Robert T. Cunningham graduated with honors from the University of South Alabama in 1973. He then attended the University of Florida receiving his Juris Doctorate with honors in 1975. During law school, he was Executive Editor of the University of Florida Law Review. He was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1975 and has practiced with the law firm of Cunningham Bounds, LLC since that time.
Before entering college, Mr. Cunningham served his country in the United States Marine Corps from 1965 to 1970 as both an enlisted man and officer. During his service as a helicopter pilot, he flew over 300 combat missions in Vietnam, including participation in the Battle of Khe Sanh, before being seriously wounded during the 1968 Tet Offensive. After several months of hospitalization and rehabilitation in Japan, he returned to combat and flew another 200+ missions. Among his decorations are the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, 29 Air Medals and the Combat Action Ribbon. He has served his local community as a member of the Board of Directors of the Mobile Metropolitan YMCA, the Gulf Coast Conservation Association and Leadership Mobile. He was a member of the first graduating class of Leadership Alabama and currently chairs the board of the Cunningham Family Charitable Foundation. He and his wife, Joanna, have been married for forty-four years and are the parents of two sons and a daughter and the grandparents of four boys and five girls.
Mr. Cunningham's areas of practice are complex litigation, environmental torts, class actions, personal injury, products liability, insurance fraud, bad faith, intellectual property, and admiralty and maritime law. He has represented plaintiffs in numerous cases resulting in record breaking verdicts in Alabama and nationwide. He led the firm's pro bono representation of the University of Alabama in its fight against the NCAA sanctioning of the Crimson Tide football team and was lead trial counsel in the State of Alabama's $11.9 billion verdict against ExxonMobil for underpayment of royalties. (NLJ, Feb. 9, 2004) In October 2007, he was lead counsel for Dirt, Inc. in an environmental contamination trial resulting in a $108 million jury verdict against Halliburton, Inc. (NLJ, February 18, 2008) In October 2008, he was co-lead counsel, with partner Skip Finkbohner, in an intellectual property trial representing inventor Dr. Peter Mannsfeld against German chemical company Ineos Phenol GmbH & Co. KG which resulted in a jury verdict of $192 million.
In 2010, Mr. Cunningham was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) arising out of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting environmental disaster. After that appointment, he served as a leader of the trial team preparing for the February 2012 trial. On the eve of that trial, a historic multi-billion dollar settlement of many claims was reached with BP. Beginning in February 2013, the remaining claims against BP, and the claims against Transocean and Halliburton, were tried during a two-month trial in the Federal District Court in New Orleans. On September 3, 2014, Halliburton settled its liability for $1.1 billion. On September 4, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier in a one hundred fifty three page opinion ruled that the trial evidence demonstrated “gross negligence” and “reckless conduct” by BP in causing the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He found BP 67% at fault. He also ruled that Transocean and Halliburton were each guilty of negligence which contributed to the disaster. The penalty phase of the litigation will be tried in January, 2015. Mr. Cunningham continues active involvement in the MDL as a member of the PSC and as Class Counsel.
2015 Benchmark Litigation named Mr. Cunningham as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America. Benchmark Plaintiff has listed him as a "Litigation Star" in its national rankings of attorneys. He has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America® since 1987 and in Alabama "Super Lawyers" since inception. In 2010 and 2009, Mr. Cunningham was named one of the top 10 attorneys in the state of Alabama by Super Lawyers magazine and was the only lawyer from Mobile to receive this honor. Also in 2009, Best Lawyers in America® named him the "Mobile Best Lawyers Personal Injury Litigator of the Year." Mr. Cunningham is listed as one of the 500 "Leading Lawyers in America" by Lawdragon Magazine. Chambers USA 2009 lists Mr. Cunningham as one of the top lawyers in America in the area of Commercial Litigation.
In addition to practicing law, Mr. Cunningham's interests include flying and fishing. He is a 58 time IGFA World Record holder on light tackle and fly rod. He also holds the Louisiana state record for tarpon on fly. He is the author of Chasing Records: An Angler's Quest (New York, N.Y.: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).
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