Robert J. Roughsedge
Attorney Contact Info:
Rhode Island, 1998
New Hampshire, 1997
Federal court of Vermont, 1998
Robert Roughsedge is a partner and senior trial attorney in the Litigation Group. Mr. Roughsedge specializes in the trial of complex litigation, including Professional Liability, Constitutional law, employment law, construction law and products liability and is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine as well as the federal court of Vermont.
Mr. Roughsedge earned his bachelor of arts in Business Administration cum laude from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Mr. Roughsedge earned his law degree cum laude from Suffolk University Law School. While at Suffolk, he was a leading member of 4 National Mock Trial competitions. Mr. Roughsedge has coached the Suffolk University Law School Trial Teams. Mr. Roughsedge is also a visiting Trial Advisor at Harvard Law School.
Mr. Roughsedge is a frequent commentator on television news programs concerning legal matters and terrorism. New England Cable News regularly calls upon him to comment on and debate recent terrorist events, constitutional law and political issues. He is frequently a guest lecturer on issues related to the legal aspects of the Global War on Terrorism and has written numerous articles on the topic.
As an experienced Army officer, practicing Constitutional law attorney and law school faculty member, Mr. Roughsedge has a rare combination of experience and knowledge. At Suffolk University Law School, he designed and developed a course on terrorism and the law. This course explores the unique and difficult issues confronting the government in its war on terrorism. The course compares the obstacles that hindered law enforcement and other governmental agencies in combating and preventing terrorist acts prior to 9/11 with the tools provided to government agencies in response to 9/11, i.e., the USA PATRIOT Act. The course covers: terrorist activities, past, present and future; familiarizes students with the historical and legal authority for the use of military commissions, intelligence gathering, border security/immigration and the laws of war; and, analyzes the effects of the war on terror on individual rights. Mr. Roughsedge is also a consultant for a joint U.S. Departments of State and Defense program advising foreign nations on issues involving counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations and the laws of war.
Suffolk University Law School, Boston, MA, Juris Doctorate, 1997, Cum Laude
3.2 GPA. Top 18th percentile. Awarded "Best Brief" in 1st year writing class. Regional Champion ABA National Trial Competition. First second year student ever selected as a member of Suffolk's fourth ranked national trial advocacy team; member of two NITA Tournament of Champions and ABA Trial Competitions. Assistant coach of Suffolk national trial teams.
NATO, Special Security School, FRG, 1989 & 1990
US Armed Forces Counter-Terrorism School, Ft. McClellan, Alabama, 1989
US Army, Military Police, Ft. McClellan Alabama, 1988, top 5%
US Army, ROTC, Advanced Camp, Ft. Bragg, N. Carolina, 1988, Regular Army Commission, top 5%
US Army, Air Assault School, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, 1987
US Army, ROTC, Basic Camp, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, 1985, Honor Graduate
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, BBA, 1988, Cum Laude, Concentration: Marketing.
Bar Association and Memberships:
Member of the state and federal bars of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. Also a member of the federal bar of Vermont.
Member of the Defense Research Institute, ABA, MBA, MDLA and BBA. Positions held Vice-Chair, ABA TIPS Aviation & Space Law Committee. Young Lawyers liaison to the DRI Trial Tactics & Techniques Committee and Vice-Chair Membership of the DRI Young Lawyers Committee.
From 1984 to 1994, Mr. Roughsedge served in the United States Army. In 1989, Mr. Roughsedge graduated from the U.S. Military Counter-Terrorism School and was assigned to a unit in West Germany. His unit was responsible for internal security for the movement of all chemical weapons in Germany and the retrograde operations of tactical nuclear weapons. During the first Gulf War, Mr. Roughsedge advised local commanders on how best to prevent and respond to terrorist activities of agents sent by Saddam Hussein to harm U.S. interests. Mr. Roughsedge is currently serving as a Military Intelligence officer reporting to CENTCOM in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Areas of Practice:
Sisko v. Sun Healthcare, Inc., Middlesex Sup. Ct. Lead counsel representing nursing home in a case involving asphyxiation in the room after aspirating food. (Defense Verdict) Allegations included a broken call light, not mechanically soft food (meatloaf) and failure to monitor patient. Successfully challenged experts and demonstrated fault of patient for not following doctor’s orders to eat in common area.
Burke v. Consolidated Rail Corp. and Daniel O’Connell’s Sons, Inc. v. Mass. Highway and Dewberry, Suffolk Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 99-5325-A. Lead counsel representing design engineers Dewberry against a claim for professional negligence involving the design and construction of a bridge and wall where the wall collapsed and derailed a train. Three week trial, tried to a jury and resulting in a defense verdict in favor of Dewberry. All other parties either settled or had a verdict against them.
