A distinguished war veteran, one of the top trial lawyers in the United States, and a driving force that has helped to build Cunningham Bounds, LLC into one of the best plaintiff law firms in America, Mr. Cunningham has enjoyed a long and distinguished career.
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 is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
He and his wife, Joanna, have been married for 50 years and are the parents of two sons and a daughter and the grandparents of five boys and five girls. Mr. Cunningham is a 59-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).
Mr. Cunningham has represented plaintiffs in numerous cases resulting in record-breaking verdicts in Alabama and nationwide. Examples include:
- His representation of Dirt, Inc. in an environmental contamination trial, resulting in a $108 million jury verdict against Halliburton, Inc.
- Acting as co-lead counsel along 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.
- Mr. Cunningham 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
- He was also lead trial counsel in the State of Alabama's $11.9 billion verdict against ExxonMobil for underpayment of royalties.
In 2010, Mr. Cunningham was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the Multi-District Litigation 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 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 was tried in January 2015.
On September 10, 2014, Mr. Cunningham was appointed as a Deputy Attorney General by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and was selected to lead the trial team in Alabama’s lawsuit seeking economic damages from BP. The trial of that case was scheduled for 2016, but in October 2015, a settlement was reached between Alabama and BP totaling over $2 billion.
Recognition & Awards
- Benchmark Litigation named Mr. Cunningham as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America (2015-present)
- Benchmark Plaintiff named him a "Litigation Star" in its national rankings of personal injury attorneys and for Alabama (2013-present)
- Listed in Best Lawyers as "Mobile Best Lawyers Personal Injury Litigator of the Year"(2009)
- Listed in Best Lawyers as "Mobile Bet-the-Company Litigator of the Year" (2010, 2012, 2013)
- Listed in Best Lawyers in "Commercial Litigation" (2010)
- Listed in Best Lawyers in "Environmental Litigation" (2010)
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America® (1987-present)
- Listed in Super Lawyers magazine as one of the Top 50 plaintiff attorneys in Alabama / Mid-South Region (2008-present)
- Listed in Super Lawyers magazine as one of the Top 10 attorneys in the state of Alabama (2009 and 2010) and was the only lawyer from Mobile to receive this honor
- Listed as one of the 500 "Leading Lawyers in America" by Lawdragon Magazine
- Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers (2019)
- Listed by Chambers & Partners as the only Senior Statesman in Alabama for his groundbreaking work in Plaintiff Litigation
- AV® Preeminent™ 5.0/5.0 Peer Rating