Dan Polsenberg is a partner in the firm’s Appellate practice group. Based in Las Vegas, he also frequently works out of the Reno office.
Dan is the lawyer to see for a big appeal. Past President of the State Bar of Nevada, he is the first Nevadan named a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Dan has more than 30 years of experience representing clients in cases ranging from tort to tax and constitutional to commercial law. He has personally argued over 250 appeals and has written briefs in hundreds more. Dan had previously been president of Beckley Singleton, which partnered with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie in 2007. He has 200 reported decisions.
In addition to issues of public importance, he often handles appeals regarding large awards, punitive damages and other untoward results.
Watch Videos of Dan in court:
Read about Dan in the press:
- 2010 – 2015: Lead appellate counsel for pharmaceutical companies and, later, HMOs in cases arising from the Hepatitis C outbreak among Las Vegas endoscopy clinics. Sadler v. PacifiCare, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 98 (2014); Williams v. Dist. Ct., 127 Nev. Adv. Op. 45, 262 P.3d 360 (2011); Sicor, Inc. v. Hutchison, 127 Nev. Adv. Op. 82, 266 P.3d 608 (2011); Sicor, Inc. v. Sacks, 127 Nev. Adv. Op. 81, 266 P.3d 618 (2011).
- The dispute between the city and the Culinary Union on direct legislation petitions and redevelopment. Las Vegas Taxpayer Comm. v. City Council, 125 Nev. 165, 208 P.3d 429 (2009).
- United States Supreme Court: Standing to bring a Section 1981 action, Domino’s Pizza v. McDonald, 546 U.S. 470, 126 S.Ct. 1246, 163 L.Ed.2d. 1069 (2006).
- A grandmother’s right to guardianship, In re: NS, 122 Nev 305, 130 P.3d 657 (2006).
- No construction-defect class actions for single family homes, Shuette v. Beazer Homes Holdings Corp., 124 P. 3d 530 (2005).
- The infamous case suspending the Nevada Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes, Gov. Guinn v. Legislature of Nevada, 71 P.3d 1269 and 73 P. 2d 22 (2003).
- The Fremont Street Experience redevelopment cases, City of Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency v. Pappas, 76 P. 3d 22 (2003); City of Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency v. Crockett, 34 P.3d 553 (2001).
- The constitutionality of Nevada’s ethics laws, Atkinson Gates v. Nevada Commission on Ethics, Case A393960 (1999).
- The dispute between UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian and the NCAA, NCAA v. Tarkanian, 113 Nev. 610, 939 P. 2d 1049 (1997).
- The Judges’ term limits case, Nevada Judges Ass’n v. Sec. of State Lau, 112 Nev. 51, 910 P. 2d 898 (1996).
- Governor Bob Miller’s right to run for another term, State Employees Ass’n v. Sec. of State Lau, 110 Nev. 715, 877 P. 2d 531 (1994).
- George Foreman’s right to fight to regain the heavyweight championship, Hipp v. District Court, No. 26064 (1994).
- The “right to die” case, Atty. Gen. McKay v. Bergstedt, 106 Nev. 808, 801 P. 2d 617 (1990).
- The illegality of the welfare regulations in Las Vegas, Clark Co. Social Services v. Newkirk, 106 Nev. 177, 789 P. 2d 227 (1990).
- The reporter’s shield law, Las Vegas Sun v. District Court, 104 Nev. 508, 761 P. 2d 849 (1988).
- The “wrongful life” case, Szekeres v. Robinson, 102 Nev. 93, 715 P. 2d 1076 (1986).
Read More >
>> Download a Comprehensive List of Mr. Polsenberg’s Published Opinions
>> View video of Dan Polsenberg's appellate argument in the Nevada Supreme Court - Teva: Williams v. Dist. Ct.
>> View video of Dan Polsenberg's Nevada Supreme Court Appellate Argument - Bullion Monarch Mining
Recent Appellate Successes
- In June 2012, Dan obtained reversal of a $5.5 million verdict and a new trial in a premises liability case, persuading the appellate court that a “mode of operation” liability theory applies only in self-service contexts. FGA, Inc. v. Gilgio, 128 Nev. ___, 278 P.3d 490 (2012).
