• A Sample Of Other Cases In My Career

    I started my career at Woodburn and Wedge as a civil litigator. I was fortunate to participate in evidentiary hearings, bench and jury trials in Nevada and California. The following are a sample of cases:

    Case No. CV88-175, Judith A. Neyses v. Robert and Susan Heyer, Second Judicial

    Case No. __, Arthur Mae Randle v. Hilton, Eighth Judicial

    Case No. CV 88-689, Deloris Payne, Sonnja Kielblock, and Evangeline Pate v. Harrah’s, Second Judicial

    Case No. 16993, Nancy Cortez, William Cortez v. State of California, County of Lassen, Lassen County Superior Court

    Case No. CV-N-90-266-HDM, Robins Engineers and Constructors, Inc. adv. Hycroft Resources & Development, Inc., United States District Court for the District of Nevada (settled during jury trial)

    Case No. PR00-00013, In the Matter of the Harry and Violet Callahan Family Trust, dated March 12, 1990, et al.

    I handled several appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (federal). When I found a niche in probate and trust litigation, I handled numerous evidentiary hearings in Nevada and California courts.

  • W. Chris Wicker – Woodburn and Wedge

    “I worked with Lynne Simons for years while she was at Woodburn and Wedge. We litigated cases from relatively small matters to actions that involved tens of millions of dollars. Lynne proved to be a skilled litigator, excellent in court, in both bench and jury trials, and excellent in her legal writing. I personally know that Lynne’s entire professional career has prepared her to be the kind of trial court judge that litigants want: smart, fair and decisive.”

    W. Chris Wicker
    Woodburn and Wedge
    6100 Neil Road, Suite 500
    Reno, NV 89511
    (775) 688-3011
    Fax: (775) 688-3088

     

  • My Six Most Significant Cases

    All of the cases I have done throughout my career enhanced the breadth and depth of my legal experience. However, I highlight the following cases, for the reasons identified, as significant.

    • 1. Sparks Tank Farm / Railyard Litigation

    1991 – 1997

    All actions, with the exception of the EPA matter, were consolidated and proceeded in Department 4, Second Judicial District Court before the Honorable Connie J. Steinheimer.

    Nevada Division of Environmental Protection; Washoe County Health District ex rel its District Health Officer; and the City of Sparks, a political subdivision of the State of Nevada, Plaintiffs v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, Inc., Southern Pacific Transportation Company, Shell Oil Company, Time Oil Company, Berry-Hinckley Terminal, Inc., Chevron U.S.A., Inc., Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc., Air BP, a division of BP Oil, Unocal Corporation and Golden Gate Petroleum Company, Defendants, Case #CV91-546

    Related actions include:

    • Dermody Properties, a Nevada Corporation, Dermody Industrial Group, a Nevada general partnership, Dermody Properties and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS), general partners, Dermody-Glendale Limited Partnership, John A. Dermody, general partner; Michael Dermody, individually; John A. and Martha Dermody, Plaintiffs v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, et al., Defendants, Case #CV93-01083
    • Jeri Coppa-Knudson, Liquidating Agent for Robert L. Helms Construction and Development Co. and Robert L. Helms Construction and Development Co., Plaintiff v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline et al., Defendants, Case #CV91-7906
    • Velma K. Jensen, Trustee of the Jensen Family Trust; Jensen Enterprises, Inc., dba Jensen Pre-Cast; and Mini-Price Motor Inn Joint Venture – Reno, Towne Realty, Inc., Phylon, Inc. and Mer, Inc., Partners, Plaintiffs v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, Inc. et al., Defendants, Case #CV93-00155
    • Nevada Meat Packing Company, Inc., Plaintiff v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, Inc. et al., Defendants, Case #CV93-05247
    • Tomlinson Family Trust, by and through its Trustee, Craig Tomlinson, Plaintiff v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, Inc. et al., Defendants, Case #CV92-07456
    • Brian L. Hall, Plaintiff v. Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline, Inc. et al., Case #CV95-01273

    Related EPA Administrative action:

    • United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX, Order No. 91-22, Administrative Order Pursuant to Section 106 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, 42 USCS §9606(a), dated August 22, 1991 (“the § 106 Order”)

    This is the most significant litigation in my legal career. I served as co-counsel with Chris Wicker representing Shell Oil Company in this litigation involving environmental contamination consisting of underground hydrocarbon and chlorinated solvent plumes near the Helms Pit. The action commenced as an EPA administrative action for enforcement of the § 106 Order. Shell Oil Company was the only respondent of more than ten respondents that determined its hydrogeological, historical and spill history evidence supported a refusal to comply with the § 106 Order. I thus participated in the federal administrative process until two years later when Shell determined it would comply due to potential penalties.

