Rushton Stakely Offices Temporarily Switch to Remote Work Environment Amid COVID-19 Concerns

At Rushton Stakely, our top priority is the health and safety of our employees, our clients, our business partners, and our neighbors.  In light of the evolving situation related to COVID-19, and based on guidelines of federal and state officials, our firm has decided to close temporarily until May 11th.  Although our office is closed, our attorneys and staff will continue to work remotely to handle the needs of our clients.  If you need assistance or need to speak to someone directly, please contact our administrator at 334-207-9930.

Bailey Wins in Bankruptcy

On February 27, 2020, Evans Bailey’s client was awarded a summary judgment in a case alleging the violation of the automatic stay before Judge Tamara Mitchell in the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The Debtor alleged that the defendant, Evans’ client, violated the automatic stay when it settled claims with the Debtor’s property insurer after the insurer had made payments directly to the Debtor on his property insurance policy in violation of the standard mortgagee clause in the policy.  The Court found that the amounts paid because of a violation of the mortgagee clause in the policy were not property of the Debtor’s estate. It also found the Debtor had suffered no damages because the amounts paid to the Defendant were used, in part, to satisfy the Debtor’s mortgage with the Defendant.  Johnson v. Apex Mortgage, A.P. No. 18-00178-TOM (Bankr. N.D. Ala.).

Alabama Supreme Court Affirms $570,000 Judgement

On November 22, 2019, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a $570,000 judgment in favor of Dennis Bailey and Evans Bailey’s client in case involving the violation of a pre-nuptial agreement.  On a matter of first impression, the Court was asked to opine whether the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (“ERISA”) barred claims for violation of a pre-nuptial agreement after the plan administrator had distributed death benefits to the deceased’s spouse.  Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Shaw agreed with federal courts and the Supreme Court of Georgia and found that ERISA did not bar state law contract claims post-distribution by the plan administrator.  Accordingly, the Court affirmed the lower court’s entry of judgment in favor of Dennis and Evans’ client, the deceased’s estate and sole-heir.  William Eskridge and Rick McBride assisted in the representation of the estate and heir.  Moore v. Moore, AL. Sup. Ct. No. 1180482.

Bailey, Bailey, and Davis Win Appeal of Libel Verdict Against Broadcasting Company

The Rushton Stakely trial and appellate team of Dennis Bailey, Katie Davis and Evans Bailey obtained a unanimous decision from the Alabama Supreme Court reversing a libel verdict against Birmingham Broadcasting LLC (WVTM-TV) a/k/a Channel 13 as well as a judgment rendered for Channel 13 on all claims.  The opinion was written by Justice Sarah H. Stewart and released Feb. 28, 2020.

The plaintiff was the subject of a “To Catch a Predator” segment authored by Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale and broadcast by Channel 13. The sheriff displayed the mugshot of the plaintiff and stated that arrest warrants had been issued for the plaintiff for failing to register as a sex offender relating to decades old conviction for misdemeanor possession of obscene videos. After the broadcast, the plaintiff’s counsel convinced the local assistant district attorney that the sheriff’s office had been mistaken and that registration was not required. The warrants were withdrawn.  The sheriff’s office contacted Channel 13 and advised the warrants were withdrawn. The next week on “To Catch a Predator” the plaintiff’s mugshot was again shown under the words “Charges Dropped” and it was stated the charges were withdrawn.  Despite the applicability of the reporter’s privilege, summary judgment was denied and the case proceeded to trial where a jury awarded the plaintiff $250,000.  Dennis Bailey and Katie Davis defended the case at trial.

On appeal, Dennis Bailey, Katie Davis and Evans Bailey prepared the briefs and Dennis Bailey presented oral argument to the Alabama Supreme Court.  On Feb. 28, 2020, the court, speaking through Justice Sarah H. Stewart, unanimously reversed the jury verdict and rendered judgment for Channel 13 holding that the broadcast was privileged.

Members of the Sheriff’s office were also sued but dismissed on summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the dismissal of those claims on sovereign immunity grounds.

