Edward S. Rosenthal Notable and Reported Cases

Hart v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 283, 269 S.E.2d 806 (1980)
Shrader, et al. v. White, et al., 761 F.2d 975 (4th Cir. 1985)
United States v. Dobson, 753 F.2d 1295 (4th Cir. 1986)
Reed v. Swank, Inc., 900 F.2d 254 (4th Cir. 1990)
United States v. Tran Trong Cuong, 18 F.3d 1132 (4th Cir. 1994)
Halterman v. Radisson Hotel Corp., et al., 259 Va. 171, 523 S.E.2d 823 (2000)
Medina v. United States, 92 F. Supp. 2d 545, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5610, 21 Immigr. Cas. Rep. A3-236 (E.D. Va. 2000)
Nakul Bhatia, et al. v. Mehak, Inc., et al., 262 Va. 544; 551 S.E.2d 358 (2001)
Michael John Staton v. Commonwealth, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 673 (Va. Ct. App. 2001)
Michael John Staton v. Commonwealth, 2002 Va. App. LEXIS 453 (Va. Ct. App. 2002), aff’d (Va. Sup. Ct. 2003).

In late 1988 and early 1989, Mr. Rosenthal was co-counsel in a significant product liability lawsuit, tried in Los Angeles, California, which ended in a jury verdict against Nissan Motors. The value of the lifetime structured settlement obtained on behalf of the quadriplegic plaintiff cannot be divulged, but it is permissible to relate that the case of Karen B. Keuhner v. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., et al. involved a three-month-long trial, following almost six years of investigation and discovery, in which Mr. Rosenthal briefed and argued a host of complex substantive and procedural issues relating to the crashworthiness and design of the rear seating compartment of Nissan’s 1982 200SX. Questions concerning the standards for, and application of, strict liability in tort, breach of implied and express warranties, implied reasonable assumption of risk, comparative fault, crashworthiness, federal motor vehicle safety standards, admissibility of “human factors” expert testimony, failure to warn, and many other evidentiary and procedural issues were exhaustively researched, briefed and argued in the course of this litigation, which resulted in the establishment of a design defect in the Nissan vehicle.

Mr. Rosenthal was co-counsel for the indigent defendant in the case of Commonwealth v. Frank Weston, a sensational capital murder prosecution in Alexandria. Seven months of pretrial investigations, numerous motions and exhaustive trial preparation resulted in an agreed disposition avoiding the application of the death penalty. Various substantial questions regarding unlawful search and seizure, improper police interrogation, suppression of exculpatory evidence, pretrial discovery, the admissibility of evidence of several other charged and uncharged homicides, and the constitutionality of several aspects of Virginia’s death penalty statutes were implicated in this litigation.

Mr. Rosenthal’s representation of another indigent criminal defendant resulted in the establishment of a significant Virginia Supreme Court precedent broadening the “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine under the Fourth Amendment in Thomas Hart v. Commonwealth. In that case, the Court decided that voluntary incriminating statements obtained from the accused by police acting in conformity with the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona must nevertheless be suppressed when they have been gained by confronting the suspect with illegally obtained physical evidence.

Everett Shrader, et al. v. Franklin White, et al. was a major class action lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the responsible state officials on behalf of all inmates at the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond seeking redress of conditions of confinement which were claimed to be inconsistent with the requirements of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. Mr. Rosenthal, along with his former partner, supported by the ACLU’s National Prison Project, played a leading role in the investigation, preparation, trial, appeal, remand, retrial and eventual settlement of this federal lawsuit over the course of many years. The focus of this litigation, and of Mr. Rosenthal’s role in it, was the question of the adequacy of the prison’s policies and measures for the protection of inmates from assaults and violence from their peers. Following an adverse result in the trial court, plaintiffs appealed to the Fourth Circuit, resulting in a majority decision (one judge would have granted outright reversal and awarded judgment to plaintiffs on their violence claims) remanding the case for further proceedings on the sufficiency of the state’s practices for controlling the construction and use of weapons from tools and scrap metals. After cross-motions for summary judgment on remand (briefed by Mr. Rosenthal) were denied, the parties reached a settlement mandating comprehensive metal and tool control policies at the prison.