    After the EPA issued its Order, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Washoe County and the City of Sparks and more than fifteen non-governmental individual plaintiffs filed actions against the oil companies, pipeline and railroad for damages they contended resulted from the environmental contamination. The defendants filed cross-claims and counterclaims. Five+ years of intense litigation ensued. I was integrally involved in every aspect of the litigation from late 1991 to late 1996. In particular, I was responsible for the defense of the actions filed by the Dermody and Tomlinson plaintiffs which involved multi-million dollar claims for alleged contamination to over thirty parcels of real property. I also responded to written discovery, attended 50+ depositions, argued several significant motions on behalf of all defendants, including motions to bifurcate and for multiple juries in the event of one trial, drafted summary judgment motions and coordinated and filed a plan for courtroom modifications to accommodate the number of parties and counsel, together with the equipment necessary for presentation of technical evidence.

    In this litigation, we participated in and conceived of several novel procedural and logistical solutions to the size and complexity of the actions. While defending the plaintiffs’ claims, we arbitrated the defendants’ percentage responsibility of the contamination and created a process through which the defendants could participate in a reallocation arbitration after the payment of settlements. Thereafter, we participated in a modified and streamlined process to secure the depositions of 150+ witnesses and complete written discovery through shared cost and use of a document depository.

    The matter was set for a three to four month trial. Prior to trial, we prepared for and participated in two separate week-long mediations in San Francisco before former California state and federal judges. We ultimately settled all of civil actions, some with creative solutions such as tiered purchases.

    • 2. Estate Of Charla Marie Mack, deseased, Second Judicial District Court, Case No. PR06-00317, Department 8 Lynne K. Simons, Probate Commissioner, presiding.

    July, 2006 – September, 2006

    This matter came before me as the Probate Commissioner of the Second Judicial District Court and involved review and decision on the Estate’s Application for Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) and/or Preliminary Injunction. The papers filed and subsequent hearing I conducted related to the narrow issue of whether the funds contained in the 401K profit-sharing plan commonly known as the Palace Jewelry and Loan profit sharing plan, administered by Spectrum Pension Consultants were subject to the Estate’s interest based upon a settlement agreement in the couple’s divorce proceeding before Judge Weller.

    After I decided the TRO issue and recommended entry, a hearing was set and I presided over the preliminary injunction hearing. Arguments were heard and evidence was received.

    The issue was strongly advocated by both sides before a filled to capacity courtroom. The spectators included members of the press. My husband, Mark Simons, a member of the Robison, Belaustegui, Sharp and Low firm, was in the audience to watch me and had watched the earlier matter on calendar.

    This hearing was essentially the first public appearance by Darren Mack after he was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. I heard various arguments and witnesses were called, including Randal Kuckenmeister and Kent Robison, who testified regarding a separate case against Darren Mack. Mr. Wray asserted that the federal court had exclusive jurisdiction over the issue and I should not hear the matter.

    I ruled that pending resolution of the jurisdictional question and other issues I delineated by a briefing schedule, a preliminary injunction was appropriate and the parties would not be harmed or prejudiced by maintaining the status quo.

    Subsequently, the press was contacted about Mr. Robison and my husband’s work relationship. A myriad of newspaper articles ensued claiming impropriety.

    Mr. Wray filed a Request for Judicial Review, requesting that the court exercise plenary and de novo review of my ruling. A portion of the Request for Judicial Review requested rejection of my rulings due to purported conflicts of interest, favoritism and bias. Under applicable statutes, as a judicial officer, I had two court days to respond.

    In a very short period, I drafted my Answer to Motion to Disqualify Contained in Request for Judicial Review, a twenty-nine page document I believe was well researched, well written, and reflects my strong legal writing ability under multiple pressures. This case was also important to me because it required judicial temperament and grace under extreme pressure and negative publicity. The difficult legal issues and the high profile nature of the case required judicial fortitude.

    Ultimately, the entire Second Judicial District Court was recused and all matters relating to Darren Mack were transferred to other judicial districts. In addition, it was determined allegations regarding any impropriety on my part were without merit.

    This case evidenced my ability to treat all litigants fairly and thoroughly analyze and consider the legal issues at hand, without regard to the profile of the litigant, the persons present in the courtroom, or other circumstances. Most importantly, this case cemented my love of serving as a judicial officer and my ultimate goal of becoming a district court judge.

