skip to main content
Mar 27, 2001

Local Attorneys Make National List - Twice

Featuring: Robert T. Cunningham and John T. Crowder Jr.

From the Mobile Register 


Staff Reporter 

Two jury verdicts won last year by the Mobile plaintiffs firm Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder & Brown ranked among the largest 40 trial awards in 2000, according to an annual survey conducted by The National Law Journal. 

The Mobile firm's biggest-ever verdict - a Dec. 19 jury award for $3.5 billion won for the state of Alabama against Exxon Corp. - was the third-largest jury award of the year, the national survey showed. A second verdict, for $50 million in a wrongful death made the list. 

The Exxon case involved the claim in 1993 the company began cheating the state out of a portion of the royalties it was contractually obligated to pay Alabama for natural gas extracted from the bottom of Mobile Bay. A Montgomery County jury awarded the state $87.7 million in compensatory damages, and a whopping $3.42 billion in punitive damages. 

Exxon contended it had done nothing wrong, and blasted the verdict as excessive and based on a faulty interpretation of law and facts. The company has pledged to appeal. 

Firm partner Robert "Bobo" Cunningham, who tried the case with partners John Crowder and Richard Dorman, called the much-publicized win a team effort by many of his firm's lawyers and employees. Cunningham said he's been told that the $3.5 billion award is among the 10 largest jury awards in U.S. history. 

"We didn't just walk in and pick up the Exxon case and get a $3.5 billion verdict," Cunningham said. "That was the culmination of an awful lot of experience by a number of different lawyers, paralegals and investigators at this law firm. It might seem like a one-time affair, but it's kind of like a pinnacle of a lot of years of experience by a number of lawyers." 

The Exxon lawsuit, filed in 1999, is one of several similar cases brought by the firm against petroleum companies on behalf of the state. Others are pending in Mobile County Circuit Court. 

"In the oil and gas cases, our expenses are up to $3 million to $3.5 million," Cunningham said. 

In the wake of the Exxon verdict, the firm was criticized over the potential size of its fee - $490 million, or 14 percent of the $3.5 billion. In this lawsuit, as with most plaintiffs' cases, the Cunningham, Bounds firm was hired on a contingency fee, meaning the firm is to be paid a percentage of the money it wins for its client, and won't be paid if it loses. 

To date, the firm hasn't been paid the first dollar for its work on the Exxon case or the wrongful death case against Mack Trucks, Cunningham said Monday. 

Montgomery Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey, who presided over the trial, has scheduled a May hearing to consider a request by Exxon - now called ExxonMobil Corp. - that she reduce the $3.5 billion award. The state has asked that the jury's judgment be upheld in its entirety. 

Regardless of how McCooey rules, an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court is all but inevitable, Cunningham said. 

The Mack Trucks case was tried in Clarke County by Cunningham and Gaines C. McCorquodale of the Jackson, Ala., firm, McCorquodale & McCorquodale. The lawsuit was brought by the family of Tonnie Ray Witherspoon, a truck driver who burned to death in 1995 after his truck, carrying a load of logs, overturned. 

The plaintiffs contended that a $2 electrical cut-off switch could have prevented the fire, and that Mack Trucks chose not to install the switch on its trucks. 

The company contended that the lack of a switch was not the cause of the fire, and argued that there is no requirement that such switches be included on trucks. 

The jury awarded Witherspoon's heirs $50 million. Judge Harold Crow later reduced the verdict to $25 million. Mack Trucks has appealed the case to the Alabama Supreme Court. 

In all likelihood, the Exxon and Mack Trucks verdicts will be reduced, perhaps significantly. 

The National Law Journal review included some large verdicts in 2000 that have already been sharply reduced, including an $83.5 million verdict that was cut to $1.8 million, and an $80.8 million verdict chopped down to $4.4 million. 

The largest jury award of 2000 - which also happens to be the richest trial judgment in U.S. history - was rendered in July by a Miami jury that spent two years hearing evidence against the tobacco industry. The Engle class action, filed in 1994 on behalf of about 500,000 Florida smokers, resulted in a mammoth $145 billion judgment. The appeals process could take years, and given the success of tobacco companies in similar cases, would well result in the $145 billion award being reduced significantly or set aside altogether.

