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Appellate - Experience

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  • Abram v. Fulton County Government, 482 F. App’x 421 (11th Cir. 2012). Alston & Bird provided pro bono representation to Gloria Abram in her appeal of a district court order dismissing her complaint against Fulton County. The district court dismissed Ms. Abram’s complaint on res judicata grounds based on a prior pro se complaint she filed against Fulton County. The Eleventh Circuit appointed appellate specialists at Alston & Bird to assist Ms. Abram. After briefing and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court and allowed Ms. Abram’s claim to proceed on the merits.
  • Khan v. Dell, Inc., 2012 WL 163899 (3d Cir. 2012). Alston & Bird successfully represented Dell, Inc., in appealing an order that held Dell’s arbitration clause unenforceable on the grounds that the clause references arbitration before the National Arbitration Forum, a forum that is no longer is available to administer consumer disputes. In a highly publicized decision that is on the forefront of one of the post-Concepcion battlefields for arbitration clause enforcement, the Third Circuit reversed this order.
  • Rite Aid of Georgia, Inc. v. Peacock, 726 S.E.2d 577, 315 Ga. App. 573 (2012). Alston & Bird successfully represented Rite Aid in an interlocutory appeal from an order certifying a class of plaintiffs whose prescription information Rite Aid had transferred to a different pharmacy upon closing a local branch. The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and held that the case could not proceed as a class action.
  • Cummins v. SunTrust Capital Markets, Inc., 416 F. App’x. 101 (2nd Cir. 2011). Alston & Bird recently obtained a complete appellate victory for SunTrust Capital Markets, Inc., in connection with a defamation action brought against the company. The plaintiff alleged that certain statements within two analyst reports published by SunTrust falsely reported the circumstances of a stock option grant involving the plaintiff, a former CEO of Cyberonics, Inc. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's award of summary judgment in favor of SunTrust, agreeing with the district court that the statements within the SunTrust analyst reports, considered individually and as a whole, were either substantially true or constitutionally protected opinions.
  • Davis v. State Farm, No. 92-2011, 2011 WL 4440073 (Del. Sept. 26, 2011): The Supreme Court of Delaware affirmed a dismissal on the pleadings of several class actions brought against State Farm and nine other major automobile insurers alleging the sale of greater-than-minimum uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage on more than one vehicle in a household was illusory coverage under Delaware law. Alston & Bird served as lead counsel in the coordinated proceedings and argued the case of all the insurers in the Delaware Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that, as a matter of law, such coverage was not illusory and provided meaningful benefits to the insureds.
  • Stoneridge Inv. Partners, LLC v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., 552 U.S. 148 (2008). Alston & Bird successfully represented Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., in a putative securities class action that was favorably resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs alleged that Scientific-Atlanta violated the federal securities laws by entering into a transaction with Charter Communications about which Charter allegedly made false statements to its shareholders. The district court granted Scientific-Atlanta’s motion to dismiss on the basis that there is no private cause of action for aiding and abetting liability. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and affirmed, holding that Scientific-Atlanta could not be held liable under the federal securities laws because it made no statements or representations to the supposedly injured investor. Alston & Bird was counsel of record at all stages of this litigation, including the appeal before the Supreme Court.
  • Georgia Appellate Practice Handbook: In Georgia, Alston & Bird literally wrote the book on appellate procedure. Since 1985, we have written and edited the Georgia Appellate Practice Handbook—the official appellate text of the Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the only appellate treatise officially sanctioned by the Georgia appellate courts.
  • Hewitt v. Community & Southern Bank, No. A13A1433 (Ga. App. 2013). Alston & Bird represented Community and Southern Bank in its defense of summary judgment on plaintiff’s various contract-related claims. The trial court held that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the D’oench Duhme doctrine, which limits many claims based on alleged unwritten contracts or promises with a bank that is taken over by the FDIC. In the trial court and on appeal, Alston & Bird successfully argued that the D’Oench Duhme doctrine barred plaintiff’s claims against Community and Southern Bank, as successor-in-interest to the FDIC.
