Wayne Drinkwater has extensive experience in major business, commercial and constitutional litigation. Over the years, he has tried some of Mississippi’s most significant cases. Wayne has also handled more than 70 appeals, arguing more than 30 of them in state and federal courts across the United States.
A former law clerk of Chief Justice Warren Burger at the Supreme Court of the United States, Wayne is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and an Advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is included in TheBest Lawyers in America® in four litigation fields. He is also recognized as a Star Individual in the field of Commercial Litigation by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.
Inducted to The University of Mississippi School of Law Alumni Hall of Fame, 2022 American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Fellow American Bar Foundation, Fellow American Law Institute, Fellow Listed in Chambers USA Litigation: Appellate, 2005-2022 Litigation: General Commercial, 2003-2022 Listed in Who's Who Legal: Product Liability Defence, 2016-2020 Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® Appellate Practice, 2007-2023 Bet-The Company Litigation, 2007-2023 Business Litigation, 1997-2006 Commercial Litigation, 2006-2023 Mass Tort Litigation, 2007-2010 Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants, 2011-2023 "Lawyer of the Year," Jackson, Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2012, 2015 "Lawyer of the Year," Jackson, Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants, 2016 "Lawyer of the Year," Jackson, Appellate Practice, 2019 Listed in Benchmark Litigation, "Local Litigation Star," Mississippi, 2008-2021 "Litigation Star", 2023 Listed in Benchmark Appellate, "Appellate Star," Mississippi, 2012-2013 Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers Business Litigation, 2006-2021 “Top 50," Mississippi, 2012-2021 BTI Client Service All-Star, 2019-2020 American Optical Corporation v. Estate of Robert Lee Rankin Sr. (Miss. 2017) Successfully represented American Optical Corporation (AO) in an appeal of a $14 million jury verdict. A former construction worker filed a complaint in Jefferson County Circuit Court alleging an injury of “lung disease and silica related conditions caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica” while using respirators that AO manufactured. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the $14 million jury verdict, vacated the judgment and rendered final judgment as a matter of law in favor of AO. Major Mart, Inc. v. Mitchell Distributing Company, Inc., 3:13-cv-942 HTW-LRA (S.D. Miss., trial in 2015) After a 17-day jury trial, obtained a jury verdict and final judgment in favor of a beer distributor in a federal antitrust case brought by a convenience store chain alleging monopolization, attempted monopolization, price discrimination, and state law torts. Plaintiffs Shareholders Corporation v. Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. Represented a defendant life insurance company in a securities fraud and breach of contract suit involving the sale of a convertible debenture. After a six-day trial before a three-judge arbitration panel, won a final award in favor of the life insurance company on all claims. Wilbourn v. Wilbourn, 106 So. 3d 360 (Miss. App. 2012), cert. denied 105 So. 3d 326 (Miss. 2013) In a 19-day trial, won a judgment for individual clients in breach of fiduciary duty litigation involving a testamentary trust and control of a bank holding company. On appeal to the Court of Appeals of Mississippi, the judgment was affirmed in its entirety. The Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Gaines, 75 So. 3d 41 (Miss. 2011) Won reversal of a $7 million judgment against a paint manufacturer in a case alleging exposure to lead paint. In reversing the judgment, the Supreme Court of Mississippi found that the plaintiff failed to prove that his alleged injury had been caused by the manufacturer’s lead paint, and that plaintiffs’ expert testimony was unreliable. Harrison v. Tyson Breeders, Inc., 91 So. 3d 41 (Miss. Ct. App. 2011) Represented a poultry company on claims of breach of contract, fraud and negligence arising out of alleged violation of grower contract. Obtained a defense verdict on the tort claims and a nominal damage award on the contract claim. The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict on the tort claims and reversed the damage award on the contract claims. Marble v. Diviney Construction Co., 60 So. 3d 797 (Miss. 2011) Obtained reversal of $2.5 million jury verdict against Deviney Construction Company in the Mississippi Supreme Court. Hartman v. McInnis, 996 So. 2d 704 (Miss. 2007) Appealed a deficiency judgment in a breach of contract action, obtaining a victory for the client. Microtek Medical, Inc. v. 3M Co., 942 So. 2d 122 (Miss. 2006) Successfully represented medical products company against suit arising out of supplier contract. Olivia Y ex rel. Johnson v. Barbour, 2006 WL 5187653 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 29, 2006) Successfully represented a class of abused and neglected children in a case challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s foster care program. 3M Co. v. Johnson, 895 So. 2d 151 (Miss. 2005) Successfully represented a disposable respirator manufacturer in an appeal of a $125 million jury verdict rendered in asbestos litigation. The Supreme Court of Mississippi reversed the judgment and dismissed the suit with prejudice. Titan Indemnity Co. v. Hood, 895 So. 2d 138 (Miss. 2004) Part of appellate team that won reversal of an $82 million jury verdict in a breach of contract and agency agreement suit against an insurer. Herrington v. Leaf River Forest Products, Inc., 733 So. 2d 774 (Miss. 1999) and Prescott v. Leaf River Forest Products, Inc., 740 So. 2d 301 (Miss. 1999) Represented a paper company in a series of cases in which plaintiffs complained of the discharge of dioxins into a river system; obtained summary judgments in favor of the paper company in the trial court and affirmances on appeal to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982) Successfully represented plaintiff challenging constitutionality of university single sex enrollment policy.