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George T. Lewis III

Shareholder
Memphis
T: 901.577.2256
F: 901.577.0749

George T. Lewis III is a shareholder in the Memphis office and chairs the Appellate Practice Litigation Group.

Featured Experience

Represented a publicly traded national bank in an American Arbitration Association proceeding in which an adverse New York bank sought repurchase of approximately 500 home equity loans totaling approximately $30 million in unpaid balances. The case involved allegations relating to borrower fraud, mortgage insurance and violation of underwriting guidelines relating to appraisals, income verification, loan to value and debt to income ratios, reserves and borrower applications.
2013

Successfully defended an automobile dealership in a putative class action seeking certification of approximately 14,000 class members challenging a charge imposed by the dealership, with the result that the state supreme court reversed the trial court, holding that class actions were not allowed under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and that this case, which was based upon oral representations, was not suitable for class certification under the common law.

Won a nine-day jury trial for a national property and casualty insurance carrier. The plaintiff was a local physician's widow who sued the carrier for bad faith and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act for denying a claim for benefits following an extensive fire in her home, which she claimed was caused by electrical problems. The defense presented cause and origin experts and electrical engineers who testified the fire was caused by arson. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant in one hour.

Professional Biography

Overview

A former president of the Tennessee Bar Association and the recipient of numerous professional awards, Mr. Lewis is a litigator whose focus is solving complex business, personal injury, insurance coverage, Consumer Protection Act, health care and class action litigation problems for his clients. 

Mr. Lewis also has extensive experience in securities and governmental law. He is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator, and in 2013 the American Arbitration Association added Mr. Lewis to its panel of arbitrators.

Mr. Lewis' service to the legal profession is extensive. He has held numerous leadership positions in his profession and community. He served as president of the Tennessee Bar Association and president of the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation and was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to chair the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. He has also served as president of the Memphis Bar Foundation and as chair of the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross. In 2006, the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission recommended Mr. Lewis to the governor for appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

In 1991, the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed him to the Board of Directors of Tennessee's Lawyers Fund for Client Protection. In 1999, the Supreme Court appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Rules of Trial and Appellate Procedure. In August of 2009, he was appointed to the TBA Judicial Conduct Committee. In 2014, ABA President William Hubbard appointed him to the American Bar Association Pro Bono and Public Service Committee. In 2016, ABA President Linda Klein appointed Mr. Lewis Chair of the Committee.

Mr. Lewis is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and Mid-South Super Lawyers across numerous areas of litigation and appellate law. In 2007 and 2010, Mr. Lewis was named to the Honor Roll of the American Bar Association Torts and Insurance Practice Section.

From 1980 to 1981, Mr. Lewis served as law clerk for the Honorable Frank Drowota, Tennessee Supreme Court. While in the joint J.D./M.B.A. program at the University of Tennessee, he served as the vice chair, and then chair, of the Moot Court Board.  He was also a member of the Securities Law Moot Court Team and Labor Law Moot Court Team.

Representative Matters
  • Represented a publicly traded national bank in an American Arbitration Association proceeding in which an adverse New York bank sought repurchase of approximately 500 home equity loans totaling approximately $30 million in unpaid balances. The case involved allegations relating to borrower fraud, mortgage insurance and violation of underwriting guidelines relating to appraisals, income verification, loan to value and debt to income ratios, reserves and borrower applications. (2013)
  • Successfully defended an automobile dealership in a putative class action seeking certification of approximately 14,000 class members challenging a charge imposed by the dealership, with the result that the state supreme court reversed the trial court, holding that class actions were not allowed under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and that this case, which was based upon oral representations, was not suitable for class certification under the common law.

  • Won a nine-day jury trial for a national property and casualty insurance carrier. The plaintiff was a local physician's widow who sued the carrier for bad faith and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act for denying a claim for benefits following an extensive fire in her home, which she claimed was caused by electrical problems. The defense presented cause and origin experts and electrical engineers who testified the fire was caused by arson. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant in one hour.
  • Defended a global automobile and truck manufacturer with respect to a nationwide class action alleging defective brake assemblies on one of the manufacturer's truck lines. After we removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act and filed a motion to dismiss under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and common law fraud, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.