Products liability case against a distributor of work uniforms resulting in a multi-million dollar recovery. Case involved a flash fire at a workplace resulting in full-thickness burns over 65% of the plaintiff. Settled the workers’ compensation claim for a total package of $2.7 million dollars plus full medical and disability pension and waiver of the lien on a third-party action against uniform distributor. Previous workers’ compensation attorney advised a low six-figure settlement. After three years of discovery, this case settled with the uniform distributor for $1.5 million. This case was previously turned down by a prominent plaintiff’s firm.
Products liability case involving the permanent impairment of sight in one eye caused by a toy. Took over case from an attorney after highest offer from manufacturer of toy was $175,000. After pressing discovery of the manufacturer including the depositions in various states of the engineers involved in the design and testing of the toy, the manufacturer settled for $1.5 million dollars.
Lead counsel in a case involving the death of a truck driver who was struck and killed by an illegal alien employee of a landscaping company. Case eventually settled for $1 million and a waiver of all workers’ compensation liens.
Degree v. SunBridge Healthcare Corp., Essex Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 03-2257. Defense verdict. Lead counsel representing a nursing home against a claim of negligence. The plaintiff alleged that she received permanent injuries from a sharp edge left on her wheelchair after the nursing home modified the wheelchair. Tried to a jury verdict in favor of the nursing home.
Foster v. Mediplex of Connecticut, Ansonia-Milford Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: AAN-CV-04-4000366-S. Defense verdict. Lead counsel representing a nursing home against a claim of negligence. Plaintiff’s estate alleged that lack of care caused the development of a decubitus ulcer. After a three-week trial, the jury found no causation.
McKnight v. Osborne Desk Company, et al., Suffolk Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 00-1191 Business Litigation Session. This case involved a derivative action against the officers and key employee of a closely-held corporation who closed the main branch of the business and sold off its assets without informing the shareholders and left a profitable satellite operation in place with a key employee as the alleged owner. After numerous lawsuits, trials and negotiations, the Court found in favor of our shareholder client against the officers and key employee. The Court ordered the remaining operations held in trust for the benefit of the original corporation and a favorable settlement was obtained.
Aucone v. Essex County OB/GYN Associates, Inc., Essex Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 00-1727. Lead counsel representing a doctor’s office against a claim of discrimination for firing the office manager with a 30-year tenure after she was diagnosed with cancer. Brought a counter-claim against the plaintiff based on a unique theory that her negligence caused financial loss to her employer. After a two-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the doctors and awarded the doctors $161,723 plus interest of $107,030.55 on their counter-claim. Judge, after earlier claiming “there is no way this jury will award money to the doctors against this old lady,” took away the money judgment against the office manager on a JNOV, but left the verdict in favor of the doctors on the discrimination claims.
Carco v. Saro, Suffolk Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 95-5771 Business Litigation Session. Represented a minority shareholder in a case involving the ouster of that shareholder from a closely-held corporation. The majority shareholder claimed unsuccessfully that the minority shareholder did not meet his requirements as a shareholder. The minority shareholder brought a counter-claim for his ouster for which a jury found in his favor after a two-week trial.
Second chair defending a major airline against a claim of negligence for failure to have a defibrillator onboard a cross-country flight resulting in the death of a passenger who went into cardiac arrest. This was a case of first impression in the United States. Several foreign flagged carriers placed automatic defibrillators onboard their international flights prior to this incident. No domestic carrier had followed suit as of that time. The plaintiff decedent was only 37, earned in the high six-figures and left behind several young children. We were able to challenge the ability of the plaintiff to scientifically prove that a defibrillator would have saved the decedent’s life or increased his chances of survival and this led to a reasonable settlement.
A chartered airplane crashed near the Maine/Canada border with ten men from the Boston area onboard. All occupants were killed in the crash. The men were young and left behind large families. The cause of the crash was determined to be a defective part. As second chair representing the manufacturer of the part, we were able to determine through investigation that the part had been repaired and reconditioned without our client’s approval. We then used the Lanham Act offensively against the party that refurbished the part and placed it in the stream of commerce with our client’s marks and without approval. This led to an early and cost effective resolution for our client in a case that settled later for $10 million.
An insurance company sought a declaratory judgment that it did not have to indemnify or defend an accountant who had allowed his CPA license to lapse. Our client was a necessary party to that action because it had a claim for professional negligence against that accountant for nearly $1 million. After successfully defending against summary judgment, discovery revealed that the insurance company could not meet its burden at trial and a favorable settlement was reached.
Co-counsel on a case representing a gun manufacturer against a claim that it did not design against improper use of the weapon by adding to the design built in trigger locks, a magazine disconnect safety, or a round chambered indicator. Two twelve-year-old boys were playing with a handgun owned by one of the boy’s fathers. The owner of the gun’s son chambered a round, dropped the magazine and then mistakenly thought that the gun was unloaded when he put the handgun to his friend’s head and pulled the trigger. The case was settled for a reasonable amount after demonstrating the state of the art in gun design and safety at the time of manufacture.
