Richard Smith, one of the founding partners of Christian & Small and a partner with its predecessor, Rives & Peterson, has been an integral member of the firm’s litigation group for his entire legal career. He served as the firm’s Managing Partner for five years. Richard’s practice focuses primarily on complex and corporate litigation for clients in the financial services, health care and construction industries, as well as corporate entities in other industries. His extensive litigation experience includes having tried over 175 jury trials to a verdict in over 30 Alabama counties and all three Alabama federal district courts. He obtained successful results for his clients in over 90 percent of those cases.
In recent years, Richard has arbitrated more than 35 cases before the American Arbitration Association, the National Association of Security Dealers, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and other arbitration panels. He has been appointed as an arbitrator, mediator, and receiver in several business litigation disputes. Because of Richard’s vast trial experience combined with his knowledge of the insurance industry, he is frequently retained as an expert to consult and testify in insurance cases dealing with bad faith and coverage disputes.
Richard married his college sweetheart, Angela, and they have two sons, Elliott and Evan. When his litigation schedule permits, Richard enjoys spending time on the farm with his family. He has been a long-time Sunday school teacher and Deacon of Brookwood Baptist Church.
- Represents the second-largest publicly traded operator of general acute care hospitals in the United States in multiple business litigation matters throughout Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
- Represents regional engineering and construction companies in a broad scope of legal matters ranging from business transactions to litigation, handling all aspects from the bid process to the final certificates of occupancy.
- Served as lead counsel for the owners of a local business sued for an alleged half-million dollar fraudulent transfer. The trial lasted over a week and resulted in a defendants’ jury verdict, which was later affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court, and is the leading case interpreting Alabama’s version of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.
- Successfully defended a national department store in a jury trial where customer sued the store over a mistaken shoplifting allegation. After two day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the department store.
- Successfully defended a national retailer in a lawsuit alleging an employee dropped two boxes of folding tables on a customer in the store. The trial lasted five days and ended with a jury verdict in favor of the national retailer.
- Served as lead counsel in a landlord-tenant dispute where client was sued for over $500,000 in unpaid rent, repair costs and other fees. Following a week-long jury trial, the jury found in favor of our client on the landlord’s claims and awarded the client over $60,000 on the tenant’s counterclaim, plus all of the client’s legal fees.
- Served as lead counsel in an airplane crash case defending a fixed base operator in a personal injury and property case. The owners of the plane crashed on their first flight following an annual FAA maintenance inspection, and sued the FBO for negligently/wantonly performing the annual inspection. The week-long jury trial ended in a defense verdict.
- Defended multiple banks, other lenders and brokerage companies in over 30 arbitration decisions before American Arbitration Association, NASD and FINRA arbitration panels in claims ranging from violations of Truth in Lending Act claims, Fair Debt Collections Practices Act claims, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, fraud, misrepresentation and other business tort claims.
- Tried several jury cases on behalf of business plaintiffs with four verdicts over a million dollars and an arbitration award over a million dollars.
- Thompson Props. 119AA 370 Ltd. v. Birmingham Hide & Tallow Co., 897 So. 2d 248 (Ala. 2004).
- Blount Recycling LLC v. City of Cullman, 884 So. 2d 850 (Ala. 2003).
- Mason v. Acceptance Loan Co., 850 So. 2d 289 (Ala. 2002).
- Baker v. Letica Corp., 785 So. 2d 1142 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
- Shepherd v. Summit Mgmt. Co., 794 So. 2d 1110 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
- Shepherd v. Summit Mgmt. Co., 726 So. 2d 686 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998).
- Colonial Props., Inc. v. Vogue Cleaners, Inc., 86 F.3d 210 (11th Cir. 1996).
- Chrysler Capital Corp. v. Lavender, 934 F.2d 290 (11th Cir. 1991).
- Johnson v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, 555 So. 2d 88 (Ala. 1989).
- Tropicana Prods. Sales, Inc. v. Phillips Brokerage Co., 874 F.2d 1581 (11th Cir. 1989).
- Collins Co. v. City of Decatur, 533 So. 2d 1127 (Ala. 1988).
Professional and Community Involvement
- International Association of Defense Counsel: Member
- Defense Research Institute: Member
- Alabama Defense Lawyers Association: Member
- American Bar Foundation: Fellow
- American Bar Association: Member
- The American Health Lawyers Association: Member
- Alabama State Bar: Member
- Birmingham Bar Association: Member
- Samford University: Member: Board of Overseers
Awards and Recognition
- AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell*
- Selected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers
- Selected as a “Recognized Practitioner” in Health Care Law by Chambers USA in 2017
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2011-2017 in the area of Commercial Litigation; 2014-2017 in the areas of Banking & Finance Litigation and Construction Litigation
- Selected for inclusion in Alabama Super Lawyers® since 2008 in areas including business litigation, health care and construction litigation
- Faculty member of the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association Bibb Allen Memorial Trial Academy, 2008-2017
- Named to the 2012 Top Attorney list in the area of Civil Litigation by Birmingham Magazine
Publications and Presentations
- Co-Author with Jonathan W. Macklem and J. Paul Zimmerman, Small, Medium-Sized Businesses Not Immune From Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches, Primerus Paradigm (Spring 2015)
- Co-Author with Jonathan W. Macklem and J. Paul Zimmerman, Small, Medium-Sized Businesses Not Immune from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches – It’s Happening Here, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (November 2014)
- Co-Moderator, New Proposed Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Affecting the Scope of Discovery, Birmingham Bar Association CLE (December 2013)
- Presenter, Post Arbitration Remedies, Birmingham Bar Association CLE (April 2013)
- Co-Author with John W Johnson, Allen’s Alabama Liability Insurance Handbook (2d ed. 2009)