Beasley Allen Lawyer And Employee Spotlights
David Dearing, a lawyer in the firm’s Mass Torts Section, has more than 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer. Currently, David is primarily working on talcum powder cases linked to the development of ovarian cancer. He was part of all five talcum powder trial teams that won verdicts in 2016 and 2017 against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Imerys Talc America (Imerys), totaling more than $700 million. Five different juries in St. Louis and California found J&J liable for injuries resulting from the use of its talc-containing products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder. Two of the juries also awarded substantial amounts against Imerys, J&J’s body powder talc supplier. More talc cases are set for trial in 2021.
When David first joined the firm in 2012, he worked on the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) litigation team, focusing on drugs such as Premarin, Prempro and Provera, which were shown to cause breast cancer in some women. He has also worked on Fosamax cases linked to spontaneous femur fractures in long-term users, and cases involving a class of diabetes drugs (Byetta, Januvia, Janumet, and Victoza) linked to pancreatic and thyroid cancer.
Nearly all David’s current clients have suffered the devastation of ovarian cancer, and many did not survive it. David describes how they got cancer:
They unwittingly used J&J Baby Powder for feminine hygiene, just as the company advertised for them to use it.
A career that has spanned three decades took root when David was a young boy walking hand-in-hand with his father, also a lawyer, through a grocery store parking lot. David said he recalled asking his father questions about being a lawyer and trying to understand a lawyer’s job.
“Suddenly my dad opened the door to a stranger’s parked car and turned off the headlights,” David recalled. “Then he closed the door, and we kept walking.” David remembers asking, “Dad, is that what lawyers do?” David says, “He looked down at me, smiled, and said ‘Sometimes.’” David says that translated in his 6-year-old brain as, “lawyers help people,” and he liked that, adding:
Dad enjoyed his career as a lawyer, and for the past 30 years, a Circuit Court Judge. He still enjoys helping people both in and outside the courtroom.
David explains: “[a]s cliché as it sounds, my favorite part of practicing law is that I get to help people too. For the past 26 years, I’ve been helping people who have suffered tremendous pain and loss. I’ve walked with, sat with, prayed with and cried with some very special people facing devastating injury and hardship, and I like to think my representation and guidance was a comfort to them.”
Reflecting on his career, David said he has been thinking back on why he pursued this career and whether he achieved the goals he had when he entered the legal profession. His first job as a lawyer was as a criminal prosecutor in Jacksonville, Florida. After four years as a prosecutor, David left his civil service position and joined a small, high-stakes personal injury and medical malpractice firm, and he has been a Plaintiff trial lawyer ever since.
David is a member of the Alabama State Bar, The Florida Bar Association, Florida Justice Association, American Inns of Court – Chester Bedell Inn of Court and E. Robert Williams Inn of Court, where he holds the position of Emeritus, Master of the Bench, The Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and the United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, and the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.
An award-winning lawyer, David is an AV Preeminent Rated attorney, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He was the recipient of Beasley Allen’s 2016 Mass Torts Lawyer of the Year Award. In addition, David also was named one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Florida Legal Elite, as well as a Jacksonville “Top Lawyer” by 904 Magazine.
David says that he believes there are two things that set Beasley Allen apart from other firms. He made this observation:
First, it’s the quality of the people. The lawyers at the firm litigate with compassion and zeal and at the highest skill level, making it a nationally respected firm. And, we have extremely talented paralegals, assistants, tech gurus, investigators and staff. In short, the people of Beasley Allen believe in the mission of helping those who need it most, and they’re very good at it.
Second, Beasley Allen is a Christ-centered law firm. I’ve never worked anywhere else that exemplifies the love of Christ like the firm does. In this brutal and combative legal world we operate in, taking on some of the world’s largest, richest corporations, where lawyers often engage in scorched-earth tactics, and the public sees lawyers as untrustworthy scoundrels – some for good reason – Beasley Allen stands out like a light in the darkness. The firm’s commitment to those in need is genuine, and in keeping with Christ’s directive to love thy neighbor. And we do it with utmost professionalism and ethics.
David received his law degree in 1991 from Samford University Cumberland School of Law, where he served as associate editor of the Cumberland Law Review. Prior to law school, he attended Furman University, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics.
David and his wife, the former Vicki Millo, met in law school, and have been married 27 years. Vicki is a professor at Hofstra University School of Law. David and Vicki have two children, one in law school at Emory University, and one in graduate school at Troy University. They are members of Legacy Anglican Church where David and Vicki serve on the vestry. David also is the former varsity basketball coach for Ezekiel Academy in Montgomery. The Dearings enjoy traveling and spending time on the water.
