David A. Coulson is a business litigator and trial lawyer who focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation and products liability actions in federal and state courts. In addition to prevailing in major cases through dispositive motions, David has tried numerous jury trials to favorable verdicts and has wide-ranging arbitration experience. He is also a skilled problem-solver who searches for cost-effective and creative solutions to help clients achieve results consistent with their business objectives.
Areas of Concentration
· Jury trials and arbitrations
· Securities fraud and shareholder derivative actions
· Class action defense
· Product liability
· Professional liability
· Breach of contract and business torts
· Franchise, distributor and dealer litigation
· Insurance coverage and reinsurance
Professional & Community Involvement
· Board Member, GableStage Theater at the Biltmore, Board of Directors
· Board Member, Jackson Memorial Hospital Foundation, Board of Directors
· Board Member, Spellman-Hoeveler American Inns of Court, Board of Directors
· Member, American Bar Association
Awards & Recognition
· Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2013
· Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2012-2013
· Listed, South Florida Legal Guide, "South Florida's Top Lawyers," 2011-2013
· Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2010-2013
· Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Florida Super Lawyers, 2006-2013
· Team Member, a Law360 "Product Liability Practice Group of the Year," 2011
· Listed, Florida Trend magazine, "Legal Elite," Products Liability, 2007
· Recognized, The Legal 500 United States, one of the leading lawyers nominated by corporate counsel in Securities Shareholder Litigation: "David Coulson... is praised [by clients] for doing an exceptional job," 2007
· Selected Finalist, Daily Business Review, "Most Effective Lawyer Award," Corporate/Securities Litigation, 2007
· Recognized, National Law Journal, "Top Defense Wins of 1999," May 2000
· Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5
Class Action and Securities Litigation
· Served as one of the lead trial lawyers in a three-week jury trial defending a Florida sugar cane harvester in a class action brought by sugar cane cutters who alleged they had been paid wages substantially less than what their employment contracts required. Result: defense verdict, affirmed on appeal.
· Represented directors of large privately held company in class action case brought by participants in an ESOP alleging ERISA claims and breach of fiduciary duty. Result: court dismissed 12 of 13 claims and case then settled during mediation.
· Represented large privately held company and its directors and officers against putative class action lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida. Participants in the company's ESOP alleged violations of ERISA and federal securities laws. Defeated class certification. Prevailed on summary judgment against two of the three class representatives. Tried Rule 10(b)(5) claims in 6 days to jury which found for plaintiff. Case is on appeal. Defending the company and officers in a handful of related actions in federal court.
· Representing a public company and its private equity investor in high exposure securities fraud case in Orlando brought by a European investor stemming from a private placement and involving alleged misrepresentations related to restatements of past financial statements.
· Acted as lead counsel defending a major public corporation in a nationwide class action in state court in Miami, Florida, involving an alleged fee overcharge in a direct stock purchase plan. Case settled.
· Defended a public company as lead trial counsel in a class action securities fraud case brought by shareholders in federal district court in Miami. Case settled. Also involved in wide-ranging investigation of related shareholder derivative claims.
· Trial counsel for a major securities brokerage firm defending against a class action brought by investors in a hedge fund. Case settled shortly before trial.
· Represented a public company and certain officers in a shareholder class action claim alleging securities fraud in the Southern District of Florida. Ended case on a motion to dismiss. Also represented certain officers in related derivative action.
· Represented a major bank in a securities fraud suit in federal court in Chicago that settled before trial and have either litigated or taken part in investigations of several other securities fraud claims and shareholder derivative actions.
· Lead trial lawyer in successful defense of a large health care company in a $10 million lawsuit in Florida state court related to an asset purchase; defeated fraud claims brought by the seller by prevailing on a motion to dismiss in convincing the trial court that there was no duty disclose to the selling company that the buyer was in negotiations to be sold to another company at a higher multiple.
· Represented a software company as Florida counsel, defending against several consumer class actions alleging antitrust law violations.
· Defended a major corporation as Florida counsel, defending against a series of class actions alleging consumer fraud. Cases settled.
· Acted as lead trial counsel defending major investment bank in securities fraud action in federal court in Louisiana brought against by a regional bank. Case settled after bank's witnesses admitted in deposition that their affidavits about alleged misrepresentations were false.
· Acted as lead trial counsel for a Broward County-based appliance manufacturer, defending against a shareholders securities fraud class action. Case settled after half of the claims were dismissed by the federal district court.
