Ugo Colella represents clients in civil litigation in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country. Although Mr. Colella has focused on business-related disputes and product liability and complex tort litigation, he brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to all areas of litigation and pre-litigation planning and avoidance. Known for his aggressive litigation strategies and tactics, Mr. Colella seeks to achieve the best results for his clients, whether that be through an early settlement or through full-fledged litigation, including trial (bench or jury) and appeal.
Mr. Colella has litigated cases involving a broad range of federal statutes, including the Interstate Land Sales Disclosure Act, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Anti-Terrorism Act, Bankruptcy Code, Full Faith and Credit Act, Federal Tort Claims Act, False Claims Act, civil RICO, Lanham Act and Alien Tort Claims Act. Mr. Colella has been involved in several cases that test the limits of federal power, including challenges to federal courts' exercise of subject matter jurisdiction and those courts' attempts to assert personal jurisdiction over foreign entities and persons.
Mr. Colella also represents clients in claims brought under state law, including breach of contract, bad faith, unjust enrichment, premises liability, products liability, ordinary negligence, professional negligence, fraud, fraudulent conveyance/transfer, negligent misrepresentation, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, veil-piercing, violation of consumer protection statutes, and tortious interference with contract or prospective business relationships.
Mr. Colella has defended wrongful death and survival cases in state and federal courts across the country as well as cases involving alleged traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and mental disability, lost past and future earnings, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Mr. Colella is widely published. In addition to being relied upon by numerous scholars and cited in several authoritative text books, Mr. Colella’s publications have been cited and relied upon by members of the United States Supreme Court as well as federal and state courts across the country, including: the federal District of Columbia, First, and Ninth Circuits; federal district courts in Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Utah, and West Virginia; and the supreme courts of Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah.
Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Colella was a member of the U.S. Department of Justice's Honors Program, serving as a trial attorney for the Civil Division of the Justice Department. In this role, he handled toxic tort claims and a variety of other civil litigation issues at the federal trial and appellate levels for agencies, including the Department of the Army, Small Business Administration and Department of Energy.
Mr. Colella is a 1996 cum laude graduate of Tulane Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Tulane Law Review. He is a 1989 graduate, with honors and distinction, of Stanford University, where he also pitched for the Stanford baseball team.
Areas of Practice
- Business-Related Disputes
- Mass Tort Litigation
- Personal Injury Tort Litigation
- Product Liability Litigation
- Class Action Litigation
- Multidistrict Litigation
- Complex Civil Litigation
- Represented Express Homebuyers USA, LLC in obtaining a favorable court decision ruling that the trademarks “We Buy Houses” and “Webuyhouses.com” are generic and should be canceled.”
- Represented Express Homebuyers USA, LLC in obtaining dismissal of false advertising, trade libel and conspiracy claims against it, in excess of $40 million in damages.
- Successfully defended a major food processing and packaging company against veil-piercing claims and claims that it was the alter ego of an affiliated company.
- Successfully defended and favorably resolved design and manufacturing defect claims pertaining to food thickening agent.
- Primary counsel for a major food processing and packaging company in connection with various product liability actions brought in multiple jurisdictions pertaining to food thickening agent.
- Successful result in 5-week jury trial over traumatic brain injury claims, including obtaining a post-trial remittitur of more than 80% of the jury’s verdict.
- Successfully represented unsecured creditor in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding alleging that the chief executive officer and sole shareholder of the debtor misappropriated company funds and breached his fiduciary duties to all creditors.
- Succeeded in obtaining control and transfer of all stock in company to our client after litigating issues of fiduciary duties of controlling shareholders, corporate waste, and creditor rights.
- Represented plaintiff in a request for a common-law marriage declaration and successfully argued that the District of Columbia courts had personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendant.
- Obtained a unanimous jury verdict on behalf of a supply and import company in a breach of contract action. The jury awarded the client $1.7 million in compensatory damages and found that the defendant had acted in bad faith, further entitling the client to attorneys' fees. In the defendant's breach of contract counterclaim, the jury unanimously found that the client was not liable. The Second Circuit agreed with the jury's finding that the defendant breached the contract in bad faith, and the lower court awarded the client approximately $2 million in attorney's fees and expenses (in addition to the $1.7 million awarded for the underlying breach).
- Represented a mortgage service provider in a declaratory judgment/breach of contract action against the FDIC. The case settled in a manner the client found favorable before the FDIC answered the complaint.
- Representing a retail energy marketer in an action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief in connection with the state public utilities commission's attempt to retroactively apply a licensing rule, in violation of a prohibition on retroactive lawmaking. After a lengthy hearing and briefing, the case settled favorably for the client.
- Defended a client against claims of breach of contract and property damage. The case settled in a manner the client found favorable.
- Represented an individual shareholder in litigation against a majority shareholder and a company for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and other violations of state law. After obtaining an injunction and minimal discovery, the case settled in a manner the client found favorable in less than two months.
- Represented a real estate marketing firm in a breach of contract and fraud case against a developer. The case settled in a manner the client found favorable immediately after the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.
- Represented a foreign bank against claims that it funded al Qaeda and the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The case was successfully dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and affirmed on appeal.
- Represented a creditor in its appeal of the bankruptcy court's conclusion that a state court default judgment for fraud was dischargeable in federal bankruptcy proceedings. We prevailed on appeal, convincing the district court to reverse the bankruptcy court's judgment and render judgment in the client's favor.
- Represented a bank in a breach of contract claim against the U.S. government. After several appeals and two trials, the Federal Circuit affirmed an award in favor of the client in the amount of approximately $97 million.