David, a talented lawyer, is a definite asset to our firm. He is totally dedicated to the mission of the firm and to his clients. We are blessed to have him with us at Beasley Allen.
Matt Griffith, a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Toxic Torts Section, joined the firm in January and he is based in the firm’s Mobile office. Matt is part of the team representing the State of Alabama in the Opioid litigation. He also handles cases involving environmental contamination of water systems. Before joining Beasley Allen, Matt was involved in high-stakes commercial litigation, representing both Plaintiffs and Defendants, across the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard. He represented corporations both in the boardroom and in courtrooms, gaining a unique understanding of how corporations make key decisions as it relates to litigation. Further, Matt handled numerous lawsuits involving environmental and toxic exposure issues including cases focused on solid waste landfills, reclaimed dump pits and cases involving the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
“Since fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could help people,” Matt recalled. “I enjoy tackling complex issues head-on and helping my clients navigate the complex legal system.”
Matt graduated magna cum laude from Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. While in law school, Matt received the American College of Trial Lawyer’s Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Advocacy Excellence. He was a national semi-finalist for the National Trial Competition (2008) and recognized for the Best Summation at the National Mock Trial Competition (2007). While in law school Matt received the Dean’s Scholarship (2006-2008) and received recognition as having the best paper in several law school courses. He also served as junior editor and articles editor for the Jones Law Review. Matt completed his undergraduate work at Auburn University, earning a B.A. in political science.
Matt is a member of the Alabama State Bar Association, American Bar Association and the Mobile Bar Association. He also is a member of the Mobile Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Matt says tackling complex, sophisticated legal issues and navigating the legal system on behalf of his clients keep him motivated in his practice of law. Matt explained:
Nothing is more professionally rewarding at the conclusion of a case than knowing I helped make a real, and hopefully meaningful, difference for my clients.
Matt says he looks forward to bringing his passion and experience in handling complex litigation to Beasley Allen, adding:
The firm routinely and successfully handles complex litigation on behalf of clients across the nation. I joined the firm because I am excited about the opportunity to practice with some of the country’s best trial lawyers while litigating sophisticated cases.
Matt lives with his wife Lauren and their three children in Mobile. When not working, he enjoys spending time at the beach on Ft. Morgan Road with his family.
Matt is another tremendous addition to our firm. He is totally dedicated to the practice of law and to helping folks obtain justice. We are most fortunate to have Matt with us in the Mobile office.
Mary Leah Miller
Mary Leah Miller is now a lawyer in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office. She is a member of the firm’s Personal Injury & Product Liability Section. Mary Leah’s practice focuses primarily on product liability actions with an emphasis on automotive defects. She has dedicated her legal career to exclusively representing individuals who have been injured and the families of victims of wrongful death. Mary Leah considers it an honor and a privilege to represent injured clients and their families.
“I became an attorney in order to be a voice for people that need help,” Mary Leah says. And, that is what she has done throughout her career.
Before joining Beasley Allen, Mary Leah worked with Tom Willingham, a tremendously talented lawyer who has been very successful in Birmingham. Tom is now at Beasley Allen. Their firm specialized in product liability litigation. Mary Leah has represented individuals who have been catastrophically injured or killed against foreign and domestic manufacturers of various products, including automobiles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, heavy trucks, car seats and juvenile products, tires, consumer products, prescription drugs, and medical devices. Mary Leah’s knowledge and experience have enabled her to obtain millions of dollars in settlements and more than $30 million in judgments for those who have been wrongfully killed.
Mary Leah says having the capacity to make a difference in the life of a client following a tragic, life-changing event is what fuels her passion for practicing law. She says:
While I cannot heal their catastrophic injuries, or bring their loved one back, my hard work can bring a good result by way of settlement or judgment that will ease their burdens and significantly make a difference in their life moving forward. This is especially true of clients who have suffered a catastrophic injury. It is truly humbling, a joy and an honor to achieve a good result that will help provide access to medical care, equipment, and other previously cost-prohibitive items to improve their quality of life.
Mary Leah was named to the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list (2014-2017), which recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys and has been named to the Super Lawyers List since 2018. She is a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA), the Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG) where she serves on the Board of Directors, and the Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi Bar Associations. Mary Leah is also a member of the Judge James Edwin Horton American Inn of Court and is a national member of the Oder of Barristers. She previously served on the Junior Board of Directors of the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation.
A Duke University graduate, Mary Leah obtained a B.A. in 2004. She earned her law degree, with a Certificate in Trial Advocacy, from Samford University Cumberland School of Law in 2007. While in law school, Mary Leah was a member of the National Trial Advocacy Team and served on the Trial Advocacy Board. She also was a member of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, elected to the Honor Court, and selected as a Who’s Who Among Students in National Colleges and Universities.