  • New Hampshire Speedway, Inc. v. Motor Racing Network, Inc., No. 2012-0215 (N.H. Sep. 25, 2013): Alston & Bird successfully represented a radio broadcast network in its action against a racetrack that hosts NASCAR events. After the trial court entered summary judgment against the network on its claim for breach of a broadcast rights agreement, Alston & Bird successfully persuaded the New Hampshire Supreme Court that a non-breaching party’s substantial performance of a promise can cure a lack of mutuality of obligation at the time of contractual execution.
  • DeBenedetto v. Denny's Corp., No. A-4135-09T1 (N.J. Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2011). Alston & Bird represented Denny’s in the New Jersey Court of Appeals after the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued it in July 2009, alleging that the company violated New Jersey law by failing to disclose the levels of sodium contained in its food. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's ruling that plaintiff had filed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.
  • Dimery v. Ulster Savings Bank, 82 A.D.3d 1034 (N.Y. App. Div. 2011). Alston & Bird represented Ulster Savings Bank in connection with a consolidated action to recover possession of and to evict the plaintiff from real property, and for an accounting. The Appellate Division upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s motion to vacate a judgment of eviction in favor of Ulster Savings Bank on the grounds that it was time-barred or not made within a reasonable time frame, given the plaintiff’s delay of more than eight years after the entry of judgment in making the motion.
  • Hernandez v. State Farm, 719 S.E.2d 597 (Ga. App. 2011): Alston & Bird obtained a reversal before the Georgia Court of Appeals in an interlocutory appeal that established for the first time that Georgia does not recognize the common law tort claim of trade libel. An automobile repair business claimed that State Farm had improperly steered insureds and claimants to other preferred repair shops, and the trial court denied a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s trade libel claim but certified the issue for immediate review. The Court of Appeals also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim under the Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations Act, O.C.G.A. 33-34-6, holding that there was no private right of action created by the statute.
  • Franulovic v. The Coca-Cola Co., 390 F. App’x. (3d Cir. 2010). Alston & Bird obtained an affirmance of summary judgment by the Third Circuit for The Coca-Cola Company in litigation brought by the Center for Science in the Public Interest alleging false advertising in connection with a product, Enviga, that the company marketed as “The Calorie Burner.”
  • Fulton County v. T-Mobile South LLC, 699 S.E.2d 802 (Ga. Ct. App. 2010). This case of first impression involved whether Georgia's 9-1-1 charge applicable to prepaid wireless service is a "tax" or "fee" under Georgia Code Section 48-5-380 (which provides the governing statute of limitations). The court ruled in our client's favor and granted the client's claim for refund of overpaid 9-1-1 charges in full, with interest.
  • Hart v. Comstock et al, No. 14-09-00657-CV, 2010 WL 2901733 (Tex. App. July 27, 2010). Alston & Bird represented one of the world's largest pharmaceutical clients in a methadone wrongful death case in Texas. The trial court denied plaintiffs request for a continuance and granted summary judgment based on plaintiff's failure to present expert testimony on causation or an alleged defect with the drug. Following oral argument, at which Alston & Bird took the lead for all defendants, the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • Intervet Inc. v. Merial Limited et al., 617 F.3d 1382 (Fed. Cir. 2010). Alston & Bird convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to rule in favor of its clients, Merial Limited and Merial S.A.S. In so doing, the Federal Circuit reversed an incorrect, narrow reading of the scope of Merial’s patent rights and vacated a prior judgment based on that narrow reading.
  • Nuci Phillips Memorial Foundation, Inc. v. Athens-Clarke County Board of Tax Assessors, 703 S.E.2d 648 (Ga. 2010). In an important case concerning the scope of Georgia's property tax exemption for "institutions of purely public charity," Alston & Bird drafted an amicus brief on behalf of many of the state's leading charitable organizations. The Supreme Court relied on several of the firm’s key arguments in finding for the charity and holding that charities may use their properties for non-charitable uses under certain circumstances without jeopardizing their property tax exemptions.
