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Sarah E. Spencer

sarah.spencer@chrisjen.com
VCard

257 East 200 South, Suite 1100
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
Sarah is an experienced trial attorney, litigator, and appellate advocate.   She practices law in Utah and Colorado and in the federal Ninth and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal.  Sarah graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2004.  She started law school at the age of eighteen and obtained her juris doctorate degree shortly after she turned 21.   After serving two clerkships, Sarah joined Christensen & Jensen in 2007 and became a shareholder of the firm in 2014. 
 
Sarah serves as lead trial counsel in all kinds of commercial and business tort cases.  Her experience is broad; she regularly handles lawsuits alleging breach of contract, common law and statutory fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, trademark/copyright infringement, and trade dress violations, among other claims and causes of action.   Sarah has successfully prosecuted and defended against emergency motions for injunctive relief and has first-chaired evidentiary proceedings in relation to such motions.   She has won numerous cases by summary judgment after years of hard-fought litigation. 
 
Sarah also defends the interests of businesses that are sued for product defects, breaches of warranty, and negligence.  She is very familiar with all aspects of Utah product liability law, theories and defenses.   She has defended cases involving a diverse array of products such as home and RV appliances, motor vehicles, trailers, watercraft, vehicle components, exercise equipment, medical devices, window blinds, pharmaceuticals, ammunitions, farm implements, complex industrial machinery, pressurized bottles, fire suppression systems, toilets/sinks/plumbing materials, and chemical solvents, among others.  She also defends businesses and businesspeople sued for negligence in all forms including professional liability, premises liability, trucking and motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death claims.
 
Sarah is an experienced appellate lawyer.  She has been counsel of record in more than thirty appeals.  Her experience includes interlocutory appeals, appeals of injunctions, appeals of summary judgment orders, and post-trial appeals.  She handles all facets of appellate work.  She is experienced preparing merits briefs, petitions for interlocutory appeal, motions for 54(b) certification, petitions for certiorari, and amicus briefs.  In connection with her focus on appellate work, Sarah served as chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Utah State Bar in the 2017-2018 bar year.  She has been active in the Appellate Advocacy Committee of DRI (Defense Research Institute) since 2014.  Sarah is currently serving as the seminar planning chair for the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee.
 
Sarah has received numerous professional accolades.  She has received the highest possible AV–rating from Martindale–Hubbell since 2012.  Since 2010, Sarah has been selected as a Mountain States Super Lawyers “Rising Star” and an “Up and Coming” lawyer by Utah Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite.”  From 2016 through 2018, Sarah’s peers selected her for inclusion in “The Best Lawyers in America” in the practice area of commercial litigation.   In 2017, Utah Business Magazine named her one of Utah’s “Forty under 40” young professionals.  
 
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Commercial Litigation and Business Torts: Represents businesses and individuals in business–related disputes, including cases involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, consumer sales practices, and other business torts.  Representative matters include:

  • Defended business from claims of breach of contract and conversion relating to asset purchase agreement
  • Defended guarantor of commercial lease from landlord’s claims seeking recovery for tenant’s default
  • Defended members of LLC in case alleging state and federal securities fraud, breach of contract, conversion and alter–ego claims
  • Represented nutraceutical company in connection with fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment claims against a former licensee
  • Represented transportation company in successfully obtaining a prejudgment writ of attachment against multimillion dollar collateral owned by an international entity in a breach of contract dispute
  • Defended electronics manufacturer from claims of alleged trade secret misappropriation and predatory hiring
  • Defended transportation company from claims of alleged breach of indemnification contract
  • Represented individual in breach of contract and fraud claims involving international hotel franchise
  • Defended travel agency from contract and rescission claims relating to international travel contract

Personal Injury/Property Damage/Tort Defense: Defends product liability, personal injury, and property damage claims. Representative matters include:
 

