Litigation

Litigation

Overview

Parker Hudson's trial lawyers are recognized by clients and peers as providing broad substantive expertise, strong trial skills, and great value. On a regular basis, we litigate successfully against the largest corporate law firms and the most sophisticated plaintiff firms. We provide clients with the unique combination of experienced and skillful representation expected from the largest firms along with lean staffing, partner attention, and more competitive billing rates more often found at smaller boutique firms. Our trial lawyers pride themselves on working diligently and thinking creatively to resolve disputes as efficiently as possible, and to achieve the best possible business outcome for our clients.

We start with top notch lawyers at all levels, who have real experience presenting cases to juries, judges and arbitrators. Our lawyers thoroughly analyze and organize cases at the earliest possible stage and engage in ongoing critical case evaluation, including identification of key fact issues, legal theories, and case themes. This discipline allows us to focus our litigation efforts on what is most important to position the case for successful disposition by settlement, by motion or, if necessary, at trial. This effort puts us in the best position to persuade adversaries, mediators and decision-makers on our client's behalf. It also leads to a more objective evaluation for predicting outcomes and advising clients accordingly. This approach is particularly beneficial in large, complex cases that can otherwise devolve into unnecessary discovery and squabbling, which decreases efficiency and drives up legal fees.

The firm's litigation practice is nationwide and varied. Our areas of substantial focus and experience include:
  • Commercial and contract disputes;
  • Business torts and unfair competition;
  • Securities litigation, arbitration and counseling;
  • Banking, insurance and financial services litigation;
  • Consumer class action defense;
  • Intellectual property and technology litigation;
  • Franchise and distribution litigation;
  • Derivative litigation;
  • Shareholder and board of directors disputes and counseling;
  • Real estate litigation;
  • ERISA litigation;
  • Insurance coverage disputes for insureds;
  • Employment litigation and counseling;
  • Antitrust and trade regulation litigation and counseling;
  • Regulatory and internal corporate investigations;
  • White collar criminal defense.

We are not exclusively defense lawyers. We enjoy and are successful representing clients on both sides of the "v" in appropriate business cases, other than those areas like securities and consumer class action defense, where we stay on the same side as our regular clients.

We recognize that litigation normally involves business considerations in addition to the legal issues in the pleadings. We seek to understand the client's business objectives related to a dispute, and we plan our litigation strategy accordingly.

We also understand that prompt and efficient resolution of disputes is key to achieving a successful result from a business perspective. We work to achieve that through more reasonable billing rates, lean and efficient staffing, and effective use of technology. Although we can devote the required amount of resources to handle virtually any litigation matter, we do not depend on the traditional, highly leveraged staffing model of large firms to operate our practice. We also work closely with client personnel to use in house capabilities and partnering processes to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, we have the flexibility to craft mutually beneficial alternative fee arrangements in appropriate cases.

We are committed to responsiveness and communication in client relationships. We realize that significant business disputes often arise on short notice, and do not always follow the normal workday schedule. Our lawyers are available to clients whenever and wherever the exigencies require. Clients can reach us when they need to, and we stay in regular touch with clients regarding their matters.

All of the firm’s trial lawyers are solidly credentialed and battle tested. Virtually all were selected for law review, with two serving as editor-in-chief.

Our lawyers include former law clerks for federal judges, former prosecutors and government lawyers, and even a former in-house chief litigation counsel. We train our lawyers to write and argue concisely and powerfully. Our more senior lawyers have substantial courtroom experience and know how to take a case to trial if that is the best course for the client. In line with professional standards of conduct and simple civility, we represent our clients “zealously within the bounds of the law,” and we have a proven track record of success.