George Chersin v. City of Alexandria was an action in which Mr. Rosenthal successfully obtained a writ of mandamus against the City Manager enforcing the right of a dissident police officer to his pension benefits. Many significant issues relating to the City’s pension plan, its personnel practices, and the appropriateness of the relief sought were briefed and argued in this case. The City’s petition for appeal, which was opposed in a brief prepared by Mr. Rosenthal, was denied by the Virginia Supreme Court.

In United States v. Sherman Dobson, Mr. Rosenthal was appointed by the Fourth Circuit to represent an indigent federal prisoner on appeal of his convictions for escape and related crimes from Lorton Penitentiary. In obtaining reversal of those convictions and a new trial for Dobson, Mr. Rosenthal successfully urged the Court of Appeals to require clear and definite trial court procedures for evaluating and honoring an accused’s request to represent himself at trial.

Mr. Rosenthal jointly briefed and argued the successful appeal of a Northern Virginia physician convicted in federal court of 127 counts of dispensing prescription drugs outside the course of legitimate medical practice, and sentenced to 97 months in prison and forfeiture of his home. In United States v. Tran Trong Cuong, the Fourth Circuit reversed all 127 convictions and dismissed 80 of the counts. The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s admission of damaging reputation evidence against the accused and construed the Federal Rules of Evidence to bar disclosure of the conclusions of a Government consultant who does not take the stand in the course of the opinion testimony of another expert witness. In addition, the opinion established that in order to convict a physician of such an offense, the testimony of the patient to whom the pharmaceutical was given is essential in order to establish that it was dispensed for other than a legitimate medical purpose. On remand, Mr. Rosenthal and co-counsel obtained dismissal on grounds of prosecutorial vindictiveness of a superseding indictment which would have “upped the ante” by introducing new and more serious charges against the successful appellant. After a week-long trial, the physician was acquitted by a new jury of all 47 remaining felony counts, and the forfeiture of his family’s residence was dismissed.

In Egoltronics Corporation v. Electronic Photo Controls, Inc., et al., Mr. Rosenthal obtained a jury verdict, following a trial lasting 3 weeks, for $350,000 against four defendants for misappropriation of trade secrets and intentional interference with contract. After the corporate defendant and its principals filed for bankruptcy protection, Mr. Rosenthal succeeded, after more than a year of bitter bankruptcy litigation, in arranging payment from the tortfeasors of the full judgment amount, with security and interest at a favorable market rate.

Mr. Rosenthal, along with co-counsel, defended a Venezuelan diplomat who resigned his post and waived diplomatic immunity to obtain acquittal on charges of breaking and entering, attempted rape, sexual assault, and petit larceny brought by the diplomat’s former fiancée. When immigration officials subsequently arrested and sought to deport the diplomat as a result of his misdemeanor conviction and fine for simple assault, Mr. Rosenthal’s advocacy resulted in a published opinion by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recognizing the jurisdiction of the federal court to hear claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act based upon allegations of false arrest, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and unlawful search and seizure on the part of agents of the INS. Medina v. United States, 92 F. Supp. 2d 545, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5610, 21 Immigr. Cas. Rep. A3-236 (E.D. Va. 2000).

In Nakul Bhatia, et al. v. Mehak, Inc., et al., 262 Va. 544; 551 S.E.2d 358 (2001), Mr. Rosenthal obtained reversal in the Virginia Supreme Court of a judgment granting charitable immunity to a restaurant and its owners whose carelessness in catering a religious service led to severe burn injuries suffered by two children represented by the firm. This decision by Virginia’s highest court establishes significant limits on the ability of private businesses donating goods and services on behalf of a charity to shield themselves from liability for their negligent acts.

In Michael Joseph Staton v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 673 (Va. Ct. App. 2001), Messrs. Rosenthal and Greenberg obtained reversal, in an expedited appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals, of a decision by a trial court to deny bail to a client who was appealing from several felony convictions he suffered prior to engaging our firm. The appeals court upheld the right of our client to be considered for home electronic supervision on bail pending appeal, regardless of the classification of his underlying convictions. In another phase of the same case, Michael John Staton v. Commonwealth, 2002 Va. App. LEXIS 453 (Va. Ct. App. 2002), aff’d per curiam (Va. Sup. Ct. 2003), the accused’s convictions and 70-year sentences for aggravated sexual assault were reversed by the Virginia appellate courts due to the improper admission of prejudicial evidence of child pornography found on a computer at his home.

Please note that references on these pages to select cases are offered as examples of the many kinds of legal services that we have had the opportunity to provide in the past. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. Such results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by an RRMDK attorney.