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Dykema Successfully Defends UGS Corp In Multi-Million Dollar Negligent Supervision & Vicarious Liability Case

Jury Rules UGS Not Liable In Fatal Crash

December 20, 2010

DETROIT—Dykema, a leading national law firm, today announced that the firm successfully defended UGS Corp. (now Siemens) in a multi-million dollar wrongful death action. On December 16, a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan ruled in favor of UGS, rejecting the negligent supervision and vicarious liability claims filed by the plaintiff.

The wrongful death action was brought by Gary Weinstein, whose wife and two sons were killed in 2005 when a car driven by Thomas Wellinger crashed into the Weinstein's car. Wellinger, who was a sales executive for UGS, was driving with a blood-alcohol level in excess of the legal limit at the time of the afternoon accident, and is currently serving a prison sentence for second-degree murder.

Following the accident, Weinstein sued UGS, alleging the company knew Wellinger was visibly intoxicated when he left work and had been showing signs of alcoholism for months before the accident. Weinstein further asserted that Wellinger was on his way to a doctor's appointment at the direction of his boss to discuss his alcoholism, and that he was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the crash, which in turn should make UGS directly liable for failing to supervise him and also vicariously liable for Wellinger's negligent acts.

Dykema argued that UGS was not negligent in supervising Wellinger, because there was no evidence that he was visibly intoxicated on UGS's premises on the day of the accident and that UGS did not direct him to attend a medical appointment, which was pre-arranged by Wellinger, and there was no evidence where Wellinger was traveling at the time of the accident. Additionally, UGS contended that Wellinger was the sole proximate cause of the accident and he should be held 100 percent responsible for the three deaths.

"We are very pleased that the jury took into careful account all of the evidence presented in this case and determined that UGS was not liable for this fatal crash," said James Feeney, member of Dykema's Litigation practice. "While this is clearly a tragic incident, UGS was not responsible for the events of that day. The verdict clearly vindicates UGS's handling of their employee, and reaffirms that the company had no culpability for the accident."

Feeney tried the case with Brittany M. Schultz, also a member of Dykema's Litigation practice.

With more than 160 attorneys actively engaged in all aspects of business, commercial and product liability litigation, Dykema has one of the most experienced, sophisticated and successful litigation and trial practices in the nation. Representing a diverse client base in nearly every substantive area of the law, through trial and appeal, highly experienced litigators practice in state and federal courts throughout the country. Dykema also represents clients in administrative proceedings, arbitration tribunals and other alternative dispute resolution forums. For more information on Dykema's Litigation Department, please visit: http://www.dykema.com/litigation.