2017 ALFA International Product Liability & Complex Torts Practice Group Seminar
American Bar Foundation, Fellow American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow American Board of Trial Advocates, Advocate Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2016-2021 Listed in Alabama Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2008-2015 Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2009-2023 Commercial Litigation, 2007-2023 Litigation – Labor & Employment, 2016-2023 Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, 2015-2023 Employment Law – Management, 2017-2023 Labor Law – Management, 2018-2023 "Lawyer of the Year," Montgomery, Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2018, 2020, 2022 "Lawyer of the Year," Montgomery, Employment Law – Management, 2017, 2021 "Lawyer of the Year," Montgomery, Labor & Employment Law, 2015 Listed in Benchmark Litigation "Labor & Employment Star," 2020-2022 "Local Litigation Star," Alabama, 2015, 2017-2020 Listed in Who's Who Legal: Products Liability Defence, 2011-2020 Merit Selection Panel for the Middle District of Alabama Recipient of the Richard H. Krochock Award, 2004 United States of America ex rel. Philip Marsteller et al. v. Lynn Tilton and MD Helicopters, Inc. Lead counsel in defense of helicopter manufacturer through trial of False Claims Act case involving contracts for the sale of helicopters and related services through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Relators contended that the manufacturer fraudulently induced the U.S. Army to award contracts by (1) misrepresenting its pricing data and (2) by falsely representing that the manufacturer intended to comply with FAR § 52.203-13 (the Contractor Code of Business Ethics). Relators originally sought over $1 billion, but after a partial grant of summary judgment, reduced their claim to over $100,000,000 in damages. Church Transportation & Logistics, Inc. v. Southland International Trucks, Inc. Defended breach of warranty, product liability, and negligent repair claims brought against large, regional truck dealer. Schumacher Medical Corporation of Alabama, Inc., et al. v. SunLink Health Systems, Inc., et al. Defended hospital corporation against the claims of an emergency physician group for breach of contract and fraud arising out of the sale of the hospital. Walker v. Montgomery Housing Authority/DeCreny v. Montgomery Housing Authority Defended public housing authority in lawsuit claiming race discrimination and retaliation. Crum v. Healthcare Management Systems, Inc. Defended company that develops information technology solutions for hospitals and specialty healthcare facilities in a lawsuit brought by a terminated employee for race discrimination. Plaintiff claimed that HMS refused to remove her from one of HMS’ customer’s locations where plaintiff claims she was the victim of race discrimination. Ellis v. Housing Authority of the City of Montgomery, Alabama, et al. Lead attorney in a lawsuit alleging that the defendants intentionally violated plaintiff’s procedural due process rights by allegedly terminating her without cause, treating her differently from a similarly situated employee, and intentionally violating her constitutional rights by retaliating against her for actions she took as a hearing officer. Lloyd v. Montgomery Housing Authority Lead attorney in case involving claims of ADAAA discrimination as well as retaliation under Title VII. Hall v. Housing Authority for the City of Montgomery, Alabama Obtained affirmance of summary judgment in favor of local housing authority from Supreme Court of Alabama. Costa, et al. v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, et al. Trial of a building products manufacturer in a product liability and negligence case arising out of a construction site accident injuring three brick masons in Massachusetts. Dais v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. Plaintiff alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of race because he, an African-American male, was terminated for an alleged violation of Lowe’s sexual harassment policy, but a white male who engaged in substantially the same activity was not terminated. Movie Gallery US, LLC v. Mark W. Greenshields, Associated Sourcing, and Associated Sourcing Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Video Library A start-up company was sued by Movie Gallery in a lawsuit alleging violation of the Lanham Act, trademark infringement, unfair competition, violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and breach of contract. After a failed effort by Movie Gallery to sell a portion of its business, Associated Sourcing, our client, set out to create a competing business. Movie Gallery claimed that our client had wrongfully stolen its confidential trade secrets and then used them to successfully compete against them. Thorne v. Continental Tire North America, et al. Defended tire manufacturer in product liability case involving an allegedly defective tire which was involved in a rollover accident resulting in incomplete quadriplegia. Johnson v. Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc. Defended 18-wheeler seat belt manufacturer in a product liability case involving crashworthiness claims and an alleged seat belt defect claim. Sarblah v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation Defended building products manufacturer in a race and gender discrimination case brought by the former head of human resources for a plant located in Selma, Alabama. Horton v. National Seating & Mobility, Inc. Former temporary worker with wheelchair supplier brought action against a supplier, its employee, and an investigator with the Alabama Attorney General's office alleging malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment under §1983. Chambless v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp. Defended building products manufacturer against hostile work environment claim, as well as claims that plaintiff was denied promotions because of her gender and age. Plaintiff further claimed she was discharged in retaliation for filing an EEOC claim. Montgomery City Council v. Montgomery Housing Authority Defended declaratory judgment action brought by the Montgomery City Council against the Montgomery Housing Authority and the City of Montgomery to determine in a case of first impression which entity had the legal authority to appoint commissioners to the board of the Montgomery Housing Authority. Thomason v. Murray Guard Defended security guard company at trial in a case where an African-American male claimed that he was denied a job at the company due to his race. Watters v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation Defended client who was sued for defamation when the client's former human resources official made communications to other employees in the course of investigating the plaintiff's alleged falsification of their timecards. Kelly v. Perkins Defended case where plaintiff claimed he was paralyzed temporarily and ultimately rendered impotent in a serious automobile accident. Williford v. Louisiana Pacific Corporation Defended employment matter where two plaintiffs alleged that they were guaranteed lifetime employment subsequent to their on-the-job injuries of a loss of vision and a loss of an arm. Powell v. General Motors, et al. Defended product liability wrongful death action against automobile manufacturer alleging a defective fuel system when a pickup truck flipped over on its roof and ultimately caught fire resulting in the death of two minor males. Kelly v. Colonial Bank Defended bank against claim from borrower that the bank negligently inspected his home during construction and negligently failed to require the home to be constructed in a good and workman-like manner. Lorac v. Legion Ins. Co., Mutual Indemnity of Bermuda Commonwealth Risk Services, Inc. Defended insurance company in lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to defraud its insured with respect to insurance coverage. McEachin v. Fair Winds Travel Defended travel agency against claim that the company discriminated against a pregnant female and terminated her as a result of her pregnancy. McCormick vs. Graham-Schulwolf Corporation Defended spice distribution company against claims that it owed money under a contract arising out of the sale of spices. Cook vs. Captain D’s Defended restaurant against claims that plaintiff allegedly suffered permanent, non-operable, nerve damage to her left foot when an industrial cart rode over her foot. Granberry vs. General Motors Corp. Defended automobile manufacturer in product liability case involving claims of crashworthiness when plaintiff’s driver drove off of the road, landed in a field, and suffered paraplegia. Williams vs. General Motors Corp. Defended wrongful death and personal injury claims filed by five individuals when a small blazer collided with a tree. This case was listed in the National Law Journal as one of the “Top 10 Defense Results of the Year.” Achey vs. King Defended a real estate agent in a breach of contract and fraud claim brought by a real estate developer against our client, and our client filed a counterclaim. Moore vs. Shoney’s Defended a national restaurant chain when one of its tractor-trailers was involved in a collision on an interstate. Clark vs. Hatchett Defended personal injury and death claims. The defendant was intoxicated and drove a stolen Lexus automobile in excess of 80 mph into an intersection on a red light. Hill vs. Colonial Penn Defended insurance company in bad faith and breach of contract lawsuit arising out of a fire which destroyed plaintiff’s home. Pike vs. Zellweger Uster Corp. Defended major weaving machine manufacturer for injuries resulting to a third-party independent contractor while working in a mill. Williams vs. Hornady Trucking Defended trucking company in 18-wheeler accident case that resulted in blindness of a 28-year-old MBA student. Thomas vs. GOLDCO Defended restaurant franchisee in a product liability claim brought by a customer who ingested maggots in his sandwich. Looney vs. Shoe City Defended retail operation against claims of malicious prosecution and false arrest. Jones vs. General Motors Defended automobile manufacturer in product liability crashworthiness case involving a rollover accident that resulted in quadriplegia to the belted occupant. Barfoot vs. ACME Propane Defended LP gas distributor in a gas explosion and fire case resulting in property damage and personal injuries. Thomas vs. GTE Defended company against claims of racial discrimination in promotion. Robinson vs. Food World Defended grocery store in claim that plaintiff was electrically shocked while on the premises of the store resulting in permanent disability. Roberts vs. Goodwill Industries Defended company in a fraud lawsuit. Vickers v. Sylvest Farms, Inc. Plaintiff sued his former employer alleging claim of improper termination and retaliation based upon racial discrimination pursuant to Title VII. Phillips v. Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc. An African-American female former employee sued a sporting goods store claiming that she was passed over for promotion to assistant manager, and then terminated in retaliation for complaining about the denied promotion in violation of Title VII. TKI, Inc. v. Nichols Research Corp. Breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation claim brought by individual against software company arising out of alleged compensation plan with independent contractor. Alberson v. Nationwide Assurance Co. Bad faith action brought against vehicle insurer for failure to pay claim. Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, Inc. v. Lowder Realty Co., Inc. Individual home seekers and fair housing organization brought racial steering suit against real estate brokers. Taylor v. Alabama Intertribal Council Title IV J.T.P.A. Non-Indian former employee brought Section 1981 race discrimination suit against Intertribal Council and two of its board members. Fitts v. Griffin Wrongful death claim arising out of automobile accident involving allegedly defective tires. Walker v. Boys and Girls Club of America Former employee, an African-American who had lost sight in one eye, brought disability and race discrimination suite under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against non-profit corporation chartered by the U.S. Congress and her former employer, a local chapter of that national organization. Wright v. Sunshine-Jr. Stores, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and Sam’s Wholesale Club Represented retailers in purported class action alleging that retailers charged sales taxes on total price of beer, wine, and tobacco products, including excise taxes that had been incorporated into price. Shoney’s, Inc. v. Pasley Represented restaurant chain in claim brought by patron that he was served a glass of bleach rather than water which caused numerous personal injuries and mental anguish. Luck v. Primus Automotive Financial Services, Inc. Represented automobile leasing company in defending claims of fraud, suppression, and civil conspiracy arising out of a lease transaction concerning an acquisition fee. Ex parte Fontaine Trailer Co. Represented trailer manufacturer in wrongful death suit and challenge to the constitutionality of venue rule. Harwell v. Zimmerman Represented attorney in legal malpractice case involving the formation of a corporate entity and its resulting failure. Porterfield v. Chambless Represented an architectural firm in action where plaintiff alleged her minor children were exposed to lead during their residency at a public housing project, resulting in diminished mental capacity and reduced IQs. Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. Sepco Corp. This case arose out of an asbestos products claim when one of the defendants’ carriers became insolvent. The case addressed the liability for the insolvent liability insurer’s proportionate share of defense costs. This was a case of first impression. Autauga Arms v. Colt Manufacturing Represented Colt Mfg. in common-law trademark infringement matter involving an Alabama gun manufacturer, Autauga Arms. Whitlow v. Dover Elevator Company Represented elevator company in wrongful death case in which plaintiff’s decedent fell over 13 floors to his death down an elevator shaft. Carroll v. Shoney’s Inc. Defense of restaurant chain in wrongful death action brought by father of deceased employee against the restaurant for the murder of his daughter while at work. Alabama Farm Bureau Mutual Casualty Ins. Co. v. Hixson Represented trailer park owner in action brought against it for wrongful death of child in common swimming pool resulting in a decision by Alabama Supreme Court that landlord was not liable for death of child swimming in a pool with cloudy water. Clements v. Colonial Baking Co. of Alabama A sign painter brought negligence and wantonness action against landowner for injuries sustained as a result of an electrical shock he received while painting a sign, resulting in an opinion by Alabama Supreme Court sustaining a defense verdict and holding the evidence on proximate cause was too speculative and that the landowner had no duty to warn painter of unknown dangers on his land. Smedley v. Capitol Chevrolet, Inc. & General Motors Represented dealership and product manufacturer in lawsuit involving a fire, resulting in a decision which prohibited recovery by plaintiffs because of the spoliation of evidence prior to suit being filed when the plaintiffs knew or should have known that the evidence should have been preserved for future litigation. Garner v. Hutcheson Constr. Co., Inc. Represented contractor in suit brought by second-tier subcontractor's employee who was injured when a 1400-pound window frame fell on the plaintiff. Watkins v. Central Contracting, Inc. Represented contractor in a negligence action brought by an individual who was injured while crossing a construction site on her way to work. Alabama Ins. Guaranty Association v. Hamm In a case of first impression, represented the Alabama Insurance Guaranty Association to determine whether it could offset recoveries on an uninsured motorist coverage against their claim on liability coverage brought against the Guaranty Association. Durham v. Philippou Former employees brought an action against employer alleging sexual harassment in violation of Title VII and asserting the torts of outrage and invasion of privacy. Toole v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. Represented tobacco manufacturer in a claim by a smoker for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of smoking cigarettes, resulting in a ruling that loose tobacco was not a "cigarette" for purposes of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, and that the product was not "unreasonably dangerous" under the Alabama Extended Manufacturers Liability Doctrine so that recovery for failure to warn was barred. Ex parte Michelin North America This appeal arose from a two-car, multiple death accident involving the alleged failure of a Michelin tire. The appeal