Michael Obert, Jr.
Michael Obert is a partner in the Phoenix office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the Professional Liability Practice. Mr. Obert practices virtually all aspects of professional liability defense matters. In addition to financial professionals, Mr. Obert has represented insurance agents, real estate professionals, home owners associations and architects/engineers. Mr. Obert’s practice also includes the other insurance defense claims and commercial litigation, including claims against debt collectors, bookkeepers and accountants, premises liability claims, products liability claims, contract claims, and automobile accidents.
Mr. Obert is a lead trial attorney with experience in numerous jury trials, evidentiary arbitrations, bench trials and other arbitrations. Two of Mr. Obert’s litigated matters were recognized by the WI Law Journal in 2003 as among its “Significant Defense Verdicts.”
In 2013, Mr. Obert successfully prevented a suit accusing a client of selling certain insurance products that were allegedly unsuitable from being sent to FINRA arbitration. After previously stipulating to dismiss claims in state court, the plaintiffs tried to reallege their claims in FINRA arbitration. Mr. Obert convinced the FINRA panel to dismiss the claims on the grounds that FINRA lacked jurisdiction and that the claims had already been released.
Real Estate Professionals
Mr. Obert’s real estate cases include defense of all types of real estate professionals including brokers, agents, mortgage professionals, home inspectors, appraisers, title companies, developers, landlords, and due diligence companies. Recent successes in this area have included:
- In 2008, Mr. Obert obtained a defense verdict at arbitration in a home inspection case alleging a failure to identify termite damage.
- In 2009, as a result of a motion for summary judgment filed by Mr. Obert, a real estate investor agreed to dismiss an alleged $13 million claim against a due diligence company for less than the cost of defense.
- In 2019, Mr. Obert successfully obtained a dismissal of his client in an Arizona lawsuit alleging claims against a California real estate agent for the sale of a property in Wyoming on behalf of an Arizona seller. The court agreed with Mr. Obert’s argument that it did not have personal jurisdiction over the California Real Estate Agent.
- In 2019, Mr. Obert obtained dismissal of a commercial tenant in a lawsuit alleging a mechanic’s lien by a contractor who did work on another store within the mall where the client’s facility was located. Mr. Obert successfully argued that the lien could not extend to the client’s store where the contractor performed no work.
- In 2001, Mr. Obert successfully prosecuted a trial against a company that designed and installed a petroleum fuel delivery system for cheese processing factory. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Obert’s client which doubled system installer’s highest offer before trial.
- In 2002, Mr. Obert successfully defended an architectural firm for allegedly improperly designing a natatorium building and improper supervision of the contractor during construction. Following AAA arbitration, the panel awarded damages less than the architectural firm’s the pre-arbitration offer.
- In 2005, Mr. Obert successfully defended a case against a pallet manufacturing company alleging that its improper storage of pallets caused a fire to spread to nearby properties. After trial, the jury returned a defense verdict.
- In 2006, Mr. Obert obtained a summary judgment ruling for an engineering firm against claims that it allegedly negligently designed and supervised a road improvement project, causing significant delay to the contractor. In summary judgment, the court dismissed the claims against the engineering firm, finding that the contractor’s claims were barred by the economic loss doctrine. The matter settled after appeal.
- In 2009, Mr. Obert successfully obtained a motion to dismiss a complaint against an engineering firm who provided plans for the development of a subdivision.
- In 2013, Mr. Obert obtained a summary judgment on behalf of a plumbing company that serviced reverse osmosis filtration systems against alleged liability for a leak that occurred over three years after the company's last service. Mr. Obert successfully argued that the claims against the plumbing company lacked any evidence of a causal relationship between the company's work and the alleged leak.
General Liability/Products Liability
- In 2020, Mr. Obert filed a summary judgment motion that successfully defeated claims for punitive damages and emotional distress claims made against a manufacturer whose product allegedly caused a fire, limiting the Plaintiff’s recovery to property losses resulting from the fire. The matter settled after the Court dismissed the punitive and emotional distress claims.
- In 2021, Mr. Obert obtained summary judgment for condominium owner who was sued in a personal injury action. The Plaintiff alleged injuries resulting from fire that originated in a common area at the condominium. Mr. Obert successfully argued that owner did not owe a duty for the common area and that Plaintiff lacked evidence that the owner was any way directly responsible for causing the fire.
Primary Area(s) of Practice
- Professional Liability
- Consumer Financial Services
- Products Liability
- General Liability
- Arizona Association of Defense Counsel - Member, Board of Directors
- State Bar of Arizona
University of Wisconsin Law School
Juris Doctor, cum laude, 1996
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Bachelor of Science, with distinction, 1992
“An Overview of Wages and Hours Laws in Wisconsin,” State Bar Young Lawyers Division “Bridge the Gap” Series April, 1998