How We Are Different
  • We try cases. Unlike many corporate "litigators," our litigation team consists of trial lawyers who have substantial experience presenting contested cases to juries, judges and arbitrators. We recognize that in the world of business litigation, most cases settle, and it is not always in the client's best interest to take a case all the way to trial. But when it is, we know how to do it effectively. The courtroom requires legal skills, seasoned and practical judgment, and the art of persuasion. Our lawyers regularly demonstrate these qualities in successfully representing clients in injunction and other evidentiary hearings, jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations. Unlike most large firms, we are able to maintain a mix of smaller cases which provide courtroom opportunities and training for our young lawyers. Some of our recent trial successes are described below.
  • We find a way to win. Our job is to work diligently and think creatively to win your case or at least to get the best possible result consistent with your business goals. We understand that clients do not hire us just to handle a file, push paper, or throw up roadblocks to what the client wants to achieve. We see our job as out-working and out-smarting the other side for our client's benefit.
  • Lean staffing and more partner involvement. In litigation, even large and complex litigation, bigger is not necessarily better. In fact, large litigation teams often distance the partners on whose judgment the client is most relying from the key facts and documents where most cases are won (or lost). Large teams also can promote inefficiency and result in higher bills to the client. We staff matters leanly and manage them in a coordinated way. We staff most cases with a single partner and only one or two associates, and we handle even the largest cases with no more than four or five lawyers. If we need a large number of junior lawyers temporarily for projects like electronic document review, we staff those projects with low-priced contract lawyers rather than regular associates. This practice saves our clients money (and makes our associates a lot happier, too). Our lean staffing philosophy also allows us to handle midsize and smaller matters efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • We are more cost-effective. Parker Hudson's hourly rates typically are 10-20% less than the largest firms in our market, and are even lower compared to firms in larger cities with which we also compete. Our lower rates, lean staffing, and efficient discovery and case preparation practices result in lower overall legal costs for our clients. For example, in a recent mediation involving a case where our client had an attorneys' fees claim, upon hearing the amount of our firm's fees through the bulk of the discovery process the other side asked if our firm had the case on a partial contingency basis! We also recognize that hourly fee billing often is an imperfect indicator of value to clients, so we have proposed and implemented alternative fee arrangements in appropriate matters including fixed fees, discounted hourly rates with partial contingencies or success bonuses, and other shared risk/reward arrangements.
  • We invest in long-term relationships with clients. Although many of the cases we handle are unique, one-time matters, we take great pride in having developed long-term and extensive relationships with many of our corporate clients. We invest time on our own nickel to keep up with legal and business developments relevant to their industries and businesses. These clients have seen our substantive legal work and experienced our client service, and they have honored us with years of repeat litigation business. These companies are sophisticated users of legal services and work with some of the most well-known firms in the country. We are proud to have earned their confidence, and we would welcome the opportunity to earn yours. Feel free to ask us for references.

Awards and Recognition
Our litigation attorneys have achieved numerous awards and recognition in their areas of practice. Corporate Counsel magazine recently honored Parker Hudson as a "Go-To Law Firm" in the areas of commercial and securities litigation, based on its survey of the world's leading companies asking them which law firms they use in particular practice areas. All eight of the firm's litigation partners have been named Georgia "Super Lawyers" or "Rising Stars" as a result of a selection process by their peers. Our litigation attorneys also have been recognized as the best in their fields by publications and groups such as Best Lawyers in America, Chambers & Partners USA, International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, Georgia Trend magazine's "Legal Elite" and the Litigation Counsel of America.

Parker Hudson is also proud of the pro bono and community efforts of its litigation attorneys and the recognition they have received. Our litigation team coordinates regular staffing for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation "Saturday Lawyer Program," which provides basic dispute resolution and other legal services to low-income citizens in the Atlanta area. Two of our partners have received special recognition from the AVLF for 10 years of consecutive participation in this program. Our litigation attorneys also are involved at the board level in a wide variety of other charitable and community organizations.

