Birmingham Civil Practice Lawyer
Christian & Small LLP
The partners of Christian & Small are among the finest trial lawyers in the state. Collectively, their partners have tried over 1,000 jury trials across Alabama, ranging from bet-the-company litigation and class actions to single plaintiff injury cases. They harness this wealth of experience to provide their clients with the most effective, efficient and zealous representation whether the goal is early resolution or a full-fledged defense through trial.
In an era of unparalleled corruption and white collar crime, U.S. companies face increased government scrutiny of their business practices. At the same time, corporations are looking to consolidate and combine resources in an economy where technology and globalization have primed the field for merger and acquisition. It is more important than ever for your company to understand the federal and state antitrust laws and regulations in place to promote competition and a free market.
Christian & Small antitrust and unfair competition attorneys are well-versed in the triumvirate of federal antitrust laws – the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act – and the state laws that mirror them. These laws and their amendments are designed to protect businesses and consumers from price-fixing, unfair trade and monopolies. Any individual or business found in violation faces millions in fines and sometimes imprisonment. At Christian & Small, the Birmingham civil practice attorneys help companies understand and address their exposure before they make important business decisions. That’s why they are often called upon to perform antitrust due diligence before corporations move forward with a merger or acquisition.
The firm’s antitrust lawyers have represented companies in FTC, Department of Justice and state attorney general investigations. They have defended pharmaceutical companies, major oil refineries and businesses in other industries against antitrust claims, both in criminal and civil proceedings.
Aviation is one of the most dynamic and complex sectors in the global economy. Heavily dependent on the economic outlook, the industry is facing new challenges in operational safety, passenger safety legislation, security measures and mergers and acquisitions.
Beyond the financial and business concerns affecting the industry, government plays a large role in determining what’s happening on the runways and up in the air. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has all regulatory and legislative oversight for the aviation industry. The FAA sets and enforces minimum standards for aircraft, airline and airport security.
Christian & Small’s aviation attorneys have significant experience deciphering the complex FAA policies and regulations. They possess the necessary industry knowledge to guide clients through the specialized discovery and investigative issues that are inherent in aviation disputes. They handle every area of aviation law with an effective, practiced and collaborative approach, calling upon resources in related areas of substantive law including:
- Products liability
- Regulatory affairs
- Complex litigation
Examples of their broad capabilities in this highly-specialized area include the successful representation of aircraft and component manufacturers, fixed-based operators and pilots in accident investigations and liability claims. They have represented owners and operators in regulatory matters and resolved insurance coverage disputes involving the ownership and use of aircraft.
Aviation law is a specialized field essential to protecting the rights of the different parties involved, namely the airlines, airports, civil aviation authorities, executives, insurers, government agencies, pilots, mechanics and manufacturers. Your aviation legal team at Christian & Small has the right mix of solid litigation skills, industry know-how, understanding of FAA regulations and technical aircraft knowledge to assist you with any aviation matter.
Business and Commercial Litigation
Commercial litigation, encompassing all business conflicts, is a vast arena. Business differences arise on a daily basis for individuals, privately-held and publicly-traded companies. When you’re looking for the most favorable result in a business dispute, having an attorney with diverse commercial litigation experience is a game changer.
High-quality business litigation attorneys will understand your business, its objectives and the consequences of certain actions throughout the case. That means they understand how to devise and execute strategies designed to not only achieve a favorable result, but to minimize disruption and manage costs.
Christian & Small’s business and commercial litigation practice thrives as a result of the investment they make to understand their clients’ day-to-day business issues and long-term strategies and goals. The Birmingham civil practice lawyers pride themselves on building collaborative relationships with their clients, working together to devise and execute strategies designed not only to achieve a favorable result, but to minimize disruption and manage costs. The firm’s attorneys have tried, arbitrated, mediated and handled appeals of virtually every type of commercial dispute including contracts, business torts, securities, shareholder disputes, antitrust, intellectual property, and trade secret litigation. Their dedication to excellence and practicality has gained notice among the bench and bar, and their trial experience is unparalleled.
- Defended a software company against claims for theft of trade secrets and for inducing a competitor’s chief information officer to breach a covenant not to compete. When the jury returned an adverse verdict following a three-week trial, Christian & Small obtained a reversal of the verdict (and ultimately a complete dismissal for its client) when the Alabama Supreme Court agreed that no evidence of a trade secret had been presented.
