Sharon Stuart devotes her practice to civil trial work and arbitration. She focuses on complex commercial and insurance litigation, and she handles a variety of pharmaceutical and medical device products liability litigation as national, regional or local counsel. Her trial experience includes a wide range of business tort claims, contract disputes, commercial and insurance fraud and bad faith suits, and wrongful death cases. She has defended dozens of class action lawsuits in areas as diverse as product liability/toxic tort, financial products, insurance and employment law.
Sharon’s approach is to become a business partner with her clients, to become fluent in their business, and to assist them with clearly defining their objectives and the process for meeting those goals. Together, Sharon works with her clients to efficiently achieve solutions. By collaborating in this way, she can provide the most effective counsel possible. Working closely with the offices of general counsel of several major corporations has afforded Sharon the opportunity to interact with business clients and develop an understanding of the dynamics associated with those relationships. This experience allows Sharon to steadily, yet diplomatically, guide her clients in lawfully accomplishing their business objectives.
For more than twenty years, Sharon has been privileged to represent and advise large and small businesses, including:
▪ Litigating cases in areas as diverse as corporate governance, patent and licensing, financial products and drug pricing; trial experience includes a variety of business tort claims, contract disputes, commercial and insurance fraud and bad faith suits, personal injury and wrongful death cases;
▪ Handling discrimination law matters including Title VII, ADEA, Americans with Disabilities Act (employment and public accommodation), Fair Labor Standards Act and Title II claims, as well as claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983;
▪ Assisting clients in responding to state and federal government investigations and negotiating with regulators;
▪ As national coordinating counsel in Multi-District Litigation, managing local counsel in several states; and
▪ Supervising e-discovery matters and counseling clients on appropriate litigation preservation policies for electronically stored information.
As noted below in the extensive list of professional and civic involvement and leadership roles, Sharon’s trial and negotiation skills have been recognized by her peers and she is AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell.
- Following settlement of a class action involving the Alabama state employee’s pension plan, tried and won on appeal the contractual indemnity claim of a co-defendant seeking over $1 million in legal fees.
- Obtained summary judgment for manufacturer in federal court case alleging FMLA, Title VII (race and sex) and ADA claims.
- Obtained summary judgment for an insurance company in an FLSA and race discrimination case brought by associate agent involving issues of joint employer liability.Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a defendant hospital in a hard-fought discrimination case filed by a surgeon who claimed his privileges were revoked based on race, national origin and religion. The court’s 108 page opinion was filed under seal.
- Defended a major international pharmaceutical company in the first of numerous “Average Wholesale Pricing” cases filed by Alabama’s Attorney General. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed a jury verdict for the State, resulting in a total victory for the defendant. AstraZeneca LP v. State, 41 So. 3d 15 (Ala. 2009). The national press reported the Supreme Court’s decision, and it became the year’s most significant decision according to the Drug and Device Law blog.
- Served as national coordinating counsel, with specific responsibility for Alabama state court litigation, in multi-jurisdictional products liability actions arising from the sale of a dietary supplement.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of insurer in two consecutive fidelity bond cases where the insured corporation alleged breach of contract and bad faith in connection with multi-million dollar employee theft claims.
- Obtained summary judgment in federal court for a pharmaceutical manufacturer in a products liability case where plaintiff alleged that an antibiotic caused her to lose her vision.
- Obtained summary judgment in large coverage case involving application of a pollution exclusion to claims of hundreds of landowner plaintiffs.
- Obtained an order dismissing a putative class action relating to the Jefferson County, Alabama sewer bond default.
- Obtained summary judgment in a case in which plaintiff claimed breach of a life insurance contract, bad faith and fraud.
- Secured dismissal of suit against a life insurer. Plaintiffs claimed that insurer’s agent conspired with two brothers to take in homeless individuals, take out life insurance on them, and then murder them. Case received national notoriety.
- Tried and obtained an appellate ruling for the defendant in the first punitive damages case decided by the Alabama Supreme Court following the U.S. Supreme Court decision BMW v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996).