Related Services:

Related Case

$11.9 Billion Verdict

$11.9 Billion Verdict for the State of Alabama Against Exxon for Royalty Fraud

State of Alabama vs. ExxonMobil | Montgomery County, Alabama | Case No. CV-99-2368

Cunningham Bounds was retained by the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to assert claims of royalty fraud against E...

Related News

Feb 07, 2007

Exxon Mobil fights judgment

By Phillip Rawls  The Associated Press  The largest verdict in Alabama history went before the Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday with Ex...

Jul 18, 2004

Your Word

By JIM CLARK  Special to the Register  The editorial pages of the Mobile Register frequently contain the opinions of Skip Tucker, execu...

Apr 25, 2004

Unjustifiable Business

Mobile Register  By David S. Casey  ExxonMobil verdict sends a clear message that scheming corporate America can't hide behind its loft...

Mar 29, 2004

Judge cuts Alabama verdict against Exxon Mobil to $3.6 billion

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  3/29/2004, 5:21 p.m. CT  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The record $11.9 billion verdict that A...

Mar 27, 2004

Natural gas litigation means millions to state, lawyers

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  3/27/2004, 12:27 p.m. CT  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The state government's royalty dispute...

Mar 11, 2004

Judge weighs whether to reduce record $11.9 billion verdict

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A judge hearing arguments on a record $11.9 billion verdict against Ex...

Mar 09, 2004

Judge to hear arguments Thursday on record verdict

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A judge begins hearing arguments Thursday on whether to throw out or r...

Feb 10, 2004

Alabama's Exxon Mobil verdict No. 1 for 2003

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  From  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The state of Alabama's $11.9 billion verdict agains...

Feb 09, 2004

When a zebra is not a horse

David Hechler  Staff reporter  The National Law Journal  02-09-2004  Richard Dorman, Robert Cunningham and Jere Beasley took ...

Dec 12, 2003

Mobile lawyers broke record

By GARY McELROY  Staff Reporter  Mobile Register  State stuck with Cunningham, Bounds firm at retrial, and saw original award trip...

Nov 15, 2003

Jury orders Exxon Mobil to pay $11.9 billion

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:00 AM  MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A jury ordered Exxon Mobil Co...

Nov 14, 2003

Jury returns $11.9 billion judgment against Exxon Mobil

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  11/14/2003, 12:30 p.m. CT  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The financially troubled state governm...

Nov 13, 2003

Jurors deliberate in Alabama's suit against Exxon Mobil

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  11/13/03 3:08 PM  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A Montgomery jury deliberated Thursday in a law...

Nov 12, 2003

State attorney asks for $9.5 billion in royalty case

PHILLIP RAWLS  Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A state attorney asked a jury Wednesday to find that Exxon Mobil Corp. cheated the ...

Oct 20, 2003

State Again Seeking Multi-Billion Dollar Verdict Against Exxon

By PHILLIP RAWLS  Associated Press Writer  An attorney asked a jury Monday to return another record-setting multibillion-dollar verdict...

Oct 20, 2003

Exxon Trial, Part Two, Underway

By Alabama Associated Press  The retrial of the state's natural gas royalty dispute with Exxon Mobil began Monday in Montgomery, and the sta...

Oct 20, 2003

Time Line in Exxon Mobil Natural Gas Dispute

By The Associated Press  The development of the state government's natural gas royalty dispute with Exxon Mobil:  1981 - Exxon wins th...

Oct 15, 2003

Alabama Supreme Court won't stop jury selection in record case

By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama Supreme Court refused a last-minute request by Exxon Mobil...

Oct 12, 2003

Record-setting lawsuit gets new trial amid state money woes

Record-setting lawsuit gets new trial amid state money woes  By PHILLIP RAWLS  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A la...

Nov 05, 2001

Exxon Blames Alabama Judge for Verdict

THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL  November 5, 2001  Exxon blames Ala. judge for verdict  Document key in appeal of $3.5 billion case ...

