Kelly D. Eckel is a commercial litigator and serves as the Firm's Hiring Partner. Ms. Eckel represents corporate entities and individual clients in a variety of litigation matters, and has significant experience in handling commercial fraud, complex contracts, and business tort cases. Ms. Eckel has represented bankruptcy trustees, and has significant experience in handling adversary proceedings to avoid and recover fraudulent transfers and preference payments. Ms. Eckel has also represented corporate entities, officers and directors, and individuals in intellectual property cases—including patent infringement and trade secret litigation, computer software litigation involving licensing and implementation disputes, and inventorship and ownership conflicts—as well as employment benefits disputes, class action securities fraud and products liability cases.
Ms. Eckel regularly advises clients regarding strategy, probable course and outcome of litigation matters and, for international clients, has explained the application and effect of U.S. laws and the U.S. legal system. Fluent in German, Ms. Eckel has assisted U.S. clients in disputes with European entities, has translated German language financial and other corporate documents, and is active in the German-American Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia.
A former judicial clerk to the Honorable Stanley S. Brotman of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Ms. Eckel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as numerous federal courts. In 2010, Ms. Eckel was appointed to the American Arbitration Association's Roster of Neutrals for commercial cases, an exclusive list of accomplished and respected practitioners from legal and business communities throughout the world. As an AAA arbitrator, Ms. Eckel frequently presides over pre-trial and evidentiary hearings, resolves discovery disputes, issues rulings and awards, and resolves disputes between parties. She is the co-author of the "Contracts" chapter in the acclaimed treatise Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, a regular speaker on pretrial practice issues, and a member of the Litigation section of the American Bar Association as well as the Committees for Women in the Profession of those sections. Ms. Eckel is also a member of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania's Prisoner Civil Rights Panel and a past member of the Federal Courts Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and American Inn of Court at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Eckel is a 1996 cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, where she was Managing Editor of the Temple Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Honor Society, and a cum laude graduate of Harvard College. She has served on the Executive Board of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Philadelphia for many years, including serving as the club's president. She also served for several years on the Executive Committee of the Suburban Seahawks Club, a Newtown Square, Pennsylvania non-profit entity.
- Obtained complete dismissal on summary judgment of fraud and breach of various warranty claims asserted against a Global Tier 1 enterprise software provider in a case involving the license and implementation of a proprietary software program.
- Represented two franchisees of a national fast food franchise alleged to have violated the New Jersey Gift Card Statute and the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act in a purported class action pending in New Jersey State Court.
- Obtained for a private company engaged in government contracting an out-of-court resolution of a dispute with its minority shareholder, who was suspected of diverting business to a third party; resolution included the termination of the minority shareholder's employment and the acquisition of his minority interest for a reasonable sum.
- Obtained an order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granting summary judgment and awarding $343,000 for manufacturer and supplier of golf merchandise and equipment in a breach of guaranty action brought against two individuals for their failure to honor their personal guaranty for the debts of their business.
- Defended Spanish corporation and its U.S. subsidiary against claims involving alleged breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing in carrying out earn-out provisions of corporate agreement. Mediated outcome that client found highly favorable.
- Represented local technology company in dispute with UK-based software provider concerning software provider's failure to deliver promised goods and services. Negotiated settlement that client found favorable, precluding need to initiate formal proceedings.
- Represented buyers in dispute about the sale of real estate in the United States Virgin Islands. Allegations against the sellers and their lawyer include breach of contract, misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Defended medical device manufacturer accused of breach of contract and various torts involving lease of certain laser technology medical equipment. Secured dismissal of all claims, including multiple counts of misrepresentation, business fraud and breach of contract, after conducting limited discovery and motion practice.
- Defended reseller of biomedical equipment against claims alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy, conversion and breach of contract.
- Represented local company engaged in sale and lease of shoring equipment for large infrastructure projects in a dispute with hardware-software vendors who breached contractual obligations by failing to deliver promised goods and services.
