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Matt Sweeney

Mediator/Arbitrator and Deputy Conflicts Counsel

Matt Sweeney, conflict counsel in the Firm's Nashville office, is a mediator and arbitrator.

Featured Experience

Served as trial and appellate counsel for a national disaster restoration franchisor in a series of major franchise cases throughout the United States.

Served as trial and appellate counsel for a regional hospitality franchisor in a series of major franchise cases throughout the southeastern United States.

Served as trial and appellate counsel for a local government in a series of pension and employee benefits cases. Also served as lead defense counsel in a change of control benefits case following a corporate merger.

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Sweeney has a background in white collar criminal defense and has broad experience in complex, class action and shareholder derivative litigation in state and federal courts throughout the United States. His litigation practice varied, but primarily concentrated in franchising/dealership (and related antitrust), securities, fiduciary duty, fraud, consumer protection and municipal employee pension/benefits cases.

In his ADR practice he has mediated and arbitrated hundreds of cases throughout the southeast. Mr. Sweeney also counsels attorneys on questions of legal ethics and professional responsibility. He is a former Circuit Court Judge in Nashville and was Presiding Judge of the district's Trial Courts. He has taught trial practice as an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School and civil procedure as a lecturer at the Nashville School of Law; and he is a regular speaker and panelist in continuing legal education programs on trial practice, ADR, and ethics and professionalism.

Representative Matters
  • Business and Complex Litigation

  • Served as trial and appellate counsel for a national disaster restoration franchisor in a series of major franchise cases throughout the United States.

  • Served as trial and appellate counsel for a regional hospitality franchisor in a series of major franchise cases throughout the southeastern United States.

  • Served as trial and appellate counsel for a local government in a series of pension and employee benefits cases. Also served as lead defense counsel in a change of control benefits case following a corporate merger.

  • Represented the defendant directors in a state derivative action arising from the merger of a Canadian public company.
  • Served as defense counsel in a shareholder derivative action arising from the merger of a Tennessee public company.
  • Represented the underwriter defendants in a federal securities class action.
  • Defended the directors of an insurance company in federal securities class and state/federal derivative actions arising from the company's adverse stock performance.
  • Defended an equity fund investor in federal securities class and related state derivative actions related to an acquisition.
  • Represented the acquiring company defendant in a state shareholder class action breach of fiduciary duty case.
  • Served as counsel in a minority shareholder oppression case.
  • Served as defense counsel in a complex corporate veil piercing and fraud case.
  • Acted as counsel in a case to remove a local elected official from office.
  • Served as defense trial counsel in an inmate civil rights action against correctional officers.

  • Served as criminal trial defense counsel in a bombing conspiracy case.

  • Served as defense counsel in a post-conviction death penalty case.
  • Mediation

  • Multi-party complex business disputes and business divorces; securities/investment litigation; business tort and consumer protection cases; franchise and distribution disputes, including future royalties, trademark/trade dress issues; intellectual property disputes involving copyright, trademark and trade dress; music copyright cases; wide variety of contract disputes, including health care reimbursement matters, commercial property and equipment leases, employment, non-compete, change of control and compensation agreements; employment discrimination cases (age, race and sex); insurance coverage claims; and personal injury cases, including an aviation accident. Perhaps one-third of all mediations involved multi-party disputes.
  • Arbitration

  • Complex business disputes; wide variety of contract disputes, including commercial property and equipment leases, health care reimbursement matters, employment, non-compete, change of control and compensation agreements; franchise and distribution disputes, including future royalties, trademark/trade dress issues; intellectual property disputes involving trademark and trade dress; age, race and sex discrimination cases; promotion eligibility dispute; government agency disputes; sports law matters, including U. S. Olympic athlete eligibility disputes and Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration eligibility dispute.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Former Circuit Court Judge and Presiding Judge, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2005 in the areas of Bet-the-Company, Commercial and Securities Litigation, Arbitration, Mediation, Administrative/Regulatory Law, Franchise Law 
  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2020, 2018 and 2015 Nashville Franchise Law "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2017 Nashville Arbitration "Lawyer of the Year"
  • Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers since 2010 
  • Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers (2005, 2006)
  • Listed in "The Best of the Bar," Nashville Business Journal (2008) 
  • Member – Nashville Bar Association (Board of Directors, 1993 – 1995) 
  • Member – Tennessee Bar Association, Professional Standards Study Committee; Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Vice Chair); Committee on the Judiciary (Chair) 
  • Member – American Bar Association - Litigation; Judicial Division; Standing Committee on the American Judicial System (former); Dispute Resolution; Forum Committee on Franchising
  • Member – Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board
  • Member – American Inns of Court Foundation Board of Directors (2016 — ) 
  • Member – The National Judicial College Board of Trustees (2011— ; Co-chair, Finance Committee, 2014— ; Board Chair, 2015 – 2016; Chair, Academic Committee, 2016— ) 
  • Member – Hearing Committee, Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary District V (2013— )
  • Chair – Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (1995 – 1997)  
  • Chair – Merit Selection Panel for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (2007)
  • Recipient – Baker Donelson Nashville Pro Bono Attorney of the Year (2007, 2009); The Howard H. Baker Award, in recognition of significant contribution to the legal profession (2012); Baker Donelson Mentor of the Year Award (2014)
  • Vanderbilt University Law School
    • Former Faculty Member - Corporate and Securities Law Institute (ADR)
    • Former Coach - National Trial Competition Team
    • Former Adjunct Faculty Member - Trial Practice
  • Nashville School of Law 
    • Former Lecturer, Civil Procedure
  • Fellow – Nashville Bar Foundation, former Trustee
  • Fellow – Tennessee Bar Foundation
  • Master Bencher, Executive Committee Member – Harry Phillips American Inns of Court
  • Member – ADR Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  • Member – Arbitration panel for U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  • Approved Mediator – Tennessee Commission on Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Member – American Arbitration Association, Mediation, Judicial Settlement Conference, and Arbitration (Commercial, Employment, Sports Law) Panels
  • Member – Tennessee Academy of Mediators & Arbitrators
  • Member – National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals
  • Member – Board of Directors, Nashville Conflict Resolution Center (2013 – 2014)
Alternative Dispute Resolution Training

AAA, Chairing an Arbitration Panel: Managing Procedures, Process and Dynamics, 2014; ABA, 11th Annual Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Training, 2013; AAA, Best Practices in Franchise Arbitration, 2013; AAA, Chairing an Arbitration Panel, 2009; Institute for Conflict Management, Lipscomb University, Emerging Issues in Mediation and the Ethical Dilemmas They Pose, 2007; NBA, All About Arbitration for Business Lawyers and Litigators, 2007; TBA, Art of Arbitration, A-Z, 2007; ABA, Advanced Mediation and Advocacy Skills Training, 2006; AAA, Dealing with Delay Tactics in Arbitration, 2007; AAA, Arbitration Awards: Safeguarding, Deciding and Writing Awards, 2005; Tennessee Supreme Court ADR Commission, Advanced Issues in Mediation Practice, 2004; AAA, Arbitrator II Workshop: Advanced Case management Issues, 2002; AAA, Arbitrator Update, 2001; NASD Arbitrator Training, 2000; AAA, Commercial Arbitrator Training, 1999; Tennessee ADR Mediation Training, 1998.

Publications
  • "Amendment 2: Behold a Trojan Horse," Nashville Bar Journal (October 2014)

Education

  • National Judicial College, General Jurisdiction Program, 1987
  • Vanderbilt University School of Law, J.D., 1976
  • Seton Hall University, B.A., 1973, cum laude

Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1976
  • U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Pro hac vice in eleven state and federal district courts

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