Aug 07, 2001

Inside The Firm

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2001 July 29, 2001  By GARY McELROY - Staff Reporter  Mobile Register  Three Mobile lawyers, with five paralegals ...

Jul 29, 2001

Mobile Law Firm Used Mock Trial, Records Searches to Beat Exxon

By GARY MCELROY  Staff Reporter - Mobile Register  The story of the Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder & Brown firm's battle again...

May 14, 2001

Making Them Pay

How big oil companies shortchange taxpayers on royalties  From US News and World Reports  By Jim Morris  In a frenzied three hour...

May 09, 2001

Judge Upholds Exxon Verdict

By PHILLIP RAWLS  Associated Press Writer  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A judge upheld the largest jury verdict in state history, $3.4 billi...

May 04, 2001

Judge Upholds Record $3.4 Billion Verdict Against Exxon Mobil

ASSOCIATED PRESS  MONTGOMERY, Ala., May 4 - A judge upheld the largest jury verdict in state history, $3.4 billion in punitive damages again...

May 04, 2001

Politicians Already Eyeing Exxon's Billions

The Associated Press  5/4/01 1:32 PM  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Politicians are already coming up with ideas about how to use a $3.5 bil...

Apr 19, 2001

Judge Says Her Decision Probably Won't Matter in Long Run

By DAVE BRYAN  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala- (AP) -- The state's lawyers say Exxon Mobil stood to make $1.8 billion in unpaid...

Apr 19, 2001

Expert: Exxon Can Easily Pay $4.3 Billion Award

STAN BAILEY  News staff writer  MONTGOMERY - ExxonMobil Corp. can pay the $4.3 billion fraud verdict returned against it in December a...

Apr 19, 2001

Royalty Case Zeroes in on Possible Gains

By JEFF AMY  Capital Bureau  MONTGOMERY - Lawyers for ExxonMobil Corp. and the state argued for another whole day Wednesday about whet...

Apr 18, 2001

Judge Says Her Decision Probably Won't Matter in Long Run

By DAVE BRYAN  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Exxon Mobil Chairman Ansel Condray said the oil company didn't believe i...

Apr 18, 2001

Testimony of Exxon's Witness Fails to Impress Circuit Judge

By Mike Cason  Montgomery Advertiser  Montgomery County Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey was unimpressed by the testimony of one witness ca...

Apr 18, 2001

Exxon, State Look Forward to Appeals

By JEFF AMY  Capital Bureau  MONTGOMERY - Lawyers for ExxonMobil Corp. spent Tuesday trying to convince a circuit judge that $3.42 bil...

Apr 18, 2001

Ex-chief: Exxon Expected Audit

Would have negotiated payments, Condray says  STAN BAILEY  News staff writer  MONTGOMERY - Exxon Corp. believed it was right whe...

Apr 17, 2001

Judge Hears Arguments on Whether to Reduce Record Verdict

PHLLIP RAWLS  Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A Montgomery judge will start hearing arguments Tuesday on whether to reduce ...

Apr 17, 2001

Exxon, State to Square Off Over Verdict

By JEFF AMY  Capital Bureau  MONTGOMERY - ExxonMobil Corp. will return to court today to ask a judge to radically prune the record jud...

Apr 17, 2001

Exxon Asks Judge to Change Award

By Mike Cason  Montgomery Advertiser  With their effort to win a new trial apparently lost, lawyers for Exxon Mobil Corp. today will a...

Mar 21, 2001

The Human Side of the Law

STREET TALK  by Jo Ann Flirt  THE HUMAN SIDE OF THE LAW: Too often it is a symbol of lady justice and her scales or a background of ne...

Mar 01, 2001

Proud - The Advisor

By David Bronner - Director, Alabama Retirement System  From the Advisor - Monthly Newsletter to the Retirement System of Alabama  The...

Feb 19, 2001

A 'State-friendly' Oil Lease Pays Off for Alabama

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL  Case Type: breach of lease, fraud  Case: Exxon Corp. v. Department of Conservation and Nat. Res., CV-99-2368 (Mo...

Jan 30, 2001

Judge Refuses New Trial in Record Verdict

MOBILE REGISTER  - Jury decided in December that Exxon Mobil defrauded Alabama on royalties from natural gas wells  Montgomery - A jud...

