DRI Faculty List

Trucking Law Primer

Hilton Nashville Downtown | Nashville, TN | June 26, 2019

Michael H. Bassett
Senior Partner
The Bassett Firm

Michael H. Bassett, Senior Partner at The Bassett Firm, was born in Chicago, Illinois, August 26, 1961. Admitted to bar, 1987, Texas, U.S. District Courts for Texas; Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts. "AV" rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Education: University of Texas El Paso (B.B.A. [dual majors], cum laude 1984); St. Mary's University School of Law (J.D., with distinction 1987). Articles Editor, St Mary's University Law Journal, 1986-1987; John Harlan Society; Briefing Attorney, Justice Ted Z. Robertson, Texas Supreme Court, 1987-1988. Certified Mediator and Neutral. Member: American Bar Association (Member of Litigation Section), Dallas Bar Association, Defense Research Institute (DRI), DRI Transportation Committee (Trucking Sub-Committee), American Trucking Association, and American Transportation Lawyers Association. Areas of Practice: Transportation Litigation, Products Liability, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Professional Liability, and Employment Litigation.

Jill F. Bechtold
Hall Booth Smith PC

Jill F. Bechtold is a partner in the Jacksonville office of Hall Booth Smith, P.C., specializing in general liability, employment disputes, construction, premises liability and product liability to help clients protect their interests and minimize exposure to financial or legal issues. She also practices in the area of medical and professional liability defense, business litigation, trucking litigation and insurance defense. Her clients include drug and medical device companies, business owners, physicians, hospitals, trucking carriers and insurers. She represents clients in state and federal court actions as well as arbitrates matters under the Florida Arbitration Code and the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

M. Garner Berry
Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen PC

M. Garner Berry is a of counsel at Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen PC law firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where he practices throughout the state, as well as the southeastern region. Garner has significant experience in personal injury defense litigation with an emphasis on transportation/trucking defense. Over the last several years, he has devoted himself to the industry and expanded his representation to include matters involving broker liability, cargo claims, corporate structuring, insurance coverage issues, contract review/formation, employment matters and worker's compensation, all within the transportation industry. He is intimately involved with the Mississippi Trucking Association, including sitting on its Maintenance and Safety Council, and is active within the DRI Trucking Committee and its various subgroups where he holds leadership positions.

The Honorable Joseph P. (Joe) Binkley, Jr.
Fifth Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District

The Honorable Joseph P. (Joe) Binkley, Jr. is Judge of the Fifth Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District serving Davidson County, Tennessee. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Vanderbilt University in 1966. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Vanderbilt University School of Law and was also admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1969. Judge Binkley practiced law in Nashville as a solo practitioner for 39 years (1969-2008). He was appointed to the Fifth Circuit Court in April 2008 by Governor Phil Bredesen and was elected by popular vote in August 2008. He was re-elected by popular vote in August of 2014. He is a member of the Nashville Bar Association. He is a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Foundation as well as a Fellow the Nashville Bar Association. He is a Trustee of the Nashville Bar Foundation as well as a Board member of the Nashville Bar Association. He is also an Emeritus member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. Judge Binkley is serving his ninth consecutive term as the Presiding Judge of the 18 State Trial Court Judges in the 20th Judicial District.

Donna L. Burden
Burden Hafner & Hansen LLC

Donna L. Burden is a founding member and managing partner of the law firm of Burden, Hafner & Hansen, LLC in Buffalo, New York and practices throughout New York State. She is also a former member of the Board of Directors of DRI, as well as the former Chair of the DRI Trucking Committee and former Program Chair for the Trucking Law Conference. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation of the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), as well as former Chair of the IADC Transportation Committee and former Chair of the IADC Trucking Subcommittee. She has also sat on the Board of Directors of the Trucking Industry Defense Association and is a member of the Transportation Lawyers Association (TLA) and Canadian Transport Lawyers Association (CTLA). Ms. Burden has many years of experience litigating large loss cases in trucking and transportation, product liability, medical device, professional liability, labor law, premises, toxic tort, municipal law, employment law and other catastrophic injury matters. She is the head of the firm's 24-Hour Emergency Response Team.