  • Reliable Tractor, Inc. v. John Deere Construction, 376 F. App’x 938 (11th Cir. 2010). Alston & Bird obtained a complete victory for John Deere Construction & Forestry Company in this terminated-dealer case. The terminated dealer alleged that a Maryland statute governing manufacturer-dealer relationships retroactively applied to its contract with John Deere, and on a certified question from the district court, Maryland’s highest court agreed. The Eleventh Circuit nonetheless reversed the district court and dismissed the dealer’s lawsuit based on Alston & Bird’s successful argument that Maryland’s retroactive application of the statute in question violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution.
  • Salazar v. Buono, 130 S.Ct. 1803 (2010). Alston & Bird represented the International Municipal Lawyers Association ("IMLA") as amicus curiae in a case involving Establishment Clause issues in connection with the display of a cross at a war memorial in the Mojave Desert. On behalf of the IMLA, the firm argued in support of the petitioners that Congress had not violated the Establishment Clause by transferring to a private owner the land on which the cross stood as a means of curing an Establishment Clause violation rather than removing the cross itself. In addition, the firm highlighted the fact that a ruling that such a land transfer was unconstitutional would place war memorials across the country in jeopardy and would present significant practical difficulties for local governments wishing to avoid being the subjects of Establishment Clause suits. The Supreme Court ruled for the petitioners.
  • Trawick Construction Co., Inc. v. Georgia Department of Revenue, 690 S.E.2d 601 (Ga. 2010). In a case of first impression regarding the application of a taxpayer's election under Internal Revenue Code section 338(h)(10) to Georgia corporate income tax, Alston & Bird submitted an amicus brief urging the Georgia Supreme Court to grant certiorari to review an adverse ruling by the Court of Appeals, rather than on the procedural basis urged by the taxpayer. The Supreme Court granted cert on the substantive question exactly as Alston & Bird stated and adopted the reasoning and interpretation set forth in our subsequent amicus brief. The Georgia Department of Revenue then conceded a $30 million assessment as to our own client, which had a pending appeal on the same issue.
  • Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. McDavid, 693 S.E.2d 873 (Ga. Ct. App. 2010). An Atlanta business group hired Alston & Bird to present an amicus brief in the case to rebut plaintiff's broad argument that oral contract allegations are to be reviewed by a jury even in the face of objective indicia revealing the parties' intent to be bound only by a final, signed writing. The Court refused to adopt plaintiff's broad argument, and instead applied the rules proposed by Alston & Bird's amicus brief.
  • U.S. ex rel. Summers v. LHC Group, Inc., 623 F.3d 287 (6th Cir. 2010). The Sixth Circuit affirmed a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of all claims in a federal False Claims Act qui tam action. The Court of Appeals held that the petitioner's failure to file her complaint under seal warranted dismissal.
  • Beverly Calhoun v. UPS, 576 F.3d 201 (4th Cir. 2009). Alston & Bird argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in an employee retaliation/whistleblower case brought by a former UPS driver. After oral argument, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the ruling by the Administrative Review Board that there was no unlawful retaliation because, among other reasons, the driver's conduct did not constitute protected activity under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
  • Corey Airport Services, Inc. v. DeCosta, 587 F.3d 1280 (11th Cir. 2009). Alston & Bird represented fourteen city officials who had been sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of the plaintiff's constitutional right to equal protection in connection with a procurement for a contract at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The law firm was able to secure the voluntary dismissal of nine city officials and moved for summary judgment on behalf of the remaining five officials. The district court denied the motions, but on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, the law firm obtained a reversal of the district court and judgment in favor of the five officials on the ground of qualified immunity on an issue of first impression regarding alleged political favoritism.
  • Dema v. Tenet Physician Services-Hilton Head, Inc., 678 S.E.2d 430 (S.C. 2009). The South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed a dismissal of all claims against our client in a putative class action alleging violations of the South Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA), unjust enrichment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court held as matters of first impression that a class action may not be brought under SCUTPA, and that there is no private right of action under the state's certificate of need law.
