William D. Newcomb
Partner / Atlanta
William is a Litigation Partner at Carlock Copeland. He also currently serves as the firm’s Risk Management Counsel and Assistant General Counsel.
William specializes in complex commercial litigation, product liability, director & officer, premises liability, and other general liability litigation. He has successfully handled numerous jury and bench trials. William prides himself on listening carefully to his clients’ needs and finding creative and cost-efficient solutions to their legal problems.
William’s commercial practice focuses primarily on professional liability. He represents accountants, attorneys, trustees, health care providers, real estate brokers/agents, home inspectors, appraisers, and other professionals against a wide variety of claims including malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, defamation, and fraud. William is frequently retained before litigation to evaluate and control his clients’ exposure to potential lawsuits. He also represents his clients in connection with investigations by professional review boards and agencies.
William is Co-Chair of Carlock Copeland’s Product Liability practice group. He has represented domestic and foreign-based manufacturers of pharmaceutical, medical device, chemical, food, tobacco, motor vehicle, and other general-use products. William has defended companies in the construction, telecommunication, hospitality, aviation, retail, and entertainment industries against premises and other general liability claims. His significant experience ranges from handling catastrophic personal injury cases to defending slip-and-fall and property damage claims. He also works with his clients to develop internal risk management policies and procedures designed to avoid litigation. Prior to joining Carlock Copeland, William practiced at international law firms in New York City and Tampa where he defended product liability, premises liability, mass tort, and commercial litigation lawsuits.
In 2014, William was one of 25 attorneys across the country selected to the American Bar Association’s biennial TIPS Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy’s stated mission is to serve the public by providing participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead the legal profession as well as the general community. William currently serves on several ABA/TIPS committees, including the Section Conference Task Force and Revenue Enhancement Standing Committee, and was appointed Vice-Chair of the Product Liability Committee. William will serve as Vice-Chair to the Self-Insurers and Risk Managers General Committee for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
William has lectured on litigation techniques at Georgia State University College of Law and presented various seminars to professionals on trends in the legal industry.
William is a member of the Georgia and Florida Bars.
Billy Newcomb Assists CPA in Obtaining Dismissal of Board Complaints in Two Different States
January 12, 2018
Billy Newcomb was retained to assist a CPA in responding to Board complaints filed by the CPA’s former client in Florida and Georgia. The complaints alleged that the CPA failed to perform work for which he was hired, failed to effectively communicate with his client, and failed to produce documents requested by the client. After Billy and his client submitted detailed responses to the complaints, the Florida and Georgia Boards dismissed the complaints without further inquiry.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Bank Dismisses Malpractice Claims Arising from a Commercial Foreclosure
January 10, 2018
Joe Kingma and Billy Newcomb represented an international law firm sued by a bank. The bank claimed that the firm mishandled a multi-million dollar commercial foreclosure and caused it to lose the value of its collateral. The bank demanded a pre-suit settlement which the firm rejected, arguing that the bank had not been damaged by the alleged mistake. After the bank filed suit, Joe and Billy filed a motion to compel the bank to produce internal records and guidelines which they believed would show that the bank mishandled the foreclosure and caused its own alleged damages. Rather than respond to the motion to compel, the bank dismissed the lawsuit.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Florida Court Dismisses Claims Against Georgia Accounting Firm
September 5, 2017
William Newcomb prevailed on a motion to dismiss claims filed by the former superintendent of a Georgia county school system. The superintendent claimed that the accounting firm defamed and otherwise tortiously damaged him in a report the firm issued after auditing the school system. William moved to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. The Florida doctrine of forum non conveniens provides that a trial court may dismiss a case if it would be more appropriately brought in a different venue. In granting the motion from the bench, the judge ruled that while the burden on the defendant of obtaining a dismiss for forum non conveniens was high, it was clear that case had no connection with the State of Florida.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Federal Court Claims Dismisses Claims Against Real Estate Agents
September 5, 2017
The Northern District of Georgia granted William Newcomb’s motion to dismiss claims filed by a homeowner who contended that the defendant real estate agents were engaged in a RICO conspiracy to defraud mortgagees. William argued that his real estate agents clients, who were Florida residents, could not be hailed into a Georgia court because 1) Georgia’s long-arm statute did not provide a Georgia court with personal jurisdiction over his clients and 2) the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented the Georgia court from exercising general or specific jurisdiction over the agents. The Northern District denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration.