Mary Leah is also actively involved in her community including serving on the board of directors for Blessed Brokenness where she also leads a small group through the organization for women walking through infertility, miscarriage and infant loss. Blessed Brokenness is a nonprofit organization that brings spiritual healing and financial blessings to couples who suffer from infertility and loss through faith-based studies and scholarships.
Mary Leah and her husband Rodney (also a lawyer) live in Birmingham, Alabama, with their two very spoiled dogs, Jack (a dachshund) and Molly (a German shorthaired pointer). Mary Leah and Rodney are active members at Church of the Highlands where she serves in many capacities including the prayer team, outreach team and leads small groups. In addition to spending time with Rodney and their dogs, Mary Leah enjoys watching and attending sporting events, particularly basketball. She also enjoys running, traveling and cooking.
Mary Leah says she always respected Beasley Allen and is happy to now be part of the firm, saying, “as the firm continues to grow, it has not compromised the Biblical values upon which it was built. It is a firm of people with great character that put their faith into action in the representation of their clients.”
We are most fortunate to have Mary Leah join our firm. She brings a tremendous amount of talent and experience in an important area of law. We are blessed to have her with us in the Atlanta office.
Megan has been with the Firm for more than a year. She is a Specialist II in the IT Section, assisting in developing Microsoft 365, automation projects with Power Platform, and productive collaboration through Microsoft Teams, Planner, and SharePoint. Megan recently began working alongside the Marketing Team to develop strategic policies and procedures.
Megan grew up in Millbrook and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Megan and her 17-year-old daughter, Kristina, live in Auburn. Kristina is a Junior at Auburn High School and dually enrolled at Auburn University. One of Megan and Kristina’s favorite activities to do together is working out at Crossfit. In her spare time, Megan loves vacationing at any beach, but 30A is an all-time favorite. She also loves spending time with her parents, brother, and nieces.
Megan joined Beasley Allen after working in the IT and Marketing Industry for 16 years, but Megan says that she has never worked for a company where people care as much as they do at Beasley Allen. Megan says, “Beasley Allen feels like a family. I love working with so many talented, caring people.”
Megan is a definite asset to Beasley Allen and has an important role in the firm. We are most fortunate to have her with us.
Alex Sallas has been with the Firm for one year and is a Law Clerk in our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section. Alex assists the lawyers with research questions and works with them on discovery issues through document review.
Alex, who is from Ozark, Alabama, is a third-year law student at Jones School of Law where she is the Vice President of the Student Bar Association. Alex is also the Curriculum Committee Student Representative, and student representative of the Alabama State Bar for Jones. Over the years Alex has been able to compete in several trial competitions where she was given the chance to travel and compete with law students all over the country. Last year Alex was asked to compete in the National Trial Competition where Alex and her team advanced to the semi-finals.
In her spare time, Alex enjoys running or participating in a workout class. She also enjoys spending time at the local coffee shops around town like Prevail and Cafe Louisa.
When asked what her favorite thing about working at Beasley Allen is, Alex says, “it has to be the people here. Everyone is always willing to help you no matter how busy they may be.”
Alex is in a position to learn the practical side of being a lawyer. She is gaining valuable experience that will help her once she becomes a lawyer. Law clerks at Beasley Allen are important to the firm. We wish Alex the very best and predict a bright future for her as a lawyer.
Hannah Sanders has been with the Firm for a year. She is a Relief Receptionist and is an Intake Specialist for the Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section. As the Fraud Intake Specialist, Hannah speaks to new clients about cases related to employment fraud, auto defect class actions, life insurance fraud, property insurance fraud, sexual harassment, and health care fraud. Hannah also assists with document review related to auto class action lawsuits.
Hannah and her husband Jason have been married for two years. Hannah has two bonus children, Pagie (18) and Chase (13). Their family has a lab-mix puppy, Marley, who is a year old. In her spare time, Hannah says she loves spending time with her family, friends, and of course the puppy! She loves going to the beach, to the gym, and just being active.
When asked what her favorite thing about working at Beasley Allen is, Hannah says, “I love getting to know the clients and helping them in their time of need. I love the people I work with and I absolutely love what this firm believes in and stands for.”
Hannah performs a valuable service at the firm. She does good work and we are fortunate to have her at Beasley Allen.
Prior to joining Beasley Allen on Jan. 4, Hayden Sizemore was a solo practitioner handling a variety of cases including civil litigation, criminal defense and family law matters. Hayden now works with the firm’s Mass Torts Section, helping investigate claims by Zantac users who developed certain types of cancers after taking the drug including liver, bladder, stomach, colon, kidney and pancreatic cancer.