  • In a case of first impression in the Sixth Circuit, obtained ruling establishing the standard of review to be used by a District Court in the Sixth Circuit in reviewing a decision by a United States Bankruptcy Court.
  • Obtained a favorable settlement after a chancellor held that a chancery court could properly review whether a state complied with procedural due process in awarding its first private prison contract.
  • Obtained a ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court holding that a physician cannot properly enter into a contingent fee arrangement to serve as an expert witness for his/her patient.

  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a state automotive association against allegations that all automobile dealerships in the state illegally passed on the business tax to purchasers of vehicles in the state.
  • On appeal of a matter originally tried by another firm, obtained a reduction in judgment to $500,000 from the original $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The decision was significant on several issues including the definition of a trade secret, the damages available under Rule 65 for wrongfully obtaining a temporary injunction, and the extent to which damages must be reasonably specific in order to be sustained as a remedy.
Professional Honors & Activities
  • Chair – Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission (2012 – 2014); appointed Chair by Tennessee Supreme Court (March 2012)
  • Larry Wilks Distinguished Practitioner In Residence, University of Tennessee College of Law (2012 – present)
  • Recipient – Reese Smith Service to Pro Bono Award, the National Association of Pro Bono (2016)
  • Recipient – The Justice Janice M. Holder Award for Access to Justice, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (2014)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee National Alumni Association 2013 Alumni Service Award (2012 – present)
  • Recipient – American Bar Association President's Citation for Leadership (August 2013)
  • Fellow – Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
  • Member – The Trial Law Institute
  • Chair – American Red Cross Mid-South Chapter, Memphis, Tennessee (June 2012 – June 2014); Outstanding Board Member of the Year (2014) 
  • Recipient – American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Public Service Honor Roll Award (2009 and 2010)
  • American Bar Association (Chair of the Technology Subcommittee of the Pro Bono and Public Service Committee; Chair of working group for ABALegalAnswers.org, a project to launch a 50-state pro bono website)  
  • ABA House of Delegates, 2000 – 2006; 2010 – 2015 
  • Tennessee Bar Association (President, 2008 – 2009; Vice President, 2006 – 2007 and 2007 – 2008; Board of Governors; Operations Committee Chair; Chair, Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair; Judicial Campaign Ethics Committee; Task Force on Judicial Conduct; Executive Committee, Appellate Practice Section)
  • Memphis Bar Association (former member Board of Directors and Board Executive Committee)
  • President – Tennessee Legal Community Foundation (2009 – 2010)
  • Board Member – Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society
  • National Conference of Bar Presidents; Southern Conference of Bar Presidents  
  • Past President – Memphis and Shelby County Bar Foundation
  • Recipient – Memphis Bar Association W. J. Michael Cody Pro Bono Award (2008)
  • Recipient – Inaugural Baker Donelson Pro Bono Impact Award (2014)
  • Recipient – Baker Donelson's Pro Bono Award (2010)  
  • Chair – Memphis Area Legal Services fundraising drive (2011); Co-Chair (2010) 
  • Life Member – Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • Former Member – Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission (1991 – 1994)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee College of Law Outstanding Service Award (1998)
  • Recipient – Tennessee Supreme Court Outstanding Service Award (1996); Certificate of Appreciation (2014) 
  • Fellow – American Bar, Tennessee and Memphis Bar Foundations  
  • Member – Tennessee Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure (1999 – 2009); Electronic Discovery Committee (2007) 
  • Former Member – Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission (1994 – 2001); Chair (1995 – 1996); Vice Chair (1994 – 1995) 
  • Member – University of Tennessee College of Law Alumni Council (since 1994); Chair (1994 – 1998)
  • Former Vice Chair – Tennessee Lawyers Fund for Client Protection (1991 – 1996)
  • Leadership Memphis (1995)
  • Recipient – Memphis Legal Secretaries Association Boss of the Year Award (1994)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee College of Law Alumni Leadership Award (1988)
Publications
  • "Tennessee Supreme Court Vacates Trial Court Ruling Holding Tennessee's Statutory Damages Caps Unconstitutional" (November 12, 2015)
  • "Tennessee Supreme Court Modifies Summary Judgment Standard" (November 12, 2015)
  • Publications on Issues Affecting the Legal Profession

