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Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys - Materials Only

Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys - Materials Only

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Tort Law Conference for Alabama Attorneys - Materials Only

Order your materials today from this Alabama learning and networking event on complex and significant tort decisions, relevant laws, and emerging trends.

This conference featured Jefferson County Circuit Judges Michael Graffeo and Carole Smitherman and Magistrate Judge John E. Ott and a faculty of leading Alabama tort law attorneys discussing the latest changes and decisions of critical interest to your successful practice.


  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage—legislative update, court filing procedures and deadlines, and choice of law and venue
  • Delivering an effective closing argument
  • Deposition strategies—key questions to ask and how to control the deposition
  • Obtaining and using cell phone records—how to obtain the information in discovery, how to get the information into evidence, and how to use experts
  • Best and worst practices in civil litigation—from a judicial perspective
  • Practical tips on resolving discovery disputes
  • Update on evidence issues—amendments, case law, and practical tips
  • Update on recent significant cases on tort law
  • Negotiation and settlement techniques
  • Tips for practicing in federal court
  • Ethical obligations in jury selection

Order your materials from this networking event, that targeted the most complex and significant tort decisions, relevant laws, and emerging trends, all just for Alabama attorneys. And get valuable tips you can put to use in your practice.


  • Outstanding faculty. The faculty includes both plaintiff and defense attorneys who are seasoned speakers and recognized as the best in their areas.
  • Judge’s perspective. Attendees will hear from Judges Michael Graffeo and Carole Smitherman, as well as Chief Magistrate Judge John E. Ott.
  • Valuable updates. A top authority will update attendees on recent case law developments in tort law.
  • Practical tips. You’ll learn from experienced and skilled litigators how to get the most out of depositions, how to resolve discovery disputes, how to obtain and use cell phone information, and how to make an effective closing argument.
  • Substance. Attendees will get in-depth treatment of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, including a legislative update, a review of court filing procedures, and a discussion of statute of limitations, choice of law, and venue issues.
  • Depositions. You’ll learn how to admit critical evidence through your opponent’s deposition testimony and how to control the deposition.
  • Negotiation. You’ll get tips for investigating, negotiating, and working with the insurance adjuster to resolve your claims.
  • Ethics. You’ll get a review of ethical obligations in jury selection, such as conducting juror background research and social media analysis, investigating suspected juror misconduct, and the use of peremptory strikes. 
  • Useful resource. Attendees will receive a binder of the materials covered during the seminar and will be able to download the materials after the conference.


  • Tort law update
  • Evidence update
  • Closing argument
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Depositions
  • Discovery
  • Use of cellular information
  • Negotiating damages
  • Judges’ tips on trial practice
  • Federal practice
  • Ethics


Your Faculty

Rob ArwineRob Arnwine, with Carr Allison’s Birmingham office, has a general defense practice with special emphasis on trucking litigation. An experienced trial attorney in both state and federal court, he has litigated a broad range of cases including wrongful death, professional liability, termite damage, premises liability, and products liability. Mr. Arnwine has also drafted appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.



Brandon BassBrandon Bass practices civil litigation throughout Tennessee. He was lead counsel in one of the largest jury verdicts in Middle Tennessee in 2016, a $593,000 recovery for a knee injury in a slip and fall case. Mr. Bass’s core practice focuses on medical malpractice, construction defects, and other complex litigation. He serves on the Board of Governors for the Tennessee Association for Justice and is past chair of the organization’s Amicus Curiae committee. He is a graduate of Purdue University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Mr. Bass is a shareholder in the Law Offices of John Day, P.C. based in Brentwood, Tennessee. He is a frequent speaker and author on tort and trial practice.

Robert CooperRobert Cooper is a founder of Stockham, Cooper & Potts, P.C. in Birmingham. During the course of his career, Mr. Cooper has tried more than 150 cases to a jury verdict. His clients include businesses and individuals in the manufacturing, commercial transportation, health care and medical device, and insurance industries, among others. Mr. Cooper has defended clients in personal injury and professional negligence matters. He has represented business entities against claims of negligence, fraud and bad faith, and he has appeared on behalf of clients before the various authorities that regulate professional conduct. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Alabama Law Foundation. He has been listed by Super Lawyers® and Best Lawyers in America® for several years.

