Practice Areas

Alternative Dispute Resolution

As a corollary to its litigation practice, the firm is regularly engaged in various types of alternative dispute resolution proceedings. While that experience is heaviest in mediation and arbitration, the firm has experience in other types of ADR. The full array of ADR handled by Shields | Mott is:

  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Summary jury trial
  • Mediated fact finding
  • Mini-trial
  • Med-arb
  • Dispute review boards
  • Hybrid types of ADR

Individual lawyers in the firm have acted as neutrals in hundreds of mediations and arbitrations involving cases ranging from construction industry to products liability to admiralty to personal injury. Members of the firm regularly lecture and teach on ADR topics.

Construction Industry

Many members of the firm possess extensive backgrounds in the construction field. Two of the firm’s members wrote the book, “Louisiana Construction Law” published by HLK GlobalCommunications, Inc. and available online. This expertise in conjunction with our extensive construction law background gives the firm a working understanding of the significant regulatory, technical and business issues that face any construction project. The firm represents contractors, surety companies, owners and design professionals in all manner of construction industry disputes. Prior specific experience includes handling all types of structural failures, masonry failures, built-up roof failures, soils failure, various types of leakage and seepage problems, window wall and glass failures, sealant and caulking failures, interior and exterior finish failures, delay and acceleration claims, payment issues, construction insurance claims, and design professional errors and omissions, as well as more esoteric types of industry claims (including Louisiana public and private works claims, and Miller Act and United States Government claims). Firm lawyers lecture regularly to groups comprising all aspects of the industry on numerous industry topics. Our lawyers provide a full range of construction-related services including:

  • Construction litigation in Federal, State and Administrative Courts
  • Negotiation and drafting of contract documents
  • Mechanic’s and materialman’s lien claims
  • Performance and payment bond claims
  • Claims preparation and analysis
  • Bid protests
  • Labor and employment law
  • Corporate law
  • Real Estate law
  • Business litigation
  • Shareholder disputes
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Contract disputes act claims
  • Surety bond issues
  • Mold claims
  • Project documentation
  • Insurance coverage
  • Miller Act claims
  • Termination for default defense
  • Code regulations
  • Construction defects
  • Differing site conditions
  • Mediating and arbitrating construction claims
  • Public and Private Work Acts claims

Financial Workouts

Sometimes contractors, despite their best efforts, find the company in a cash crunch with incomplete projects and seemingly insufficient cash flow and/or funding resources. On a number of occasions our firm has guided companies through this situation by using a number of different tools and options, generally in connection with the performance bond surety.

Insurance Defense

Since its inception the firm has represented insurers on traditional insurance defense work, primarily in the construction industry. The firm engages in trial work involving CGL, Builders’ Risk and Errors and Omissions policies, as well as more esoteric types of insurance policies, on the following issues:

  • Defense of insurance companies and their insureds
  • Coverage disputes
  • Claims of bad faith and related claims for punitive-type damages
  • Subrogations, reimbursement and collections claims
  • Reinsurance disputes

Intellectual Property and Trademark

Shields | Mott has a burgeoning intellectual property practice including litigation and prosecution. While this type of practice might seem an odd fit for a construction/surety law firm, the combination is in fact very compatible. Qualifying as a member of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Bar requires a technical (e.g., engineering or architecture) undergraduate degree, which both Sonny Shields and Andrew Vicknair have earned. Sonny has been a member of the Patent Bar for 30 years and Andrew for 12 years.

The technical nature of this practice demands the type of background and experience, which is aided by a construction law practice, where technical issues abound on a daily basis. The firm’s experience includes litigation and prosecution of numerous patent, trademark, and copyright issues (both in federal court and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office), as well as patent infringement litigation. A lengthy history of Shields | Mott trial experience in technical construction cases and products liability cases serves as broad support for the intellectual property litigation practice. Our full range of services include:

  • Patent prosecution and litigation
  • Trademark prosecution and litigation
  • Copyright registration and litigation

Labor and Employment Law

The firm’s labor and employment attorneys are dedicated to achieving a client’s employment objectives in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The firm represents employers in matters concerning:

  • Union avoidance
  • Labor relations
  • Drug testing
  • Employment discrimination
  • Wage and hour disputes
  • Immigration
  • ERISA and employee benefits
  • Wrongful discharge
  • Disability discrimination
  • Employee leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The firm’s attorneys in this practice area represent management interests in federal and state courts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as well as before federal agencies such as the EEOC, the NLRB and the Department of Labor. In addition, the firm routinely advises clients on employee handbooks, employment applications, drug testing documents and other personnel documents. The firm’s employment attorneys provide in-house training programs to a client’s supervisors and employees on such topics as sexual harassment, union avoidance, disability accommodation and other personnel matters.

Land Use

Shields | Mott has handled numerous zoning matters for both owners/developers and neighborhood interests opposing development. Experience in these fields includes many litigated zoning matters and over 100 applications completed and filed for conditional and special permitted uses and zoning waivers in parishes throughout Louisiana and several municipalities in and around the Greater New Orleans area. The firm possesses particular expertise in zoning and planning for historic district permitting. The taking of property for the public use without the consent of the owner is commonly known as the power of eminent domain. In Louisiana, this power is referred to as “expropriation.” The firm handles all needs of clients with regard to expropriation, whether the matter involves the actual physical taking of property or merely regulation that affects the normal use of the property. When a “taking” of property has occurred, we will assist in assessing whether the taking can be attacked, as well as in working to obtain maximum value for the property taken. Various land use matters handled by Shields | Mott include:

  • Zoning – Administrative and litigation
  • Planning – Administrative and litigation
  • Expropriation
  • Subdivision restrictions
  • Legislative assistance
  • Historical district regulations and applications
  • Development assistance – Commercial and residential
  • Codel restrictions
  • Condominium documentation

Products Liability

The firm represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex products liability cases. Cases handled include products from the construction industry, manufacturing industries, electrical power transmission, service and maintenance industries and consumer areas.  Our attorney’s working knowledge, background and technical expertise bolster the prosecution and defense of product claims.

Surety Claims

All aspects of construction industry bonds (performance and payment bonds) have been and are currently handled by the firm. The firm tackles each phase of bond work from adjusting the claim through working out settlements, and, when appropriate and necessary, through detailed discovery, trial of the claim and handling any appeals. In addition to work involving construction industry bonds, the firm has handled claims for more esoteric types of bonds. Our lawyers provide a full range of surety related services including:

  • Default scenarios (contested and uncontested)
  • Claim analysis, management and coordination
  • Project takeover
  • Bankruptcy
  • Salvage
  • Indemnity issues
  • Subrogation
  • Litigation (trials and appeals)
  • Arbitration and mediation
  • Workouts, handling and documentation