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2013 Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys: Materials Only

2013 Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys: Materials Only

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2013 Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys: Materials Only

Held Friday, September 13, 2013
Birmingham Marriott
3590 Grandview Parkway
Birmingham, Alabama 35243

 This conference featured Scott Vowell, former presiding judge in Jefferson County, and a faculty of leading Alabama tort law attorneys discussing the latest changes and decisions of critical interest to your successful practice.


  • John M. Fraley, Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC
  • Stephen D. Heninger, Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC
  • Jeremiah M. Hodges, Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C.
  • Michael L. Roberts, Cusimano, Keener, Roberts, Knowles & Raley, LLC
  • John P. Scott Jr., Starnes Davis Florie LLP
  • J. Scott Vowell, Vowell & Goldsmith, LLC
  • Will O. (Trip) Walton III, Walton Law Firm, P.C.

Highlights Included:

  • Tort law update: Constitutional challenge to Alabama’s wrongful death statute, recovery for loss of use damages, invitee’s appreciation of open and obvious danger, negligent supervision claim based on a parent’s negligence, and the level of wantonness necessary to avoid bar of Alabama’s guest statute
  • Communicating in the courtroom: Telling the story from a persuasive point of view which allows listeners to know what’s in it for them
  • Mental anguish/emotional distress damages: Standard for recovery, requisites for proof, and limitation on recovery
  • The pitfalls of settling personal injury cases: Dealing with non-Medicare subrogation, Medicare, and uninsured/underinsured motorist issues
  • Insurance issues and law in tort claim settling: Coverage, common exclusions, and duty to defend
  • Mediation in tractor-trailer cases: How to take control, use defense witnesses to prove your case, use video deposition clips, use demonstrative evidence, and prepare for mediation from the beginning
  • Ethical conduct and professionalism in the courtroom and in the legal community from a judge’s perspective


Your Faculty

FraleyJohn M. Fraley, attorney with Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC in Birmingham, has three decades of experience defending civil litigation, and has practiced in both state and federal courts throughout Alabama. His litigation practice has involved a broad variety of matters, including products liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice defense, nursing home defense, premises liability, motor carrier liability, bad faith and extra-contractual liability, third-party claims, fraud and insurance coverage issues.

Steve HeningerStephen D. Heninger, of Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC, is a frequent lecturer and teacher for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He has been listed in Woodward & White’s “Best Lawyers in America” for the past 10 years, and he has tried 18 cases resulting in verdicts over seven figures. He recently was inducted into the Alabama Law Foundation, which limits its invitations to the top one percent of the Bar in Alabama.



HodgesJeremiah M. Hodges, founder of Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. in Huntsville, strongly believes in the jury system and has chosen a career where he gets the opportunity to help those injured by the negligence and wrongful conduct of individuals, large corporations, and insurance companies. He was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, and grew up in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he was a member of the National ATLA Trial Team and the National Civil Trial Competition Team.



Mike RobertsMichael L. Roberts, with Cusimano, Roberts, Knowles & Mills, LLC, has maintained a general litigation practice since 1978, including tort, personal injury practice, commercial litigation, consumer litigation, business disputes, fraud/misrepresentation, negligence and contract litigation. He has written extensively on legal topics in treatises, articles and journals, and has authored the reference book Alabama Tort Law, published by Lexis Law Publishing, now in its fourth edition, a two-volume, 50-chapter treatise analyzing the historical background and current status of tort law in Alabama.




ScottJohn P. Scott Jr. is a senior partner at Starnes Davis Florie LLP in Birmingham and has served as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. He has been named as one of the top attorneys in Alabama by Alabama Super Lawyers and is included in Best Lawyers in America®. Mr. Scott's practice is primarily devoted to complex civil litigation and arbitration involving contractual and other commercial disputes, financial services claims, accounting practice claims, estate and trust litigation, insurance service and sales claims, and securities disputes, as well as products liability claims.