- Christian & Small served as lead counsel for the largest unsecured creditor of a nearly 100 year ship yard in the commencement of a contested involuntary bankruptcy. Through a complex chain of efforts, the firm was able to force a sale of corporate assets, obtain an allowed claim in excess of $40 million and negotiate favorable concessions in a hard fought fight that resulted in the confirmation of a consensual plan.
- The firm served as part of the litigation team that represented the bankruptcy trustee of Just for Feet. At the time of it’s Chapter 11 filing, Just For Feet was one of the largest athletic shoe retailers in the country. Through the aggressive pursuit of accounting malpractice and corporate governance claims, Christian & Small was a principal part of the team that successfully resolved the case on terms reported nationally in the Wall Street Journal.
Class Action & Complex Litigation
All lawsuits are not born equal. The level of complexity in class action, mass action and large-scale proceedings requires experience, knowledge and capabilities that many law firms don’t have.
The lawyers of Christian & Small have helped their clients successfully navigate the treacherous waters of many of the largest and most complex lawsuits in Alabama and throughout the South. The Birmingham civil practice lawyers work quickly to understand their clients’ legal and business objectives, while efficiently managing public exposure, multiple, often adverse parties, complicated legalities, and time consuming discovery and preparation. They are continually investing in the best technology available. This allows them to efficiently organize massive amounts of documentation, manage and conduct extensive discovery, and synthesize evidence for persuasive use at trial.
Christian & Small has represented defendants in dozens of complex lawsuits, including putative nationwide class action cases, multidistrict litigation, and multi-party, multi-jurisdictional state court actions. Their notable recent successes include:
- The firm’s lawyers achieved a total victory for their clients, domestic affiliates of one of the world’s largest banks, in a nationwide class action certified in the only Multidistrict litigation case ever taken to trial in Alabama. Christian & Small’s lawyers tried the case, and won it in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, while other defendants in the financial lending business paid very large sums to settle the claims against them.
- Christian & Small achieved a complete success for their client, a major pharmaceutical company, in the first of seventy three “Average Wholesale Pricing” cases filed by Alabama’s Attorney General. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed a jury verdict for the State and rendered judgment in favor of their client. The national press reported the Supreme Court’s decision, and The Drug and Device Law blog named it the year’s most significant decision.
- As national coordinating counsel, Christian & Small handled the defense of a component manufacturer in a product liability multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Alabama, culminating in the successful settlement of all MDL cases and numerous related state court actions.
After several years of stalled building sites and declines in spending, the construction industry is starting to see modest improvement. The industry has relied on state and city government funding to fill the gap between public and private development. Despite the fact that federal stimulus money is almost spent and securing project financing continues to be difficult, most analysts predict that the number of construction starts will only continue to grow as more time elapses between now and the previous economic crisis and mortgage meltdown.
Christian & Small attorneys understand the challenges facing the construction industry. They represent numerous owners, developers, design professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, architects, engineers, suppliers and insurers. They work alongside their clients through every phase of the construction process – from planning and design, to the build-out and warranty period.
Regardless of the type of construction you are involved in – new construction, renovation, repair or sustainability – Christian & Small attorneys have the tools to help you prepare and negotiate fair contracts, and keep your projects running on time and on budget. On the occasions when things aren’t going well, they have represented clients in title disputes, materialmen liens and bond claims. The firm’s attorneys have extensive experience in all forms of construction litigation, including successfully trying jury cases before numerous state and federal courts, and appearing before arbitration panels and mediators.
Environmental and Toxic Tort
Environmental and toxic tort litigation is growing at a rapid pace. Corporate environmental practices and procedures have come under intense scrutiny due to an increased use of potentially hazardous chemicals and new government regulations. These changes presented significant risks and costs to business.
To successfully litigate this complex and evolving body of law, your legal team must be on the forefront of developing environmental issues. They also must be educated about advances in science and medicine and competent in defending their clients using innovative and practical strategies.
Environmental and toxic tort cases are complicated and frequently have a lot of moving parts. In order to achieve a favorable outcome, you want a law firm that will respond quickly, communicate frequently and offer relevant experience. It’s critical you work with a legal partner who will advocate for you and who will minimize your exposure to crippling liability related to environmental or toxic substances.