- Nationwide Retirement Solutions, Inc. v. PEBCO, Inc., No. 1120806, Alabama Supreme Court (March 28, 2014)
- AstraZeneca LP v. State, 41 So. 3d 15 (Ala. 2009)
- Ex parte Novartis Pharms. Corp., 991 So. 2d 1263 (Ala. 2008)
- Hawk v. Roger Watts Ins. Agency, 989 So. 2d 584 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008)
- Vulcan Materials Co. v. Ala. Ins. Guar. Ass’n, 985 So. 2d 376 (Ala. 2007)
- Alabama v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 2:06-CV-920-MHT, 2006 WL 3170553 (M.D. Ala. Nov. 2, 2006)
- Cent. Ala. Comprehensive Health Car, Inc. v. Aventis Pharms., Inc., 427 F. Supp. 2d 1129 (M.D. Ala. 2006)
- Ex parte Nat’l W. Life Ins. Co., 899 So. 2d 218 (Ala. 2004)
- Legg v. Wyeth, 428 F.3d 1317 (11th Cir. 2005)
- Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co. v. Comm’r Soc. Sec. Admin., 216 F.R.D. 681 (S.D. Ala. Aug. 12, 2003)
- Tucker v. Taco Bell Corp., No. CV-00-S-1848-NE, 2001 WL 36102289 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 30, 2001)
- Ex parte Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 750 So. 2d 578 (Ala. 1999)
- In re Diet Drugs, No. Civ. A. 98-20478-1203, 1999 WL 554584 (E.D. Pa. July 16, 1999)
- Richardson v. Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 750 So. 2d 575 (Ala. Civ. App. 1999)
- Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co. v. Allen, 699 So. 2d 138 (Ala. 1997)
- Sullivan, Long & Hagerty, Inc. v. Goodwin, 658 So. 2d 493 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994)
Professional and Community INVOLVEMENT
- Alabama Law Foundation, Fellow
- International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC): Co-Chair of Diversity Programs; Co-Chair for Newsletter, Insurance and Reinsurance Committee; Member, Class Actions and Multi-Party Litigation Committee; Member, Drug, Device and Biotech Committee
- Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA): Secretary/Treasurer (2015-2016); Chair, Amicus Curiae Committee (2010-present)
- Birmingham Bar Association: Member, Long Range Planning Committee (2010-present); Chairman, Civil Courts Procedures Committee (2008); Public Service Committee (2004); Chairman, Ethics Committee (2002-2003); Grievance Committee Young Lawyers Representative (1996)
- Defense Research Institute (DRI): Women in the Law Committee, member of the Steering Committee; Vice-Chair of the State Liaisons, 2013-2014
- Master Bencher, American Inns of Court – Birmingham, Alabama; Master Bencher and member of the Formation Committee, Judge James Edwin Horton American Inns of Court
- Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South, Risk Retention Group: Member, Board of Directors, and currently serving on the Executive, Underwriting and Marketing Committees of the Board
- Samford University: Member, Board of Overseers
- Cumberland School of Law: Member, Dean’s Advisory Board
- Leadership Birmingham: Class of 2012
- American Bar Association (ABA): Member
- WBHM Public Radio 90.3 FM, Birmingham’s National Public Radio affiliate: Vice-Chairman, Friends Advisory Board
- Member of the Executive Committee of Christian & Small, 2001-2006, 2009-2011
- Literacy Council of Central Alabama: Member, Board of Directors, 2006-2012
- Adult Sunday School teacher, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church
Awards and Recognition
- AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell*
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2009 – 2015 in the categories of commercial litigation, labor & employment litigation, securities litigation, product liability litigation, mass tort litigation/class actions and insurance law
- Selected for inclusion in Alabama Super Lawyers® 2010-2015 in the fields of business litigation, insurance coverage, product liability defense
- Selected for inclusion in Top 25 Women Alabama Super Lawyers® 2010-2015
- Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Litigation’s list of Alabama Future Litigation Stars 2009-2015
- Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Appellate as Eleventh Circuit Litigation Star in Alabama 2012 and 2013