VowellJ. Scott Vowell served as a Jefferson County circuit judge for 18 years, the last 10 as Jefferson County’s Presiding Circuit Judge. Prior to taking the bench in 1994, Mr. Vowell was a civil litigator for more than 30 years. Since retiring from the bench in January of 2013, Mr. Vowell’s practice has consisted of alternative dispute resolution – mediation, arbitration, and private judging.





WaltonWill O. (Trip) Walton III began Walton Law Firm, P.C., which has offices in Auburn and Montgomery. Mr. Walton has focused his practice in the areas of personal injury, traumatic brain injuries, wrongful death, automobile, and tractor-trailer collisions, along with some criminal defense work. He is a member of the Alabama and Georgia State Bar Associations; Alabama Super Lawyers 2011-2013, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocacy Forum; The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys, Business in Alabama’s Top Attorney’s, Best of Auburn Personal Injury Attorney 2012; Traumatic Brain Injuries Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice; and Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.


2013 Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys: Materials Only

The Pitfalls of Settling Personal Injury Cases, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Jeremiah M. Hodges
Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C.

Mr. Hodges will address many of the issues commonly faced by lawyers representing injured plaintiffs. He will specifically address the following:

  • Issues in settlement releases
  • Dealing with non-Medicare subrogation
  • Dealing with Medicare
  • Avoiding future problems with current clients arising from settlement
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist
  • Confidentiality and why it is a problem

Communication in the Courtroom in Tort Litigation, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Stephen D. Heninger
Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC

  • Keeping your focus on the core message and making it stick
  • Avoiding information overload while keeping the pertinent message coherent and persuasive
  • Recognizing the need for both sensory/emotional as well as cognitive appeal
  • Telling the story from a persuasive point of view which allows listeners to know what’s in it for them

Morning Break, 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Insurance Coverage Issues and Law in Tort Claim Settling in Alabama, 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
John M. Fraley
Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC

  • Coverages in policies typically involved in tort claim settings
  • Interaction and complementing of various policies
  • Most commonly applicable exclusions and Alabama courts’ interpretations thereof
  • Duty to defend
  • Efforts to trigger coverage through pleadings

Tort Law Update, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Michael L. Roberts
Cusimano, Roberts, Knowles & Mills, LLC

Mr. Roberts will review tort cases from Alabama’s appellate courts, dealing with such issues as:

  • Constitutional challenge to Alabama’s wrongful death statute
  • Recovery for loss of use damages even if vehicle is total loss
  • Invitee’s appreciation of open and obvious danger
  • Responsibility of brand name manufacturer of pharmaceutical for statement regarding drug even though plaintiff was purportedly injured from generic version that it did not manufacture
  • Negligent supervision claim based on parent’s negligence in supervising own child
  • Whether driver’s actions rose to level of wantonness so that negligence claims were not barred by Alabama’s guest statute

Lunch (on your own), 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Mediation in Tractor-Trailer Cases: A Winning Approach, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Will O. (Trip) Walton III
Walton Law Firm, P.C.

  • Do opening statement/take control/teach don’t preach
  • Don’t let them talk you out of it
  • Use evidence and rules to prove your theory of the case
  • Use systemic approach to qualifying, training and supervising of driver (three-legged stool)
  • Accidents vs. preventable accidents
  • Rules are to prevent and to protect
  • No exception to safety rules
  • Use defense witnesses to prove your case
  • Use video deposition clips
  • Use demonstrative evidence (animation/medical visuals/911 calls)
  • Do production in house
  • Prepare for mediation from the beginning

Afternoon Break, 2:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Ethical Conduct & Professionalism – A View from the Bench. 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
J. Scott Vowell
10th Judicial Circuit

Mr. Vowell, former presiding judge in Jefferson County, will share insights from his years on the bench. Learn what a trial judge expects from an attorney from an ethical standpoint with regard to courtroom decorum, trial conduct, and conduct in the legal community.

Recovery of Mental Anguish/Emotional Distress Damages, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
John P. Scott Jr.
Starnes Davis Florie LLP

  • Standards for recovery
  • Requisites for proof
  • Limitations for recovery in tort and contract actions
  • Recent developments


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