ATA Litigation Center’s Virtual Trucking Legal Forum

July 20-24, 2020

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All About the ATA Litigation Center's Virtual Trucking Legal Forum

The Trucking Legal Forum is going virtual! Now, scheduled for July 20 to July 24, 2020. ATA Litigation Center's Virtual Trucking Legal Forum offers practical information and approaches to handling the most pressing legal and compliance issues facing fleet operations. Registrants can expect the same quality, trucking-focused content; experienced, expert presenters; practical legal and operational takeaways; and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits (in those states that have approved such credit - click here for specifics) from the convenience of their home. In addition to our compelling legal topics we will cover, we will also discuss the unique legal trials and tribulations of COVID-19 when applicable.

To ensure maximum participation, the schedule is changing to accommodate all U.S. time zones and to allow time to digest the information and discuss the issues. The web-based platform will be used to engage virtual attendees and speakers in real-time peer to peer exchanges and to meet CLE criteria in those states we are seeking such credit. For those who make the Forum a regular must-attend event, they will not be disappointed. For those who have yet to attend, this is a chance to why others get so much value out of this event each year.

In 2020 we have the opportunity to confront trucking's legal challenges together - in the midst of a global pandemic - like never before.



Schedule of Events

Educational Session - Ethics Session: Confidentiality – Exceptions to the Duty

This interactive program uses hypotheticals to explore exceptions to lawyers' confidentiality duty. Among other things, the program will address lawyers disclosing client (including inhouse client) confidential information – whether in the context of joint representations and common interest agreements; when complying with laws or court orders; in clearing conflicts of interest on a daily basis and when hiring laterals; when defending themselves from clients' and non-clients' claims or criticism; in seeking to collect their fees or withdraw as counsel of record.


Thomas E. Spahn, Partner, McGuireWoods, Tysons, VA

ATA President’s Welcome

ATA President and CEO, Chris Spear, will welcome attendees and provide an overview of the industry’s efforts regarding a number of top industry legal, legislative and regulatory priorities.


Chris Spear, President & CEO, American Trucking Associations, Arlington, VA

Educational Session - Combating the Reptile Theory Through an Effective Motion Practice and Other Winning Strategies

Plaintiff’s use of the “reptile theory” to instill fear in jurors has lead to huge verdicts against trucking companies. The good news is that there are defense strategies that have been successful in cutting the proverbial legs off the lizard pre-trial and in inoculating juries against the venomous effects of pleadings, discovery, in-trial questions, and closing arguments designed to evoke jurors’ survival instinct not rational thinking. Learn how defense attorneys are effectively using motions in limine and which courts allow such motions. Hear about leading risk mitigation and trial strategies that have been successfully employed in pleadings, discover, and pre-trial prep to both challenge use of the theory and dilute the impact of the theory’s use.


Richard H. Hill, II, Partner, Weinberg Wheeler Hudgens Gunn & Dial, LLC, Atlanta, GA
Bill Kanasky, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Courtroom Science Inc., Orlando, FL

Educational Session - Non-Delegable Duty Doctrine and Third Party Negligence

In the complex world of trucking, the question of “Who is ultimately responsible when freight is damaged or people are injured?” is not a new one nor is it an easy one to answer. A number of recent cases seem to suggest the “jury is still out” on definitive guidance that applies nationwide. This session will discuss the direction courts and legislatures are going relative to what is and isn’t a delegable duty, when is joint liability likely to be imposed, and under what facts is the third party, not the carrier, held negligent - whether that third party is a shipper, service or product provider, or another carrier. Learn not only how courts and state laws across the country are assigning, shifting and sharing liability but also the potential repercussions of these decisions on motor carriers’ legal strategy.


Paul B. Mello, Partner, Hanson Bridgett, Walnut Creek, CA
J.W. Taylor, Managing Member, JW Taylor & Associates, Winter Haven, FL
Gary A. Watt, Partner, Hanson Bridgett, San Francisco, CA

Educational Session - Using Medical Analytics to Dispute Unreasonable or Excessive Medical Charges

Advances in the medical field are occurring at an unfathomable rate. In this session, presenters will divulge the most current technology tools, medical techniques, research, resources, discovery avenues, and effective legal arguments used to expose: the true and/or reasonable cost of medical treatment, the most current medical billing practices, and the actual cause and extent of injury, and will counter the prosecution’s arguments related to inflated medical bills and estimated costs of future long term care. Also considered will be the claims resolution options relative to medical claims.


Nancy Fraser Michalski, RN, Vice President, Med Legal Services, a division of Elevate, Los Angeles, CA
Thomas L. Oliver, II, Attorney/Shareholder, Carr Allison, Birmingham, AL

Educational Session - Empathetic Resolution of Claims Meets Aggressive Litigation - Are the Concepts Really that Different?