Judge GraffeoJudge Michael G. Graffeo was elected circuit judge in Jefferson County in November 2006 and re-elected in November 2012 (without opposition). He earned his B.A. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law. He was admitted to the Alabama state bar in September 1979. After graduation, he served as Law Clerk to two U.S. Magistrates in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. From 1981 to 1984, he worked for the Mayor of the City of Birmingham and also served as the City’s Chief Lobbyist in the Alabama Legislature. Judge Graffeo practiced law in Birmingham continuously from 1984 until assuming the Bench in January 2007, during which time he was an active member of the Birmingham Bar Association (BBA), particularly in the BBA’s Solo/Small Firm Section and Volunteer Lawyers Program, and the Alabama State Bar. He remains an Associate Member of both. From November 1987 to November 1989, Judge Graffeo was an elected member of the City Council of the City of Birmingham. He is a member of the Alabama Circuit Judges Association, serving on its Education Committee. He has presented at new Judge orientations and at bi-annual conferences. In February 2010, the BBA Young Lawyers Section honored Judge Graffeo with the Judge Drayton N. James Award, given annually to a current Judge who actively supports, mentors, and befriends young attorneys.

Stephen HeningerStephen Heninger, of Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC in Birmingham, has been listed in Best Lawyers in America® for the past 20 years, and he has tried 18 cases resulting in verdicts over seven figures. He was selected by Super Lawyers® as being within the Top Ten Attorneys in Alabama for the past four years. He recently was inducted into the Alabama Law Foundation, which limits its invitations to the top one percent of the Bar in Alabama. After his graduation from law school, Mr. Heninger served as a law clerk to the Honorable James Hancock in the Northern District of Alabama before beginning his practice as a trial attorney. He has served as the President of the Birmingham Bar Association (1998), as President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and as a member of the Alabama Supreme Court Advisory Committee on appellate practice for the past 15 years. He is a frequent lecturer and teacher for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, teaching at such places as Harvard School of Law, Stanford University, Georgetown University, University of Wisconsin, University of Miami, and University of New Mexico.

Mark HessMark Hess is a partner in the law firm of Hand Arendall, LLC, in Birmingham, where he practices in the areas of insurance defense and coverage litigation defense of extracontractual claims, and commercial litigation. Mr. Hess has a substantial appellate practice. He speaks frequently on procedural issues in defense litigation. He is a member of the Birmingham and American Bar Associations; the Defense Research Institute; the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel; and the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA), where he chairs the ADLA’s Amicus Curiae Committee. He earned his B.A. with honors from the University of Alabama at Huntsville and his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Jeremiah HodgesJeremiah Hodges
,with Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. in Huntsville, handles personal injury lawsuits and civil litigation, both plaintiff and defense. He received his J.D. 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. He also received the George Peach Taylor Award for Trial Advocacy and the American Judicature Society Award. Mr. Hodges served as the Chair of the Emerging Leaders for the Alabama Association for Justice and President of the Huntsville Young Lawyers. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, he was chosen as a Super Lawyers® Rising Star. He received the rating of Superb with a score of 10.0 out of 10.0. He was also selected by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the top 40 lawyers in Alabama under 40 in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the Society of Legal Advocates named him as one of its Top 40 Lawyers under 40.

Terry McCarthyTerry McCarthy
joined Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC in Birmingham in 1999 after graduating first in his class at the University of Alabama School of Law, and he quickly earned a reputation for being “the Dean of Evidence.” After working for two years in law school as a research assistant for Dean Charles Gamble, the “Godfather” of Alabama evidence, Mr. McCarthy quickly put this knowledge to use in the courtroom. He has not only been involved as counsel of record in numerous arbitrations, jury trials, and bench trials within Alabama, but he has also served as lead counsel in various matters in more than 20 states throughout the country. His accomplishments have been recognized in various ways, such as an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and being listed multiple times in the Alabama edition of Super Lawyers® for civil litigation defense. He has taught Evidence courses of Birmingham School of Law (where he has been selected by the students as Professor of the Year on several occasions), the University of Alabama School of Law, and Cumberland School of Law. He was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to serve on the Advisory Committee to the Alabama Rules of Evidence, in which he serves as co-chair of the subcommittee on Hearsay. In the summer of 2012, Mr. McCarthy joined Charles Gamble and Robert Goodwin as co-author of McElroy’s Alabama Evidence and Gamble’s Alabama Rules of Evidence, the leading treatises on Alabama evidence. He routinely gives CLE presentations on evidentiary issues. In addition to his trial experience, his appellate practice has expanded. He received his bachelor of business administration (finance) degree from Auburn University and his J.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he was named to the Order of the Coif and was a member of the managing board of the Alabama Law Review and a member of the Jessup International Moot Court Team.