- Also in June 2012, Dan reversed a judgment against and obtained judgment as a matter of law for a medical malpractice insurer, in a published opinion that limits the type of notice required to secure coverage under a claims-made policy. Physicians Ins. Co. of Wisconsin v. Williams, 128 Nev. ___, 279 P.3d 174 (2012).
- Business owners not jointly and severally liable for damages caused when one patron attacks another. Instead, a business owner’s liability is limited to his share of fault, if any. Café Moda v. Palma, 128 Nev. ___, 272 P.3d 137 (2012).
- In March 2012, Dan successfully appealed from an excessive punitive damage award and reduced it by more than half. The Nevada Supreme Court reduced the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages from 2.1:1 to 1:1. Exposure Graphics v. Rapid Mounting Display, No. 54069, 2012 WL 1080596 (Nev. March 29, 2012).
- In July 2011, Dan successfully obtained mandamus relief in the Las Vegas Hepatitis C cases holding that defense medical experts are not required to proffer alternative, affirmative theories of causation. Williams v. District Court, 127 Nev. ___, 262 P.3d 360 3 (2011).
- In April 2011, Dan persuaded the appellate court to vacate a district court order granting a new trial and reinstate a defense verdict, with an opinion that sets new standards for sanctions based on alleged attorney misconduct during trial. Bayerische Motoren Werke v. Roth, 127 Nev. ___, 252 P.3d 649 (2011).
- In July of 2011, Dan successfully obtained affirmance of a judgment where plaintiff sought a new trial based on jury selection and other issues. Jitnan v. Oliver, 127 Nev. Adv. Op. 35, 254 P.3d 623 (2011).
- In October of 2011, He successfully defended a defense verdict in a products liability case. The Court was persuaded that federal maritime law’s comparative fault doctrine displaced ordinary strict products liability principles, and that the plaintiff’s own negligence therefore barred any recovery. Hill v. Chaparral Boats, Inc., No. 54368, 2011 WL 5009413 (Nev. Oct. 18, 2011).
- In February 2011, Dan successfully defended a defense judgment in a catastrophic personal-injury case involving paraplegia. Lord v. Chew, No. 49969, 2011 WL 676089 (Nev. Feb. 23, 2011).
- In December 2010, He successfully represented a large construction company in litigation regarding priority of mechanics liens, procuring reversal of an adverse judgment. Hardy Companies, Inc. v. SNMARK, LLC, 126 Nev. ___, 245 P.3d 1149 (2010).
- In July 2009, Dan obtained a new trial in an insurance bad faith action, successfully arguing that an insurance company has no duty to consent to a stipulated excess judgment or file an independent interpleader action if not expressly provided for in the policy. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 125 Nev. ___, 212 P.3d 318 (2009).
- September 2008, He obtained a reversal of $1.2 million in damages on behalf of Countrywide in a case regarding a mistaken foreclosure. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Polsenberg that damages for breach of contract and negligence were duplicative of plaintiffs’ damages for trespass and conversion to their personal property. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v. Thitchener, 124 Nev. __, 192 P.3d 243 (2008).
- In August 2008, Dan obtained a complete reversal of a $33 million jury award for a contract regarding the land development. Instead of simply vacating the judgment and remanding for a new trial, moreover, the court ruled that no liability could lie against Mr. Polsenberg’s client as a matter of law. The William Peccole 1982 Trust v. Stoddart, Case No. 42234 (August 22, 2008).
- In February 2008, He obtained a complete reversal of attorney’s fees under Nevada’s offer of judgment provisions and the district court’s erroneous award of prejudgment interest on punitive damages. Most significantly, however, Mr. Polsenberg convinced the supreme court to remand the punitive damages award of 2.5 times the compensatory damages because it was constitutionally excessive the despite the statutory limit of 3 times the compensatory award. Rapid Mounting Display v. Exposure Graphics, Case No. 44664 (Feb. 29, 2008).