With extensive experience in the interpretation and application of federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations, Christian & Small’s environmental and toxic tort lawyers represent clients in:
- Regulatory and permitting issues
- Insurance coverage issues
- Transactional work
- Client education matters
Christian & Small’s litigators routinely handle disputes in a variety of judicial forums and before federal, state and local environmental agencies. The attorneys are able to draw upon the firm’s extensive insurance resources to provide comprehensive advice in cases involving environmental issues such as the availability of coverage for clean-up activities.
With their comprehensive client education programs, Christian & Small strives to keep clients informed of the latest changes in environmental law and procedure so that potential liability can be avoided or mitigated. Active participation in the Business Council of Alabama’s Environmental and Energy Committee ensures that their environmental attorneys maintain an active voice in state environmental policy and stay abreast of the latest environmental developments impacting their clients.
Alabama has some of the most stringent liquor liability laws in the United States.
Dram shop and liquor liability laws once only applied to tavern owners and establishments licensed to sell alcohol. Now the move it to seek to apply these laws to social hosts or businesses who serve alcohol at private parties, such as picnics, housewarmings, fraternity parties and office holiday parties.
The liquor liability attorneys at Christian & Small know that training and proactive efforts to prevent alcohol-related injuries are integral to decreasing civil liability and protecting your personal and professional livelihoods. For that reason, they often evaluate existing liquor liability programs, and provide in-house vendor training to bartenders, servers and other employees of restaurants and bars so that they can recognize and discreetly deal with underage or intoxicated patrons.
Beyond educating clients about responsible serving practices, Christian & Small proactively monitors current state dram shop statutes, drunk driving and insurance coverage laws. When their clients have been named as defendants in third party claims, they have tried these cases, often to successful defense verdicts. Christian & Small’s liquor liability practice offers an extra dimension to these claims because they have professionals with Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board certification who can represent restaurant and bar licensees at the Board level.
High-profile recalls, manufacturing disputes and federal and state government investigations have changed the game for the medical device industry. Beyond looking for more cost-effective ways to defend against medical products liability claims and comply with FDA pre-market and post-marketing mandates, medical device companies are seeking proactive ways to protect themselves from this high-stakes litigation.
Christian & Small attorneys have defended numerous pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers and ancillary health care and technology companies. Engagements range from the defense of single plaintiff cases to more complex litigation presenting multiple claims across several states. Their experience in multi-district litigation positions Christian & Small to efficiently gather and assimilate the vast amounts of technical and scientific data at play in these medical device cases.
Christian & Small’s lawyers work closely with clients and national coordinating counsel to mount the successful defense of complex medical device litigation. Extensive trial experience combined with firm litigators’ practice in health care liability defense provides us with the resources and the foundation to provide effective service to companies facing the challenges of this critical sector of the economy.
The issues in premises liability are complicated. Claims are filed for a variety of reasons and can be detrimental to you and your business. Prompt, proactive and assertive defensive strategies are required to protect your rights and prepare you for what might lie ahead.
A premises liability case can be simple or highly complex. Are technical issues like standards and codes applicable? Is expert testimony needed? A competent legal team will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the claim. They will analyze the issues, evaluate exposure, determine the damages, develop a timely assessment and counsel you on how to proceed. Finally, you should be provided with an assertive, practical defense strategy.
As a landlord, property owner or business establishment, the development and execution of a successful defense strategy is critical. Your legal counsel’s level of expertise on these matters can make or break your efforts of obtaining a favorable outcome. Overall, every premises liability claim is unique and requires a custom solution. Whatever the nature of the case, it’s imperative to work with an experienced firm that will guide you in defending your premises liability case.
At Christian & Small, their premises liability attorneys defend commercial entities as well as governmental entities against a variety of claims. The firm’s attorneys have extensive experience handling premises liability matters involving claims for injuries sustained on properties due to a number of different factors, from pre-suit through trial, including:
- Defects on the premises
- Acts of negligent third parties
- Slips and falls
- Negligence or improper maintenance of the premises
- Inadequate security
- Falling merchandise
Tort litigation against businesses continues to escalate at unprecedented rates. Product manufacturers and distributors will find no reprieve from this trend, as a 2009 study commissioned by the Defense Research Institute identified products liability as the leading growth area in tort litigation.
