Appellate Practice

Email This Page  Print This Page Print PDF
George T. Lewis III
 

The very best appellate practitioners are strong brief writers and effective oral advocates. They understand firsthand the types of concise, intelligent arguments expected by appellate courts. Baker Donelson's Appellate Group attorneys meet this criteria, and the issues we have handled on appeal are as diverse as the Firm's litigation practice.

Our attorneys are often retained to handle post-judgment proceedings and appeals at the request of trial counsel, the client or the client's insurance carrier. We have also prepared amicus briefs for trade associations or other parties interested in an appeal. We work closely with trial counsel to give our clients the benefit of both the trial attorneys' knowledge of the case and the appellate attorneys' unique skills and experience. If retained before trial, we also are able to assist trial counsel in preserving issues when an appeal is anticipated.

At last count, the Group was involved in scores of appeals in State and Federal Court. The Group has handled cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, and the State appellate courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Baker Donelson's appellate attorneys are involved in various professional organizations designed to improve appellate practice, including the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, American Bar Association Appellate Practice Committees, the Defense Research Institute Appellate Practice Committee, and state bar association sections and committees.

Our attorneys' experience in appellate courts and issues is vast, and we leverage that knowledge on behalf of our clients. Our attorneys include the founding chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Alabama State Bar; a Georgetown University faculty member teaching Constitutional Law; members of the former Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission; a former U.S. District Court Judge; a retired Circuit Court Judge; and the former chair of the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission. Many of our attorneys have served as law clerks or staff attorneys on federal or state courts of appeals, including the State Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits.

Representative Appellate Matters

  • Secured an affirmation of a 2008 defense verdict for a major automobile manufacturer in the Court of Appeals in a case related to a car accident that took place in 2001. The plaintiff's decedent alleged that a design defect in the vehicle's fuel lines allowed them to be breached in the impact, leading to a fire. The client countered that the design of the fuel system was proper and that the fire started from a punctured can of highly flammable liquid electrical tape found underneath the driver seat. They also countered that the decedent was comparatively at fault for driving on the wrong side of the road while intoxicated. A jury returned a verdict for the client in 2008. Following the verdict, plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court should not have allowed the admission of the decedent's blood alcohol content to establish comparative fault. The Court of Appeals rejected the argument in this case, along with all other assignments of error, and affirmed the verdict for the client.
  • Prevailed on behalf of marine products manufacturer in the Fifth Circuit in an 11-year case involving three separate trials on federal and state law liability and damage issues, as well as a prior Fifth Circuit appeal in which court affirmed dismissal of claims against the company under Robinson-Patman Act and other federal and state competition laws. Upholding a written distribution agreement against a challenge based on claims of negligent misrepresentation and detrimental reliance, the court reversed a $550,000 judgment against the company, and affirmed a separate judgment awarding $300,000 on counterclaims.
  • Represented large municipality and its utility division in a series of precedent setting interstate water rights suits involving rights to an underground aquifer. Plaintiff sought over $1 billion in monetary damages and an injunction to cut off the municipality’s sole public water source. The municipality and utility division were successful in the District Court, Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Received per curiam ruling in 11th Circuit affirming trial court's grant of summary judgment in a pharmaceutical case. Brought as a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act, the plaintiffs claimed our client's product was being marketed, without adequate testing, as substitute for theirs and was therefore bioequivalent to theirs. The trial court stated the burden of proof remained with the plaintiff, and the 11th circuit agreed.
  • Successfully obtained reversal of Eleventh Circuit decision for CSX Corporation before the U.S. Supreme Court, on issue of whether the state of Georgia had over-valued CSX's property in Georgia for property tax purposes. Saved the client several million dollars for the tax year at issue and subsequent tax years.