Pamela W. Carter
Carter Law Group LLC

Pamela W. Carter is a trial lawyer who has represented clients in federal and states courts of Louisiana, as well as courts in Texas. She has litigated and mediated complex disputes, insurance claims for corporate clients, employment disputes, transportation and construction matters. She has served on national trial teams and has trial experience in the products liability and toxic torts arenas and was designated lead national counsel in Louisiana for significant automotive product liability cases. Her role included representing clients as coordinating counsel for asbestos and hurricane related claims. Ms. Carter is a native New Orleanian and founding member of her woman-owned law firm. She has received Martindale-Hubbell's highest AV rating and has been recognized as one of New Orleans' Top Lawyers. She is a member of various national and local bar associations including, a former National Director with DRI, the New Orleans Bar Association, Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel, NAMWOLF (National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms), International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), American Bar Association (Diversity Leadership award) and the Defense Research Institute (Chair, Diversity Committee). Additionally, she is regularly involved with Volunteers of America community events and helps with her son's nonprofit "My Brother's Keeper Nola" and her daughter's nonprofit girls' leadership organization called "Girl Code NOLA." She is a lecturer and publisher of various legal industry and diversity/inclusion articles.

Sergio E. Chavez
Managing Shareholder
Rincon Law Group PC

Sergio E. Chavez is a seasoned litigator and trial lawyer who defends motor carriers and commercial drivers in a full range of matters including catastrophic accidents, emergency response investigations and cargo claims. Sergio litigates in all parts of the State of Texas with his primary region of practice being west and south Texas. He is a frequent speaker on faculties for trucking industry seminars, and he also serves as the Chair of the Membership Sub-Committee for the DRI Trucking Law Committee. Sergio is a senior shareholder at Rincon Law Group in El Paso, Texas.

Christy Comstock
Wales & Comstock

Christy Comstock is a partner at Wales & Comstock in Fayetteville, Arkansas where her primary practice is the defense of motor carriers in transportation related litigation. She is an active member of TIDA, ABOTA, and the American College of Transportation Attorneys and has been recognized for Excellence in the Transportation Practice by Super Lawyers in 2013-2019. Christy maintains an AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and is the Chair of the Arkansas Trucking Seminar.

Christopher E. (Chris) Cotter
Roetzel & Andress

Christopher E. (Chris) Cotter is an attorney with the law firm Roetzel & Andress in Akron, Ohio. His national practice focuses on providing business counsel, litigation strategy, and trial capabilities to transportation companies, product manufacturers and distributors, retail establishments, professionals and other businesses and individuals. He serves on Roetzel's Emergency Response Team to immediately address the issues that may arise as a result of industrial accidents, personal injuries, or other catastrophes.

MaryJane Dobbs
Bressler Amery & Ross PC

MaryJane Dobbs is a partner in the law firm of Bressler Amery & Ross PC in Florham Park, New Jersey. She has substantial experience in handling defendant personal injury matters, including premises liability, products liability and trucking negligence actions. Ms. Dobbs has defended numerous corporations in their general personal injury cases, including a variety of transportation-related entities. She has worked extensively with expert witnesses in the medical, pharmaceutical and scientific fields. Besides transportation cases, Ms. Dobbs also specializes in employment matters including litigation and counseling. Ms. Dobbs is the Past Chair of the DRI Trucking Committee.

Clarence C. Easterday
Executive Vice President
Western Express Inc

Clarence C. Easterday is Senior Vice President for Western Express, Inc., a Nashville, Tennessee based transportation company. Western Express provides irregular route common carrier service for van, flatbed and over-dimensional freight. Western Express also provides dedicated services for customers across the United States. Clarence graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1978. He started his professional career as a US Army Field Artillery Officer. He started his transportation career with Schneider National Carriers in 1984 and joined Western Express in 2002. Mr. Easterday's responsibilities at Western Express include supervision of safety programs, insurance program design and purchasing, claims and some human resource functions. He works closely with defense counsel in case preparation/strategy and is active in the mediation process. He is also a Rule 31 Listed Mediator in the State of Tennessee.