- Represented nationwide environmental engineering and consulting firm in lawsuit against local competitor and former employees, alleging violations of the Lanham Act, breach of contract, unfair competition, tortious interference with business and contractual relationships, and breach of fiduciary duty.
- Represented foreign government-owned lender, owners and asset manager of resort hotel and condominium project in the United States Virgin Islands in dispute with branded manager of hotel over hotel management contract and termination of manager.
- Represented Chapter 7 trustee in a variety of bankruptcy cases, investigating and filing adversary proceedings to avoid and recover unlawful transfers made in connection with confessed Ponzi schemes.
- Represented liquidating trustee in bankruptcy cases to avoid and recover preferential transfers.
- Represented liquidating trustee in multimillion-dollar litigation to avoid and recover fraudulent transfers and damages for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with a failed LBO.
- Represented patent owner and licensee in misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement case to enforce patent for wireless soil monitoring technology that detects and measures the level of salinity and moisture in ground surfaces such as golf course greens.
- Represented scientist-inventor in patent infringement and theft of trade secrets case involving discovery and use of keoxifene for treatment of autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases.
- Led team of lawyers, including other litigators and technical patent lawyers, in defending patent infringement claims against national maternity apparel company and its distributors.
- Represented nationwide distributors of grocery products in infringement case involving trademark and trade dress for aluminum foil product.
- As counsel to a pharmaceutical services company that provides supply chain systems and services to the hospital systems and pharmacy market, represented plaintiff in a patent infringement action alleging infringement of a patent for an automated prescription vial filling system against two defendants, including an Austrian multi-national conglomerate.
- Represented national designer and retailer of maternity apparel in lawsuit against competitor, alleging trademark infringement and dilution, unfair competition, false designation of origin, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and breach of contract.
- As counsel to a semiconductor manufacturer in its lawsuit against one of the largest software development and consulting companies in the country, represented plaintiff in multi-million dollar breach of contract and misrepresentation action involving the failed implementation of advanced planning software.
- Defended multinational smart card technology development and marketing company against alleged inventorship claims and claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and intellectual property.
- Represented regional medical device development company and scientist-inventor (macromolecular chemist) in a dispute concerning patented technology for a method and process for making hydrogel and a related spinal nucleus implant device.
- Represented major manufacturer of residential and commercial building materials in a lawsuit seeking in excess of $10 million plus punitive damages in connection with the failed implementation of defendant's defective enterprise resource planning software.
- As counsel to a multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and distributes orthopedic implant devices, represented plaintiff in complex commercial arbitration proceeding alleging breach of contract and fraud in connection with software license agreements in which defendant agreed to develop, deliver and service enterprise resource software. Obtained multimillion-dollar award following ten-day trial.
- Defended New York-based fashion accessory merchandiser in design patent infringement case concerning the "hair scrunchie."
- As counsel to a software development and consulting services provider, represented plaintiff in a copyright infringement and breach of contract claim alleging that the defendants had unlawfully modified plaintiff's software and otherwise violated plaintiff's intellectual property rights.
- Obtained a ruling for a sporting-goods manufacturer that reversed the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Unemployment Compensation Division's initial finding of an employer-employee relationship between the company and its seasonal workers.
- Defended German orthodontics manufacturer and distributor in employment matter brought by the former general manager who sought extended employment benefits and significant damages. Secured defense verdict on claims of premature termination and breach of contract.
- Represented former employee in trial to secure damages for post-termination disparagement of client by former employer.
- Represented manufacturer of feminine hygiene and incontinence products in employment dispute with former employee who sought extensive benefits under his employment and termination agreement, including benefits from the manufacturer's corporate parent. After nine-day trial and post-trial briefing, defeated claims for additional employment benefits.
- Defended two former officers of former public company in four related cases involving claims of various acts of fraud, including a securities fraud class action, and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in connection with the collapse and ultimate bankruptcy and delisting of the company.