Bolstad v. Keltic Korner Foodstore, Inc., Suffolk Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 98-00893-A. In another case involving avoidance of coverage, an insurance company refused to defend or indemnify a convenience store for a shooting that took place on its premises by one of its employees. As lead counsel for the shooting victim, I reached an agreed upon judgment with the convenience store that was entered for $1 million. Pursuant to established case law, a satisfaction of the judgment and assignment of all the convenience stores claims against the insurance company was entered into allowing the convenience store to maintain it operations and property while providing the victim with the ability to pursue the insurance. The subsequent case against the insurance company was settled soon after filing.
Plaintiff purchased a boat without a marine generator to run air conditioning, etc. Plaintiff put a portable generator in a hatch and vented the generator to the outside by propping open the hatch. Plaintiff husband and wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning on their first night on the boat. Plaintiff’s estate sued the manufacturer of the boat (for failure to include a generator), the seller of the boat (for not insisting on a marine generator or warning), the manufacturer of the carbon monoxide detector (because it had an off switch) and the manufacturer of the portable generator (failure to warn). We represented the manufacturer of the portable generator. The other defendants paid well over a million dollars. We invoked admiralty jurisdiction to take away the plaintiff’s right to a jury, invoked the Pennsylvania Rule and demonstrated that the case may not be provable. This successfully led to a nuisance value settlement.
Coady Corp. v. Toyota Motor Distributors, Inc., USDC-D. Mass. C.A. No.: 97-40219. Co-counsel representing a Toyota dealership against Toyota for fraud and inequity in its vehicle allocation system. Pursuant to M.G.L. c.93B, after a bench trial, the Court found that we proved rampant fraud by dealers in the Toyota system, that this fraud benefited the wrongdoers and that Toyota was aware of the misconduct. However, the Court (Gorton, J.) held that Toyota owed no duty to take affirmative action to prevent or correct the fraudulent conduct.
Wine & Spirits Retailers, Inc. v. Rhode Island, USDC-D. RI C.A. No.: 04-418-T. Co-counsel representing numerous liquor retailers in Rhode Island challenging the constitutionality of a ban on franchises, chain stores, joint advertising and use of the same or similar name based on violations of the dormant Commerce Clause and the First Amendment.
Normandin v. Eastland Partners, et al., Worcester Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 00-120. Land development dispute in which developers sought to void land swap arrangements made with our clients. Received a verdict in our clients’ favor in the trial court that was upheld on appeal.
Salomao v. Phoenix Real Estate Trust, et al., Essex Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 00-1824. Construction dispute representing the buyer against a developer/seller who did not renovate the premises to code. After discovery demonstrated the amount of construction problems with the property, the defendants’ settled.
Chamberlain v. Nuissl, Plymouth Sup. Ct. C.A. No.: 03-855. Construction dispute representing the buyer against a developer who sought to avoid closing on the purchase and sale agreement in order to sell at a higher price. There was a verdict in favor of our client that was affirmed on appeal.
Lead counsel representing a regional distributor of eggs and egg packaging against a national corporation that breached its agreement with the distributor. After several years of discovery to prove the amount of damages and after successfully defending against several dispositive motions, a large six-figure settlement was reached before trial.
Associate counsel on a case representing a manufacturer of fork lifts against a claim that its parking brake design was faulty and caused a fork lift to strike and permanently injure a worker standing in front of the forklift on a ramp. Successfully developed a strategy to break the chain of responsibility in this products case and prevent the plaintiff from proving his case. The court entered a directed verdict in our client’s favor at the close of the plaintiff’s case.
Second chair of a case in Vermont representing an automobile manufacturer against a claim of defective design where a sixteen-year-old boy became a quadriplegic in an automobile accident. The case settled favorably after discovery showed dispute and inconsistencies among plaintiff’s experts.
Represented an international printing press manufacturer in a products liability dispute in Vermont. The case settled for nuisance value after medical records were discovered in California showing a previous accident with similar injuries.
Second chair representing an automobile manufacturer in a case alleging defective design where a four-year-old boy became a quadriplegic in a head on collision with an SUV. Our aggressive preliminary work of visiting the scene, knocking on doors to identify witnesses and experimenting with similar model vehicles identified issues leading to early resolution.
Speeches and Presentations:
New England Cable News
The State of Iraq, presented to the Seacoast Republican Women, July, 2007
Guest Lecturer on the Proper Use of U.S. Military Power to a group of PhD candidates at the Kennedy Library lecture series, July 21, 2004
Lecturer/Panelist on Guantanamo: How Should We Respond?, at the Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University, October 5, 2006. Other panelists included: Alberto Mora, retired General Counsel for the U.S. Navy; Michael Posner, President of Human Rights First; Ambassador John Shattuck; Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director of Physicians for Human Rights; and, Pamela Merchant, Executive Director of The Center for Justice & Accountability.
Panelist, USA PATRIOT Act Debate, sponsored by the Town of Concord, MA, May, 2002.
Visiting Lecturer on Homeland Security at a course for visiting international officers at Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, Newport, RI.