    • 3. Estate Of Maud A. Satchell, San Francisco Superior Court, Case #163 279, before the Honorable Isabella H. Grant

    August, 1992 – May, 1993

    This matter involved a disputed request for distribution to remainder testamentary trust beneficiaries prior to fulfillment of lifetime bequests. This case was not significant for its size but for its place in defining my future focus on probate and trust litigation. I learned on the spot during a hearing how valuable my litigation experience was in contested probate and trust matters.

    In this case, I was an out-of-state attorney practicing in the San Francisco Superior Court against well-respected and well-practiced attorneys. At one point during one of the hearings, due to the arguments made, the hearing evolved into an evidentiary hearing. I was the only attorney who had any substantial litigation experience which, in examining the witnesses and presenting tangible evidence for admission in this hearing and in subsequent proceedings, gave me a tremendous advantage. This case illuminated the need for attorneys with both probate/trust and general litigation experience. Although I subsequently handled numerous probate and trust litigation cases, I cite this case as one of my most significant as it led me to my service as Probate Commissioner of Washoe County.

    • 4. Houston General Insurance Company V. United States of America, United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Case #CIV-S-96-1340 LKK/PAN, before the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton

    July, 1996 – October, 1998

    All matters were consolidated with the above case for purposes of discovery and the filing of motions for summary judgment. Related/consolidated actions included:

    • Safeco Insurance v. USA, et al., Case #CIV-S-95-2226
    • State Farm & Casualty Company v. USA, et al., Case #CIV-S-96-1457
    • Allstate Insurance Company v. USA, et al., Case #CIV-S-96-2054
    • Carson, et al. v. USA, et al., Case #CIV-S-97-768
    • Fire Insurance Exchange, et al. v. USA, et al., Case #CIV-S-97-818
    • Sierra Pacific Power Company v. USA, et al., Case #CIV.S-98-0832

    I represented Sierra Pacific Power Company (“SPPCo”) in litigation that commenced as an interpleader action. This case involved claims for damages resulting from a wildlife fire known as the “Crystal Peak Fire” which occurred on August 4, 1994 in the Crystal Peak area of the Tahoe National Forest. The fire was ignited by sparks from a machine used by Slashbusters, a contractor masticating slash for the United States Forest Service. The Forest Service directed, through contract and onsite supervision, when, how and where Slashbusters would conduct the mastication. The fire spread and SPPCo suffered $640,000 in losses for injury and damage to its property, including its transmission and distribution lines. SPPCo’s claim was the second largest damage claim in the case. The fire also caused extensive damage to the property of numerous homeowners. Houston General, the insurer for Slashbusters, filed an interpleader action against numerous defendants, including SPPCo. Various defendants cross-claimed and/or filed separate actions against Slashbusters and the United States (“US”).

    This case was significant to me because it involved the challenge of navigating the initiation of SPPCo’s claims against the US through the filing and later rejection of a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq., through the federal court litigation, including highly contested motions for summary judgment, and the resulting appeal.

    The litigation in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, involved complex procedural and legal issues. I was appointed by the court to the Claimants’ Committee. The federal magistrate and the Claimants’ Committee designed and implemented a modified and accelerated discovery plan in order to facilitate the US’ filing of a summary judgment motion prior to completion of discovery.

    Most fascinating in this case were the legal issues including sovereign immunity, exception to sovereign immunity based on the performance of a discretionary government function, non-delegable duty of landowners, and the peculiar risk doctrine, issues on which the various Circuit Courts of Appeal have not been consistent. This coupled with the facts which required learning how fire danger is predicted through actual and predicted activity levels and how our forests are masticated, made this a memorable case.

    The US’ motions for summary judgment and to dismiss were granted in part and denied in part. All actions were appealed by the US to the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I drafted and argued the appeal on behalf of SPPCo before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco which was a memorable experience in itself.

    • 5. Special Use Permit Application, Case No. 17-96 before the Reno Planning Commission and the Reno City Council

    June, 1995 – October, 1995

    This case was of great significance to me as it placed me in an unfamiliar arena, advocating an unpopular cause in the face of great opposition and extensive media coverage. This pro bono case required unrelenting personal tenacity.

    I represented Step 2, a non-profit agency that provides comprehensive treatment to recovering chemically addicted women and their children. Step 2 entered into a purchase agreement to purchase a real property parcel with a home and two apartment units to house twenty women and children. In connection with the application, we met with a Reno Planning Department representative who maintained Step 2 had to obtain a special use permit. At that time, the United States Supreme Court had recently issued its opinion in City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc. 514 U.S. 725 (1995), holding that under the Fair Housing Act, an occupancy limitation which limits the number of unrelated persons could not preclude a group home for adults recovering from drug addiction from operating in a neighborhood. Step 2 maintained prior to its application, in its application and at all hearings that City of Edmonds was governing precedent that eliminated the requirement that Step 2 obtain a special use permit.

