Samuel W. Wardle
Sam is a Kentucky Super Lawyers “Rising Star”® in litigation who practices in appellate and trial courts as well as in arbitration.
Although he focuses on high-stakes litigation and regulatory matters, Sam enjoys doing something different every day. His practice varies from straightforward breach-of-contract cases to complex administrative investigations, claims under ERISA, claims under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, insurance coverage, constitutional appellate, insurance bad-faith, and products-liability defense.
As a former reporter, Sam is passionate about civic engagement and public service. Throughout his years of covering government, business, and the nonprofit sector, Sam repeatedly encountered attorneys who were committed to using their unique knowledge and skills to improve their communities; their example inspired Sam to change professions and pursue a career in the law. Now, Sam devotes a significant proportion of his time to volunteerism, civic leadership, and pro bono work with numerous local and regional nonprofits and civic institutions.
Outside of the office, Sam loves spending time with his kids, fly fishing, watching sports, traveling, and reading mysteries. He participates in an unreasonable number of fantasy football leagues and served as commissioner of the Frost Brown Todd-Louisville office league.
Associate, Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius, Miami, 2012 (summer associate), 2013-2014
- Complex civil litigation and appellate, focusing on financial-industry defense.
Law Clerk, the Honorable Paul C. Huck, 2014-2015
- Assisted Judge Huck in overseeing a varied and busy docket of civil and criminal cases.
- Assisted Judge Huck in sittings by designation on the Eleventh, Ninth, and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal.
- Assigned as Southern District of Florida law clerk to the Takata airbag MDL, former Chief Judge Federico Moreno presiding.
Newspaper reporter, various (2002-2010)
- Covered local, regional, and national news stories for newspapers in Western North Carolina and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill “Triangle” region of North Carolina.
- Served as Associated Press North Carolina correspondent covering U.S. House and Senate elections and news.
- Won the North Carolina Press Association’s 2009 First Place award in deadline reporting for story package on a police crackdown of a UNC-Chapel Hill student protest that turned violent.
- Drafted and argued successful motion to compel arbitration of a consumer-finance dispute, prevailing over plaintiff’s argument that the defendant had waived arbitral rights by previously filing a collection action in Kentucky circuit court.
- Drafted successful motion to dismiss multimillion-dollar shareholder derivative action, which alleged that a former corporate officer of a large Kentucky business defrauded the company and breached fiduciary duties to the company.
- Represented regional construction company in AAA arbitration over breach-of-contract claim against purchaser. Succeeded in obtaining pre-hearing dismissal of respondent’s counterclaim for unfair trade practices. Proceeded with hearing on breach-of-contract claim, resulting in a favorable post-hearing settlement before the arbitrator rendered an award.
- Assisted a regional telecoms company in AAA arbitration seeking compensation for a customer’s breach of an exclusive-services contract, resulting in a favorable settlement prior to the hearing.
- Worked as part of a team representing a university administrator who alleged a wrongful termination, resulting in significant and favorable settlement for the administrator without filing suit.
- Researched, planned, and drafted successful motion to dissolve temporary restraining order that precluded a large pension fund from changing the terms of certain health benefits, prevailing on the argument that plaintiffs could not demonstrate irreparable harm due to the changes in the terms of their health-insurance coverage.
- Argued for and obtained an order piercing the corporate veil of a Kentucky company and holding its principal personally liable for the company's six-figure debt, based on the principal’s comingling of corporate bank accounts with personal debts and expenses, which amounted to fraud.
- Assisted team representing insurer in a six-figure retroactive or “retro” premium dispute with an insured, resulting in a favorable settlement shortly after a complaint was filed.
- Worked on team that negotiated a successful and amicable "corporate divorce" between horse farm owners and trainers, foreclosing the need for litigation over the parties’ claims of breach of contract and fiduciary duties, and allowing the parties to pursue separate interests on mutually agreeable terms.
- Won full judgment in favor of a group of South Florida investors who claimed fraudulent inducement and breach of contract in entering a $500,000 contract for chartered flight services.
- Drafted and argued motion to dismiss malicious prosecution action, resulting in a complete dismissal and judgment in client’s favor.
- Drafted successful motion for summary judgment in a complex fiduciary duty and legal malpractice dispute arising from an auction of more than 100 thoroughbred horses in Keeneland.
- Negotiated dismissal of a Kentucky Open Records Act claim, with both sides bearing their own fees and costs, which asserted that a client had willfully withheld public records in violation of open-records laws.
- Drafted a motion to show cause why a state agency should not be held in contempt for violating a federal judge's confidentiality order. Following a sealed hearing, the judge granted the motion and held the agency in contempt
Pro bono matters
- Served as attorney ad litem for a 15-year-old human-trafficking victim. Sam successfully obtained dismissal of a criminal charge filed against the victim in California, convincing the prosecutors to pursue the traffickers instead.
- Worked on a team to represent an asylum applicant who had been assaulted by police in her native country.
- Served as pro bono attorney for Miami “Art Law,” which provided free legal services to regional artists. Currently volunteers with the Louisville Urban League’s “Reilly Reentry” initiative, which assists in expunging criminal convictions.
Highlights & Recognitions
- SuperLawyers “Rising Star”® in Kentucky litigation, 2018-2019
- Scholarship and Leadership Award, American Law Institute, 2013: The Dean of UM Law School personally selected Sam to receive this award, which recognized the graduate with the most-outstanding accomplishments in scholarship and leadership.
- University of Miami School of Law academic recognitions: Bruce J. Winnick Award for Academic Achievement (top 1 percent of class); Order of the Coif; Miami Law “Ten to Watch”; Miami Law Review Executive Board Member; Soia Mentschikoff Fellow (full-tuition academic scholarship); “Book” awards (highest overall score) in Contracts, Property, Legal Writing, Environmental Law, Intellectual Property, Civil Procedure II, Elements of Law; Dean’s List (all 6 semesters); Dean’s Fellow.
- UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication academic recognitions: Dean’s merit scholar; graduate with highest honor’s; senior thesis/ research report on the “creative destruction” of the Internet and its effect on community newspapers.
Civic & Charitable Organizations
- Vice-chair, Louisville Bar Association Litigation Section, 2019
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, local board member and volunteer (2017-2018)
- Jefferson County Public Schools, financial advisory committee member (2017-2018)
- Louisville Urban League, Reilly Reentry Project pro bono volunteer
- Kentucky Refugee Ministries, pro bono attorney
- Miami Art Law, 2012-2014, pro bono law clerk and attorney volunteer
- Miami-Dade County attorney ad litem program, 2013-2015, pro bono attorney
- Derby City Fly Fishers, member
- Highland Baptist Church, member
- Law School Mentoring Program, minority student mentor
- Louisville Bar Association, CLE presenter, ethics