Hayden says witnessing injustices while growing up in the rural south led her to pursue a career as a lawyer. She says: “I knew the only way to truly make a difference was to become an attorney and advocate for change, one client at a time.” Additionally, the six years she spent working for Alabama’s prison system strengthened her desire to become a lawyer.
Hayden earned a B.S. degree in criminal justice from Faulkner University before completing her Master’s level work and earning an M.S. in justice & public safety from Auburn University Montgomery. She earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in 2020. During law school, Hayden served as a law clerk at another Plaintiff’s firm, as well as for the Alabama Office of Attorney General, Criminal Appeals Division and for Judge Patrick D. Pinkston, 19th Judicial Circuit, Elmore County District Court. She also was a student intern in the law school’s Elder Law Clinic.
Additionally, Hayden served as editor of the Faulkner Law Review and served as Junior Advocate for the Faulkner Law Board of Advocates. She received Best Appellate Brief Award in the 1L Moot Court Competition and the Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Excellence in Advocacy. Hayden was recognized for Best Paper in several law school courses and was recognized as a Dean Fellow. She was also regional winner of the New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Competition.
When asked what is her favorite part of practicing law, Hayden says:
It is meeting with the clients. Oftentimes, clients come to us nervous, scared even, and are not sure whether to trust us. It is my goal that every client leaves my office feeling better about their situation with a good understanding of the proceedings and all potential outcomes.
Hayden is a member of the Alabama State Bar and the Montgomery County Bar Association. She is also a member of the American Inns of Court Hugh Maddox Chapter, the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACDLA) and the Alabama Peace Officers Association. She also is active in the Montgomery Volunteer Lawyers Program where she has participated in “Lawyer for a Day” events.
Hayden is married to Bryan Sizemore and they have three children. They make their home in Prattville, Alabama. Outside of work, Hayden is an avid Auburn fan and enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and crafting.
Hayden says she admires Beasley Allen because of the individuals it represents, people “who would otherwise have no recourse against powerful entities.” She says: “I believe Beasley Allen is unique because not only does the firm handle a variety of cases, but the cases impact real people in our communities.”
Hayden is a definite asset to the firm and we are glad to have her with us. She is doing very good work in an area of critical concern.
Davis Vaughn joined Beasley Allen in December as a lawyer in the Mass Torts Section. But Davis is not new to the firm. He began working at Beasley Allen in high school, helping in the mailroom with clerical tasks and assisting paralegals. During that time, Davis says he developed a passion for the law and for helping folks in need.
Now, Davis is working on cases related to the use of JUUL vaping devices by minors and young adults. Davis came to us from a very good law firm where he had represented clients in both state and federal courts across the country in a broad range of commercial, product liability and pharmaceutical cases. He is an experienced lawyer and has frequently been involved in high-stakes litigation matters.
As with many of our lawyers, Davis explains that he “developed a passion for advocating on behalf of others” at a young age. He says: “I felt a calling to become a lawyer as I would use this passion to help further the interests of people seeking solutions to serious problems.”
This passion continues to be his driving force as a practicing lawyer and Davis says advocating for his clients is his favorite part of practicing law. Davis observed:
Unfortunately, the legal system features many barriers in both access and understanding. But lawyers have the privilege of helping alleviate the stress of navigating those barriers. It is so fulfilling to feel like my advocacy played a part in helping a client achieve a desired result.
The University of Alabama graduate (cum laude) received a full scholarship as a member of the University’s Speech and Debate Team and competed successfully in tournaments throughout the country. Davis earned a B.A. in communication studies and political science. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he served in multiple executive positions and as the undergraduate representative on the fraternity’s international board. Davis also served as President of UA Greek Relief, a philanthropic organization aimed at helping those affected by the April 2011 tornado.
In 2017, Davis earned his J.D. (summa cum laude) from the University of Mississippi School of Law. During law school, he served on the executive boards of the Mississippi Law Journal and the Federal Courts Law Review. Davis won the 1L Moot Court Competition, continuing on to compete as part of the National Environmental Moot Court team and coaching the National Health Care Law Moot Court team. Davis also worked with the Mississippi Innocence Project and helped with the initial representation of three innocence claims. Davis was also published multiple times, including articles in the Texas Review of Entertainment and Sports Law and the Consumer Finance Law Quarterly Report.
Davis is a member of the Alabama State Bar and the Birmingham Bar Association where he serves on the Mentoring Committee and Court Liaison Committee. He also is actively involved in the Birmingham community, serving as a member of Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama Junior Board and the Alabama and Lyric Theatres Junior Board.