Patrick E. Foppe
Lashly & Baer PC

Patrick E. Foppe, is a partner with Lashly & Baer PC in St. Louis. He frequently handles claims involving insurance defense, premises liability, personal injury, complex commercial motor vehicle accidents, products liability, wrongful death and general negligence. In addition, he conducts rapid response investigations to serious accidents as part of Lashly & Baer's Rapid Response Team. Patrick serves on DRI's Trucking Law Committee's Steering Committee and is Chair of Publications. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Transportation Lawyers Association's Membership Committee. Patrick has an "AV Preeminent" Peer Rating™ with Martindale-Hubbell®. He has received numerous awards for his pro bono work, community service, and professional accomplishments. Patrick is also a regular author and is an invited speaker by many industry groups. Patrick and his wife Kate have seven children.

Lindsay G. Gorbach

Lindsay G. Gorbach with Cox PLLC is uniquely admitted to practice law in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Her experience includes a specialized focus on the litigation of transportation, logistics and insurance coverage. Her case defenses have involved catastrophic motor-carrier accidents, general personal injury, property damage, driver issues, freight claims/loss and property recovery litigation. She is regularly involved in the initial stages of the claims process, including emergency response, investigation, handling serious driver problems and early/detailed evaluation of global risks. Lindsay is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sarah E. Hansen
Burden Hafner & Hansen LLC

Sarah E. Hansen, a partner at Burden, Hafner & Hansen LLC in Buffalo, NY, primarily defends personal injury cases arising out of trucking and automobile accidents, employment law matters, labor law, municipal law/governmental liability, premises liability cases, product liability cases and general negligence matters. She is a member of the firm's 24/7 Emergency Response Team. She is on the Steering Committee for DRI's Trucking Law Committee and Employment and Labor Law Committee and is past editor of The Whisper. Sarah is the Trucking Law Primer Program Chair

Matthew S. (Matt) Hefflefinger
Heyl Royster

Matthew S. (Matt) Hefflefinger is a Shareholder in the Peoria, Illinois office of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen PC and is Chair of the firm's Trucking Practice Group. His practice is devoted primarily to the defense of complex personal injury cases in the trucking and construction industries. Matt is an aggressive advocate who has tried many cases to verdict and is frequently contacted by clients immediately after a catastrophic loss to help develop the facts and case strategy. He is a frequent presenter on a variety of litigation related topics at local and national legal seminars. Matt is the currently the Chair of the DRI Trucking Law Committee.

Renea E. Hooper
Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson and Feary PC

Renea E. Hooper with Scopelitis Garvin Light Hanson and Feary PC, regularly defends motor carriers and insurers in state and federal trial court litigation involving highway accident claims for personal injuries and wrongful death. She has defended clients in multiple jury and bench trials and regularly assists clients with emergency rapid response to accidents. She also counsels clients and litigates matters involving business disputes and commercial transactions. Ms. Hooper is a frequent speaker on various transportation topics before local and national trucking industry groups. She has also presented mock jury trials for trucking associations over the years.

Bradford G. (Brad) Hughes
Clark Hill LLP

Bradford G. (Brad) Hughes is a Member in Clark Hill LLP's Los Angeles office. He represents clients in Commercial Litigation and Trucking and Transportation matters, including representing motor carriers, freight brokers, and shippers in litigation with experience in defending catastrophic trucking accidents. He is a member of the DRI Trucking Committee. Bradford has been identified as one of the Top 100 Up-and-Coming lawyers under the age of 40 in Southern California every year since 2015. He is rated AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell.