Big Win for Top 100 Accounting Firm Against Publicly Traded Company
April 12, 2017
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma defended the accounting firm and one of its CPAs against malpractice claims brought in a Florida court by a publicly traded company. The Plaintiff alleged that the accounting firm negligently failed to detect and report an internal fraud which the Plaintiff claimed cost it over $10 million. Six other defendants, including a top 10 accounting firm, settled with the Plaintiff at the outset of the case, leaving CCS’ clients as the sole defendants. As part of their aggressive litigation plan to obtain an early favorable resolution for their clients, Billy and Joe filed a motion for summary judgment with their answer to the complaint. At an early court-ordered mediation, the Plaintiff, perhaps a little too confident in its home court advantage, refused to lower its demand under $5 million. Immediately after the mediation failed, the trial court granted summary judgment to CCS’ clients and dismissed all of the Plaintiff’s claims against them with prejudice. The Plaintiff may appeal the Court’s ruling, but Billy and Joe are confident their clients’ total victory will stand.
Defense Verdict in Hotly Contested Seven Day Defamation Trial
Joe Kingma, Billy Newcomb and Matt Gass won a defense verdict in a seven day jury trial in March of 2016. Plaintiff had spent two million dollars prosecuting the defendant law firm for defamation. Plaintiff was represented by a senior litigation partner at a large international law firm, as well as a recently retired partner from a large regional firm who was a commercial defamation expert.
Petition for Temporary Restraining Order Defeated
August 4, 2014
Billy Newcomb was retained to represent an employee of a national security services company against claims of malfeasance arising out of the company’s management of security in a high-rise condominium tower in downtown Atlanta. Plaintiff filed a petition in the Superior Court of Fulton County seeking, among other relief, a TRO against the employee. After Billy cross-examined Plaintiff and questioned his client and other witnesses in open court, the judge denied the plaintiff’s request for a TRO and actually granted Billy’s client a TRO against Plaintiff.
Trial Win For Broker in 12 Story Condo Conversion/Asbestos Case
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma represented a Real Estate Brokerage sued when a 12 story condo conversion failed. The Plaintiff had purchased a portion of the building and sued the Brokerage, claiming it had known about the need for asbestos abatement but did not inform him. He was ultimately foreclosed on and faced a large deficiency. Plaintiff asserted he would not have bought into the building had he known of the asbestos. Plaintiff also argued that the Brokerage’s dual representation of both the seller and the buyer and the Brokerage’s prior purchase of several floors for its own account created conflicts of interest. A former Brokerage employee testified that the Brokerage’s own manual required disclosure of all known facts about asbestos, and the Plaintiff’s expert agreed. The trial judge denied the Brokerage’s motion for summary judgment, and the case went to trial on the Plaintiff’s fraud, negligence, breach of contract and statutory violation claims. The Plaintiff also sought his attorney’s fees and punitive damages. While acknowledging the Brokerage had not told its client all it knew about the asbestos, the defense focused on the Brokerage’s proximate cause argument. An artful timeline showed that the delay in renovations due to the asbestos was only 4-6 months, and it was really other developer delays and the general decline in the real estate market that caused the Plaintiff’s losses. The Plaintiff’s attorneys were formidable trial lawyers on their home court, but the jury was convinced the Plaintiff was personally responsible for his losses and rendered a complete defense verdict.
Facing Summary Judgment, Plaintiff Dismisses Negligence Lawsuit Against National Roofing Manufacturer
September 10, 2014
Billy Newcomb represented a national roofing manufacturer in Forsyth County Superior Court against claims that it failed to maintain a safe working environment for outside vendors. Plaintiff alleged she suffered serious personal injuries when she was struck by a forklift while she was on the company’s premises servicing a firm alarm system. Billy moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff contractually waived and released the claims she asserted in the lawsuit. Billy also filed a counterclaim against Plaintiff for contractual indemnity. Rather than respond to the motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff conceded defeat and dismissed the lawsuit.