  • In re Summons Issued to Ernst & Young LLP, 684 S.E.2d 151 (N.C. 2009). Alston & Bird successfully represented Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the taxpayer about which the N.C. Department of Revenue was attempting to obtain information from Ernst & Young LLP, Wal-Mart's auditors. The opinion established the principle that the trial judge must review such documents in camera, rather than dismiss a privilege claim out of hand.
  • Proudfoot Consulting Company v. Gordon, 576 F.3d 1223 (11th Cir. 2009). Alston & Bird succeeded in convincing the Eleventh Circuit to affirm a district court's findings that a noncompetition agreement was valid, enforceable, and breached by a former employee of Proudfoot. The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of injunctive relief and reversed the damages award.
  • Vega v. T-Mobile, 564 F.3d 1256 (11th Cir. 2009). We successfully obtained reversal of a district court order certifying a class consisting of all T-Mobile sales representatives in the state of Florida on a claim that T-Mobile wrongly "charged back" their commissions.
  • Atlando Holdings, LLC v. BDO Seidman, LLP, 660 S.E.2d 463 (Ga. Ct. App. 2008). Our client, Atlando Holdings, LLC f/k/a Mindis Acquisition Corporation (“MAC”) sued the accounting firm of BDO Seidman, LLP, for negligent misrepresentation in connection with MAC's 1993 purchase of Mindis Corporation. On appeal following a jury verdict for $44 million in favor of MAC, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the trial court had used the wrong measure of damages. The case was then retried on the issue of damages only, and the jury awarded MAC zero damages. In its 2008 decision, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict of zero damages and remanded the case for yet another trial on damages due to the admission of irrelevant evidence and other harmful errors at trial.
  • Hbouss v. Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., 287 F. App’x. 903 (2nd Cir. 2008). In the face of damages claims exceeding $100 million, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted our client Coca-Cola Enterprises a complete victory by upholding dismissal of all claims brought by shareholders of a defunct Canadian bottled water company. The trial and appellate courts both found that plaintiffs lacked standing and failed to state a claim under New York and Canadian law.
  • University of Pittsburgh v. Townsend, 542 F.3d 513 (6th Cir. 2008). In a critical case challenging the ownership of our clients’ patented combined PET/CT scanner (TIME Magazine’s “Invention of the Year” for 2000), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of all claims against our client.
  • U.S. ex rel. Bruce G. Lowman v. Hilton Head Health System LP, 07-1485(L) (4th Cir. Nov. 18, 2008), cert. denied 129 S.Ct. 2835 (2009). A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of all claims in a federal False Claims Act qui tam action alleging the performance of medically unnecessary cardiac catheterizations.
  • Young v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, 168 Cal. App. 4th 1468 (2008). Summary judgment in favor of our client, ExxonMobil, was affirmed in an employment action alleging claims of mental disability discrimination, retaliation, and harassment where the Court found ExxonMobil’s termination to be legitimate and non-discriminatory.
  • Dippin’ Dots, Inc. v. Mosey, 476 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2007). In February 2007, Alston & Bird won a decision in federal court affirming our client’s successful defense to a claim of patent infringement regarding a patent on a method for producing cryogenically frozen ice cream. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s claim construction, judgments of non-infringement, invalidity, and inequitable conduct, and award of attorneys’ fees.
  • Jose Casanova v. PRE Solutions, Inc., 228 Fed. Appx. 837 (11th Cir. 2007). Alston & Bird successfully defended a technology company against claims of national origin discrimination, hostile environment harassment based on national origin, and retaliation. On appeal, after full briefing and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendant on all counts and on defendant's affirmative defense of judicial estoppel for plaintiff's failure to disclose the claim in a bankruptcy proceeding.
  • Mahoney v. Nokia, Inc., 236 F. App’x. 574 (11th Cir. 2007). Alston & Bird succeeded in convincing the Eleventh Circuit to affirm a district court order granting summary judgment to Nokia in this FMLA case filed by a former temporary employee.