  • Defended manufacturers from product liability claims in a variety of consumer goods, vehicles, and drug/medical devices. 
  • Defended transportation companies and drivers in wrongful death and catastrophic injury claims arising from semi–truck accidents
  • Defended property owners and businesses sued in connection with slip–and–fall and other premises liability claims
  • Represented defendants and plaintiffs heirs in wrongful death cases
  • Defended drivers and represented injured parties involved in severe motor vehicle collisions
 
Appeals: Represents entities and individuals in appeals before the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in appeals from administrative agencies. Representative matters include:
 
  • Represented a medical malpractice plaintiff in a post–trial appeal before Utah Supreme Court in a case involving the application of the medical malpractice statute of limitation
  • Represented an officer of a local fire district in an appeal before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving the constitutionality of Utah’s prescription database statute
  • Represented a subcontractor in an appeal before the Utah Court of Appeals in a case involving the application of the residential construction statute of repose
  • Represented a family appealing to the Utah Court of Appeals an adoption decree entered by the Utah Juvenile Court
  • Represented Utah municipalities before the Utah Court of Appeals in appeals of summary judgment rulings in cases filed under the Utah Post–Conviction Remedies Act
  • Represented a manufacturer of an asbestos–containing product in an appeal before Utah Supreme Court in a case involving a decedent’s heirs’ wrongful death claim
  • Represented a criminal defendant in a pro bono appeal before the Utah Supreme Court addressing the indigent defendant’s right to funding for defense resources
  • Represented a slip–and–fall claimant in an appeal before the Utah Supreme Court arising from the grant of summary judgment to the defendant landowner
  • Represented a manufacturer of an asbestos–containing product at Utah Court of Appeals in a claim involving alleged mesothelioma
  • Represented business entities before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in connection with an appeal of a preliminary injunction in a civil enforcement proceeding filed by the Federal Trade Commission
  • Represented local business before the Utah Supreme Court in claim against insurance company following major fire loss
  • Represented a decedent’s estate and heirs in an appeal before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the district court’s denial of summary judgment in a Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit
  • Represented a Utah municipality before the Utah Court of Appeals in a case involving alleged First Amendment retaliation arising from community member’s alleged protected speech
  • Represented a water conservancy district before the Utah Court of Appeals in claim involving alleged flood damage
  • Represented an animal–housing business before the Utah Court of Appeals in a case involving an alleged attack by dog
  • Represented numerous law enforcement officers and Utah municipalities in civil rights appeals involving alleged excessive force, wrongful detention, and substantive and procedural due process claims arising under state and federal law
  • Represented medical professionals in connection with appeals from administrative denials of licensure by Utah Division of Professional Licensing
 
CURRENT ADMISSIONS
 
  • Utah state and federal courts
  • Colorado state and federal courts
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States Supreme Court
 
RECOGNITIONS
 
  • “AV – Preeminent” Peer Review Rating from Martindale–Hubbell since 2012
  • Elected Best Lawyer in America, 2016-2018, in the specialty of commercial litigation
  • “Rising Star,” Super Lawyers Magazine / Thomson Reuters, 2010–2018
  • “Up and Coming,” 2010, 2011, 2013–2016, Utah’s Legal Elite, Utah Business Magazine
  • "Civil Litigation" recognition 2017, Utah's Legal Elite, Utah Business Magazine
  • Named one of Utah’s “Forty under 40” young professionals in 2017 by Utah Business Magazine
 
EDUCATION
 
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law, J.D., 2004
  • Staff Editor, University of Denver International Law Journal 2002–2003
  • Member, ABA Traveling Trial Team 2002–2003
  • American Jurisprudence Award, Advanced Civil Procedure 2003
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, 1999
  • Honors: Psi Chi, National Honor Society in Psychology, President’s Award
  