  • In the Supreme Court of Tennessee, obtained a decision that class actions are not allowed under Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Reversing the trial court, the Supreme Court also held that class certification is inappropriate in fraud and negligent misrepresentation cases based upon non-uniform oral communications.
  • Successfully represented national income tax preparation service before Tennessee Court of Appeals in reversal of regulatory classification of enhanced service warranty as "insurance." Court of Appeals adopted and applied test for determination of when contracts for future services constitute insurance subject to state regulation and clarified standard of review of an agency's interpretation of statute.
  • Successfully defended trial court's dismissal of lawsuit by Catholic visionary seeking personal control over assets of nonprofit organization that had declined to follow visionary's instructions. Issues included First Amendment, civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), fraud, implied trust, Georgia Charitable Solicitations Act and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • On issue of first impression in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, overturned the trial court's order permitting employees discharged for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement to sue for wrongful retaliation under Title VII, ADEA and ADA.
  • Successfully defended trial court's finding of civil and criminal contempt against opposing counsel for willful violations of protective order in civil RICO action.
  • Participated in successful appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from jury verdict of over $7.8 million. Issues included the adequacy of the verdict form and double recovery/election of remedies.
  • On issue of first impression, overturned the federal district court's award of ERISA penalties to the wife and children of client's former employee based on failure to advise them of their COBRA rights.
  • Successfully defended an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by the mother of a jail suicide victim. The Court held that the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the defendants based on qualified immunity in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 case was proper. Also successfully opposed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court in the same case.
  • On an issue of first impression, obtained decision dismissing claims by doctor concerning statements made to peer review committee. Case was resolved under the Tennessee Peer Review Law and the Health Care Quality Improvement Act.
  • Overturned a federal district court's $500,000 judgment against a hospital client based on changes in medical care benefits for retirees. The issues included preemption, vesting of benefits, estoppel, fiduciary duty, and compensatory damages under ERISA.
  • Successfully defended an appeal by an alleged heir to the land comprising the Spindletop Oil Field in Texas, now controlled by several oil companies. The court affirmed dismissal of all claims of the heir and upheld the trial court's injunction precluding the filing of any such cases in the future in the Eastern District of Tennessee without prior permission of a judge of that federal district court.
  • Obtained decision of the Alabama Supreme Court striking down a city licensing ordinance as an unconstitutional tax on interstate commerce.
  • Successfully defended in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit client's right to sue competitor for trademark and trade dress infringement under the doctrine of progressive encroachment even where client had arguably delayed bringing claims for more than a decade.
  • Successfully defended patent infringement findings of court concerning flea traps in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
  • Successfully defended a jury's findings of trade dress infringement and design patent infringement concerning women's apparel and accessories in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
  • Successfully defended an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by an employee seeking to avoid the forum selection clause contained in an employment contract. The Court affirmed the propriety of the removal of the case to federal court and found the forum selection clause designating Brazil as the appropriate forum wholly enforceable.
  • Successfully represented Medicaid managed care organizations and state trade association in United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in action seeking fairness hearing on Medicaid class action settlement imposing significant new burdens on MCOs.
  • Secured affirmance of judgment in Tennessee Supreme Court dismissing supplier's materialman's lien claim against owner and general contractor.
  • Represented tax service in Tennessee Court of Appeals in enforcement of arbitration clause against refund anticipation loan recipient and punitive class of recipients.
  • Secured affirmance of judgment dismissing Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claims by former network hospital against managed care company.
  • Represented managed care company in enforcement of arbitration clause in network physician agreement. Trial court held clause unenforceable; Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed.