Jan 23, 2001

Exxon Jurors Deserved More Respect

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  Regrettably Skip Tucker has impugned the character, intelligence and integrity of the twelve citizens of Montgomery C...

Jan 15, 2001

Nailing Exxon for $3.5B with Nine Key Documents

The National Law Journal  From interview with John T. Crowder Jr.  CASE: Exxon Corp. v. Department of Conservation and Natural Resourc...

Jan 13, 2001

Exxon's Defense a Letdown

Mobile Register  1/13/01  EXXON’S DEFENSE A LETDOWN  I have been following with great interest the news stories, editorial...

Jan 04, 2001

Winner in Exxon Case Poised for Big Payoff

R. Robin McDonald  Fulton County Daily Report  Mobile, Ala., attorney John T. Crowder Jr. first suspected oil companies were underpayi...

Jan 02, 2001

Exxon Ordered to Pay $3.5 billion to Alabama in Royalties Dispute

The National Law Journal  In a verdict that defendant ExxonMobil Corp. called "manifestly unfair," a Montgomery, AL jury has awarded the sta...

Jan 01, 2001

Seems Like a 'Windfall' Is In Eye of Beholder

Mobile Register  On the front page of the Dec. 20 Register was a picture of one of the lawyers representing the State of Alabama against Exx...

Jan 01, 2001

Think of the Work the Lawyers Had To Do

Mobile Register  A few thoughts on the Register's Dec. 21 editorial on the "absurd" penalty in the Exxon case:  For comparison purpose...

Jan 01, 2001

Editorial Took Cheap Shot at Lawyer's Firm

Mobile Register  The Register's Dec. 21 editorial was misleading relative to certain key facts concerning the jury verdict against Exxon in ...

Dec 31, 2000

Pryor: State's use of Private Lawyers Not Odd

The Mobile Register  Even though the state has staff attorneys capable of handling complicated lawsuits, Alabama's recent use of private tri...

Dec 29, 2000

Editorial's Anti-Lawyer Bias Hurts the State

Mobile Register  The pro-business and anti-lawyer bias in the Register's editorial concerning the Exxon verdict is both obvious and harmful ...

Dec 28, 2000

Exxon Award Shows Value of Jury Trials

Montgomery Advertiser  The recent $3 billion punitive damage award against Exxon dramatically demonstrates the need for jury trials. It is a...

Dec 25, 2000

If Exxon is Guilty, the Stern Verdict is Justified

from the Montgomery Advertiser  How's this for a hefty fine: $800 for every man, woman and child in Alabama? That's about what a Montgomery ...

Dec 24, 2000

Lease Key to $3.5 Billion

The Birmingham News  The main reason Alabama won a jaw-dropping $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil might boil down to this: Bob Macror...

Dec 22, 2000

Tort Reformers Mostly Ignore Exxon Verdict

Mobile Register  Maybe it's because the state would get the money. Maybe it's because the state, instead of some lonely consumer, was the pl...

Dec 21, 2000

Hefty Punitive Award Brings Mixed Feelings

Birmingham Post Herald  State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. is of two minds about Tuesday's verdict that resulted in a record $3.5 billion award for ...

Dec 21, 2000

Tough Lease Agreement Trips Up Exxon

Mobile Register  When then-Exxon Corp. bought leases to drill for natural gas and oil off Alabama's coast, it signed a lease with the state ...

Dec 21, 2000

State May Wait Years for Any Money

The Associated Press  The state and its attorneys may wait years to see any money from a jury's record $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon Mo...

Dec 21, 2000

Southeast Bond-Watch Alabama

The Bond Buyer  Officials saw the possibility of depositing a record-setting award into Alabama's coffers on Tuesday, after a jury handed do...

Dec 21, 2000

Slaying a Giant: The Case of Alabama vs. Exxon Mobil

The Anniston Star online  The $3.5 billion verdict a jury awarded the state of Alabama against Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday will be a boon t...

Dec 20, 2000


Montgomery Advertiser  Exxon case sends strong message. Like the proverbial 2 by 4 applied to the forehead of a bulky mule, Tuesday's $3.5 b...

