The Legal Intelligencer — July 29, 2014
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A Winning Team
Ben Seal


Michael Salmanson and Scott Goldshaw first met over lunch in 2001, an initial interview to see if they would serve each other well. Fit and personality are paramount concerns for both men, each of whom had experienced life at larger firms but were by then interested in a scaled-down setting. So when lunch carried on, eventually turning to dinner and a seven-hour meeting, they knew it was the start of a strong professional relationship.

Salmanson Goldshaw, the threeattorney labor and employment firm the duo captain together, is an extension of the natural rapport the two share. They are selective about whom they represent, placing an emphasis on matters that interest them and clients they work well with on a personal level. And they’ve earned their selectivity, turning in one positive result after the next for all variety of clients in all types of cases over the years. The phone rings frequently in the firm’s Philadelphia office, allowing Salmanson Goldshaw to take only the cases its attorneys feel most passionate about.

“We definitely have more interest in us than we are able to handle, so we’re able to be selective,” said Salmanson.

The high level of interest means they turn away far more cases than they take. After all, size does become a factor.

“We take it on a literally case-bycase basis,” Goldshaw said of the firm’s selection process. “We don’t have a formula for selecting cases. There are certainly criteria that are important, such as the strength of the case. We care a lot about the client– not only does the client have to seem credible and likable, but the type of person who could work well with us. It’s about fit, meaning personality of the client and personality of our firm.”

In the past two years, Salmanson Goldshaw built on an impressive resume of litigation results, delivering for clients large and small, in matters both private and public.

In representing whistleblower Daniel Feldman, a former research fellow at Cornell University’s medical school who alleged that it improperly used grant money from the National Institutes of Health targeted for AIDS research, the firm prevailed in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which rejected the defendants’ bases for appeal of a $1.6 million award. The court in U.S. ex rel Feldman v. Cornell University and Wilfred van Gorp adopted a theory of damages it had never previously applied, namely that because there were no physical goods delivered, the government’s loss was the entire value of the grant, according to the firm. The case is expected to have a significant impact on future False Claims Act matters.

“The Feldman case had so many unique challenges to it in so many ways—certainly in terms of the size of the case, in terms of the number of documents and what was thrown up against us and the many legal issues that could have sunk the case right from the start,” Salmanson said.

When Parx Casino’s director of player development left to join Revel Entertainment Group in December 2012—in alleged violation of a twoyear noncompete agreement—it could have dealt a heavy blow to Parx, whose customer base and its preferences were suddenly at risk of exposure to a competing casino. But Goldshaw and the firm’s third attorney, associate Danielle Goebel, who started with the firm in August 2012, secured a preliminary injunction that wasn’t appealed, keeping Parx’s cards close to its chest.

In a very public matter, Salmanson Goldshaw represented John Lawless, who was fired from his position as corporate secretary of the Delaware River Port Authority in April 2010 and escorted from the premises by armed guards. The departure was covered extensively by local media, leaving Lawless concerned about his prospects for the future.

“To have our client walk out in those circumstances led to a lot of speculation and innuendo and made it quite difficult for our client in future employment contexts,” Salmanson said. “With the power of Google these days, people would read about it. John very much felt like it was inhibiting his ability to get other employment.”

The DRPA spent more than a half-million dollars defending the case, according to reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer, but Salmanson Goldshaw came out on top, securing a settlement that included a year’s pay. Perhaps more importantly for Lawless, the DRPA also issued an explanation for the armed guards, indicating that because of the sensitive nature of his position, it was standard practice.

“Getting the statement was critically important for him,” Salmanson said. “There’s a view among the defense bar that it’s all about the money, and this was one where it wasn’t.”

In addition to its more standard labor and employment fare, Salmanson Goldshaw has developed a strength in the difficult field of Employee Retirement Income Security Act litigation. In S&B v. C.Z., the firm secured a confidential settlement for a man being sued by his former employer to reimburse pension funds that were overpaid to him after a company error. Despite Supreme Court precedent indicating that the terms of the plan control, and the terms of the plan clearly showing the firm’s client received more than he should have, Salmanson successfully argued that the company had breached its fiduciary duties under the plan by paying out the funds in the first place, enabling the parties to reach a confidential settlement.

In addition to the firm’s focus on ERISA litigation, Salmanson Goldshaw is particularly attuned to LGBT issues, serving as advocates for what Salmanson described as “the last big area of a protected group that’s not really afforded the same protections in the workplace.” “We like to be on the cutting edge of employment law,” Goldshaw said.