Judge OttChief Magistrate Judge John E. Ott
was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in 1998. He now serves as the Chief Magistrate Judge of the Court. He has presided as a trial judge in over 50 criminal or civil cases in a variety of subject areas, including employment discrimination, civil rights, contract disputes, antitrust, negligence, and federal misdemeanor cases. He has also served as a settlement judge or mediator in over 500 cases in nearly every type of federal litigation. Prior to his appointment, Judge Ott served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama for 15 years. He began as a prosecutor in the criminal division of the Office and held the positions of Deputy Chief and Chief of the Criminal Division and Executive Assistant United States Attorney with oversight responsibility for litigation. Prior to his service with the United States Attorney, he was a law clerk for the United States Magistrates for the Northern District of Alabama. Judge Ott serves on the adjunct faculty at Cumberland School of Law, teaching trial advocacy. He has also been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, teaching courses in trial techniques and advocacy, criminal evidence, e-discovery and social media, and negotiation and mediation. He is a frequent writer and presenter at continuing education courses for attorneys on attorney ethics and professionalism, trial advocacy, evidence, mediation, and employment law. Judge Ott earned his B.A. magna cum laude, from the University of Central Florida in Criminal Justice in 1977 and his J.D. from Cumberland School of Law of Samford University in 1981. Judge Ott is a member of the Alabama, Florida and Birmingham Bar Associations. He is also a fellow with the Alabama Law Foundation and the Birmingham Bar Foundation.

Bentley PatrickBentley H. Patrick
practices at Nelson, Bryan & Cross in Jasper. He served as a circuit court judge from May 10, 2015 until January 2017 for Jefferson County. He was a staff counsel from June 2003 to May 8, 2015 for Cincinnati Insurance Company. He was a trust officer for AmSouth Bank from June 15, 1989 to August 1, 1992. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Birmingham-Southern College in 1989 and his J.D. from Cumberland School of Law.

Michael RobertsMichael Roberts
, with Cusimano, Roberts & Mills, LLC, in Gadsden, 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. Mr. Roberts has lectured extensively in continuing legal education programs on various legal topics, including tort law developments. He was awarded the Walter P. Gewin Award by the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education in 2003 and the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association Professionalism Award in 2001. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America® since 2001.

Keri SimmsKeri Simms
is a partner in the Alabama law firm of Webster, Henry, Lyons, Bradwell, Cohan & Speagle, P.C. in Birmingham, where he practices in the areas of automotive and commercial transportation, construction defect litigation, complex insurance coverage matters, complex litigation, product liability litigation, fraud misrepresentation, and bad faith first party insurance. Mr. Simms is a member of the Alabama State Bar, the Birmingham Bar Association, the American Bar Association (Commercial Transportation Committee), the Alabama Defense Lawyers’ Association, the Defense Research Institute (Commercial Transportation Committee), the Alabama Claims Association, and the Atlanta Claims Association. He earned his B.S., magna cum laude, from the University of Alabama and his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Judge Carole SmithermanJudge Carole Smitherman
is a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge. She served in 2009 as the 31st Mayor of Birmingham and spent several years as a member of the City Council before resigning to assume her current judicial position. She graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1973. She went on to earn her J.D. at Miles Law School, graduating first in her class in 1979. Judge Smitherman is married to Alabama State Senator Rodger Smitherman. She was first elected to the Birmingham City Council in 2001 and was re-elected twice. She campaigned unsuccessfully for the mayor’s office in 2003, 2007, and 2009. Judge Smitherman was Birmingham’s first African-American female mayor. She also was the first African-American woman hired as a deputy district attorney in Jefferson County and the first African-American female Municipal and Circuit Court Judge in Birmingham. She also served as a municipal prosecutor for the city of Irondale, Alabama. She was elected to her current judicial office in 2012.

Karen SouthardKaren Southard, with Porter, Porter & Hassinger, P.C. in Birmingham, practices in the areas of workers’ compensation defense litigation and personal injury defense litigation. Ms. Southard earned her B.A., magna cum laude, in English and political science and her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Alabama School of Law. She is admitted to practice in the state of Alabama and the U.S. District Court, Northern and Middle districts of Alabama. Ms. Southard is a member of the Birmingham Bar Association (member of the Medical Liaison Committee), the Alabama State Bar, and American Bar Association.

