Important Ruling in Livermore Lab Age Discrimination Case


A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog about an important age discrimination case in Alameda County, CA.  Gary Gwilliam of the law firm Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer is leading the wrongful termination fight on behalf of 130 employees who claim they were victims of age discrimination when they were laid off by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC in May of 2008.


As reported in the February 23, 2012 PR Newswire press release, attorneys Gary Gwilliam, Randall E. Strauss and their legal team were successful in obtaining an important ruling allowing plaintiffs to proceed with their age discrimination claims.


The wrongful termination case involves a layoff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that closely followed the lab’s transition from management by the University of California to management by LLNS, which is led by Bechtel National.  In exchange for millions in management fees, Bechtel promised to improve efficiency at the lab.


According to Gary Gwilliam of the law firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, which represents the plaintiffs in this case, “The court’s ruling that age discrimination is formally back in the case is good news, and we are convinced that we will be able to proceed to trial on that theory.  We also informed the court that the official policy of the Department of Energy regarding age discrimination at the lab is NOT to enforce the over/under 40 rule that the defense attorneys have advocated.  It appears that they have been asking the judge to enforce a different rule than the government allows in these cases.”


Without plaintiffs attorneys like Gary Gwilliam, and the law firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, these 130 workers would have no place to turn for leadership in the fight to preserve their rights.


Click here for more details about the Lawrence Livermore Lab case.


Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services


Social Media Platform for Lawyers


Social media has had a dramatic effect on the way businesses market themselves. The days of effective outbound marketing are declining and inbound marketing is on the rise. Consumers are more likely to research, read reviews, rate or complain about a lawyer online, changing the way consumers interact with businesses and services. Social media has enabled consumers to quietly explore businesses without the pressure to buy or hire that they may experience while visiting a business. has answered the call for a social media platform geared towards the legal industry. Helping lawyers expand their online presence and connect lawyers with clients and job seekers.


Here are some of the benefits for lawyers:


  • Increase income and productivity
  • Select cases and clients
  • Build web presence
  • Protected with top-of-the-line security technology


I encourage your law firm to take advantage of all the different social media platforms and build your business using non-traditional methods.


Tina Burns

Marketing Manager


iPhone 4S Tips and Tricks


I recently got the iPhone 4S and I really love it!  I consider it one of my most important business tools, especially with how much I travel.  If you have one too, you probably know what I mean!  Well I just found this great tips and tricks page that is full of short cuts and features, many of which I didn’t even know existed.  If you have the 4S, I think you’ll find this page helpful.  If you don’t have the 4S, you might want to get one!


Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer


Payroll Tax Cut Extended


Last week, Congress passed a bill that extends the payroll tax cut through the end of the year.  The bill was signed by the President on Wednesday.  If your firm prepares its own payroll, be sure to continue to only withhold and remit 4.2% in Social Security tax on the first $110,100 in wages for each employee.  This is in effect for the entire 2012 calendar year.


Click here to read the news release issued by the Journal of Accountancy.


Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP

Director of Finance and Administration


Photo Credit:

Tennessee Tort-Reform Advocates Press for “Loser Pays”

In several blogs over the past year, I’ve commented on a variety of “loser pays” legislation efforts.  Well, now the ridiculous notion has come to Advocate Capital’s home state of Tennessee.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.


The Tennessean reported on 2/19/12 that, “Unsatisfied with landmark tort reform legislation that Gov. Bill Haslam and Republican lawmakers successfully enacted last year, business, insurance and health-care interests continue to push for laws that will reduce their exposure to civil lawsuits.” The Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011 capped non-economic damages at $750,000, punitive damages at $500,000 (with some exceptions), and curbed claims under the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Tennesseans for Economic Growth, the business coalition that worked for that law, backs several “loser-pays” bills targeting civil case litigants who reject proposed settlements. These would make parties losing motions to dismiss pay opposing parties’ litigation costs, and make plaintiffs pay defendants’ costs if they spurn a settlement offer, then at trail win less than 75% of the offer, and likewise make defendants pay when plaintiffs win over 125% of a rejected settlement amount. Another proposal would shield employers from punitive damages when employees act without their knowledge.

This is just another example of big business trying to protect themselves at the expense of individual rights to access the civil justice system.

The full article can be read here.


Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer


Jury Awards $2.25M for Concussion in MVA


Advocate Capital, Inc. friend and colleague, Mark F. Itzkowitz, and first counsel Kenneth I. Kolpan were recently featured in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for their record verdict in Lowell.  The jury returned the $2.25 million verdict plus $632,000 in interest following a day and a half of deliberations.  This verdict was the 7th largest verdict reported in Massachusetts in 2011.  Click here to read the entire article.


The somewhat complicated case resulted from a motor vehicle accident that occurred as the plaintiff was driving on Route 3 when the hood of the defendant’s vehicle lifted into the air and hurtled toward plaintiff’s windshield.  Swerving to avoid the flying debris, the plaintiff was actually struck from behind by another vehicle which sent her vehicle spinning into the median.  Damages included a concussion or “minor traumatic brain injury” although the plaintiff never lost consciousness.   The attorneys also presented proof to the jury that the plaintiff would never return to her job as a full-time teacher due to complications from the brain injury.


Attorney Itzkowitz concentrates his practice in the Victim’s Rights area and is a member of both the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the American Association for Justice.


Congratulations on a job well done!


Donna A. Jones

Vice President, Operations


The 2012 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams


The IRS has published a list of the top 12 tax scams for this tax season.  Here is the list and the related links provided by the IRS:



You can read the complete article here.  Research these topics so that you do not become a victim!


Kelly A. O’Leary, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CITP

Director of Finance and Administration


Newly Created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Looking at “Payment Protection”, Mandatory Arbitration, and Other Issues


A recent article in the American Banker discusses a report that a federal probe could give opponents of bank credit card payment protection plans “the upper hand for the first time.” American Banker says that “Attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers” have argued that the plans are “a poor value,” while the FDIC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) “are looking at Discover’s business practices, and a broader review may be in the offing, industry attorneys say.”


American Banker also carries a related article on legal hurdles in lawsuits challenging payment protection, which it notes, banks have generally won. It adds that for “plaintiffs, the biggest stumbling block has been the existence of mandatory arbitration clauses in many credit card contracts.” Though Dodd-Frank “requires” the CFPB “to complete a study and report to Congress on use of mandatory arbitration agreements,” it also gives it discretion in regulating the agreements after the study. The second issue is preemption, since OCC’s “jurisdiction over payment protection plans preempts state laws that seek to govern their use, significantly narrowing the range of violations lawyers can pursue.”


A related article on the impacts of payment protection products can be read on Reuters’ website here.


Paul B.Myers

Chief Credit Officer


Over A Hundred Plaintiffs Rally to Discuss Developments in Lawrence Livermore Lab Lawsuit



On January 26, 2012 at a meeting/press conference, over a hundred plaintiffs came together to discuss strategy and developments in their lawsuit against Lawrence Livermore Lab.   Represented by the law firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, the suit was filed on behalf of 130 plaintiffs claiming illegal layoffs; specifically targeting senior, high salaried staff.  The defendant in the case is Lawrence Livermore National Security L.L.C. a mostly private coalition led in part by Bechtel and the University of California.


The case will be set for trial on February 22, 2012 in the Alameda County Superior Court.


Mr. Gary Gwilliam, lead attorney on the case, is quoted as saying:


“Had the Lab followed their rules and laid them (the plaintiffs) off in inverse order of seniority, laid them off without regard to age discrimination or otherwise, this lay off would not have occurred.”



ACI Friend & Colleague Phillip Miller to Serve on National Harvard Law Program


Attorney Phillip Miller will serve on the faculty of a national program on trial advocacy at Harvard Law School.  The program is sponsored by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and will run March 10-14.


Phillip is also a faculty member of the AAJ’s national case planning and strategy seminar February 24-26 in Washington, D.C. and the Louisiana Association for Justice strategic planning workshop on March 6.   Mr. Miller is the only Tennessee attorney to serve on the faculty of all three programs.


Mr. Miller is the immediate past president of the Tennessee Association for Justice and has served the organization for many years.  Additionally, he was named by the Nashville Business Journal as one of the “Best of the Bar” for being one of the top trial attorneys in Nashville/Middle Tennessee.


His firm, Phillip Miller & Associates, is located in East Nashville.  Click here for recent case results.


CONGRATULATIONS Phillip – the accolades are well deserved!


Donna A. Jones

Vice President, Operations


Case Expense Financing at a Net Cost of Less Than 1%*

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