· Acted as one of the trial counsel defending a large financial institution in a series of cases alleging breach of fiduciary duty and fraud in venues throughout Florida and lead counsel defending against a related putative class action in the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. Helped engineer settlements of all claims.
· Acted as co-lead trial counsel in four-week jury trial in federal court in Chicago on behalf of an automobile manufacturer. The case arose from a rollover accident in which two men died and one suffered severe brain damage and paralysis. The plaintiffs claimed damages in excess of $23 million on the asserted basis that the design of a minivan was defective for allegedly being unreasonably prone to roll over on the road when put into an emergency maneuver at highway speeds. Result: defense verdict. This case was identified by The National Law Journal as one of the top 15 defense verdicts of 1999.
· Acted as co-lead trial counsel for a specialty tractor (mule) manufacturer in catastrophic injury products liability action brought in Miami state court by a longshoreman who suffered blindness, brain damage and other injuries. Plaintiffs alleged design defects. Result: case settled four days into the jury trial.
· First-chaired jury trial in federal court in Chicago on behalf of an automobile manufacturer against a claim that the airbag system in a car was defective and caused severe injuries to the plaintiff in a high-speed accident. Result: defense verdict. This was one of the first cases of its kind to be tried, and thus was an important victory for the automotive industry.
· Acted as co-lead trial counsel in five-week jury trial for an automobile manufacturer in Wisconsin state court. The plaintiff, an insurance executive, lost control of his car, resulting in a rollover accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. The plaintiff claimed that his paralyzing injuries were caused by a defectively designed roof structure that collapsed during the rollover and by the seatbelt system that allegedly inadequately restrained him during the accident. At trial, the plaintiff asked for more than $11 million in compensatory damages and also argued for punitive damages. Result: defense verdict.
· First-chaired jury trial in Illinois state court in Cook County on behalf of an automobile manufacturer. The plaintiffs claimed that the vehicle's steering system was defective and caused a high-speed crash that seriously injured the driver and her two children. Result: defense verdict.
· First-chaired arbitration against a claim that the airbag system in a line of vehicles was defective.
· Second-chaired jury trial in Illinois state court in St. Clair County on behalf of a truck manufacturer. The plaintiff claimed that the air brake system on a medium duty truck failed to perform and caused a high-speed accident between the truck and another truck, resulting in the death of one driver and serious injuries for the other. Result: case settled in favor of client during trial.
· Defended a medical device manufacturer in product liability litigation in state and federal courts in Illinois.
· Defended a tire manufacturer in a wrongful death action in state court in Florida.
· Tried seven-day arbitration in 2009 defending a large accounting firm in a high-exposure auditing malpractice case brought by bankruptcy on behalf of a former client. Result: complete win for the accounting firm. Also represented the firm in a related proceeding in federal district court in Miami, obtaining a dismissal of all creditor claims.
· Acted as lead trial counsel defending large executive search firm sued by former client, a major hospital, in Miami, Florida federal court. In what one article called a "bellwether case" for the search firm industry, Plaintiff attempted to hold the search firm responsible for financial losses exceeding $60 million allegedly caused by a CEO who had been presented by the search firm and hired because of alleged misrepresentations about his background. Result: obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal.
· Assisted in defense of accounting firm in a six-week jury trial in state court in Chicago. Plaintiffs sued their former auditor for approximately $35 million in alleged losses. Result: the jury rejected nearly all of plaintiffs' claims and found the accounting firm liable for only about $700,000 in damages. Also, participated in defense of accounting firm in auditing negligence claim in Florida state court and have represented accounting firms in other alleged negligence cases and partnership disputes.
· Second-chaired complex insurance coverage trial for a chemical company. After a two-week bench trial in Franklinton, Louisiana, the trial court declared that the company was entitled to more than $100 million of coverage from its primary and excess carriers to indemnify it for the thousands of bodily injury and property damage claims filed against the company stemming from an industrial explosion. Conducted cross-examination of the insurance carriers' chemical fire expert, which was cited by the trial court in its written opinion for establishing key points that enabled the company to win under the hostile fire exception to the absolute pollution exclusion. Judgment affirmed on appeal.
· One of the trial counsel for an oil and chemical company in an approximately $600 million environmental insurance coverage lawsuit brought in Illinois state court against its 1959-1985 general liability insurers. The lawsuit asked for damages and declaratory relief for soil and groundwater contamination claims at 23 oil refineries and petrochemical facilities in Canada and the United States. Before a "lead sites" trial, the company settled with its insurers.
· Co-tried three-day arbitration hearing for an insurance company against a reinsurer after the reinsurer sought rescission of a significant reinsurance agreement.
