MOBILE, AL. – Ending nearly four years of protracted litigation, the Supreme Court of Alabama issued a recent decision unanimously affirming a lower court ruling that upheld an arbitration panel’s outright defense award for eleven corporate and individual defendants represented by Phelps Dunbar Alabama litigation lawyers Bo Williams, Will Gamble and Bradley Sanders. The heavily contested litigation began in April 2013, when plaintiff Clear Image Construction, Inc. filed suit against a group of Phelps Dunbar’s clients for alleged usurpation of corporate opportunity, minority shareholder oppression, breach of corporate duty, and interference with contract in connection with an oil-industry support business in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale area. Phelps Dunbar successfully moved to compel the dispute from the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, where the plaintiff resided, to arbitration.
Mr. Williams said, “Given the number of parties, claims, and defenses involved in this case, we believed that the most advantageous forum was arbitration, in front of a three-person panel of experienced lawyers with extensive backgrounds in complex, commercial litigation, as opposed to a jury trial in state court, where research revealed the existence of a number of large plaintiffs’ verdicts in cases where similar claims had been made.”
During the proceeding, the plaintiff advanced damage-claim models against Phelps Dunbar’s clients, ranging from approximately $25 to $100-plus million, including punitive damages, which were reduced to a submitted range of approximately $9 to $18 million after the arbitration hearing but before the award was issued. Among other positions, Phelps Dunbar argued that Clear Image Construction, Inc. was not entitled to damages because the subject venture was void ab initio due to Clear Image Construction, Inc.’s fraud and improper conduct. Following arbitration and post-hearing briefing, a panel of three arbitrators from Atlanta, Georgia entered a unanimous defense award for Phelps Dunbar’s clients along with an attorneys’ fee award for one of the firm’s clients against the plaintiff. Phelps Dunbar successfully defended the plaintiff’s subsequent appeal to the trial court (Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, Clear Image Construction, Inc. v. R&D Management, L.L.C. et al., Case No.: CV-2013-901012) and then to the Supreme Court of Alabama (Case No.: 1150796).
With offices positioned along the Gulf Coast from Houston to Tampa, Phelps Dunbar is a regional law firm of more than 260 attorneys uniquely equipped to serve clients in the major commercial centers of the burgeoning “Third Coast” of the United States. Locations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Tupelo and Gulfport, Mississippi; Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Mobile, Alabama as well as Raleigh, North Carolina; and London, England enable Phelps Dunbar to serve clients not only along the Third Coast, but also the South, nationwide and abroad.