Beasley Allen lawyer Kendall Dunson was inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) at the Alabama Chapter’s annual meeting Nov. 16, 2017. Dunson is a Principal who practices in the firm’s Personal Injury / Products Liability section. Membership into the American Board of Trial Advocates is by invitation only, following a rigorous nomination and voting process. There are approximately 7,300 members of ABOTA in the United States; only 122 attorneys in Alabama are members.
“I’m honored to be selected for inclusion in ABOTA,” Dunson said. “In my work as a lawyer, I am most proud of my ability to help people, especially those people who have been injured through the fault of product manufacturers. A catastrophic injury can dramatically change a person and their family’s lives. It’s rewarding when my work can help make a real difference in someone’s recovery, and influence change for safety so that others don’t have to suffer.”
For the third consecutive year, ABOTA’s annual event honored one of the state’s most respected judges. This year’s banquet recognized the Hon. Robert H. Smith of Mobile, who serves the 13th Judicial Circuit. Prior to his appointment to the bench in 2006, Judge Smith was in private practice for 37 years. His practice, focused primarily on Admiralty and Maritime Suits, included a wide range of trial experience including appellate courts. Since assuming the bench, Judge Smith has distinguished himself as one of the finest judges in the Alabama court system.
ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ABOTA works to uphold the jury system for educating the American public about the history and value of the right to a trial by jury. To be considered for admission into the Alabama Chapter, one must have tried to conclusion a minimum of 10 civil jury trials, be nominated by an existing member whose practice typically is on the opposing side of the nominee, and be approved by 75 percent of those members voting on membership. Criteria evaluated includes exceptional jury trial skills, civility, professionalism and integrity.
Kendall grew up in LaGrange, Georgia, and graduated with honors from LaGrange High School in 1989, after serving his senior class as president. He earned a degree in Corporate Finance from UGA under full scholarship. Among a host of UGA honors, one of his most treasured honors was being elected president of the Zeta Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Kendall says he was inspired to law from two sources. One was a legal television serious popular in the 1980s called “L.A. Law,” which initially piqued his interest in the legal field. As he began to explore the field, Kendall says he realized the importance of the court system to the Civil Rights movement. Landmark court cases decided by the Courts in that fight were a major inspiration to his pursuing a legal career. A recipient of the Calloway Scholarship, Kendall is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and is licensed to practice in both Alabama and Georgia.
Kendall has served as the president of both the Alabama Lawyers Association and the Capital City Bar Association. He recently completed a term as a Board member for the National Bar Association. He served on the Board of the Montgomery County Bar Association until he was elected to the Executive Committee. Kendall is also past president of the Montgomery County Bar Association and has the distinct honor of being its first African-American President.
He is a member of the Alabama State Bar and serves on the Diversity Committee and the Client Security Fund committees, positions appointed by the State Bar President. He served on the Alabama Curriculum Committee for the Board of Examiners, where he is authoring the new Tort Section and videotaped the presentation to be viewed by all taking the Alabama Bar Exam.
Kendall was selected as Beasley Allen’s Litigator of the Year in 2013, and again in 2015. In 2014, Kendall was recognized as our firm’s Personal Injury Section Lawyer of the Year. He also has been selected for inclusion on the Best Lawyers in America list since 2016.
Most recently, Kendall has been involved in several multimillion dollar lawsuits, including a $24.75 million verdict in a premises liability case; a $18.79 million verdict in a commercial truck product liability case; a $5.75 million verdict in a maritime lawsuit; and a $4.7 million verdict in a seat belt failure case. He and his Beasley Allen law partner Mike Andrews also recently secured an $8 million jury verdict on behalf of a woman who was seriously injured when her Volkswagen suddenly accelerated out of her control and crashed.
Kendall was a member of the trial team that handled a wrongful death case against a corporate defendant resulting in the largest jury verdict ever in Selma, Alabama. That suit influenced the corporate defendant to outfit its entire fleet of trucks with audible backup alarms. He also handled the suit over a bus collision case in Huntsville, Alabama, that caused the death of four students and numerous injuries. The suit resulted in the cancellation of the contract between the county and the defendant, which had the duty to safely transport students to school in Madison County.
Other Alabama lawyers inducted into ABOTA this year are:
Alan Alexander of the Helmsing Leach law firm, Mobile; Will Axon of the Starnes, Davis, Florie law firm, Birmingham; Bob Cooper of the Stockham, Cooper and Potts law firm, Birmingham; Jeff Rickard of the Marsh, Rickard & Bryan law firm, Birmingham; Gaynor St. John of the St. John & St. John law firm, Cullman; Allen Sydnor of the Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart law firm, Birmingham; and Michael Upchurch of the Frazer, Greene, Upchurch and Baker law firm, Mobile.
Mike Ermert of the Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton law firm in Birmingham, is President and George Knox, Jr., of the Lanier Ford law firm in Huntsville, is President- Elect of the Alabama Chapter of ABOTA.