- In March 2008, Dan obtained a favorable ruling in an appeal that raised an issue of first impression under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. The case concerned one of the successor trusts to the historic John Paul Getty Family Trust created in 1934. The district court denied the special trustee’s petition to retroactively adjust amounts of trust income and principal distributed to the trust beneficiary and the trust corpus. The Nevada Supreme Court reversed the district court and held that at a minimum, a special trustee may adjust between principal and income accrued in the year immediately preceding the special trustee’s appointment. In re Orpheus Trust, 124 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 16, 179 P.3d 562 (March 27, 2008).
Dan is also experienced in defending favorable results on appeal. For example:
- In May 2012, Dan obtained affirmance of a defense judgment in a multiple-wrongful-death case alleging a defective tire. Michelin North America, Inc. v. Deal, 2012 WL 1929336 (Nev. 2012).
- In June 2009, Dan obtained an affirmance in a challenge to a community property award in a divorce action. Mr. Polsenberg successfully argued that post-separation transfers of community property are proper in an attempt to preserve the estate’s value. Kryger v. Kryger, No. 47534 (Nev. June 16, 2009) (unpublished order)
- In June 2009, He successfully argued that a successor corporation may enforce restrictive employment covenants acquired by merger, thereby distinguishing Traffic Control Services v. United Rentals, 120 Nev. 168, 87 P.3d 1054 (2004), which held that such covenants are not assignable when acquired by purchase. HD Supply Facilities Maint. v. Bymoen, 125 Nev. ___, 210 P.3d 183 (2009).
- In April 2009, Dan obtained an affirmance of a jury verdict awarding $12 million in damages in a wrongful death action. Courtesy Cars, Inc. vs. Morgan, No. 47582 (Nev. April 30, 2009) (unpublished order).
- In October 2008, He successfully argued that the collateral source rule does not preclude an offset of a jury award of damages where the contract expressly provides that the insurance proceeds must be made available to the lessor for any losses arising from use of the premises. Winchell v. Schiff, 124 Nev. ___, 193 P.3d 946 (2008).
- In April 2008, Dan prevailed in a case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Nevada’s “countersignature” statute, NRS 680A.300, where he successfully argued that the district court did not err in holding that the statute violated the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution because it discriminated against licensed nonresident insurance agents who were prevented from selling insurance in Nevada. Restrepo v. Molasky, 2008 U.S.App. LEXIS 7652 (9th Cir. April 10, 2008).
- In January 2008, He obtained an affirmance of a jury verdict in a defamation action. Ripplinger v. Perini Building Company, Case No. 46996 (2008).
Making The Record in Complex Trials:
Dan has considerable trial experience in scores of cases. For example, he was lead counsel in the 1997, five-week trial arising from multiple deaths in a Laughlin crane accident. From 1998 to 2005, in addition, he was lead defense counsel in the Nevada Fen-Phen cases.
Dan now uses that extensive trial experience to specific advantage in appeals. He is frequently involved during the trial of large and complex cases to prepare them for appeal and to argue legal issues, such as jury instructions and dispositive motions. Representation examples include:
- Out-of-state counsel called Dan into a trial in Elko, Nevada, where the local client was making a $60 million UCC claim, to assist with jury selection and to successfully resist a motion to change venue. After prevailing on the motion, Dan successfully defended the ruling on appeal. Dresser Industries, Inc., Roots Division v. Newmont Gold Company, Case, CV-C-98-29863. Supreme Court Case 45313 (2006).
- In November 2003, Dan was brought in on the third day of a three-month long class-action trial and, on appeal in December 2005, obtained an historic reversal of the adverse $14-million-dollar judgment and a new trial. Shuette v. Beazer, 124 P.3d 530 (2005).
- In 2006, in mid-trial, a client called upon Dan to preserve appellate issues in a trial that resulted in a $14 million compensatory and punitive damage wrongful-death award, arising out of the client’s temporary employee taking a truck, without permission, and then driving under the influence. He successfully reduced the punitive damage award to $4 million. The matter is now on appeal. Delegado v. Terrible Herbst, Case A437408. Las Vegas Review Journal Editorial
Through 2007 and 2008, Dan continued to participate in large trials to prepare a record for appeal where the circumstances have threatened potentially large verdicts. These trials resulted a $30 million verdict against a major tire company, a $20 million verdict against a doctor’s group, and two defense verdicts where plaintiffs had asked for tens of millions. Dan now has those cases on appeal.