Federal Court Clerks

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • Gerardo R. Barrios, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Robert R. Beezer
  • Amy Champagne, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable W. Eugene Davis
  • Angie Davis, U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, Houston, Texas, Honorable Sam Nuchia
  • Nakimuli O. Davis, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Leslie H. Southwick
  • William Fones, U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit, Honorable Marion T. Bennett
  • Jonathan Green, U.S. Court of Appeals for Eleventh Circuit
  • W. Patton Hahn, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Honorable Eric G. Bruggink
  • Thomas Helton, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Paul C. Wieck, Chief Judge
  • Lynn Landau, U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable James C. Hill
  • Elizabeth B. McCostlin, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Eugene Siler, Jr 
  • Ronald Range, U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable H. Emory Widener Jr.
  • William Reed, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Elbert P. Tuttle
  • Wendy Thompson, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Honorable Rhesa H. Barksdale

U.S. District Court Clerks

  • Allisa J. Allison, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, Judge L.T. Senter
  • Brian M. Ballay, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Carl J. Barbier
  • Kate Bogard, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable S. Thomas Anderson
  • Joy Boyd, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Honorable C. Ashley Royal and Honorable Duross Fitzpatrick
  • Spencer Clift, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable David S. Kennedy
  • Laurie Clark, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge Morey L. Sear and U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, Judge P. Trevor Sharp
  • Caldwell Collins, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Judge Audrey G. Fleissig
  • Joann Coston-Holloway, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle
  • Jacob Dickerson, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable Jon P. McCalla
  • Kevin Garrison, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Honorable W. Keith Watkins
  • Russell Gray, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Honorable Allan Edgar
  • Clay Gunn, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Honorable Daniel P. Jordan, III
  • Whitney Harmon, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Honorable Karl S. Forester
  • Russell Headrick, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable Harry W. Wellford
  • Cameron Hill, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Honorable Curtis L. Collier
  • J. Forrest Hinton, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama, Honorable Virgil Pittman
  • Aubrey "Copper" Hirsch, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Chief Judge Frederick Heebe
  • Kali Jackson, U.S. District Court of Houston, Honorable Francis S. Stacy
  • Frank James, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama, Honorable Virgil Pittman
  • Stephen Kennedy, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Honorable Tom S. Lee, Chief Judge
  • Kenneth Klemm, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Judge George Arceneaux Jr.
  • William Lawrence, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Honorable Robert B. Propst, (also sitting by designation on Eleventh Circuit)
  • Erno D. Lindner, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable David S. Kennedy 
  • C. Lee Lott, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, Honorable Glen H. Davison
  • Gabriel P. McGaha, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable Jon P. McCalla
  • Brad C. Moody, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Honorable David C. Bramlette
  • Matt Mulqueen, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska
  • Bill O'Connor, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable David S. Kennedy and Honorable George W. Emerson, Jr.
  • Sarah C. Pazar, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable Jon C. McCalla and Honorable Charmiane G. Claxton
  • Kathlyn Perez, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Honorable G. Thomas Porteous Jr.
  • Paul Peyronnin, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Honorable Henry A. Mentz Jr.
  • Andrew Potts, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Alabama, Honorable Gordon B. Kahn, Chief Judge
  • Anna Powers, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, Chief Judge Michael P. Mills
  • Damany Ransom, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Honorable Karen Wells Roby
  • Emily Rutledge, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Honorable W. Louis Sands
  • Fredrick N. Salvo, III, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Honorable John M. Roper, Chief U.S. Magistrate
  • Adam Sanders, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Honorable Curtis L. Collier
  • Eric Setterlund, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Honorable Diane K. Vescovo
  • Brittany Simpson, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Honorable Thomas A. Varlan
  • Susan Wagner, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, Honorable Sam C. Pointer Jr.
  • Melanie C. Walker, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Honorable Curtis L. Collier

State Court Clerks

State Supreme Court Clerks

  • Jonathan Geisen, Alabama Supreme Court, Honorable Harold F. See
  • Steven Griffith Jr., Louisiana Supreme Court, Honorable Pascal Calogero, Chief Justice
  • Mary Ann Jackson, Arkansas Supreme Court, Honorable Robert Brown
  • George Lewis, Tennessee Supreme Court, Honorable Frank Drowota
  • Stacy Thomas, Mississippi Supreme Court, Honorable Dan M. Lee
  • Michael F. Weiner, Louisiana Supreme Court, Honorable James L. Dennis
  • Adam Zuckerman, Louisiana Supreme Court, Honorable Pascal Calgero, Chief Justice

State Court of Appeals Clerks

  • Sam Blair, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Western Section, Honorable W. Frank Crawford
  • Jay Ebelhar, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Honorable Holly M. Kirby
  • Aubrey "Copper" Hirsch, Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Appellate Clerk, Judge William A. Culpepper
  • Nolan Johnson, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Honorable Holly M. Kirby 
  • Steven W. King, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Wedemeyer 
  • Brett McCall, Mississippi Court of Appeals, Honorable David Ishee
  • Carla Peacher-Ryan, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Honorable Charles E. Nearn
  • Gary Shockley, Tennessee Court of Appeals
  • Alan Lee Smith, Mississippi Court of Appeals
  • Stephen P. Spann, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Honorable Ben Cantrell
  • William West, Tennessee Court of Appeals, Honorable Kirby Matherne
  • Kyle Wiggins, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Honorable Alan Glenn

State Circuit Court Clerks

  • Tyler Ball, Hinds County Circuit Court, Honorable Swan Yerger
  • James Delanis, Sixth Circuit Court, Davidson County, Tennessee, Honorable James M. Swiggart
  • Doreen Edelman, Circuit Court of Prince Georges County, Maryland, Honorable William McCullough, Chief Judge
  • John Hicks, Tennessee Chancery Court, Shelby County, Honorable George T. Lewis Jr.
  • Joshua Powers, Shelby County, Tennessee Circuit Court, Honorable Janice Holder
  • Carolyn Schott, Second Judicial Circuit Court, Berrien County Michigan, Honorable Ronald J. Taylor & Honorable Casper O. Grathwohl
  • Megan Sutton, Hamilton County, Tennessee Chancery Court, Honorable W. Frank Brown, III and Honorable Jeffrey M. Atherton