Dec 20, 2000

Other Oil Companies Face Similar Lawsuits

Mobile Register  Though Tuesday's verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp. stands to be the biggest of the state's suits for recovering underpaid o...

Dec 20, 2000

State Wins Exxon Lawsuit

Montgomery Advertiser  A Montgomery County jury on Tuesday ordered Exxon Mobil Corporation to pay Alabama $3.5 billion for an alleged scheme...

Dec 20, 2000

Alabama Court Orders Exxon Mobil To Pay $3.5 Billion in Royalties Suit

A Montgomery, Ala., state-court jury hit Exxon Mobil Corp. with a $3.5 billion judgment for underpaying natural-gas royalties from wells in Gulf C...

Dec 20, 2000

Huge Exxon Verdict a Record for Alabama

Mobile Register  World's largest oil company to appeal finding that it underpaid offshore natural gas royalties to Alabama MONTGOMERY - A C...

Dec 20, 2000

Alabama Jury Orders ExxonMobil To Pay $3.5B In Damages

Wall Street Journal  NEW YORK -- An Alabama jury Tuesday ordered ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) to pay $3.5 billion in damages in a dispute over roy...

Dec 20, 2000

Exxon Told to Pay Alabama $3.5 Billion for Natural Gas

Source: The New York Times Section: National  The Exxon Mobil Corporation, the nation's largest oil company, was ordered by an Alabama jury ...

Dec 20, 2000

Managers and Managing: Exxon Mobil Faces Big Payout in Alabama Over Gas Royalties

The Wall Street Journal Europe  Exxon Mobil Corp. was hit by a Montgomery, Alabama, state-court jury with a $3.5 billion (3.92 billion euros...

Dec 19, 2000

State Seeks $3 billion in Exxon Case

Mobile Register  - Lawyers say oil company cheated Alabama out of natural gas royalties.  Montgomery - Attorneys for the state accused...

Dec 19, 2000

Exxon Ordered to Pay $3.5 Bln on Fraud Claims

Montgomery, Alabama, Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) - Exxon Mobil Corp. was ordered by a jury to pay $3.5 billion, one of the largest punitive damage awards,...

Dec 19, 2000

Exxon to Pay $3.5 Billion in Suit

CNNfn  A jury returned a $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday, finding the oil company defrauded Alabama on royalties f...

Dec 19, 2000

State Gets $3.5 Billion Judgment vs. Exxon

The Decatur Daily News  By Phillip Rawls, AP Writer  A jury returned a $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon today, finding the oil compa...

Dec 19, 2000

Jury Orders Exxon Mobil to Pay $3.5 Billion

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A jury returned a $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday, finding the oil company defrauded Alabama on...

Dec 18, 2000

State Pursues Exxon Lawsuit

Mobile Register by Phillip Rawls  Attorneys for the state accused Exxon of repeatedly cheating Alabama on royalties from natural gas wells a...

Dec 06, 2000

Exxon Gas Royalties Trial Begins

The Montgomery Advertiser  Exxon owes Alabama $87.7 million in natural gas royalties plus "substantial punitive damages," an attorney for th...

Dec 02, 2000

Jury to Hear Testimony in Exxon Suit

The Montgomery Advertiser  A jury could hear testimony Tuesday in lawsuit over $132 million in oil and gas royalties that Alabama officials ...

Jul 06, 2000

State to Audit for Millions

Mobile Register  Montgomery - Alabama landowners could be in line for millions of dollars if a plan to audit oil companies is as successful ...

Jul 06, 2000

Alabama Seeks $132 Million From Exxon

The Tuscaloosa News  The state of Alabama is suing a major energy producer, seeking more than $132 million in back royalty payments from oil...

May 07, 1999

Panel OKs Funds for Lawyers

Chattanooga Times / Chattanooga Free Press  Panel OKs Funds for Lawyers  The Associated Press  MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A legislati...

Better Business Bureau Accredited Business

1-251-471 6191 TOLL FREE 1-800-472-6191

Cunningham Bounds LLC Circle Logo
Website developed and designed by Cubicle Fugitive