  • Porex Corp. v. Haldopolous et al, 644 S.E.2d 349 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007). In a case of first impression under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act (the “GTSA”), we represented Porex Corporation in its appeal of a summary judgment ruling that dismissed Porex’s claims for misappropriation of trade secrets. This case required the appellate court to address an issue of first impression under the GTSA – whether letters threatening litigation based on mere suspicions of misappropriation are sufficient to trigger the applicable limitations period in the absence of evidence that the defendant was actually using a protected process at the time the letters were written. Two industry amici (the Georgia Industry Association and the Georgia Biomedical Partnership) filed briefs in support of Porex’s position, arguing that evidence of suspicion is insufficient to trigger the statute of limitations in the absence of any actual or constructive knowledge of misappropriation. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the ruling of the trial court. We then successfully defended the ruling of the Court of Appeals in response to the defendants’ certiorari petition to the Georgia Supreme Court.
  • Agarwal v. Homestore.com, Case No. S-05-000015, Nebraska Supreme Court per curiam opinion (2006). After this case languished in Nebraska state court for more than two years, our client, Move, Inc. f/k/a Homestore, Inc. turned to Alston & Bird near the end of discovery to defeat the claim of an early stage investor in Move, Inc.’s predecessor company in Omaha seeking $10 million of additional stock. The Nebraska Supreme Court, after oral argument by one of our partners, had no trouble promptly affirming the trial court’s summary judgment order in favor of our client.
  • Appleton Acquisition, LLC v. National Housing Partnership, 34 A.D.3d 339 (N.Y. App. Div. 2006). In a major victory for our client, the New York Court of Appeals, in the first written opinion interpreting the New York Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act, held that limited partners who fail to exercise statutory dissenters rights at the time of a merger waive any right to bring suit alleging fraud in connection with the merger.
  • Carson Harbor Village, Ltd. v. Unocal Corporation, 433 F.3d 1260 (9th Cir. 2006). Alston & Bird successfully prosecuted an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of a major petroleum company in a CERCLA cost recovery action, with the Ninth Circuit finding plaintiff’s response costs incurred in addressing site contamination to be inconsistent with regulatory requirements, namely the National Contingency Plan, and thus barred.
  • eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388 (2006). After the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that injunctive relief should be awarded automatically upon a finding of patent infringement, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the issue. Our client Nokia Corporation asked Alston & Bird to file an amicus curiae brief advocating for a more balanced and flexible rule. Blending precedent, public policy, and legal theory, the amicus brief written by Alston & Bird recommended a multi-factor test for awarding injunctions, and the Supreme Court ultimately adopted that test in a unanimous decision.
  • Golden State Boring & Pipe Jacking Inc. v. Orange County Water District, 143 Cal. App. 4th 718 (2006). The firm successfully defended prime contractor in appeal of alleged bid shopping and bid peddling claims under California Public Contracts Act, resulting in a published decision affirming the trial court’s judgment in favor of our client.
  • Qualcomm, Inc. v. Nokia Corporation, et al., 466 F.3d 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2006). In vacating the decision of the Southern District of California to refuse to stay litigation pending arbitration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a landmark ruling concerning the rights of defendants to have affirmative defenses that are subject to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act resolved via arbitration before the underlying litigation may proceed. The decision established important new precedent that protects the contractual rights of parties to avoid litigation through arbitration.
  • 250 L.L.C. v. PhotoPoint Corp., 131 Cal. App. 4th 703 (2005). Alston & Bird served as lead counsel on case chosen as one of 2005’s “Top Ten Real Property Cases” by the California State Bar Association’s Real Property Journal. The matter involved representation of an asset management firm that had been assigned the assets of a “dot-com” company and the successful prosecution of an action to recover a large six-figure security deposit following the tenant’s admitted default and the early termination of the lease, leading to a published appellate decision in the client’s favor.