Defense Verdict Achieved in Radiology Case

Tommy Keene and Grant Sexton received a defense verdict on behalf of their radiology client in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant misidentified a liver tumor which, in turn, delayed treatment for liver cancer by one year.  The tumor was classified as a benign hemangioma by the radiologist when, in fact, it turned out to be hepatocellular cancer.  The one-year delay allowed the tumor to double in size and spread to both lobes of the liver.  Thus, the Plaintiff alleged that the patient was deprived of a surgical cure for her liver cancer.  When the cancer was diagnosed, the patient received chemotherapy and other therapy but was no longer a surgical candidate nor a liver transplant candidate.  She died from her disease, and the wrongful death suit followed.

At trial, Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a ten-million-dollar verdict.  The jury returned a defense verdict even though the Defendant radiologist acknowledged in hindsight that he should have at least recommended further testing and should not have classified the tumor as a benign hemangioma.

Landon Eley Joins Rushton Stakely Law Firm

Rushton Stakely is pleased to announce that Landon Eley has joined the firm as an Associate in the commercial real estate department.  Prior to joining Rushton Stakely, Landon practiced in a Montgomery firm for several years, focusing on civil defense litigation.  He also assisted in drafting successful appellate briefs for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and Alabama Supreme Court.

Landon received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama, and his Juris Doctorate from Cumberland School of Law. He is admitted to practice in all Alabama State Courts, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama.

Shegon Named Fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation

Rushton Stakely is pleased to announce that Pat Shegon has been named a Fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation. In 1993, the Foundation established its Fellows Program to honor lawyers who have made significant contributions to the legal profession and to their communities.  Fellows are nominated by their peers in recognition of their accomplishments, and election is limited to no more than one percent of members of the Alabama State Bar.

The Alabama Law Foundation is an organization that helps improve the administration of justice by educating communities about legal issues and making annual grants to organizations that provide free legal aid to those in need. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over $20 million in grants for charitable projects related to its mission.

Mr. Shegon is a shareholder of Rushton Stakely where he has practiced law for almost twenty-five years. He has been recognized repeatedly for his outstanding achievements in the legal field.  In addition to his professional accomplishments, he has also served on a number of local charitable boards.

J C Love Appointed as Montgomery County Probate Judge

Congratulations to J C Love for his appointment as the new probate judge of Montgomery County. On November 15th, Governor Kay Ivey signed Love’s appointment letter, and he was sworn into office later that day.  Love has been an attorney with Rushton Stakely since 2013 where he has practiced civil litigation with an emphasis on medical malpractice, insurance defense, professional liability, and economic development.  Love is a graduate of Morehouse College and Boston College Law School, and he practiced law in Atlanta before joining Rushton Stakely.  We congratulate J C and extend our best wishes as he assumes his new responsibilities.

Rushton Stakely Named as Finalist in 2019 River Region Ethics in Business & Public Service Awards

Rushton Stakely has been named as a finalist for the 2019 River Region Ethics in Business & Public Service Awards, Large Business Category. The Samaritan Counseling Center, Inc. sponsors the Ethics in Business awards program to help foster ethical professional conduct of businesses in the community. Each year, The Samaritan Counseling Center partners with Auburn University Montgomery to select organizations that help fulfill this mission. Businesses are nominated by a third party based on their long-standing reputation for professionalism through volunteerism, community service, employee health and safety, and diversity. Once nominations are received, AUM faculty and students conduct in depth interviews of all nominees, and they select three finalists for each business category.  Rushton Stakely is thrilled to have been selected as a finalist for this award. To even have been nominated is an extraordinary honor.

Rushton Stakely was established in 1890, and since that time, the firm has placed high emphasis on ethics and professionalism. Through hard work, devotion to detail, and forceful advocacy, we’ve earned the respect of our peers nationwide, and a reputation for service, quality, and achieving results for our clients.  We aren’t just dedicated to our clients. We are also committed to our community. As such, we find it very humbling to have been nominated for the Ethics in Business Award.

Keene Appointed as Chairman of UA President’s Cabinet

Thomas H. Keene, our President, currently serves as Chairman of the President’s Cabinet at the University of Alabama. He previously has served as Chairman of the Selection Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Cabinet.

The President’s Cabinet is by invitation only and is limited to three hundred members. Their mission includes not only advising the President of the university as needed, but also the funding and administration of scholarships to worthy students as well as the recruitment of academically gifted students.  This very proud organization has existed for forty-five years and continues to support primarily academic activities of the University of Alabama.