- Represented national insurer and two former officers/directors in consolidated securities fraud class actions in which plaintiffs alleged that the company and the individual defendants had made material misrepresentations and omissions regarding the success of a merger with another insurer.
- Oversaw handling of series of negligence cases filed against nationwide operator of parking garages.
- Defended claims brought by firm client's ex-wife alleging commercial paper violation and breach of obligations under divorce terms.
- Defended family members and family-owned business against claims of fraud and conspiracy brought by former family member against family, entity and their lawyers.
- Represented corporate third-party defendant in multi-million dollar environmental action seeking contribution from waste generators for the expense of remediating certain property in New Jersey. Secured early dismissal of all claims based on written briefing and oral argument on successor liability issues.
- Defended manufacturer of floor and ceiling tiles against product liability claims brought by group of individuals who alleged that exposure to certain products caused cancer.
Commercial, Business Tort Litigation
Intellectual Property, Trade Secret, and Technology Litigation
Areas of Practice
- Commercial Litigation
- Bankruptcy Litigation
- Intellectual Property Litigation
- Employment Litigation
- Software Licensing and Systems Failure Litigation
- Class Action Litigation--Securities Fraud, Product Liability, and Consumer Fraud
- Product Liability Litigation
- New Jersey
- U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
- Supreme Court of New Jersey
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Temple University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1996
- Harvard College, A.B., cum laude, 1991
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2005-present
- Associate, 1997-2004
- United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and District Court of the Virgin Islands
- Judicial Clerk, Honorable Stanley S. Brotman, 1996-1997
- American Bar Association
- Litigation Section
-- Committee for Women in the Profession
- Intellectual Property Section
-- Committee for Women in the Profession
- American Arbitration Association
- Arbitrator (Member of National Roster of "Neutrals")
- Philadelphia Bar Association
- Federal Courts Committee
- Women in Intellectual Property Subcommittee
- Landlord-Tenant Appellate Mediation Program, Mediator
- German-American Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia
- The University of Pennsylvania Law School American Inn of Court, Former Member
- Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Philadelphia
- Past President, Executive Board Member
Civic and Charitable Activities
- Upper Providence Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
- Upper Providence Third District, Committee Member, 2010-2012
- Co-author, "Superior Court of New Jersey Slashes Attorneys' Fees in Class Action Settlement," Duane Morris Alert, June 20, 2012
- Co-author, "Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Federal Securities Fraud Claims Begins to Run When a Reasonably Diligent Plaintiff Would Have Discovered the Violations," Duane Morris Alert, December 19, 2011
- Co-author, "Supreme Court Holds Mutual Fund Investment Adviser Not Liable for Misleading Statements in Fund's Prospectus," Duane Morris Alert, June 23, 2011
- Co-author, "Securities Fraud Claims Against Outside Law Firm Could Not Be Certified as Class Action, Third Circuit Determines," Duane Morris Alert, April 5, 2011
- Co-author, "Contracts," Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 2005
- "Claim to 'Fame': 3rd Circuit's Times-Mirror Decision Expands Trademark Protection," The Legal Intelligencer, September 7, 2000
Selected Speaking Engagements
- "Conflicts of Legal Ethics in Transnational Cases," Annual Conference on German and American Law of the German-American Lawyers Association (DAJV), Columbia Law School and Fordham Law School (2012)
- "Dirty Litigation Tactics: How to Deal with the 'Rambo' Litigator—Defeat the Unethical Practices of Opposing Counsel," National Business Institute, October 2010 and October 2011
- "Discovery: Where Most Cases Are Won or Lost," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, November 2009
- "Rules and Procedures for Federal Court Success," National Business Institute, November 2008
- "Email Marketing in 2008: What Every Company Should Know," The Association of Strategic Marketing, Philadelphia, March 2008
- "Privacy and Security," Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, November 2007
- "Effective Federal Pre-Trial Practice for Pennsylvania Attorneys," National Business Institute, 2006 and 2007