Accidents present complex, dynamic circumstances where the motor carrier must stay alert to all potential opportunities to resolve cases in the most favorable manner. This segment focuses on how to optimize your ability to navigate the entire spectrum of options to obtain the best result for the company, from accident to verdict, and everything in between.  


Mike H. Bassett, Partner, The Bassett Firm, Dallas, TX
Clarence C. Easterday, Executive Vice President, Western Express, Inc., Nashville, TN
Clarice A. Spicker, Partner, Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C., Phoenix, AZ

Educational Session - Legal Do’s and Don’ts When Using Video and Coaching Drivers

Though this is not a new topic, the options, opportunities and consequences in trial are constantly evolving when it comes to video evidence. Addressed during this session will be applicable case law and lessons learned, legal strategies to optimize video and coaching evidence and counter plaintiff’s use of footage and training policies/procedures/documentation, when necessary. Specific legal advantages and potential disadvantages between inward and outward cameras and practical steps carriers can take to strengthen their case and mitigate risk will also be covered.  


Shelley Bennett, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Lytx, Inc., San Diego, CA
Marc B. Johnson, Shareholder, BairHilty, P.C., Houston, TX
Meredith O. Priestley, Corporate Counsel, Cargo Transporters, Inc., Claremont, NC
Curtis D. Ruwe, Vice President & General Counsel, Crete Carrier Corporation, Lincoln, NE

Educational Session - Defending Against Negligent Hiring Claims

Motor carriers can be sued for negligent selection of drivers, and brokers can be sued for negligent selection of motor carriers.  This panel will discuss prospective counseling tips aimed at minimizing exposure, as well as tips and tools for litigating such claims.  Whether you are seeking effective tactics to build defensible protocols, or whether you need to know the potential risks of having certain information discovered by a reasonable investigation, this session is designed to answer these questions and more. 


Victor F. Albert, Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakin, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., Oklahoma City, OK
Nathaniel G. Sayllor, Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary (Scopelits), Salt Lake City, UT

Educational Session: Independent Contractor Status – Beyond California

California is no longer the only game in town when it comes to laws and rulings governing the independent contractor relationship. Twenty-eight states are applying the ABC test; with another six applying A and C of the test; and two applying either the ABC Test or A and C of the test. Panelists will seek to answer what all this means to interstate and intrastate carriers; and recommended practices to legally maintain the independent contractor relationship.


Kelli M. Block, Partner, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN
Troy D. Cahill, General Counsel, LaserShip, Inc. Vienna, VA
Shannon M. Cohen, Partner, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN
Braden K. Core, Partner, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN
Allyson E. Feary, Attorney, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN
Gregory M. Feary, Partner, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN

Educational Session - Regulatory Investigations & Audits: A Legal Guide on Prep & Response

In the transportation arena, the agency knocking on the door may be the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Customs & Board Protection, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Transportation Safety Board, and/or National Labor Relations Board. This session will provide practical guidance on preparing for and responding to a broad range of regulatory investigations and audits from various governmental bodies, using real-word examples including a Canadian carriers experience in complying with a number of U.S. laws.


Lawna L. Hurl, Vice President, Legal & Corp. Secretary, Trimac Transportation, Calgary, AB
Peter N. Kirsanow, Partner, Benesch,Cleveland,OH
Kelly E. Mulrane, Associate, Benesch, Columbus, O
Eric L. Zalud, Co-Chair, Transportation & Logistics/Assoc. Chair, Litigation, Benesch, Cleveland, OH

Educational Session: Data Privacy – Obligations Under the Law and in Practice

In 2020 data privacy law goes beyond HIPAA and business data. Knowing what needs to be protected and to what extent, and how it can and can’t be used, is critical to remaining compliant and litigation-free in this age of electronic information storage and exchange. This session will provide a real-world look at those laws governing, employees, contractors and customers, and what you can do to comply and avoid risk, litigation and fines.



Molly A. Arranz, Chair of Data Privacy, Security and Litigation Practice Group & Partner, SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL
Charles Baxter, Vice President Risk Management, United Road Services, Inc., Romulus, MI
Lew R.C. Bricker, Partner, SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL

Educational Session - The Law & Cyber Security: What Those in Trucking Need to Know

Just when motor carriers thought they knew all the cyber security threats and related legal obligations facing them, new and expanding risks (e.g., ransomware), responsibilities, and consequences emerge, as legislatures and courts define negligence and breach of contract, and as regulatory enforcement increases. Understand the most current threats facing motor carriers, the laws that apply, and best practices and resources to avoid legal hot water.