Real Estate Investors’ Claims Against CPA Firm Shot Down on a Motion To Dismiss and the Court of Appeals Affirms
Summary Judgment Ends $2.5 Million Failed Development Claim Against Law Firm
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma successfully defended a law firm sued after a Chatham County waterfront development failed. Claims against the law firm were brought by the title insurer and the borrower. The lender had been put into involuntary bankruptcy and its successor in interest, which had purchased the loan out of bankruptcy, was a party defendant as well. CCS filed a motion for summary judgment against the title insurer. It argued that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify its insured (the purchaser of the loan that it was already defending under the policy) because the potential for a discrepancy was made known to the failed lender by the law firm and thus the title insurer had no claim against the law firm that issued the policy. In the face of a strong brief, the title insurer settled its claim against the law firm rather than file a response. That left CCS free to tee off on the borrower. On summary judgment, CCS argued that the borrower’s claims failed because: 1) there was no attorney-client relationship; 2) the borrower could not show the law firm made a false representation on which the borrower was entitled to rely; and 3) the borrower, who had also declared bankruptcy, could not show damages proximately caused by the law firm’s alleged error.
Summary Judgment for Real Estate Brokerage and Agent in Stephens County Superior Court
June 11, 2014
June 11, 2014
Billy Newcomb were retained to represent a well-known real estate brokerage in North Georgia and one of its agents against a lawsuit filed against them by the former owner of almost 60 acres of farmland. The plaintiff claimed that the brokers converted farm equipment and other personal property worth around $100,000, trespassed on his land, wrongfully interfered with his property, and tortiously interfered with a lease agreement when the brokers secured the real estate and prepared it for resale following the lender’s foreclosure. In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Billy argued that the lender had a non-delegable duty to initiate dispossessory procedures, and the brokers were therefore not required to obtain a writ of possession prior to performing their post-foreclosure duties to the lender. Billy also argued that their contract with the lender and Georgia law allowed them to lawfully enter and secure the property, and even if they did wrongfully enter the premises, their actions were protected by the innocent trespasser rule because they were taken in good faith. The same day it heard oral argument, the trial court entered an order granting the brokers’ Motion for Summary Judgment in its entirety and dismissing all of the plaintiff’s claims against them.
Plaintiff Dismisses Lawsuit Against Accounting Firm in the Face of Motion to Dismiss
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma represented an accounting firm accused of professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty for allegedly 1) failing to inform its client that an employee had been embezzling funds from the company and 2) failing to properly monitor and maintain the client’s financial records. The client-plaintiff alleged damages in excess of $2 million. Billy and Joe filed a pre-discovery motion to dismiss. Rather than opposing the motion, the plaintiff dismissed the lawsuit.
Bar Grievance Dismissed
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma were retained to represent an attorney being investigated by the Georgia Bar for possible ethical violations in connection with his legal representation of a client in a divorce proceeding. The Office of the General Counsel ultimately found no evidence that the attorney acted unethically, and dismissed the grievance filed by his client.
Motion to Dismiss Granted for Attorney Alleged to have Conspired to Violate Fraudulent Transfer Act
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma had their motion to dismiss on behalf of a lawyer defendant granted in federal court on December 11, 2009. The suit was filed by a factoring company who alleged that its security position was damaged when a textile operation sold its assets. The defendants included the textile operation, its purchaser, a related business and the lawyer with whom the seller consulted. The factors claims were for conversion as well as conspiracy to violate the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The court ruled that the complaint at most speculated that the lawyer conspired and that such speculation was not enough to withstand the motion. The suit continues against the other defendants.
Court of Appeals Denies Partnership in Midtown Assemblage and MSJ Affirmed
The Plaintiff participated in assembling and redeveloping more than 50 properties in midtown Atlanta. He was paid several million dollars for his efforts but tried to claim he was a partner in the project. He sued the lawyer who had largely funded the acquisitions as well as the lawyer's law firm. He claimed they had represented him, breached their fiduciary duty and committed malpractice. He also sought to dissolve the alleged partnership and recover for unjust enrichment. The trial court noted there was an unsigned Memorandum of Understanding that suggested an intent by the Plaintiff and the lawyer to become partners and that a partnership could be created by oral agreement. It also noted the law firm had stated in several letters that it represented the Plaintiff. Nonetheless, the court held the Plaintiff had failed to demonstrate the parties had agreed to all of the essential terms of a partnership and he could not have reasonably believed the law firm was representing him individually. Thus, all his claims collapsed and summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on November 21, 2012. Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma represented the law firm.
Motion to Dismiss Ends Claim Against Appraiser
March 24, 2013
Billy Newcomb secured pre-discovery dismissal of his appraiser client from a lawsuit in which a bank alleged breach of contract, negligence and fraud arising out of a series of appraisals performed by the appraiser. Billy argued that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over the North Carolina-based appraiser under Georgia’s long-arm statute. The court agreed and granted the appraiser’s motion to dismiss.