What brought Davis back to our firm is his belief that the lawyers at Beasley Allen practice law in the right way. He says:
In high school, I worked at the firm in the mailroom and also assisted with different clerical tasks. I was nothing more than a kid trying to make some money but working closely with the lawyers piqued my legal interests. Every single attorney in the firm treated me as if I was just as valued and respected as anyone else. The way the attorneys treated people (whether that be a client, opposing counsel, or the high school mail temp) stuck with me. It is why I chose to come back to Beasley Allen as a practicing attorney.
A Montgomery native, Davis now lives in Birmingham. Away from the office, he enjoys spending time with his puppy, Leo. Davis is a most welcomed addition to our firm. He is a very good lawyer and we are fortunate to have him with us.
Tom Willingham has returned to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, to join Beasley Allen’s Personal Injury & Products Liability Section. Before joining our firm, Tom was the founding partner of the Law Offices of Thomas P. Willingham, P.C., based in Birmingham, Alabama. His practice remains focused primarily on product liability actions with an emphasis on automotive defects.
In 1987, Tom began his law career as a defense attorney, primarily representing automobile manufacturers. Tom says:
After seeing firsthand the devastating consequences to victims of careless decisions made by automotive manufacturers, I was compelled to change the focus of my practice to help the victims.
It was then when Tom began his career representing those who had been catastrophically injured or wrongfully killed. His prior experience as a defense lawyer gives him unique insight into screening, evaluating, and prosecuting these complex product liability cases. Since 1992, Tom has exclusively represented victims, many of whom have been catastrophically injured or killed in automobile accidents as a result of a defectively designed automobile. The veteran litigator has handled automotive product liability cases involving virtually every known automobile defect. Some of these include cases involving lack of vehicle stability, manufacturers’ failure to install electronic stability control, manufacturers’ failure to install rear seat lap-shoulder belts, defective steering system components, seatbelt restraints, airbags, fuel tanks, roof structure components, brakes and door latch components.
Takata Corporation, a manufacturer of airbag inflators, and Honda had hidden for years that defective Takata airbags explode and sent metal shrapnel throughout the vehicle resulting in injuries and deaths to vehicle occupants. These defective airbags were originally thought to be only associated with Honda vehicles. Tom was lead counsel in Brandi Owens v. General Motors, which showed that the defective Takata airbags were not just limited to Honda vehicles, like Takata had said, but were in virtually every vehicle in which a Takata airbag was installed prior to 2015. This case led to the expansion of the largest safety recall in automotive history with tens of millions of vehicles being recalled.
“My favorite part of practicing law is being able to persuade a jury to right a wrong to those victims,” Tom says.
Finding his niche in product liability actions with an emphasis on automotive defects, Tom has obtained verdicts and settlements in favor of his clients in excess of $150,000,000 over the course of his career and has been involved in automotive product liability litigation against virtually all automotive manufacturers, both domestic and foreign including General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Daihatsu, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Freightliner, Kenworth, BMW, and Kia.
Tom has been recognized as an AV Preeminent Rated attorney by Martindale Hubble. This is the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. Tom is also regularly selected to the Super Lawyers list since 2014. This designation means that he is a top-rated attorney as recognized by peers. He has been named to various Super Lawyer lists including Alabama, Georgia, Mid-South Region (featuring attorneys in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee). Super Lawyers uses a patented selection process that includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. In 2020, Tom was selected to the Top 50 Super Lawyers in Alabama and the top Personal Injury Products: Plaintiff category for Mid-South Super Lawyers.
Tom is a Board Member of the Attorneys Information Exchange Group, which is a nationwide group of Plaintiff lawyers who actively prosecute automotive defect cases. This group collectively pulls information and testing to assist their members in handling these extraordinarily complex and expensive cases. He is also a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) and the Alabama and Georgia Bar Associations.
Tom completed his undergraduate study at Mercer University, graduating with a B.A. in 1984. He earned his law degree at Samford University Cumberland School of Law in 1987. Tom is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and has two adult children. His daughter, Gracie, is a lawyer practicing law in New York and his son, John, is a Pediatric Resident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Tom says he is glad to become a part of Beasley Allen. He says:
The firm has a reputation as a premier litigation law firm that works hard to achieve a fair and equitable outcome for its clients. Ensuring justice to all those who have been victims of circumstances beyond their control is Beasley Allen’s primary focus, which aligns perfectly with my passion for helping those in need.
The addition of Tom to our firm is most significant. He is tremendously successful trial lawyer and we are quite pleased that he would come with us. We are blessed by his joining the firm.