Gary Howard has spent his 25-year legal career representing corporations in class actions; complex litigation; fraud and bad-faith actions; contract, business and lost-profits disputes; mass torts actions; and life, health, disability and long-term care insurance cases. He prides himself on getting to know each client’s business and on being able to build relationships of trust and mutual respect at all levels within his clients’ organizations.
Gary is a member of Bradley’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group and serves as the Insurance team leader. Gary is admitted to practice in the state courts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, West Virginia, Kentucky and the District of Columbia. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court and the Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals. In addition, Gary has defended companies in a wide variety of matters – both simple and complex – in state and federal courts across the country.
Gary is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), an invitation-only association for lawyers and insurance executives who represent corporate and insurance interests around the world. He is active in and has served as a leader in a variety of industry-focused and legal organizations, including the Defense Research Institute (DRI); American Bar Association (ABA); Association of Life Insurance Counsel (ALIC); Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA) and American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). He has served or is serving as an ABA House of Delegates member; ABA Life Insurance Law Committee Chair; ALIC ABA delegate; DRI Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee member; DRI Diversity Expo Chair; and DRI Alabama State Membership Chair. Gary is a frequent speaker and author for a variety of organizations, including DRI, ABA, ACLI, and the Institute for Complex Litigation.
Gary is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. He serves on Bradley’s Diversity Task Force and as a member of the DRI Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee. He also served as the 2018 DRI Diversity Expo Chair.
Gary has been chosen by his peers as one of the Birmingham Bar's best lawyers in the insurance field, and he is Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rated.
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® Insurance Law, 2010-2023 Litigation – Insurance, 2023 Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rated Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers, Insurance Coverage, 2016-2018 Listed in Alabama Super Lawyers, Insurance Coverage, 2012-2015 American Bar Foundation, Fellow DRI's Albert H. Parnell Outstanding Program Chair Award, 2022 Langendorf, et al. v. Conseco Senior Health Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, N.D. Illinois) Won dismissal of plaintiffs’ class action complaint against client Conseco seeking damages for failure to pay health insurance claims based on breach of contract and violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act; later reached a nationwide class settlement with respect to all claims. Derks v. Conseco Senior Health Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, D. Montana) Obtained an early resolution in a high-profile dispute that garnered national attention and was featured prominently in a report by The New York Times. The case involved a sympathetic elderly plaintiff who filed suit against the company for the alleged failure to pay benefits under her long-term care policy. With copious attention in recent years to the long-term care industry, this early resolution allowed our client to avoid any further negative press. Philadelphia Life Insurance Company Sales Practices Litigation (U.S. District Court, M.D. Florida) Two named plaintiffs brought a nationwide life insurance sales practices class action. While plaintiffs' motion for class certification was pending, we moved for summary judgment on plaintiffs’ claims. The court reserved ruling on class certification and then granted client’s motions for summary judgment in their entirety. Plaintiffs appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision relating to one plaintiff in its entirety and upheld the dismissal of all of the claims of the second plaintiff except two claims. Subsequently, after extensive briefing, the court denied class certification. Plaintiffs sought to appeal the certification decision to the Eleventh Circuit, but their petition was denied. Onderdonk, et al. v. Conseco. LLC, et al. (Cameron County District Court, Texas) Successfully resolved nationwide class action in which plaintiffs alleged our client offered replacement life insurance policies with fewer benefits and at a greater cost. The settlement enabled the class of more than 28,000 policyholders to revert to their original policies but did not provide monetary damages. In addition, we were able to reach a global settlement with plaintiffs’ counsel in more than 75 opt-out cases brought in Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Paine v. Jefferson National Life Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, E.D. Arkansas) Obtained summary judgment on behalf of client in a case in which plaintiff alleged breach of multiple insurance contracts in relation to alleged miscalculations on the values of the policies. In addition to breach of contract claims, the case involved allegations of fraud, bad faith, and deceptive trade practices statutes. Boyles v. Pioneer Life Insurance Company (20th Judicial Circuit, Collier County, Florida) Successfully opposed class certification in this nationwide class action alleging client’s agents marketed and sold unnecessary and inappropriate policies to the elderly. Plaintiffs’ counsel also filed 13 identical lawsuits in other Florida courts; successfully opposed the addition of punitive damages claims in each case. Stokes v. Conseco Life Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, S.D. Alabama) Obtained summary judgment in insurance company’s favor on all of plaintiffs’ tort claims, including fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent suppression, outrage, bad faith, conversion, negligence and wantonness, in a life insurance dispute in which the plaintiffs sought more than $20 million in damages. A settlement on plaintiffs’ one remaining contract claim was then reached. Oreal v. Conseco Life Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, S.D. Florida) Breach of contract action arose from the insurer’s denial of the designated beneficiary’s claim for benefits under a life insurance policy issued to her ex-husband. Parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The court granted our insurance company client’s motion and denied the plaintiff beneficiary’s motion. The court held that the insurer was correct in denying an irrevocable beneficiary’s claim to life insurance benefits based upon a prior divorce decree requiring the decedent to maintain life insurance for the benefit of his three children. Mollica v. Conseco Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, N.D. Alabama) Obtained summary judgment on all claims, including promissory fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent suppression, negligence, wantonness and quantum meruit, in a case in which several former agents alleged, among other things, that our client made various misrepresentations in connection with the rollout of a new universal life insurance product. Michaels v. Homecomings Financial (Alabama Circuit Court, Jefferson County) Plaintiff borrower filed suit against defendant lender for breach of contract, fraud, fraudulent inducement, fraudulent suppression and negligence; she alleged, among other things, that the defendant lender orally misrepresented the terms of her $1 million mortgage loan. Court granted summary judgment in favor of our lender client and dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. Plaintiff subsequently appealed, but, after extensive briefing, the court denied the plaintiff’s appeal and affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Brooks v. Conseco Annuity Assurance Company, et al. (U.S. District Court, M.D. Florida) Obtained partial summary judgment on plaintiff’s breach of contract, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims in favor of insurance company defendant. A settlement was then reached on the remaining claims. Aycock v. Bankers Life and Casualty Company (Circuit Court of Lauderdale County, Alabama) Successfully consolidated two class actions alleging client’s agent accepted applications and premiums but never submitted either to the company. All class allegations were stricken from the complaint, and the cases were sent to arbitration. All claims were resolved with contribution from the agent. Stewart v. The Chesapeake Life Insurance Company (U.S. District Court, M.D. Florida) Obtained dismissal of plaintiff’s claims alleging insurer failed to properly issue a $100,000 insurance policy.