- District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Tulane Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1996
- Editor in Chief, Tulane Law Review (Vol. 70, 1995-96)
- Stanford University, B.A., with honors and distinction, 1989
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2016-present
- Thompson Hine LLP
- Partner, 2013-2016
- Patton Boggs LLP
- Partner, 2010-2013; 2004-2006
- Associate, 2000-2003
- Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
- Partner, 2006-2010
- Department of Justice Civil Service Division (Environmental Torts)
- Attorney, 1997-2000
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- Law Clerk to the Hon. Carl E. Stewart (Current Chief Judge), 1996-1997
- Tulane Law Review Advisory Board of Editors, 1996-present
Honors and Awards
- Named a Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation, 2014, 2015 and 2018
Civic and Charitable Activities
- The National Italian American Foundation
Quoted, "Second Chance: Faces Class Action Over Misleading Guarantees," Class Action Reporter, November 22, 2017
- Quoted in "Lawsuit Says Nonprofit Second Chance Misled Consumers," The Baltimore Sun, October 12, 2017
- Quoted in "When A Lawsuit Says You And Your Spouse Were 'Just Friends'," Financial Advisor, September 19, 2017
- Author, "The Meaning of 'Sex' and Pragmatic Judicial Interpretation," The Hill, April 19, 2017
- Author, "Fake Legal Standing," The Washington Times, March 21, 2017
- Author, "DC Wine Bar Sues Trump For Owning A Hotel Two Miles Away," The Federalist, March 21, 2017
- Author, "Foreign Governments Should Be Sued For Cyberattacks," Washington Examiner, February 13, 2017
- Author, "Use Legal Liability to Help Stem Tide of Fake News," Financial Times, January 4, 2017
- Quoted, "Prince George's Co. judge reduces $1.8M jury verdict at defense request," The Daily Record, 2016
- Co-author, "A Primer on 'Bad Faith' in Federal Removal Jurisdiction," Law360, Fall 2014
- Author, "Great Taste, But Ultimately Less Filling: 'Daubert Lite' and Class Certification," In-House Defense Quarterly, Fall 2009
- Co-author, "The Curious Case of 'Merits' and Class Certification," Class Action Litigation Reporter, 2009
- Co-author, "Managing the Credit Crisis in Court: Defense Control of the Class Certification Process," Class Action Litigation Reporter, 2008
- Author, "'Con-Torts': From Breach of Contract to Tort Claims," Law360, 2008
- Co-author, "Interpreting Federal Statutes of Limitation,"37 Creighton Law Rev. 493, 2004 (Cited by the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Supreme Court of Tennessee and the Court of Appeals of Tennessee)
- Co-author, "Revisiting Equitable Tolling and the Federal Tort Claims Act: Putting the Legislative History in Proper Perspective," 31 Seton Hall L. Rev. 174, 2000 (Cited by the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Utah)
- Co-author, "The Burden of Proving Jurisdiction Under the Federal Tort Claims Act: A Uniform Approach to Allocation,"67 Fordham L. Rev. 2859, 1999 (Cited by the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of West Virginia and the District of New Jersey)
- Co-author, "Revisiting Equitable Tolling and the Federal Tort Claims Act: The Impact of Brockamp and Beggerly," 29 Seton Hall L. Rev. 174, 1999 (Cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama)
- Author, "The Case for Borrowing a Limitations Period for Deemed-Denial Suits Brought Pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act," 35 San Diego L. Rev. 391, 1998 (Cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit)
- Author, "Trust the Tale, Not the Author: Judicial Review of Legislative Motivation and the Problem of Proving a Racially Discriminatory Purpose under the California Constitution," 69 Temple L. Rev. 1081, 1996
- Author, "The Secret Dissent in Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. v. Calhoun—Never Before Published!," 71 Tul L. Rev. 203. 1996
- Author, "The Proper Role of Special Solicitude in the General Maritime Law," 70 Tul. L. Rev. 227, 1995
- Co-author, "Protecting Privacy During Discovery," 18(9) L.A. Lawyer 17, 1995
- Author, "The Law Review Is Better Than Spinach," 70 Tul. L. Rev. i, 1995
- Author,"Mangieri v. Clifton: The Fifth Circuit Extends Qualified Immunity to Police Officers who Arrest Anti-Abortion Protestors," 69 Tul. L. Rev. 833, 1995
- Author, "HIV-Related Information and the Tension Between Confidentiality and Liberal Discovery: The Need for a Uniform Approach," 16J. Legal Med 33, 1995
- Co-author, "What a Difference a Day Makes: Age Presumptions, Child Psychology, and the Standard of Care Required of Children," 24 Pac L.J. 1323, 1993 (Cited by the Supreme Court of Indiana)
- Co-author, "No Chance for Lost Chance Recovery in California," 15(6) L.A. Lawyer 40, 1992
- Co-author, "Lost Chance Recovery and the Folly of Expanding Medical Malpractice Liability," 27 Tort & Ins. L.J. 615, 1992 (Cited by the U.S. District Courts for the District of Alaska and the Middle District of Alabama and the Supreme Court of Delaware)
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "Personal Jurisdiction: Past, Present, and Future," Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem, NC, September 28, 2017
- Interviewed on "Up All Night," BBC Radio, January 2017 (Interview starts at 3:13:32)
- Panelist, "Defense on the Offense: Moving to Deny Class Certification," Phoenix, September 2009
- Panelist, "How to Assess Expert Testimony at the Class Certification Stage," Seattle, May 2009
- Panelist, "Alternative Dispute Resolution," U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Washington, D.C., September 1999