ATA Litigation Center’s Trucking Legal Forum

July 25-28, 2021
Washington, D.C.

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All About the ATA Litigation Center's Trucking Legal Forum

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! The ATA Litigation Center is excited to host the 2021 Trucking Legal Forum from July 25th-28th at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C. Hosted annually, this premier event provides trucking-focused information and approaches to handling the most pressing legal and compliance issues facing the industry today. This not only is a must-attend event for in-house and external transportation legal counsel, but also provides valuable insights to trucking executives and safety, risk management, and human resources professionals. This year we will take a deeper look into an array of topics, including accident litigation, data privacy, and medical financing, along with many more. For any questions, please email



Schedule of Events

As of May 24, 2021

Educational Session - The Ethics of Negotiation: What Do You Do When Your Opponent Makes a Mistake?

This interactive program uses hypotheticals to explore lawyers' confidentiality and disclosure duties in the context of non-clients’ misunderstanding and mistakes. Among other things, the program will address: the difference between ethics and professionalism; dealing with unrepresented persons who may misunderstand a lawyer’s role; negotiation ethics (including adversaries’ factual or legal misunderstanding, substantive mistakes, or scrivener’s errors); litigators’ disclosure duties in the face of litigation adversaries’ or courts’ misunderstanding, mistakes, or scrivener’s errors.


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

Cocktail Reception

Come join fellow attendees to network over cocktails. 

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 - There’s A New Sheriff in Town: A New Way to Approach Resolution of Catastrophic Cases

For years, commercial motor carriers have conducted detailed investigations of accidents and gathered volumes of information regarding claims. Oftentimes, that information sits on a computer or even in a file cabinet for months until a lawsuit is filed. But, what ATTIC, a large risk retention group, has realized is that trucking accident cases seldom get better with age. As a result, it has established a national settlement counsel program to address the prompt and fair resolution of accident claims. This session will feature a discussion of the program, how cases get into the program, the great results that have been reached from cases in the program, and how it can be replicated in any size company. Both the general counsel of ATTIC and the national settlement counsel will discuss all aspects of the program. Join us for this high energy and timely discussion with lots of audience input!


John R. Tarpley, Shareholder, Lewis Thomason, Nashville, TN
Trevor Uffelman, General Counsel, Chief Claims Officer, and Corporate Secretary, American Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company, Missoula, MT



Educational Session - Preventing "Reptile" Nuclear Verdicts: 30(b)(6) Deposition Testimony

The 30(b)(6) deposition of the trucking company representative is recognized as being of utmost importance in the defense of a trucking lawsuit. Despite this, nuclear verdicts continue to devastate the trucking industry as the Reptile plaintiff attorneys have placed the crosshairs on the entire industry. This session will serve to a) expose the step-by-step psychological attack orchestrated by Reptile attorneys, b) identify and analyze the cognitive breakdowns that lead to witness failure, and c) provide neurocognitive interventions to prevent witness failure. Additionally, the discussion will focus on how to identify the right 30(b)(6) witness for a Reptile deposition, defend the deposition, and protect the record for trial.


Mike H. Bassett, Senior Partner, The Bassett Firm, Dallas, TX
Bill Kanasky, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Courtroom Science Inc., Orlando, FL
Terrance Pump, Director of Safety, CRST, Cedar Rapids, IA

Educational Session - NTSB Lunch Speaker - Highway Safety: Preparing for and Responding to an NTSB Investigation

The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation – highway, marine, pipeline, and railroad modes, as well as accidents related to the transportation of hazardous materials. Since its inception, the NTSB has investigated more than 149,000 aviation accidents and thousands of surface transportation accidents. The NTSB determines the probable cause of each accident it investigates and makes safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, the NTSB carries out special studies concerning transportation safety. The recommendations that arise from NTSB investigations and safety studies are the NTSB’s most important tool to help prevent accidents and save lives. Hear from a member of the NTSB on activities of the board related to trucking. This session will provide insights into NTSB’s approach, experience, and guidance on legally preparing for and responding to an investigation.


Jennifer Homendy, Member, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC (Invited)

Educational Session - Medical Financing in Truck Accidents: Phantom Damages, Secret Communications, and Referral Networks

The rise of lien-based medical treatment and the injection of capitalized third-parties into the doctor-patient relationships have exponentially increased the boardable medical specials in truck accident litigation. These changes also increase the complexity of discovery and require new avenues of inquiry to identify and tackle the interests of the medical providers, attorneys, and third-party financiers. After providing a quick overview of medical financing, this session will focus on the successes and challenges of obtaining medical financing information throughout the discovery process, what we have uncovered so far, and how we are using it during the litigation process.