Motion for Summary Judgment Granted in Part, Leads to Favorable Settlement
January 12, 2012
Pete Werdesheim and Billy Newcomb obtained partial summary judgment in a legal malpractice and fraud case in the Superior Court of Sumter County, despite the judge’s comment that “this case involves the most bizarre and outrageous facts concerning a lawyer’s conduct that this court has ever heard or could possibly have imagined.” The grant of partial summary judgment eliminated over half of Plaintiffs’ claimed damages. A mediation held before the trial court ruled on the motion failed. After the ruling, however, the case settled for approximately 10% of the Plaintiffs’ last demand at mediation.
Motion to Dismiss Granted – Adversary Proceeding
May 19, 2011
May 19, 2011
Pete Werdesheim and Billy Newcomb secured the dismissal of an adversary proceeding against their client in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Georgia. In short summary, the plaintiffs contended that Carlock Copeland's client committed various acts of fraud and sought a determination that a state-court judgment against him would be nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(4). After a lengthy hearing in Albany, Judge James D. Walker, Jr. issued a memorandum opinion and order on May 29, 2011. Judge Walker found that although "the facts of this case cry out for a remedy" in light of the "egregious" conduct allegedly committed by Carlock Copeland's client, the plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show that the firm's client had engaged in fraud in a fiduciary capacity, as that term is defined in the Bankruptcy Code.
Joe Kingma and the Commercial Litigation Team Hosted 2018 Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms on May 10, 2018.
May 10, 2018
Joe Kingma and the CCS Accounting Malpractice Team hosted our annual Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms program to auditors, CPAs and insurance industry professionals on May 10, 2018. This program was offered live at Ponce City Market and live-streamed for those unable to be in attendance in-person. Carlock, Copeland & Stair is a NASBA approved CPE sponsor. Please contact Michelle Mattox at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this annual program.
Billy Newcomb Guest Lectures at Georgia State University, College of Law
January 23, 2018
Billy Newcomb was asked to be a guest lecturer at Georgia State University, College of Law. Billy lectured second-year law students on discovery techniques with a focus on deposition tactics in civil litigation. Click here to contact Billy Newcomb for more information on his lecture.
ABA Midyear Meeting – Billy Newcomb attended
February 1, 2017
Billy Newcomb attended the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami, Florida from February 1-7.
ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Fall Meeting in CA – Billy Newcomb attended
October 19, 2016
Billy Newcomb attended the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Fall Meeting at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA from October 19-23.
Billy Newcomb attended The American Law Institute Conference Accountants’ Liability 2016: Emerging Challenges Facing the Profession
September 22, 2016
Billy Newcomb attended the American Law Institute Conference entitled, Accountants' Liability 2016: Emerging Challenges Facing the Profession on September 22 in Washington, DC.
ABA Annual Meeting – San Francisco, CA – Joe Kingma, Billy Newcomb and John Rogers – August 4-8
August 4, 2016
Joe Kingma, Billy Newcomb and John Rogers will attend the ABA Annual Meeting held at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA on August 4, 2016. Joe was recently appointed President Elect of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers Professional Liability. The LPL Committee has ten members, six of whom are in private practice, and it hosts two major conferences each year. Joe has been active with the Committee for years, suggesting topics and speaking or moderating panels at Conferences across the country. Joe’s three year term will commence at the August 4th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Please contact Joe if you are interested in learning more about the Committee. Managing Partner David Root remarked, "the Firm is proud of Joe’s commitment to ABA and his dedication to excellence in Professional Liability practice." The ABA has almost 400,000 members and Joe says he feels fortunate to be appointed. “The LPL Committee Conferences are a great forum for Law Firms, Insurance Brokers, and Insurers to meet, exchange ideas and work for the good of the profession." The Conferences draw 300-600 attendees and have special programs for Law Firm Managing Partners. The Committee also aids state bars and law firms around the country by compiling data on claims; sharing information on E and O insurance policy. For more information, please click here.
Billy Newcomb Reappointed to the Revenue Enhancement and Product Liability 2016-2017 Committees for ABA (TIPS)
July 13, 2016
Billy Newcomb has been reappointed to the Revenue Enhancement Committee for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. He has also been reappointed as Vice-Chair of the Products Liability General Committee for 2016-2017. Billy’s terms on both of these Committees will commence on the last day of the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting held from August 4-7 at The Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. These leadership appointments are in recognition of Billy’s commitment to ABA/TIPS and his reputation among TIPS 20,000+ members. For more information, please click here.