John J. (Jack) Laffey
Founding Partner
Laffey Leitner & Goode LLC

John J. (Jack) Laffey has an extensive Product Liability and Commercial Transportation Catastrophic Injury practice that regularly takes him to courts in Wisconsin and across the nation. In his 30 years of practice, Jack has been proud to represent clients in litigation in more than 25 states. He has had more than two dozen jury verdicts since he started practicing law in 1985. Jack has had the unique experience of having been a winning plaintiff's attorney during that time (1989-1995); this provides Jack with a very interesting and productive insight into the thought processes and motivations of his clients' adversaries. Jack's Product Liability experience ranges from industrial machinery (conveyors and overhead cranes) to consumer products (furnaces and smoke detectors) to toxic torts (asbestos, silica and mold) to pharmaceuticals (diet drugs), to outline a few. Jack has been asked to handle and resolve some of his clients' most problematic and dangerous cases in some of the most challenging venues in this country, oftentimes after the discovery has been completed. These engagements have been particularly rewarding personally because of the faith and trust his clients have placed in him. Jack takes that trust very seriously. His Catastrophic practice always presents very "interesting" problems to solve and it centers upon Wrongful Death, Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury matters. Jack's specialties include: Catastrophic Case oversight and resolution, Trial and Appellate work as well as an extensive mediation practice on behalf of corporate litigants.

John M. Nunnally
Ragsdale Liggett PLLC

John M. Nunnally with is an experienced trial lawyer with 25 years of experience, which includes trying over 75 civil cases to verdict. John's experience allows him to provide insight into the specialized challenges facing the commercial transportation industry. John practices in the areas of civil litigation and insurance defense, focusing on trucking/transportation law, construction law, and products liability. John serves on the DRI Trucking Law Steering Committee and is a member of the Trucking Industry Defense Association and the NC Trucking Association.John is teh Trucking Law Law Primer Program Vice Chair

Stephen G. (Steve) Pesarchick
Sugarman Law Firm LLP

Stephen G. (Steve) Pesarchick has been a partner with the Sugarman Law Firm LLP, in Syracuse, New York, since 1994. His practice focuses on catastrophic personal injury and property damage cases. His civil litigation experience includes motor carrier accidents, farming accidents/issues, transportation accidents, fire claims, construction accidents, product liability cases, and automobile accidents. He has successfully handled countless cases in New York state and federal courts. As an active DRI member, he chaired the 2017 DRI conference titled "Outsmarting the Trucking Reptile at Trial;" from 2011-2016 he was the editor of In Transit, the newsletter of DRI's Trucking Law Committee; and he is a frequent speaker at many national trucking and fire loss seminars.Steve is the Trucking Law Committee Vice Chair.

Antwan D. Phillips
Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP

Antwan D. Phillips has a trial-oriented practice. His practice includes premises liability, dental malpractice and trucking litigation. Phillips is a partner at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings. In 2017, Phillips was named to Arkansas Business' inaugural "Arkansas 200" as one of the 200 most influential Arkansans. In 2018, he was re-selected as one of Arkansas 250 most influential Arkansas. In 2013, Arkansas Business included Phillips in the annual "20 in their 20s" issue. Mid-South Super Lawyers has recognized him as a "Rising Star" in the area of Civil Litigation Defense since 2014.

Brett A. Ross
Carr Allison

Brett A. Ross is a partner in the Birmingham office of Carr, Allison. He graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law. He is a member of the ABA, TIDA, IADC, Trial Attorneys of America and the Alabama Defense Lawyers' Association. Mr. Ross has served DRI as Program Chair for the Trucking Committee, Chair of the Lawyers' Professionalism and Ethics Committee and as a member of the DRI Board of Directors. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell and has been an Alabama Super Lawyer in Transportation since 2008.

Jeffrey S. Ward
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP

Jeffrey S. Ward, with Drew Eckl & Farnham LLP has practiced as a trial lawyer in Georgia for more than 15 years. He has successfully tried cases to jury verdict in both state and federal court and regularly provides guidance and counsel to a variety of clients. Jeff practices General Casualty Law and Professional Malpractice Law. He represents clients ranging from Fortune 100 retail companies to hospitals, trucking companies, construction professionals and other professional and individual interests. Jeff is also a dispute resolution professional.