  • American Bankers Association v. Gould, 412 F.3d 1081 (9th Cir. 2005). Alston & Bird successfully represented national associations for the securities, mutual fund, and life insurance industries as amici in appeal regarding the federal preemption of California’s financial privacy law by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court decision which found no federal preemption.
  • As You Sow v. Conbraco Industries, et al., 135 Cal. App. 4th 431 (2005). The firm successfully defended a major plumbing manufacturer in a lawsuit alleging violations of California’s Proposition 65 (Cal. Heath & Safety Code Sec. 25249.6) related to allegedly illegal discharges of lead into drinking water through use of our client’s plumping products. The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, affirmed the trial court’s ruling that plaintiff’s scientific testing methods were unreliable and plaintiff was therefore incapable of proving an essential element of its claim.
  • Board of Regents, et al. v. CTI, Inc., et al., 164 F. App’x. 982 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Alston & Bird won a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that summarily affirmed a district court’s prior grant of summary judgment that medical photon emission tomography cameras from our clients, CTI PET Systems, Inc. and CTI Molecular Imaging, Inc., do not infringe two patents asserted by the Board of Regents of the University of Texas. The Federal Circuit’s affirmance protected our clients from plaintiff’s damages claim in excess of $2 million/year.
  • Casselman v. American Family Life Assurance Co. of Columbus, 143 F. App’x. 507 (4th Cir. 2005). Holders of individual sickness and disability insurance policies purchased through an employer-sponsored “cafeteria plan” alleged that our client, AFLAC, had denied in bad faith their claims for supplemental sickness and disability benefits. The District of South Carolina granted summary judgment in favor of AFLAC, concluding that ERISA governed the benefit plan and preempted the participants’ claims for bad faith penalties and punitive damages and precluded their demand for jury trial. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the individual policies were part of the cafeteria plan, which was an ERISA plan outside the scope of the Department of Labor’s regulatory safe harbor.
  • Gayle v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 401 F.3d 222 (4th Cir. 2005). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed dismissal with prejudice of a disability benefit claim that had been denied during the administrative process for failure to comply with the plan’s deadlines for appealing an initial adverse decision. The Fourth Circuit concluded that participants who failed to comply with the plan’s appeal deadline, even if such failure was due solely to attorney error, were barred from bringing an action to recover benefits.
  • Infrasource, Inc. v. Hahn Yalena Corp., 613 S.E.2d 144 (2005). Alston & Bird was brought in three weeks before trial to defend this fraud case arising out of failed acquisition talks. Although Alston & Bird was able to eliminate several claims and theories during the course of trial, the jury nevertheless returned an adverse jury verdict of almost $4 million, including punitive damages. On appeal, however, Alston & Bird persuaded the Georgia Court of Appeals to reverse the judgment on the jury verdict and enter judgment as a matter of law in our client’s favor in this important, and oft-cited business fraud decision.
  • VoiceStream Wireless Corporation v. U.S. Communications, Inc., et al., 912 So.2d 34 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005). Alston & Bird won reversal of a trial court decision that threatened the arbitration clause in each of our client’s standard franchise agreements. When a trial court refused to enforce the arbitration provision in agreements between our client, a cellular communications provider, and several of its Florida franchisees, Alston & Bird appealed to the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals unanimously reversed and held that the alleged defects in other parts of the agreement did not affect the franchisees’ duty to arbitrate.
  • Winter v. Bassett, 157 F. App’x. 653 (4th Cir. 2005). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted our client an order affirming the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina’s dismissal of all claims asserted against Yahoo!, Inc. The plaintiff filed suit against Yahoo! And other defendants arising out of the publication of certain content on various Internet websites. The district court granted Yahoo!’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Yahoo! Is immune from any liability under the Communications Decency Act. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of all claims asserted against Yahoo!.
  • Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Watts Industries, Inc., 417 F.3d 682 (7th Cir. 2005). The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit concluded that the preclusive effect to be given to a state court judgment involving the same parties and the same insurance coverage dispute was a matter for the arbitrator rather than for the court to decide.