SELECTED LECTURES and PUBLICATIONS
 
  • Author: "Is the Record Really Complete?" published by the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence, Volume 3 Issue 1 June 6, 2018.
  • Speaker and moderator, DRI Trial Tactics and Appellate Advocacy Seminar joint session, Mock Oral Argument Regarding a Sports Gaming Case, March 15, 2018, Las Vegas Nevada.
  • Author, “How Appellate Courts Consider New Evidence on Appeal,” published in For the Defense, February 2017.
  • Presenter, “Accuracy and Clarity Promote Readability,” A Short Legal Writing Course for Lawyers, Utah State Bar, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 10, 2016
  • Presenter, “Case Law Update: Recent Supreme Court and Tenth Circuit Cases Interpreting the Qualified Immunity Defense to Civil Rights Claims,” Utah Municipal Attorneys Association Spring Conference, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2015
  • Presenter, “Unauthorized Practice of Law in Utah and Beyond,” Utah Paralegal Association Conference, Utah Law & Justice Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20, 2014
  • Panel Moderator, Civility and Professionalism in the Courtroom, Utah Young Lawyers Division Leadership Conference, Waldorf Astoria, Park City, Utah, November 8, 2013
  • Author, "Young Lawyers – Be on the Lookout for the Unauthorized Practice of Law," The Whisper, DRI Young Lawyers Committee Newsletter, Vol. 9:10, October 2013
  • Author, ALFA International Transportation Compendium, Utah Update, 2012
  • Presenter, "What Local Government Lawyers Need to Know About Identifying and Defining Their Client: An Ethical and Practical Approach," Fall Conference, Utah Municipal Attorneys Association, September 2012
  • Presenter, "Civil Court Boot Camp," National Business Institute, 2011
  • Author, “United States Supreme Court to Determine Whether Public Law School's Nondiscrimination Policy Violates First Amendment: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez,” The Voice, Defense Research Institute E–Newsletter, Vol. 9:20, 2010
  • Author, “The Importance of Pro Bono Legal Services: Why Young Lawyers Should Seek Out Rewarding Pro Bono Opportunities,” The Whisper, DRI Young Lawyers Committee Newsletter, Vol. 1:12, 2009
  • Author, “The United States Supreme Court Takes a Closer Look at Qualified Immunity:  Pearson v. Callahan and its Implications for Constitutional Tort Defense,” The Whisper, DRI Young Lawyers Committee Newsletter, Vol. 1:4, 2009
  • Author, “Vicarious Liability of Motor Carrier Employers for Punitive Damages Imposed as a Result of Employee Drivers' Conduct: The Restatement's Complicity Approach," ALFA International Transportation Update, Vol. 2008:4, 2008
  • Co–author, Petition for Writ of Certiorari to United States Supreme Court, Pearson v. Callahan, 2007 WL 4300857, cert. granted March 24, 2008, 128 S.Ct. 1702
 
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
    • Appellate Advocacy Committee (2008–present)
      • Seminar planning chair, 2018-2019
      • Co–chair of marketing and membership subcommittees (2015–2018)
    • Young Lawyers Committee (2008 – 2015)
      • Co–Chair of marketing Subcommittee (2014–2015)
      • Co–Vice Chair of marketing subcommittee (2013–2014)
      • Co–Chair of membership Subcommittee (2012–2013)
      • Vice–Chair of membership Subcommittee (2011–2012)
  • Utah State Bar
    • Appellate Practice Section (2006–present)
      • Section Chair (2017–2018)
    • Section vice chair (2016-2018)
  • Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (2010–2015)
    • Committee Co–Chair (2012–2015)
    • Chair, Public Relations Subcommittee (2011–2012)
  • Young Lawyers Division (2006–2013)
    • Executive Council Member and Co–Chair (2010–2013)
    • Serving Our Seniors Committee (2011–2013)
    • Wills for Heroes Committee (2008–2011)
  • Co–Chair of 2009 Utah State Bar Summer Convention in Sun Valley, Idaho
  • Utah Law Related Education
    • Panel Judge, High School Mock Trial Competition, 2008, 2009, 2011–2014
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