Sample of Willingham's Experience in Substantive Areas

Pharmaceuticals and medical devices:

Litigation involving allegedly defective mechanical heart valves, penile implants, hip, knee and other orthopedic devices, sutures, and other related medical products.  Representation of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Howmedica, UpJohn, sanofi-aventis and other manufacturers and developers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

From 2007 to 2012, Willingham worked with Kay Deming of Troutman Sanders to defend nationwide product liability claims against one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in connection with hepatic side effects and risks associated with an antibiotic drug having valued effectiveness against resistant bacteria.  Settlement of all claims was achieved.   

 

Other Products:

  • Tires - high stakes jury trials and successful appeals of claims of serious injuries  based on allegations of a  tire defect. A breathtaking verdict for plaintiff in the amount of $42 million was reversed on 12 enumerated grounds in what was then reported as the longest decision in Georgia Court of Appeals history. Representation of Michelin Tire Corporation and BF Goodrich over a period exceeding ten years.  

  • Cell Phone Class Actions -  Class action claims, including claims against cell phone services and devices, claiming brain injuries due to radiation. 

  • Pesticide - New, advanced pesticide to control boll weevils, while still under limited experimental use, was widely used across South Georgia by cotton farmers.  Due to sensitivity of timing of applications, many farmers across South Georgia lost virtually their entire cotton crop.  A bellwether case was tried by Willingham in the federal district Court in Augusta to a favorable compromise verdict, which served as a precedent and basis for reasonable resolution of all remaining cases. 

  • Propane - Multiple cases involving propane fires and explosions and issues of adequacy of the odorant warning systems (yielded Federal court ruling that the odorant system was not defective, as a matter of law). 

  • Other products - Defense of many product liability cases, including power transmission posts, paving and curb molding machines, portable asphalt plants, polybutylene plumbing systems, PBX telephone systems, fiberglass-reinforced asphaltic papers (a flammability risk), scaffolding, prestressed cable restraints and microwave ovens.

Intellectual property – Trade Secrets:

Multiple successful mandamus actions were filed and sustained in a products case in which the court had ordered disclosure of valued trade secrets implicated in the case and from which the court later stripped away confidentiality protections. Orders were entered in favor of the client and against the judge, requiring that protective orders be honored.

 

Legal malpractice:

Litigation of claims and defenses arising in a legal malpractice context, involving 25 cases over a period of 15 years.

Hospital/Healthcare Issues:

Extensive experience in representation of physicians and hospitals, including extensive work for the leading Georgia  professional liability insurer for doctors, the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Mutual Insurance Company, and history of representation of five leading hospitals in the Atlanta and surrounding area, including  advice in resolving credentialing issues and business and contractual issues arising from Hospital/Provider agreements; multiple resolutions of healthcare consent issues and HIPAA, including many court proceedings resolving parental religious denials of consent for administration of blood to children; Representation of one of the nations largest privately owned Nursing Home businesses, with substantial resolution of claims including RICO, False Claims Act, and falsification of records claims; representation of manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals;  resolution of physician licensing issues by compromise with the concerns of the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners; facilitation of resolution of Medicare overbilling claims; membership in the Georgia Academy of Hospital Attorneys and the Georgia Society of Healthcare Risk Managers; filed Amicus Curiae briefs in the Georgia Supreme Court on issue of “wrongful life” claims and on possible conflict between  HIPAA and Georgia statutory waiver for release of medical records implicated by malpractice claims.

Complex business disputes:

  • ​​Representation at trial of Plaintiff Maynard Jackson, civil rights leader and former Mayor of the City of Atlanta, in a commercial dispute. The matter involved a consortium of parties seeking to sell corporate owned life insurance to the Coca-Cola Company for the funding of pension plans.  Mayor Jackson and his colleagues were denied their share in the proceeds of the successful business transaction, and their claims were tried to a Fulton County jury, with a compromise verdict entered in favor of the client for $1 million. There was no appeal. 

  • Representation of one of Atlanta’s largest law firms in connection with multiple disputes arising from circumstances associated with withdrawal of partners.  These were disputes governed by an arbitration clause, and all were resolved favorably to the law firm client. 

  • Representation of two of four sibling owners of deadlocked family held corporations, including successful motion for preliminary injunction, successful motion for accounting and appointment of a receiver, successful reinstatement of clients  wrongfully removed from corporate offices of president and treasurer, and successful motions for contempt and attorneys' fees. 

  • Representation of clients in commercial disputes.  These included commercial fraud claims, securities issues, commercial arbitrations, Locum Tenens contracts, and other matters.

 

RICO cases:

Appeal of adverse verdicts in South Georgia involving RICO Claims  [see detail immediately below]

Insurance and reinsurance:

  • Appeal of RICO judgment against insurers and related claims against reinsurers.  In association with the Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass firm of New York, Allen represented a reinsurance consortium during the course of a series of litigated claims in south Georgia and Florida and in the the appellate courts during the course of a decade long appeal from an adverse $16 million adverse RICO verdict in Early County, Georgia.  The judgment was reversed in substantial part, and the matters were resolved by settlement.

  • Litigation of complex claims involving reinsurers, and disputes regarding orphan shares of a bankrupt insurer in context of multiple insurers reinsuring a single large asbestos risk.

  • Representation of UNUM Life Insurance Co in connection with Disability insurance claims. 

  • Coverage adviser and risk avoidance advice to the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Mutual insurance company.

  • Representation of The Hartford and the Georgia Lawyers Insurance Co.

Employment cases:

Defense of multiple employment cases in Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey, including discrimination actions, wrongful discharge cases, and enforcement of non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure covenants. Successful trials of ERISA matter addressing the Plan interest rate, and trials of race discrimination charges.

Personal injury litigation:

  • Representation of the American National Red Cross.

  • Representation of Delta Air Lines in multiple matters, including personal injuries at the airport, a serious decompression incident, and a tragic accident in the course of recurrent training in a fire at a McDonnell Douglas plane mockup. 

  • Representation of doctors and hospitals in the context of medical malpractice litigation, credentialing of physicians, risk management, and handling of medical consent issues.

  • Representation of the country’s largest privately owned nursing home business in claims including RICO and Qui Tam claims.