginning with her opening statement late Monday and hours of questioning Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gary Scott recently was successful in obtaining summary judgment in a state court medical malpractice action filed against a nursing home client of Hirst Applegate. The case arose from an incident in which a resident of the nursing home was inadvertently administered the wrong medication, causing the resident to be hospitalized. Subsequently, after discharge from the hospital the resident passed away, with the immediate cause of death being cancer. However during discovery plaintiff`s expert witness testified that it was his opinion within a reasonable degree of medical probability that the medication error hastened the resident`s death to some extent. Based upon that testimony a motion for summary judgment was filed, which argued that under Wyoming law if a person`s death is caused by the alleged wrongful act of another, the sole remedy is an action for wrongful death. The plaintiff in this instance had not brought a wrongful death case, but instead had filed a survival action. The Court found that since the plaintiff`s proof was that the former resident`s death had been hastened by the medication error, the sole remedy was a wrongful death action. The Court dismissed the plaintiff`s complaint with prejudice. 

Hirst Applegate Website

Dale Cottam has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialties of Administrative Law, Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisitions Law and Real Estate Law.

For over a quarter of a century, Best Lawyers has been regarded - by both the profession and the public - as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States. Selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 2.5 million confidential evaluations of the top attorneys in the country.

Mr. Cottam`s practice is focused primarily in the areas of public utilities, energy law, creditors` rights, and real estate. He has extensive experience representing utility clients and consumer groups before the Public Service Commission where he has handled numerous contested case hearings through final decision and appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Mr. Cottam also represents business and real estate clients in numerous arbitrations and bench trials in state courts throughout Wyoming.

Hirst Applegate Website

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