    Recent Trial Successes
    • We successfully represented a lighting manufacturer as plaintiff in a three-week federal court bench trial on multi-million dollar claims for breach of an asset purchase agreement and fraud arising from our client's purchase of a business. At the conclusion of the evidence, the court ruled from the bench in our client's favor on its breach of contract claims. The case settled very favorably for our client during post-trial briefing on the remaining fraud and damages issues.
    • We successfully defended a major national bank in a state court jury trial involving claims that the bank wrongfully allowed an employee of the plaintiff-customer to draw on a line of credit and then embezzle those funds from the plaintiff's account. The jury found in our client's favor on the plaintiff's claim, and also found in favor of the bank on its counterclaim for repayment of the line of credit.
    • We represented a major securities broker/dealer in an NYSE arbitration brought by a former customer seeking more than $3 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. After a two-week arbitration hearing, the panel ruled that the customer should receive nothing, and it awarded our client more than $275,000 in attorneys' fees (which we actually collected).
    • We successfully represented one group of investors in a hotly contested dispute over a large escrow fund resulting from our client's purchase of the other side's interest in a commercial real estate investment. The case settled during the first day of the arbitration hearing for more than twice the amount of the other side's highest previous offer.
    • A federal judge appointed one of our lawyers to defend a former employee of an automotive dealership in a multi-defendant criminal trial involving a large "chop shop" operation. After rejecting the government's final plea offer to a felony offense, we obtained a dismissal by the court at the close of the government's case of some counts and a not guilty verdict on all remaining counts, thus completely exonerating the client on all charges. All of the other defendants in the case either pled guilty or were convicted of all felony offenses at trial.

    Other Recent Successes
    • We obtained the outright dismissal of a putative class action pending in federal court in Texas brought under the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act against our client, a leading provider of paper and electronic check services. The putative class consisted of 20 million members, with potential liability in the billions of dollars. This was the first decision of its kind under this federal statute.
    • We obtained a $19.5 million settlement for a client in litigation arising from the sale of a business unit, where the issue was whether the sale agreement allowed the client to retain antitrust claims that were pending in a separate action and later resulted in a large settlement. The case was particularly complex because it involved the interplay among commercial, antitrust and bankruptcy law issues.
    • We were retained by a national bank after a Georgia court entered a $950 million default judgment against it. We successfully vacated the default judgment and obtained an award of attorney's fees against plaintiffs and their counsel for their conduct in obtaining the judgment.
    • We successfully represented a major chemical supplier in precedent-setting litigation involving the interpretation of protected territory rights in their sales representative agreements, which preserved the client's ability to distribute its products through alternative distribution channels.
    • We are acting as national coordinating counsel for a leading siren manufacturer in multi-state mass tort litigation involving claims by thousands of firefighters for permanent hearing loss due to the alleged defective design of our client's sirens. We coordinated and led the strategy, discovery, and trial preparation that resulted in a complete defense verdict in the bellwether trial of the first 27 plaintiffs in state court in Chicago, recognized as a very plaintiff-friendly, "judicial hellhole" venue. We also won a motion to dismiss similar claims brought in state court in New York City.
    • We successfully resolved before substantial litigation a complex commercial and construction dispute between our client, a supplier of automated parking equipment and systems, and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport over the installation of a new parking and revenue control system. After the Airport terminated the contract and each side filed dueling lawsuits, we negotiated and resolved the Airport's claims of more than $30 million in damages for less than the anticipated cost of defense.
    • We negotiated and resolved on a confidential basis even before filing a complaint a trade secrets action against a professional services firm for misappropriating our client's confidential business plans and using them on behalf of a competitive entity, resulting in a seven-figure settlement.
    • We successfully represented two senior executives as defendants in a $600 million post-bankruptcy litigation trust action arising from the collapse of their former company. We obtained complete dismissals for our clients during discovery.
    • We successfully defended a major movie company against claims for copyright infringement brought by a plaintiff who had submitted a proposed treatment and script based on a similar concept. We limited discovery of senior executives and ultimately won summary judgment on grounds of no access and no substantial similarity of protected expression.
    • On behalf of a national home improvement products retailer, we obtained summary judgment defeating a specific performance claim regarding a $27.5 million real estate transaction by establishing that the letter of intent for the deal was not a binding contract.
    • We successfully represented a corporate client and its officers and directors in an insurance coverage dispute where the insurance company had denied coverage under a D&O policy and refused to advance attorneys' fees in a complex case pending against the client in another state. We were able to resolve the coverage dispute by not only obtaining reimbursement of the bulk of the clients' fees but also making possible the prompt settlement of the underlying litigation using insurance dollars.


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