  • Superguide Corp. v. DirecTV Enterprises, et al., 358 F.3d 870 (Fed. Cir. 2004). Alston & Bird won an appellate reversal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a patent infringement case concerning cable TV set top boxes. The Federal Circuit’s opinion reversed and corrected an erroneous claim construction that had been rendered by the district court and vacated a grant of summary judgment of noninfringement concerning an important patent in suit. The case was remanded to the district court for trial.
  • Leone Hall Price Foundation v. Baker, 577 S.E.2d 779 (Ga. 2003). In her will, Leone Hall Price left much of her multi-million dollar estate to charity. After her death, several heirs challenged the will and attempted to settle that will contest without the consent of our client (a charitable trust created in Ms. Price’s will to make the charitable distributions). The trial judge approved the settlement, but we appealed and won a reversal from the Georgia Supreme Court. In doing so, we clarified an important facet of Georgia probate law – it is now clear that all heirs and beneficiaries (including charitable trusts) have standing to object to will contest settlements that dispose of property contrary to the terms of a will.
  • Rhyne v. Kmart Corporation, 562 S.E.2d 82 (N.C. Ct. App. 2002). In a landmark decision upholding the constitutionality of the North Carolina punitive damages cap, the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s reduction of two $11.5 million punitive damage awards to the statutory cap of $250,000 each.
  • Waeltz v. Delta Pilots Retirement Plan, 301 F.3d 804 (7th Cir. 2002). In a groundbreaking decision analyzing the ERISA venue statute, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(2), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that an employee benefit plan “may be found” in a federal judicial district where it has “minimum contacts” sufficient to support personal jurisdiction under the rule of International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945). Applying this rule to an action filed in the Southern District of Illinois against a pension plan sponsored by our client, Delta Air Lines, the Seventh Circuit then found that the plan did not have “minimum contacts” with the Southern District of Illinois, and therefore affirmed the district court’s dismissal for improper venue.
  • Deere & Co. v. Miller-Godley Auction Co., 549 S.E.2d 762 (Ga. Ct. App. 2001). In 2000, our client Deere & Co. realized that a string of trial court losses in otherwise minor cases was severely limiting its ability to enforce its security interests statewide. So it hired Alston & Bird to change the law. We appealed one such ruling, and the Georgia Court of Appeals held in favor of Deere & Co., making new law in Georgia respecting a secured creditor’s ability to enforce its rights against third-party auctioneers. The case is now cited in a leading treatise on commercial law.
  • ServiceMaster Co. v. Martin, 556 S.E.2d 517 (Ga. Ct. App. 2001). In a major victory for our client, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed one of the largest punitive damages verdicts in Georgia history ($135 million). In doing so, the court held that a former employee could not state a tort claim against his former employer when all of the employee’s claims arose directly from his employment contract.
  • Georgia-Pacific Corp. Salaried Employees Retirement Plan, 221 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 2000). In a landmark decision with an impact of billions of dollars to hundreds of companies (including hundreds of millions for our client), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit remanded and invited the District Court to declare invalid the Treasury Department’s onerous regulations on calculation of lump sum benefits in pension plans.
  • Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc., 187 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir. 1999). In a case of first impression under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 1999 vacated the District Court’s order denying our clients’ motion to dismiss and remanded for proceedings consistent with its opinion. The Eleventh Circuit's opinion established the requirements for meeting the heightened pleading standard for scienter (i.e., intent) under the Reform Act in a fraud action brought under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Following remand, the District Court granted our renewed motion to dismiss in June 2000, and entered judgment for all defendants. The case thereafter was favorably settled.
  • Fairview Neighbors v. County of Ventura, 70 Cal. App. 4th 238 (1999). The firm successfully defended the County of Ventura and Transit Mixed Concrete Company in CEQA litigation against project approvals for expansion of a sand and gravel mining operation. The case established a new law that the baseline is the existing permitted level of activity.