  • As President of the Tennessee Bar Association, Mr. Lewis authored the President's Perspective column, which is published monthly in the Tennessee Bar Journal. To read these columns, please go to "President's Perspective."
  • "The Profound Joy of Pro Bono," Dialogue, ABA Division for Legal Services, Volume 19, Number 3 (2016)
  • "Training Leaders the Very Best We Can," authors George T. "Buck" Lewis and Doug Blaze, 83 Tennessee Law Review 771 (2016)
  • "Adding On-line Pro Bono to Your Access to Justice Toolkit," ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange (March, 2015)
  • Publications on Legal Issues

  • "Litigation Alert For Businesses With Tennessee Operations" (April 23, 2015)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration," Litigation Counsel of America 2013 Litigation Commentary and Review
  • ABA Counsel of Appellate Lawyers' Appellate Practice Book, author of Tennessee chapter, "The Insider's Guide to the Tennessee Appellate Courts," ABA Appellate Judges Conference (2010)
  • "Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Class Actions Are Not Allowed Under Tennessee Consumer Protection Act," Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Insider (November/December, 2008)
  • "Recent Developments in Insurance Coverage Litigation," Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal (Spring, 2008)
Speaking Engagements
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (November, 2016)
  • "Finding The Leader In The Mirror," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (October, 2016)
  • "The Soul of a Hero," Virginia State Bar annual Access to Justice luncheon (June, 2016)
  • "Leadership and Leaving a Legacy," Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Program (June, 2016)
  • "The new national pro bono web site 'ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org,'" ABA Equal Justice Conference (May, 2016)
  • "Empowering the Next Generation of Pro Bono Lawyers: Innovative Technologies," American Bar Association (May, 2016)
  • "Crafting the Leader's Purposeful Legacy," Nashville Bar Association (April, 2016)
  • "Mediation, Arbitration, and Class Actions," Knoxville Bar Association (April, 2016)
  • "The ABA National Pro Bono Web Site Project," Tennessee Bar Association Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala (March, 2016)
  • "The Intersection of Class Actions and Arbitration Agreements," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (February, 2016)
  • "Recent Amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure and Evidence," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (February, 2016)
  • "Why Now Is the Time to Add an Interactive Pro Bono Web Site to Your Access to Justice Toolkit," National Conference of Bar Presidents Opening Plenary Session (January, 2016)
  • "Leadership Characteristics, Habits, and Styles," Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Opening Retreat (January, 2016)
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (November, 2015)
  • "The History, Achievements, and Strategic Planning Of the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission," Virginia Access to Justice Commission (September, 2015)
  • "Launching A Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic: The OnlineTNJustice Model," American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference (May, 2015)
  • "Leadership—Characteristics, Barriers and Leaving Legacies," Tennessee Bar Association (April, 2015)
  • "The 2013 Legal Needs Study, 2014 Economic Impact Study, and Why Lawyers Should Make Pro Bono A Priority In Their Professional Lives," University of Memphis Law School (April, 2015)
  • "Defending Against Class Actions In And Out Of Arbitration," Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club (April, 2015)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration" (February, 2015)
  • "Class Actions, Arbitration, And Elements Of An Effective Arbitration Agreement," Association of Corporate Counsel, Tennessee Chapter (February, 2015)
  • "Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Recusal Rule and Rules of Appellate Procedure," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January, 2015)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration (Memphis)" (October, 2014)
  • "Finding the Leader in the Mirror," Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (September, 2014)
  • "Tennessee Motions To Dismiss And Motions for Summary Judgment By Rule And By Statute," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January, 2014)
  • "Keynote Address to Entering Class," University of Tennessee College of Law (August, 2013)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration in Tennessee," Memphis Bar Association (July, 2013)
  • "Taking and defending Rule 30(b)6 depositions," Tennessee Bar Association (April, 2013)
  • "The Pros And Cons Of Arbitration," University of Tennessee College of Law CLE (November, 2012)
  • "Judicial Recusal and Interlocutory Appeals," Tennessee Bar Association statewide webcast (June, 2012)
  • "Amendments and Proposed Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure, Appellate Procedure, Evidence, Professional Conduct and Judicial Conduct," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (August, 2011)
Press Releases

Education

  • University of Tennessee, J.D., 1980
  • University of Tennessee, M.B.A., finance concentration, 1980
  • University of Tennessee, B.S. in Business Administration, 1976

Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1980
  • U.S. District Court, Western and Middle Districts of Tennessee, 1980
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1980
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1980

One of the most brilliant individuals I have met in my lifetime, blessed with a photographic memory.

Senior Vice President over Emerging Risk at a financial services company

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