About Clay

Clay specializes in vehicle defect class action litigation. He joined Beasley Allen Law Firm in 2007 and for ten years pursued pharmaceutical companies for fraud and Consumer Protection Act violations before transitioning to product defect class actions. As a member of the firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, he has secured tens of millions in verdicts and settlements for his clients, whether they be states or consumers. Clay joined Beasley Allen’s Atlanta, Ga., office in the Fall of 2018 to promote future growth of the office’s product defect class action practice.

Notable Cases

Clay’s pending cases involve manufacturers: GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Terex and Polaris. His GM class action is brought on behalf of owners of full-size pickups and SUVs powered by the Generation IV Vortec 5300 V8 engine. These engines consume oil at such extreme levels that internal failures are occurring at unheard of rates. He has also filed a class of GM 2014-current full-sized SUVs and pickups for failing power assisted brakes. These vehicles lose vacuum braking assist, meaning drivers must bring them to a stop using leg power alone. The defect creates much increased stopping distances and serious risk to safety.

In a separate brake defect case against Ford, Clay represents owners of 2013-2018 F150 pickups. Selling well over 500,000 F150s annually, Ford introduced a dangerous vehicle to American roads in one that loses all function of the front brake circuit. The defect involves complete and spontaneous loss of hydraulic pressure in the front brakes, frequently in the first year of use. Clay seeks to force Ford to return to more reliable established hydraulic systems used by the industry for generations.

Clay filed a class against Toyota involving Sienna vans from 2011-2017 with defective power sliding door software that prevents proper latching and invites spontaneous door openings while the vehicles are in use.  His other Toyota class concerns defective Intelligent Power Modules in 2010-2016 Toyota Prius vehicles.  These critical components regulate vehicle power and can fail prematurely creating serious risks to the occupants and other drivers.

His newest filing is brought on behalf of 2015-current Nissan/Infinity owners whose vehicles suffer a defective autonomous braking system. This system fails in its purpose to detect obstacles and humans. Specifically, these vehicles suffer phantom braking responses where they unexpectedly decelerate to a stop with nothing actually present to create a forward danger. Vehicles that abruptly stop with no warning and no need jeopardize the safety of occupants and anyone nearby.

Clay also represents owners of 2011-2018 Polaris Ranger and RZR vehicles, which are at great risk of catching on fire. Polaris ROVs equipped with the ProStar engine produces exhaust temperatures hot enough to melt and ignite nearby combustible body panels. Clay is pushing Polaris to improve exhaust heat evacuation and to better heat shield or replace the sensitive plastic body panels.

Clay helped bring the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Fraud class action for consumers whose vehicles were allegedly designed to bypass regulations. The $15 billion settlement for 2.0-liter vehicles is the largest consumer auto-related consumer class action in U.S. history, and among the fastest reached of its kind.  He is a member of the Plaintiffs Response Team, a group of attorneys who work directly with VW claimants navigating the claims submission process.

Clay is also part of the Fraud Section team handling a class action lawsuit for economic losses related to potentially defective airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation. The lawsuit represents those who own certain, Honda, VW, BMW and GM vehicles that contain Takata airbags, which may deploy with excessive force, propelling metal fragments into the vehicle and potentially killing or injuring the driver and passenger.

He has represented the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, Alabama, Alaska and Hawaii in actions filed against a long list of brand and generic pharmaceutical companies in Average Wholesale Price (AWP) litigation. Clay has secured tens of millions in settlements for his states, in addition to winning two multimillion-dollar verdicts for the state of Mississippi – a $30.1 million verdict in 2011 and a $30.2 million verdict in 2013.

Publicity

Clay delivered a presentation on his work with Volkswagen litigation at the HarrisMartin conference in New Orleans on Dec. 2, 2015. He spoke about possible diesel fixes offered by Volkswagen and what options they have for meeting EPA standards in order to get their vehicles back within specifications.

Background

Clay is a 2001 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and a 1997 graduate of the University’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration. Upon graduation from law school, Clay spent one year in Mobile, Alabama, clerking for Circuit Judge James C. Wood.

Prior to joining the firm, Clay spent five years with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. As a prosecutor for the criminal trials division, Clay tried jury and non-jury cases with offenses ranging from misdemeanor harassment to capital murder. Clay also served in the white collar / public corruption division, where he prosecuted numerous public officials for misuse of office. In 2006, the DOJ appointed Clay as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. He and his prosecution team tried and convicted three high-profile defendants in the Federal District Court in Mobile, Alabama.

Community Involvement

Since 2004, Clay has coached high school mock trial teams in the annual Alabama YMCA high school mock trial competition. In addition, Clay head-coached two different Alabama state teams in the National high school mock trial event (2006 and 2010). Clay is involved in the Montgomery YMCA’s Youth Legislature program. He served as chairman of the River Region United Way attorney campaign and currently serves on the board of directors of the Britton YMCA.

Clay is married to Dr. Elise Plauche Barnett, a general and cosmetic dermatologist at Dermatology Consultants in Atlanta. They are proud parents of a son and daughter. Outside of work, Clay enjoys his free time with Elise and their children, coaching little league baseball at NYO, tennis and occasionally he enters endurance road racing events around the Southeast in a competition BMW that he helped design and build.

Education

  • University of Alabama School of Law (2001)
  • University of Alabama (1997)

Recognitions & Awards

  • AV Rated

Admissions

  • Alabama (2001)
  • Mississippi (2003)
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama (2001)
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama (2006)
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (2018)

Memberships

  • Alabama State Bar
  • Mississippi State Bar
  • American Association for Justice
  • Alabama Association for Justice
  • Annual River Region United Way Attorney Campaign Chairman
  • MGM Young Lawyers Board Member
  • 2009 Father Walter's Memorial Golf Tournament Chair
  • YMCA (Youth Legislature Advisor, 2018 Fundraising Committee)
  • Britton YMCA Board of Directors

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A special thanks

A special thanks to your law firm and staff for all the work done on the Vioxx case. The settlement could not have come at a better time for my family and myself. I thank you for a job well done!

—George