The attorneys of Christian & Small assume that every case will go to trial, and prepare the defense of their cases in that way. With that approach, Christian & Small has amassed a record of successfully defending product manufacturers and distributors representing various industries. Their trial-oriented approach has taken them to the four corners of Alabama, where they have successfully tried numerous high-stakes, complex products liability cases in some of the state’s most notorious venues. In fact, clients have called on Christian & Small on the eve of trial to take over cases that other firms were handling. The Birmingham civil practice lawyers often heed the call to appeal a products liability case following an unsuccessful outcome achieved by another firm at the trial level.
While products liability litigation continues to intensify, Christian & Small understands that the efficiency of defending its clients is paramount. As a result, many products liability cases can and should be resolved before trial. Christian & Small’s willingness to take cases to trial, coupled with their wealth of trial experience, allows them to routinely achieve successful pre-trial resolution through the cost-effective development of critical facts.
Christian & Small’s products liability lawyers have represented manufacturers, insurance companies, distributors and retailers in both individual and large, sophisticated cases involving varied products, such as:
- Aircraft components
- Hydraulic transfer cars
- All terrain vehicles (ATVs)
- Kerosene heaters
- Medical devices
- Blow mold machines
- Mobile cranes
- Building materials
- Overhead cranes
- Commercial and consumer lawn equipment
- PVC pipe
- Commercial electrical regulators
- Power tools
- Commercial HVAC systems
- Concrete anchor lifting systems
- Diet drugs
- Underground mining equipment
- All forms of industrial equipment
- Defended international manufacturer of steel fabricating system in federal court for multi-million dollar property damage claim arising out of massive molten steel spill and involving design defect claims. Obtained summary judgment in favor of system manufacturer.
- Defended domestic mobile, all-terrain crane manufacturer in wrongful death case in state court involving claims of design defect. Obtained summary judgment in favor of crane manufacturer. Alabama State Supreme Court subsequently affirmed the decision.
- Obtained defense verdict in state court wrongful death case involving design defect and failure to warn claims against foreign agricultural tractor manufacturer.
Most U.S. states, including Alabama, have adopted all or portions of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (USTA). The Act provides protection for companies that lose money or competitive advantages when their trade secrets are misappropriated. In most cases, misappropriation takes place when a former employee steals the trade secret information and takes it to work with him at a competing company. In 2010, Alabama amended its trade secret law to increase the minimum civil penalty to $10,000 for willful and malicious misappropriation of trade secrets. The state law also makes it a class C felony for any third party to offer payment for the willful and malicious misappropriation of trade secrets.
Christian & Small has extensive experience in litigating cases concerning the misappropriation of trade secrets. Their attorneys litigate claims involving trademark infringement, unfair competition, dilution and misappropriation of trade secrets in federal and state courts. They have helped their clients recover lost profits, damages and have secured injunctive relief from the courts. Moreover, their experience litigating these cases helps them educate their clients about the best methods for protecting themselves before problems arise. The Birmingham civil practice lawyers have drafted and sought enforcement of non-competes, restrictive covenants and confidential non-disclosure agreements.
State and federal laws regulating the various modes of transportation are almost as numerous and dynamic as the routes taken by America’s drivers, pilots, captains and conductors. In response to increasing numbers of distracted driving accidents, the United States banned handheld texting by drivers of commercial trucks and buses in 2010; drivers now face fines of up to $3,000 for talking or texting on mobile phones. Challenges to hours of service requirements are making their way through the appellate court system, and security and safety remain primary concerns of the transportation and logistics industry.
Christian & Small enjoys an established reputation as a preeminent transportation litigation law firm. They are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist their transportation clients. Their goal is to proactively assist their clients with the assessment of risk and liability, and reduce the cost of claims and the number of lawsuits.
According to the Alabama Trucking Association, trucks deliver almost 90-percent of the products shipped into and out of the state each day. Christian & Small’s transportation lawyers represent many of the major truck lines operating throughout the United States. Two members of the firm have been admitted to the Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA) and three are members of the Transportation Lawyers Association.
The firm’s lawyers defend transportation companies in personal injury cases, cargo and property damage claims, employment matters and workers compensation claims. They provide regulatory advice based on the latest rule changes from state and federal departments of transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Surface Transportation Board, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Birmingham civil practice attorneys also advise business owners on relevant corporate, tax and licensing issues.
Christian & Small LLP