Fred Valz presented and Billy Newcomb and John Rogers attended the ABA TIPS 2016 Section Conference in Atlanta
May 11, 2016
ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Fall Meeting – October 14 – 18
October 14, 2015
John Rogers and William Newcomb attended the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Fall Meeting held October 14 - 18 in Scottsdale, AZ. Click on the link below for more information: ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Fall Meeting
William Newcomb appointed ABA TIPS Vice-Chair for the Products Liability Committee, along with other appointments (Oct. 14-18)
October 14, 2015
William Newcomb has been appointed to the ABA TIPS Section Conference Task Force, Revenue Enhancement Standing Committee and appointed Vice-Chair for the Products Liability Committee. The meeting is held from October 14 - 18 in Scottsdale, AZ. Please look for us at this event. For more information, click here.
Professional Liability Seminar for Attorneys and Accountants
May 5, 2015
Joe Kingma and the Commercial Litigation Team Presented Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms to Accountants, CPAs and Insurance Industry Professionals – Buckhead Club – June 8
June 8, 2017
Joe Kingma and the Commercial Litigation Team present in house programs on Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms to accountants, CPAs and insurance industry professionals throughout the year. The Commercial Litigation Team also presents annual client programs on Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms. Our 2017 Atlanta program was held at the Buckhead Club on June 8 as well as live-streamed to a remote audience. Please click on the short video clips below from the June 8th event by Shannon Sprinkle, Tyler Wetzel, Doug MacKelcan, Joe Kingma, John Rogers and Mark Rogers.
Joe Kingma moderated a Panel Presentation – The Impact of White Collar Crime on Accounting Risk Our 2018 program is tentatively scheduled for May 10 in Atlanta and dates will be scheduled for programs in Nashville, TN and Columbia, SC. Please contact Michelle Mattox at email@example.com, if you are interested in learning more about any of these programs.
Shannon Sprinkle Named Firm Managing Partner
November 28, 2016
Shannon Sprinkle has been named Carlock, Copeland & Stair's Firm Managing Partner. David Root, Carlock Copeland's immediate past Managing Partner commented, "Shannon is one of many talented younger lawyers in our firm who are stepping up to provide leadership for us as we continue moving forward." Shannon previously served as General Counsel and Co-Chair of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. In addition to firm leadership, Shannon will continue her practice as a Partner in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Commercial Litigation Practice Group Chair Joe Kingma noted "Shannon has excelled defending lawyers and accountants and also earned the trust of all our partners in her performance as General Counsel. Freeing Shannon from General Counsel and Practice Group responsibilities enables her to lead the firm and still continue to provide A+ service to her clients. We are all excited to have Shannon leading us towards the firm's sixth decade." Shannon's commercial litigation practice centers on professional malpractice, finance, real estate and business related claims. Shannon also frequently acts as outside general counsel to companies and professional service firms providing risk management advice and other consultations. Shannon was a 2016 honoree on The Daily Report's list of lawyers "On the Rise" and has been named on the Georgia Rising Stars list for many consecutive years. Executive Committee Members: Joe Kingma, Firm General Counsel and Chair of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group David Root, Chair of the Employment Practice Group Paul Sperry, Chair of the Construction Practice Group and Managing Partner of the Charleston Office Fred Valz, Chair of General Liability Practice Group Bill Jones, Partner in Design Professional Practice Group Brian Gedeon, Executive Director Other firm leadership roles announced include: Billy Newcomb, Risk Management Counsel and Assistant General Counsel Lynn Olmert, Co-Chair of the Workers' Compensation Practice Group About Carlock, Copeland and Stair, LLP Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP focuses on civil litigation and dispute resolution. Founded in 1970, the Firm has office locations in Atlanta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Firm’s lawyers provide counsel and advice in the following practice areas: Appellate, Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation, Employment Litigation, Environmental Litigation, General Liability Litigation, Health Care Litigation, Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith Litigation, Product Liability, Trucking & Transportation Litigation, and Workers’ Compensation. For additional information, please visit www.carlockcopeland.com.
William Newcomb appointed ABA TIPS Vice-Chair for the Products Liability Committee along with other appointments.
October 1, 2015
William Newcomb has been appointed to the ABA TIPS Section Conference Task Force, Revenue Enhancement Standing Committee and appointed Vice-Chair for the Products Liability Committee. This event is scheduled for October 14-18 in Scottsdale, AZ. Please look for us at this event. For more information, click here.
