Thomas McGrath is the Managing Partner of Tyson & Mendes’ Las Vegas office. He handles a wide variety of litigation cases and specializes in general liability, third-party bodily injury, first party uninsured/underinsured bad-faith and coverage litigation, and HOA litigation. Mr. McGrath is licensed to practice in all Nevada and California federal and state courts. He has devoted his practice to Nevada for the last 15 years.
Mr. McGrath has first chaired over 20 Nevada District Court trials and has successfully resolved many seven-figure exposure first-party bad faith and third-party liability cases. He also successfully testified before the Nevada Legislature and on behalf of the Nevada insurance lobby in opposition to proposed legislation to expand the imposition of joint liability in Nevada. In the last five years, his practice has expanded to include defending HOAs in the thousands of pending HOA foreclosure cases in Nevada courts.
Mr. McGrath earned his B.A. in English from UC Berkeley in 1987 and his J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1992. He practiced law in the California Bay Area from 1992 to 2002. He obtained his license to practice law in Nevada in 1999 and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2002.
Mr. McGrath enjoys spending time with his wife, his two children, and two adult step-children. He coaches youth boys’ basketball teams and is an avid fan of all professional sports teams from his hometown of Seattle. As a 15-year resident of Las Vegas, he enjoys the desert and all swimming pools. He constantly reminds his out-of-town friends not to ask him to meet on the Las Vegas strip.
The Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in Allstate Insurance Company v. Miller (2009) 212 P.3d 318, 125 Nev.300, confirmed an insurer’s duty, under the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, to inform an insured regarding settlement opportunities. When an insurer acknowledges its duty to defend its insured, it possesses a duty to adequately inform the insured of settlement offers. This duty applies to all settlement offers, including…
Earlier this year, the Nevada Supreme Court significantly amended the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure to more closely mirror the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Although the previous version of Nevada’s court rules was already similar to the Federal Rules, the amended rules seek to discourage counsel from submitting repeated requests for stipulated extensions to the court’s scheduling order and trial date. The new rules went into effect on March 1, 2019. Whether they apply to existing cases depends on whether the case already has a scheduling order or trial setting order in place. In cases where the court issued the scheduling order after March 1, 2019, the new rules apply.
In some jurisdictions, a party to a civil lawsuit is not required to disclose documents or other evidence unless and until another party in the case directs discovery requesting/demanding the same. However, Nevada imposes an obligation on all parties in a civil lawsuit to serve initial disclosures of witnesses and exhibits and produce copies of all non-privileged relevant documents before the parties are permitted to engage in discovery. And for defendants, Nevada law requires their initial disclosures to include complete copies of all potentially applicable insurance policies, regardless of the potential liability exposure in the case.
Last month the federal district court of Nevada granted United States Liability Insurance Company (USLI) summary judgment in an action filed against USLI for bad faith denial of a claim. Tyson & Mendes represented USLI in this case. The lawsuit centered around USLI’s denial of coverage for damage to the claimant’s property based on exclusionary language found in the insurance policy.
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in Nevada have become accustomed to their involvement as parties in quiet title and declaratory relief litigation, arising from HOA foreclosure sales. In HOA foreclosure litigation, the primary dispute is between the real estate investors who purchased properties at the HOA foreclosure sales and the lenders who claim their first deed of trust interest survived the sale and continues to encumber the property. The HOA foreclosure litigation exists primarily because before October 2015, Nevada’s HOA foreclosure statute (NRS 116.3116) did not expressly clarify whether the “super-priority” portion of an HOA’s lien for delinquent assessments, could include attorneys’ fees and costs.
When an uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) carrier’s insured files a third party claim against an alleged tortfeasor, the adjudication of liability and damages will be binding on the same issues regarding the insured’s first party claim for UM/UIM benefits against his/her own carrier. In many cases, if the tortfeasor timely appears in the third party case, the UM/UIM carrier may not intervene because, presumably, the tortfeasor and/or his/her insurance carrier will be motivated to defend, liability and damages adequately. But, in third party cases where the UM/UIM carrier has concerns about the tortfeasor’s presentation of defenses to liability and damages (such as a case where the UM/UIM carrier’s insured’s alleged damages exceed the tortfeasor’s applicable insurance limits), it may intervene to protect its interests.
In Theresa Malone v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company, 2017 WL 518420, the Nevada Federal District Court recently granted Defendant State Farm’s Motion to Dismiss its insured’s federal lawsuit, asserting first party underinsured motorists claims arising from State Farm’s alleged failure to pay UIM benefits.
On June 1, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval approved Nevada Senate Bill 308, which increases the requirements for minimum insurance limits for motor vehicle owners in Nevada. The new law, which takes effect on July 1, 2018, requires auto insurance policies to afford a minimum of $30,000.00 in coverage for bodily injury or death to one person and $50,000.00 for bodily injury or death to more than one person. Nevada’s current law requires auto insurance policies to afford limits of $15,000.00 per person and $30,000 aggregate. The new law also increases the minimum limits for property damage from $10,000.00 to $20,000.00
Nevada’s Rules of Civil Procedure closely mirror federal court civil procedural rules. Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 16.1 generally requires parties to serve initial disclosures of witnesses and exhibits without awaiting a discovery request from other parties. And NRCP 16.1(a)1(C) requires parties to provide with their initial disclosures, “a computation of any category of damages claimed by the disclosing party.”
Nevada Federal District Judges continue to interpret and apply Bourne Valley differently in cases involving quiet title disputes arising from HOA non-judicial foreclosures under the previous version of Nevada’s HOA lien statute (NRS 116.3116). At least half of the judges in Nevada Federal District Court require lenders to establish the HOA’s collection agent failed to provide them actual notice of the disputed HOA foreclosure sale. When the lenders fail to meet their burden in this regard, these judges hold that the lenders lack standing to assert a Constitutional substantive Due Process argument. But other judges interpret Bourne Valley to hold that NRS 116.3116 is facially unconstitutional and therefore, lenders are not required to prove lack of actual notice of the foreclosure sale for the Court to invalidate the same.