Agenda Day 1 - Thursday, September 14

Uninsured Motorist Update

8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Mark Hess
Hand Arendall, LLC

  • Legislative update
  • Statute of limitations
  • Court filing procedures and deadlines
  • Choice of law and venue

Deposition Tips and Strategies

9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Brandon Bass
The Law Offices of John Day PC

  • Techniques for deposing the plaintiff, the defendant, and experts
  • Key questions you need to be asking
  • Getting more than “what happened”
  • Admitting critical evidence through the opponent’s testimony
  • Controlling the deposition despite an obstinate opposing counsel
  • Using exhibits that will sell to the jury

10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. MORNING BREAK

Evidence Update

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Terry McCarthy
Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC

  • A refresher on the recently enacted amendments to the Alabama Rules of Evidence
  • Practical tips on evidence issues that frequently arise in trial
  • An update on recent cases from the Alabama appellate courts on evidence issues

11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. LUNCH (on your own)

Discovery Disputes in Tort Cases

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Jeremiah Hodges
Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C.

  • Preparing and winning discovery motions
  • Pushing back against overly-broad or unreasonable requests
  • Sampling practices and discovery about discovery
  • Best practices for resolving discovery disputes with opposing counsel
  • When you need to take your discovery dispute to the judge
  • When to make a motion to compel

Cellular Information: Obtaining and Admitting in Litigation

2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Rob Arnwine
Carr Allison 

  • The type of cellular information available
  • How to obtain the information in discovery
  • How to get the information into evidence
  • Use of experts

3:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. AFTERNOON BREAK

Negotiation of Damages, Settlement, and Litigation Techniques

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Keri Simms
Webster, Henry, Lyons, Bradwell, Cohan & Speagle, P.C. 

  • Varying definitions of “preventable” accident
  • What to look for in internal investigation documents
  • Medical evaluations
  • The recordable accident registry, prior recordable accidents, driver’s history, prior instances of discipline
  • Truck driver and motor carrier depositions
  • Doctor, CMV inspector and crash reconstructionist depositions
  • Accident reconstruction documents
  • Analyzing surveillance and photographs of the accident
  • Negotiating pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death damages
  • Effectively negotiating with the adjuster
  • Brake adjustments, animations, simulations exhibits

Agenda Day 2 - Friday, September 15

Best and Worst Practices in Civil Litigation

8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Judge Michael Graffeo, Jefferson County circuit court
Judge Carole Smitherman, Jefferson County circuit court
Bentley Patrick, Nelson, Bryan & Cross 

  • Mistakes in electronic court filing, initial pleadings and responses
  • Scheduling orders, case management conferences and ADR
  • Best practices in early resolution of simple cases
  • Settlement conferences: What cases qualify and how to make the best use of them
  • Effective summary judgment motions and hearings
  • Complex cases: Special rules and tips
  • Preventing discovery disputes: Timing, sequence, proportionality, cooperation between attorneys

Delivering an Effective Closing Argument

9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Stephen D. Heninger
Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC 

  • Keeping the theme and story consistent
  • Things to avoid in closing argument
  • Arming the jury with resources to use in deliberations

10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. MORNING BREAK

Tort Law Update

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Michael Roberts
Cusimano, Roberts & Mills, LLC 

Mr. Roberts, author of the Alabama Tort Law Handbook, will review recent cases from the Supreme Court of Alabama and the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals that affect the practice of Alabama tort lawyers. He will give the case’s holding and explain its significance. His written materials give an excellent overview of the latest cases.

11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. LUNCH (on your own)

Ethical Obligations in Jury Selection

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Robert Cooper
Stockham Cooper & Potts, P.C.

  • Voir Google: Use of social media in jury selection
  • Ethical obligations in conducting juror background research
  • Ethical limitations on juror investigation
  • Conducting responsible social media analysis
  • Duty to investigate and disclose known or suspected juror misconduct
  • Ethical obligations to disclose juror relationships
  • Medical privacy and voir dire
  • Ethical implications in the use of preemptory strikes: The challenge of Batson

Negotiation Secrets

2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Karen Southard
Porter, Porter & Hassinger, P.C. 

  • Proper investigation of the claim
  • Proving insurer’s conduct is unreasonable/reckless
  • Resolving conflicts with adjuster
  • “Reasonable expectation of a defense”
  • “Ambiguity in policy”
  • “Actual controversy”

3:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. AFTERNOON BREAK

Tips for Practicing in Federal Court

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Chief Magistrate Judge John E. Ott
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama 

Chief Magistrate Judge Ott offers tips for tort attorneys when trying their cases in federal court.

Location Details

Embassy Suites

Embassy Suites Birmingham – Hoover 

(Free Parking!) 
2960 John Hawkins Pkwy 
Birmingham, AL 35244 
(205) 985-9994 
Hotel Website

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