    This case was watched and strongly opposed by surrounding neighbors and was widely covered in the press. Step 2 and I received many threatening letters and telephone calls. Petitions were initiated. Neighborhood opposition was vehemently expressed to the planning commission and city council. I was advised prior to the planning commission and city council meetings that the proposal would most likely not pass.

    In connection with the application, I appeared before the Northwest Reno District Council, Reno Planning Commission, and the Reno City Council. I met with city planners for a preliminary discussion of the proposal and prepared a response to reviewing agencies’ questions. This matter also required significant community outreach and the ability to respond to difficult questions from the media and the public. I prepared and gave the oral and Power Point presentation containing pictures of the proposed facility and surrounding areas together with informational slides regarding Step 2. I also prepared and presented a solid legal argument based on City of Edmonds.

    Step 2 prevailed with a 7-0 decision before the Reno Planning Commission. A member of the Reno Citizen Residential Protection Association appealed the decision to the Reno City Council. After two contested meetings, Step 2’s special use permit application was approved by a 6-0 vote. In the process, I was advised by city staff and representatives from development review agencies that Step 2’s application and presentation had been one of the best they had received to date. This case “blazed the trail” for other non-profits seeking residential facilities in neighborhoods in our community. Notably since occupying the facility, Step 2 has co-existed very well with the surrounding neighborhood and has expanded its locations and treatment modalities.

    • 6. Hycroft Resources & Development, Inc. V. Robins Engineers and Constructors, Inc., United States District Court, District of Nevada, Case #CV-N-90-266-HDM beofe the Honorable Howard D. McKibben

    June, 1990 – April, 1993

    Plaintiff Hycroft Resources & Development, Inc. owned the Crofoot and Lewis Mines located approximately fifty miles west of Winnemucca, Nevada. We represented Robins Engineers and Constructors, Inc. (“Robins”), an engineering company with its headquarters in Englewood, Colorado, formerly located in Totowa, New Jersey. Robins and Hycroft entered into a contract pursuant to which Robins would design and procure the manufacture of components and deliver the system components for an overland and shiftable conveyor that transported crushed ore from the crusher to the heap leach pad and a crawler mounted stacker which stacks ore on the heap leach pad. The crawler mounted heap leach stacker was the subject of the action. The stacker was a three story high, hundred+ foot long, moving machine, complex in operation and design. Hycroft alleged that Robins was liable for damages on claims of rejection of nonconforming goods, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fraud and concealment. Robins asserted any damages were limited to the purchase price and grounds did not exist for any other damages.

    The plaintiffs sought damages for loss of profits based on reduced gold production. I was responsible for defending the lost profits claims. In essence, I was required to learn the entire gold production process, all of the elements involved in producing gold, and all of the variables that can lead to higher production costs. I was also responsible for drafting a significant portion of the pleadings. One of the most daunting tasks in this case was the task of portraying this huge, complicated piece of machine in a manner in which the jury could grasp. We did this through exhibits that included a model of the stacker and large poster photographs of the stacker in operation, together with close-ups of key parts.

    This action was set for a three-week jury trial. I argued pre-trial motions in limine, defendant’s requested voir dire questions, prepared jury instructions, and was responsible for selecting the jury. The jury was impaneled, opening statements delivered, and the examination of the first witness began. At the end of the first day, the principals of the parties settled the case. I believe the settlement was largely due to the visual exhibits which told a complicated story simply

     

  • Washoe County Bar Association Judicial Survey Results

     Washoe County Bar Association Judicial Survey Results

    In 2006, I received the Washoe County Bar Association Judicial Survey Results for the Second Judicial District Court.  As Probate Court Master/Probate Commissioner, I received the following overall average scores:

     

    Performance Scores              Should this judge be retained?

       (Average out of 5)                Yes                            No

       4.42                                           87%                          13%

     

    My average performance scores were higher than all district court judges.  In addition, on all 23 categories my individual scores were higher than the average of all Judges, Commissioners, and Masters.

     

                            Examples of individual scores I received are:

    Knowledge and application of substantive law                  4.67

    Knowledge and application of rules of evidence                4.38

    Knowledge and application of rules of procedure             4.45

    Ability to perceive factual issues                                            4.60

    Ability to perceive legal issues                                                 4.53

    Demonstrates appropriate preparation                               4.63    

     through familiarity with pleadings, records

     briefs, and memoranda                       

     

                                  

  • Lynne Simons – Experienced. Respected. Trusted.

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