- Selected for inclusion in Benchmark Top 250 Women in Litigation 2012-2014
- Listed in the Birmingham Business Journal’s “Best of the Birmingham Bar” in Insurance Law
Publications and Presentations
- Author, 11th Circuit Holds That Exclusion Of Evidence Supporting Coverage Position Warrants New Trial For Insurer, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (August 2015)
- Author, Federal Insurance Office Proposes Regulations Defining Affordable Auto Insurance, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (July 2015)
- Author, The Wait is Over – SCOTUS Rules that Fair Housing Act Allows Disparate Impact Claims, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (June 2015)
- Co-Author with Deborah Alley Smith, The Limits to the Sky: Insurance Issues Related to Unmanned Aerial Systems (Part I, Part II, Part III), Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (April 2015)
- Author, Insurance Industry Watches as Supreme Court Considers Whether FHA Allows for Claims for Discriminatory Impact (Part I, Part II), Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (February 2015)
- Author, WBHM Fall Pledge Drive Helps Provide Quality Radio Content, Christian & Small Nonstop Insights Blog (October 2014)
- Co-Author with Deborah Alley Smith, “The Limits to the Sky: Insurance Issues Related to Unmanned Aerial Systems,” Defense Research Institute (DRI) In-House Defense Quarterly (Spring 2015).
- Author, “Is the Wait Almost Over? The Insurance Industry Watches as the U.S. Supreme Court Finally Considers Whether The Fair Housing Act Allows Claims for Discriminatory Impact,” The International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Insurance and Reinsurance Newsletter (January 2015).
- Co-Presenter with Robert E. Cooper, “Ethical Obligations in Jury Selection,” followed by a panel discussion with sitting Alabama state court judges, Hon. Steven Haddock, Hon. Donna Pate and Hon. Caryl Privett; Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South® 2014 Annual CLE Seminar (December 5, 2014).
- Co-Author with Jonathan M. Hooks, “Defending Against Off-Label Marketing Claims in Personal Injury Lawsuits,” The International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Drug, Device and Biotechnology Newsletter (November 2014).
- Presenter, “The Brechbill Decision and Its Aftermath,” Birmingham Bar Association Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Programs (November 7, 2014).
- Author, “In the Wake of State Farm v. Brechbill – The Future of The Tort of Bad Faith in Alabama,” Birmingham Bar Association (November 2014).
- Author, “Refining the Tort of Bad Faith in Alabama – The Potential Impact of State Farm v. Brechbill,” The International Association of Defense Counsel Insurance and Reinsurance Newsletter (February 2014).
- Co-Author, “How Lawyers Use Financial Information,” in Basics of Accounting & Finance: What Every Practicing Lawyer Needs to Know (PLI Corp. Law & Practice, Course Handbook Ser. No. B-1406, 2004).
- Co-Author, “Making Sure It All Adds Up: Preventing, Identifying, and Litigating Financial Fraud Cases,” Basics of Accounting & Finance: What Every Practicing Lawyer Needs to Know (PLI Corp. Law & Practice, Course Handbook Ser. No. B-1354, 2003).
- Co-Author, “Proposed Changes to Lawyer Advertising Rules,” Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Fall 2002).
- Co-Author, “Civil Procedure Update: A Survey of Recent Case Law Interpreting the Rules,” The Alabama Lawyer, Vol. 58, No. 3 (March 1997).
- Co-Author, “The Battle Against Substance Abuse in the Workplace: A Survey of Current Regulatory Issues,” 11 Miss. C. L. Rev. 201 (1991).
- Author, “The Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act Amendments of 1988: Section Six of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act Amendments of 1988: A New Ethical Standard in Government Contracting?“, 20 Cumb. L. Rev. 421 (1990), reprinted in 21-90, Government Contracts Service, F-1 (1990).