Alisa L. Chestler, CIPP/US, Attorney & Shareholder, Baker Donelson, Nashville, TN
Dan Cook, CPCU, CIC, ARM, AMIM, Principal & Practice Leader, TrueNorth Companies, Cedar Rapids, IA 
Nathan H. Harwell, EVP, Chief Legal Officer & Corp. Secretary, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc., Chattanooga, TN

Educational Session: Intellectual Property – Internal & External Threats to Carrier Assets

As motor carriers look to improve efficiency and expand their operations into less traditional profit centers, many are now relying on customized solutions – solutions often developed using the expertise of those outside the country or those inside the United States but on work VISAs. This session will address the steps – at all levels and by legal, operations and HR - a company can take to legally protect the resulting work product and associated proprietary processes and strategies. Though this has practical applications, this session will focus on the related laws and legal steps to protect the motor carrier’s intellectual property.


Joshua S. Frick, Of Counsel, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Chicago, IL

Educational Session - Unique Legal Issues Impacting Intermodal Operations & Specialized Motor Carriage

Trucking is a diverse and complex industry with each segment facing its own unique legal and compliance challenges. This session will provide an overview of the hot button legal issues and regulatory obligations confronted by the intermodal drayage, agriculture, heavy haul, tanker and household goods sectors, as well as their risk profiles, distinct operational hurdles, and strategies to achieve compliance and stay out of court.



Marc S. Blubaugh, Partner & Co-Chair, Transportation & Logistics, Benesch, Columbus, OH
Jesse P. Elison, General Counsel, Montgomery Transport, LLC, Birmingham, AL
Jonathan R. Todd, Partner, Benesch, Cleveland, OH

Educational Session - Business Continuity: Key Legal Issues & Tips

The Coronavirus was a wake-up call for even the most prepared motor carriers. The scope of its impact was/is beyond all expectation. When you’re in the transportation business, a global epidemic imposes potentially new legal obligations and ever changing waivers and restrictions. COVID-19 is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate one’s business continuity plan and manage the legal expectations imposed by every type of force majeure occurrence.



Michael Y. Lateef, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, San Francisco, CA 
Stephanie S. Penninger, Senior Director, Transportation Counsel, XPO Logistics, Inc., Charlotte, NC
William D. Taylor, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP, Sacramento, CA

Educational Session - Insurance Workshop

This interactive workshop will focus on three primary areas of insurance important to motor carriers, and how they may be effectively used to protect one’s operations and workforce (employees and independent contractors), and stay compliant. Presenters will cover from an insurance, motor carrier, and legal perspective the various coverages related to auto and excess liability, employee benefits, and the potential risks associated with independent contractors. In addition, presenters will discuss the state of the insurance market amidst this COVID-19 pandemic. Learn what a motor carrier can do to mitigate risk and manage insurance outcomes. Lastly, the group will discuss current tort reform efforts. Don’t miss this opportunity.


Trent Tillman
, Executive Vice President, Transportation, TrueNorth Companies, Cedar Rapids, IA
Dan Cook, CPCU, CIC, ARM, AMIM, Principal & Practice Leader, TrueNorth Companies, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Detlefsen, Executive Vice President, Risk Management & Safety, SunteckTTs, Jacksonville, FL
Timothy F. Larocca, Executive Vice President, AmWINS Brokerage of the Midwest, Chicago, IL 
Eric McConnell, Vice President, Risk Management, J.B. Hunt Transportn Services, Inc., Lowell, AR
Christopher E. Mikolay, Vice Prsident, National Accounts, National Interstate Insurance Co., Richfield, OH
Vikas Shah, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning & Prod. Dev., DMC Insurance, Inc., Indianapolois, IN
Jeffrey S.Toole, Partner, Scopelitis, Indianapolis, IN

Conference Registration Virtual Meeting Rates 

ATA Member

Individual with Company Access Upgrade*


Individual with Company Access Upgrade*


*New for the 2020 Forum:

The ATA Litigation Center is offering a Company Access “Upgrade”. If you choose to purchase the Upgrade, you will receive a Discount Code in your Registration Confirmation email to share with your colleagues (must be employed by the same employer). Only one registrant needs to purchase the Upgrade in order for ALL of your colleagues to attend at NO ADDITIONAL COST. The discount code must be entered on the registration form or online (at check-out).


Attention Attorneys:

Applications have been submitted to these State Bars for CLE credit and have been approved. The ATA Litigation Center will be working with each State Bar to deliver content in a compliant virtual format. A follow up email will be sent to registered attorneys on the applicable State Bar rules related to virtual CLE education. Though not anticipated, if a State Bar rejects our application/system, you will be notified immediately.