Jeremy Goldstein, Executive Vice President of Claims, Protective Insurance, Carmel, IN
Nathan Lundquist, Senior Vice President of Claims, Protective Insurance, Carmel, IN

Educational Session - Don’t Be a Victim! Controlling the Narrative to Reduce Exposure to Punitive Damages and Nuclear Verdicts

Punitive damages awards and nuclear jury verdicts are on the rise. Motor carriers and their insurers don’t have to be victims of these costly outcomes. Presented from the perspectives of a motor carrier, a trucking insurance company, and a trucking attorney, this session is packed with practical take home tips on ways you can minimize exposure to punitive damages and nuclear verdicts. We will discuss what pre- and post-accident actions specifically drive large punitive awards and nuclear verdicts with emphasis on jury perception of conduct of the driver, trucking company policies and procedures, maintenance of equipment, and inflammatory evidence not specifically related to an accident. We will explore mitigation strategies which can change plaintiff counsel’s damages narrative such as admitting liability, admitting the driver was in the course and scope of employment, retaining separate defense counsel for the company and driver, preservation of evidence, use of expert witnesses, and tactics for addressing bad evidence. The session will conclude with Q&A with attendees.


Byron Ames, Founder and Managing Partner, Ames & Ames, LLP, Salt Lake City, UT
Adam Beltz, Director of Select Risk Claims, Markel Services, Inc., Omaha, NE
Brian Kohlwes, General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer, Hirschbach Motor Lines, Springfield, MA



Educational Session - Quick Hits: Practical Solutions to Routine Legal Dilemmas

Motor carriers face myriad operational challenges every day, many of which have a legal component. For instance, motor carriers wrangle with aggressive towing companies, encounter customers who refuse to pay, have loads taken hostage by others, respond to freight claims, and much more. This panel will examine a number of such dilemmas, explain the governing law, and, most importantly, will identify and describe practical real-world solutions for the audience. While the audience will learn about the legal landscape governing the issues described above, the goal of the panel is to provide the audience with actionable steps that they can implement in their business immediately to enhance operations--and the bottom line--going forward.



Marc S. Blubaugh, Partner & Co-Chair, Transportation & Logistics Practice Group, Benesch Friedlander, Copland & Aronoff, Columbus, OH
Edwin Anglin, Vice President, Legal, USA Trucks, Inc., Van Buren, AR
John Kellenberger, Partner and Vice President, US1 Industries, Inc., Valparaiso, IN

Educational Session: The Independent Contractor Model in Trucking – 2021 and Beyond

This session will review the touchstone principles of independent contractor status of drivers on the state and federal level, while noting the shifting sands in the law under a new administration and in the face of the potential adoption of new independent contractors’ tests.


Gregory M. Feary
, President & Managing Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, Indianapolis, IN
Shannon M. Cohen, Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, Indianapolis, IN



Educational Session: Is Sleeper Berth and Other Forms of Off-Duty Time Compensable Under the FLSA and State Laws?

Almost 80 years ago the Department of Labor held that sleeper berth time was not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and it issued a specific regulation in the 1960s to support that holding. Recently, however, plaintiffs have filed a number of class and collective actions challenging the meaning of these regulations, with some courts holding such off-duty time is non-compensable, other courts holding only 8 hours of such time can be excluded from minimum wage, while still others holding that sleeper berth time is entirely compensable unless the carrier can show a number of requirements are satisfied. Other cases have challenged whether any “off duty” time is non-compensable for certain types of drivers, while other courts have held that such activities as studying must be compensated. While most cases have relied on the FLSA, other cases have relied upon state law. The results of these decisions have very real consequences, with judgments and settlements ranging in the tens of millions of dollars. In this program, panelists will discuss the holdings made by various courts, and what types of policies carriers can put into place to best protect themselves from exposure to this new round of FLSA collective and state class actions challenging the non-compensability of sleeper berth and other off-duty time.


Richard Rahm, Partner, DLA Piper, San Francisco, CA
Jennifer R. Peterson, Senior Labor and Employment Counsel, Werner Enterprises, Inc., Omaha, NE
Adam Smedstad, Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, Seattle, WA
Robert Roginson, Managing Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins, Los Angeles, CA

Educational Session: Beyond New Prime: Has the Dust Settled for Arbitration in Trucking?