involved a dispute over where the case was to be tried. Under Alabama law, damages in wrongful death cases are exclusively punitive damages, so the amount at issue is essentially unlimited. Our client prevailed on petition for mandamus which resulted in the transfer of the case out of a dangerous venue. Roe v. Michelin North America This appeal arose from a two-car, multiple death accident involving alleged failure of a Michelin tire. Michelin removed the case to federal court, where it defeated the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case back to state court. The plaintiff obtained permission to appeal the order denying remand, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Roe is significant because it prevents plaintiffs’ counsel from avoiding federal jurisdiction by failing to demand a sum certain where it is “facially apparent” that the controversy exceeds the amount in controversy necessary for diversity jurisdiction. Cahoon v. Simon Plaintiff sued his attorney, our client, for alleged malpractice in the attorney’s representation of plaintiff in a divorce action, seeking close to a million dollars in out-of-pocket damages plus punitive damage. Plaintiff claims that he should have received more favorable treatment from the court and would have had it not been for our client’s alleged malpractice. Cousins v. T.G.&Y. Stores, Co., et al. Defended a store in a slander action when the store’s employee accused a customer of removing a package from the store without paying for it. Although we were able to get summary judgment in favor of our client at the trial court level, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the issue of whether the store employee’s statement was made with actual malice was for a jury. McReynolds v. Luther McReynolds was an insurance adjuster for Zurich Insurance. McReynolds adjusted a large property claim in Bullock County. As a result of his work, the land owner sued McReynolds and Zurich Insurance for bad faith and breach of contract among other things. Luther represented McReynolds in the underlying case. An excess verdict in the amount of several million was rendered against McReynolds. McReynolds then sued Luther for malpractice in not settling the case within the policy limits. Autrey v. Memory Defended legal malpractice action where principal of former corporate client claimed that his business failed as a result of certain actions taken by his company’s attorney. Harper v. Lovett’s Buffet, Inc. Servers at restaurant brought suit against their employer alleging violation of the overtime and minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act class-action lawsuit spanning three years to the filing. Leonard v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Plaintiffs brought purported class action against various car rental companies alleging inter alia conspiracy to violate the Alabama Insurance Code. The district court held that a private cause of action did not exist for the alleged violations of the code, and the plaintiffs failed to state a conspiracy claim. Hall v. Lowder Realty Co. Inc. African-American real estate agent brought action against real estate firm and officers alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 1981. Thornton v. Mercantile Stores Co. Inc. Three African-American females brought separate suits against a department store and parent corporation alleging purported class-action employment discrimination in violation of Title VII. RAB of Louisiana, Inc. v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp., et al. Represented international building products manufacturer in litigation over modifications to one of its major plants. Horn v. Rural Community Insurance Services Defended reinsurer of Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) and others relating to the denial of insurance coverage for the insured’s crop loss. Coleman v. Cannon Oil, et al. Represented regional gasoline jobber in a federal price-fixing antitrust class action seeking damages in excess of $27 million. CSP/Sud-Chemie Represented manufacturer of pharmaceutical packaging products against defendants who allegedly gained access to the manufacturer’s proprietary and highly secretive manufacturing process, which permitted them to compete more successfully for a larger market share of the manufacturer’s clients. Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd. Defended General Motors of Canada, Ltd. (GM Canada) in product liability case. Plaintiff claims that his quadriplegia was caused by the defective design of the roof of the pickup truck in which he was a passenger at the time of the accident. GM Canada moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the trial court granted the motion. GM Canada prevailed at the Alabama Supreme Court on the same issues, and cert was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nelson v. Whirlpool Corp., et al. When a combination air conditioner/heater window unit manufactured by Whirlpool Corporation and sold by Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. exploded and/or caught fire, setting a fire in the plaintiffs’ home, several of their children did not escape. This lawsuit was filed as a result under Alabama’s Wrongful Death Statute. Freeman v. Volvo Trucks North America, et al. Represented seat belt manufacturer in action where administrator of driver’s estate brought product liability action against vehicle manufacturer, dealer, and manufacturer of vehicle-safety restraint system. Taylor v. Fontaine Trailer Co. Defended trailer manufacturer in case against tractor-trailer manufacturer and trailer manufacturer alleging wrongful death from a massive vehicle collision in Orange County, Texas.