- Moderator, “Appellate Advocacy – Best Practices from the Bench and Bar,” American Bar Association – TIPS Midwinter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits, Clearwater Beach, FL, January 15, 2016
- Moderator, “AAAL’s 25th Anniversary Luncheon,” American Academy of Appellate Lawyers Fall Meeting, Washington D.C., November 8, 2015
- Speaker, “Judicial Hellholes,” Yukevich Cavanaugh 20th Anniversary, New York, NY, September 24, 2015
- Moderator, “The Courts in Times of National Crisis: A Historical Comparison,” AAAL 2012 Spring Meeting, New York, NY, March 2012
- Speaker, “Supreme Court In Review,” Clark County Bar Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, March 2012
- Moderator, “Appellate Procedures,” State Bar of Nevada Annual Meeting, Kauai, Hawaii, June 2011
- Moderator, “Model Oral Argument,” Council of Appellate Lawyers 2011 15th National Appellate Practice Institute, Northwestern Law School, Chicago, Illinois, May 2011
- Moderator, “Supreme Court and the Ownership of Life: An Oral Argument,” ABA Annual Meeting, Chicago, July 2009
- Moderator, “Model Oral Argument,” Council of Appellate Lawyers, 2009 Appellate Practice Institute, May 2009
- Speaker, “The Strategic Use of Pretrial Motions to Facilitate a Better Trial Outcome,” DRI Seminar, Las Vegas, March 2009
- Moderator, “Civil Procedure in Nevada: A View from the Bench,” Judicial Panel Discussion, Las Vegas, November 2008
- Moderator, “Mourning the Death of the Billable Hour,” ABA Annual Meeting, New York 2008
- Moderator, “The Psychology of Error: Different Perspective at Trial and on Appeal,” ABA Annual Meeting, August 2007
- Moderator, “An International Comparison of the Judicial Role: A Mock Oral Argument and Panel Discussion,” TAGLaw, October 2007
Dan is a nationally renowned speaker and moderator at continuing education seminars, especially those involving appellate topics.
>> Download a full list of Mr. Polsenberg’s past speaking engagements and continuing education seminars
- Principal Co-Author, "Nevada Appellate Practice Manual," (first edition) (State Bar of Nevada and Nevada Supreme Court), January 2004
- Mentioned, "Pro-plaintiff judge picked apart by high court," LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, June 2016
- Quoted, "Nevada Supreme Court hears casino mogul Adelson's defamation case," Las Vegas Sun, April 2016
- Quoted, "Nevada Supreme Court hears defamation case that hinges on a hyperlink," LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, April 2016
- Quoted, "Sheldon Adelson Turns To Nevada's High Court In Defamation Case VS Jewish Political Group," Calvin Ayre, April 2016
- The Best Lawyers in America - "Lawyer of the Year", Woodward/White, Aiken, S.C. - Appellate Practice, Bet-the-Company Litigation and Commercial Litigation, 2007-2017
- Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel - Appellate, 2009
- Nevada Business Magazine - 2009 "Top 100", 2012 "Top 150", 2014 Legal Elite - Appellate, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016
- Mountain States Super Lawyers - "Top 10", Top Attorney in Mountain States (2014), Top Attorney in Nevada (2015) - Appellate, 2007-2016
- Martindale-Hubbell - "AV/Preeminent Attorney" Rating
- Benchmark Litigation - "Local Litigation Star" in Nevada, 2014, 2016
- Vegas, Inc - Top Lawyer - Lawsuits/Disputes, 2012
Video of Dan Polsenberg's appellate argument in the Nevada Supreme Court - Teva: Williams v. Dist. Ct.
Video of Dan Polsenberg's Nevada Supreme Court Appellate Argument - Bullion Monarch Mining
Cover story "Polsenberg's Charge" in Super Lawyers Magazine / Mountain States, 2015
Cover of Nevada Lawyer August 2000. Back Story "Dan Polsenberg: The Art of the Appellate Lawyer", Nevada Lawyer, August 2013
Feature Story "The Go-To Guy", BC Law Magazine, Summer 2015
Cover Story "Upon further review", Las Vegas Business Press, March 30-April 5, 2015