Arbitration has long been an efficient method of resolving disputes for the business community at large. For trucking, the Federal Arbitration Act’s (FAA) transportation worker exemption presents a unique hurdle. The Supreme Court’s 2019 opinion in New Prime placed arbitration agreements with many independent contractors outside the reach of the FAA, holding that independent contractors have “contracts of employment” for purposes of the FAA. Left unresolved was another important question essential to determining applicability of the FAA to both employee drivers and independent contractors: what it means to be engaged in interstate commerce. After three federal appellate court opinions last year, generating further appeals to the Supreme Court, this session will take a timely dive into how this issue impacts the availability of arbitration under the FAA for certain segments of your drivers. And for workers that are exempt under the FAA, the panel will explore the viability of pursuing arbitration on a bilateral basis under state arbitration acts, as invocation of those laws increases. Finally, the panel will touch on what plaintiffs’ attorneys are doing to adapt to and complicate the potential benefits of arbitration.


Prasad Sharma, Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, Arlington, VA
Braden Core, Partner, Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson & Feary, Indianapolis, IN
Troy Cahill, General Counsel, LaserShip, Inc., Vienna, VA



Educational Session - Technology and Data Privacy Implications for Independent Contractor Relationships

A perfect trifecta of challenges is facing the transportation industry. The technological solutions that have driven efficiency and profitability are allowing for far greater visibility and access to data than ever before. The regulatory regimes that govern the use of technology and data are emerging as complex and aggressive tools for society that result in greater financial and reputational risks than ever before. Rounding the trifecta, independent contractor issues remain increasingly under threat with laser focused scrutiny on the relationship between carrier and contractor in this brave new world where the carrier is electronically “in the cab” with the contractor. This session will explore the intersection of technology and independent contractor relationships to identify new areas of risk and best practices for deployment of cutting-edge technology across independent contractor fleets.


Jonathan Todd, Partner, Benesch Friedlander Copland & Aronoff, Cleveland, OH
Helen Schweitz, Associate, Benesch Friedlander Copland & Aronoff, Chicago, IL

Educational Session - Who Wins? A Debate on Developments and Challenges in Trucking Contracts

As a lawyer, when drafting a contract, it’s easy to view it as a monologue or Hammurabi’s Code, clearly dictating who will do what when, and who is responsible when they fail in their obligations. But the reality is, contracts are living dialogues. They’re advance dialogue with a party that may not be answering you back during the drafting process. They’re a dialogue with your client, answering their operational questions. They’re a dialogue with your client’s business partners, responding to demands of performance. And they’re a dialogue with future litigators, defending against claims and refuting imputations of liability. We will examine several typical transportation contract provisions from three angles: From the Drafter, pulling them together; From the Motor Carrier, putting them to use; and From the Litigator, taking them apart or defending them. As these three parties discuss and debate what the words on the page actually mean, we will involve the audience through polling to see which interpretation carries the day. Finally, we will supply the audience with sample provisions highlighting recommended language and structure for the contract topics we’ve discussed.


Kristen Johnson, Partner, Taylor & Associates, Winter Haven, FL
Elizabeth Slattery, Associate, Taylor & Associates, Winter Haven, FL
Brandi Brown, Claims Manager, HTS Logistics, LLC, Jacksonville, FL


Educational Session: Weathering the Cyber Attack or Data Incident as a Business

It is not if, but when. Though companies may believe it won’t happen to them, businesses and governments large and small have suffered or will suffer a “data incident” or cyber-attack in some form—more than 2/3rds of small businesses, 1/4th of the Fortune 500, and multiple state and federal agencies and departments have fallen victim to an attack. These can include business email compromise, ransomware attack, hacktivist attack, or simply, an employee inadvertently providing sensitive information to the wrong person. Exercising appropriate cyber hygiene and being vigilant are key as companies across the board are under assault. Being informed about the threat landscape not only arms you against the attack, but also helps you lessen the negative impact on your brand should you fall victim. This session will discuss how you prepare, what you should try to do in advance, what happens once it occurs, and some insights and best practices for how to handle what will likely seem like an emergency situation.



Lew R.C. Bricker, Partner, SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL
Molly A. Arranz, Partner and Chair of Data Privacy, Security and Litigation Practice Group, SmithAmundsen, Chicago, IL
Clarence Easterday, Executive Advisor-Risk Management, Western Express, Inc., Nashville, TN

Educational Session - The Crooked World of Staged Accidents

Staged accidents aren’t new, but in recent years, perpetrators have begun more actively targeting commercial trucks because they tend to have larger dollar signs associated with them. This issue not only affects the targeted carriers, but is raising insurance rates industry wide and encouraging new criminals to enter the market. While the deck has historically been stacked against trucking companies, there are ways you can protect your fleet. As a culmination to our webinar series, in partnership with EROAD, we will address how pervasive staged accidents are, how to investigate and prove if you’ve been in a staged accident, and the steps to take (and NOT to take) to protect your business and yourself. In addition, we will discuss what ATA is doing on the advocacy front to address this issue.


Registration Rates 

ATA/MSC Member

Motor Carrier
Allied/Law Firm


Motor Carrier
Allied/Law Firm