Newcomb Selected for 2014 American Bar Association TIPS Leadership Academy
May 30, 2014
Congratulations to William Newcomb for being selected to participate in the 2014-2015 American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) Leadership Academy. Academy participation is limited to a select group of only 25 attorneys nationwide with five to fifteen years of experience who have been identified through a highly competitive selection process as actively committed and personally responsible leaders. The TIPS Leadership Academy, a year-long program, is designed to increase the diversity of leaders in the legal profession, nurture effective leadership with respect to ethical, professional and community service values, build relationships among leaders from across the country and from disciplines within the profession, and raise the level of awareness among lawyers regarding a broad range of issues facing the profession.
CCS Defense Verdict Featured in DRI’s The Voice
February 05, 2014
Billy Newcomb and Joe Kingma were recognized in DRI’s The Voice of the Defense Bar for their defense verdict at trial in Savannah, Georgia. The jury found that Billy’s and Joe’s client, a real estate brokerage, was not guilty of fraud, negligence, or breach of contract. The case arose from the failure of a high-rise condo conversion in Savannah’s Historic District. The article can be found here.
Carlock, Copeland & Stair Elects Six New Partners
January 01, 2012
Publications and Presentations
Carlock Copeland Seminar – Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms
May 19, 2016
Joe Kingma and the Accounting Malpractice Defense Team presented Risk Management for Audit and Accounting Firms at The Buckhead Club on May 19. Five Takeaways from the Carlock Copeland & Stair Accounting Risk Management Program 1. The Panama Papers, and Big Data in general, demonstrate the risk posed for accountants when clients hide or launder money offshore. An international consortium of major news sources is actively soliciting more leaks and tax officials from 28 countries met in April to plan a joint strategy to mine the Panama Papers for gold. High profile individuals whose names appear in the Papers searchable, online data base include: Lionel Messi, Jackie Chan, Simon Cowell, David Geffen, Pedro Almodovar, Nick Faldo, and Emma Watson. The database lists many U.S. CPA firms and diagrams their relation to various suspect transactions. Governments from Russia to Britain to Argentina have been rocked by the disclosures. Don’t get your firm's name added to the list and avoid overly aggressive strategies. Protect your own files from those who might like to steal your clients’ confidential information. 2. Professional judgment is what you get paid for, but can also be what you get sued for. Audit engagements in particular require lots of judgment calls. Make sure your firm’s work reflects good judgment and that those who make the judgment calls are properly trained and professionally skeptical. If you have young auditors in the field without onsite partner supervision, talk through the tough issues with them in advance. Do what you can to make your firm’s judgment solid and defensible. 3. Read your insurance policies. Policy provisions may be negotiable and you may gain value in ways beyond premium reductions. Be very accurate when filling out your application and compare it to your website. Submitting a neat and accurate application can save you real money. Price should not be your only consideration and you should check to see which carriers treat their clients well. Insurance coverage remains very reasonably priced and cyber coverage is a great deal. 4. Jurors hold outside accountants to high standards when a client suffers from internal fraud. You must keep your eyes and ears wide open even if you are just doing a tax return or a compilation. Take another look at your engagement letters to make sure you have included all the damage limitations and disclaimers the laws allows and avoid engagements where the client’s lack of internal controls creates too much risk. 5. Accountants are getting sued for defamation even when they make statements in good faith and in the course of their clients' engagements. Sometimes clients try to use your staff to say bad things about their employees. Don’t let your firm get sued for defamation that may not be covered by insurance.
Design Defects – Layering Assumption of the Risk and Misuse of Product Defenses
May 27, 2014
This article was written by: William Newcomb for the Volume XI - Issue 1 - 2014 of the Carlock Copeland newsletter. Personal injury lawsuits involving alleged defectively designed products – especially construction and industrial equipment – often arise from the consumer’s use of the product in a manner not intended by the manufacturer. In such cases, it is critical that the manufacturer avail itself of the two similar defenses of assumption of the risk and misuse of product. Read more.
Managing Legal Risks and Liability
August 15, 2012
William Jones and William Newcomb presented "Managing Legal Risks and Liability" at Rockwell Automation's "On the Move" manufacturing and engineering convention held at the Gwinnett Convention Center in August 2012. The two-day presentation covered legal topics including the importance of various litigation privileges (e.g. attorney-client and work product privileges), preserving documents in anticipation of litigation to avoid discovery sanctions and avoiding liability associated with inadequate warning labels for manufacturers.