· Represented insurance company in federal court in Baltimore against its reinsurer. Case involved $6 million breach of a reinsurance agreement and $20 million counterclaim for alleged fraud in the negotiation of the contract. Case settled during a mediation before trial.
· Defended insurance company in a $30 million damages and rescission arbitration claim against several reinsurance companies. In the arbitration, the reinsurers claimed fraudulent inducement and various contract breaches, all of which were rejected by the arbitrators.
· Acted as lead appellate counsel for an insurance company before the California state appellate court in a case involving a precedent-setting reinsurance set-off issue.
· Acted as trial counsel for an insurance carrier in a declaratory judgment action concerning insurance coverage for age discrimination claims. Prevailed on summary judgment, setting important precedent.
· Represented appliance manufacturer in a five-week jury trial in Miami, Florida, federal court against its Colombian, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan distributor. The litigation involved multimillion-dollar claims of wrongful termination, breach of contract, antitrust violations, tortious interference, fraud and RICO. Result: the jury's verdict limited the distributor to a fraction of its claimed damages.
· Represented major telecommunications manufacturing company in a $50 million breach of contract and tortious interference lawsuit in federal court in Chicago against its former Brazilian distributor and joint venture partner. Following extensive discovery in North and South America and the filing of summary judgment motions, the case settled on terms as part of a complex asset purchase transaction.
· Defended major franchisor in state court in Austin, Texas. On the franchisor's counterclaim, it secured a TRO against the owner of two franchises that forced the franchisee to surrender both restaurants. The franchisee then settled on terms to the franchisor's terms. Also represented that franchisor in several actions in Florida.
· Represented automobile manufacturer in successful and precedent-setting dealership termination. Defeated motion for a TRO filed by the dealership by proving that the dealership, including the principal owner, committed fraud against numerous customers. Case also established precedent to prevent a dealer from transferring dealership rights to a related party in an attempt to circumvent the termination.
Other Business Litigation
· Acted as lead trial counsel for Canadian technology company defending against breach of contract and tortious interference claims brought by competitor. After six-day trial, jury found for plaintiff. Court dismissed the major claim after the post-trial Rule 50 motion. Then achieved global settlement of these and related antitrust claims.
· Acted as trial counsel for Minnesota-based airport services vendor in cases in federal and state courts in Miami involving claims of alleged breaches of joint venture agreements and tortious interference surrounding the award of a significant contract at Miami International Airport. Actions settled following mediation.
· Handled variety of commercial cases that involved emergency injunction hearings or other evidentiary hearings.
· Acted as lead counsel for specialty telecommunications company in a significant lawsuit brought by a competitor in federal district court in Miami. Result: prevailed on a motion to dismiss based on an innovative standing argument.
· Trial counsel for an adhesives manufacturer in defense against multimillion-dollar breach of warranty claims brought in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, and in state court in Miami, Florida. Worked out creative settlements to resolve cases.
· Trial counsel in $20 million bet-the-company arbitration proceeding for publicly held equipment manufacturer against its major customer which claimed that breaches of warranty justified termination of long-term supply contract. Assisted in effectuating a business transaction to resolve disputes.
· Represented a former chief executive officer in an arbitration proceeding involving the valuation of restricted stock that was owned by the executive and to be redeemed upon his resigning from the company. Obtained award for executive that placed a value on the stock of approximately $2 million which was about four times higher than what the issuer contended.
· First-chaired jury trial in Illinois state court on a pro bono basis, obtaining a verdict (and damages) for the victim of a racially motivated attack. This civil lawsuit claimed assault, battery and violation of the Illinois Ethnic Intimidation Act and was brought against the two defendants after they were acquitted in a criminal court bench trial.
· Law Clerk, Hon. Stanley Marcus, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 1988-1989
Publications & Presentations
Articles, Lectures & Publications
· Mentioned, "How GM Won a Minivan Rollover Suit," Lawyer's Weekly, USA, B4, November 15, 1999
· Presenter, Florida Civil Trials Seminar, Basic Federal Practice CLE Program, The Florida Bar, March 2003
· Presenter, Federal Civil Practice Seminar, Basic Federal Practice CLE Program, The Florida Bar, Miami, FL, April 2002
· Presenter, Trial Techniques, Basic Federal Practice CLE Program, The Florida Bar, Tampa and Miami, FL, November 2001
· Presenter, Winning at Trial Conference, Dallas, TX, March 2001
· Presenter, Cross-Examination, Masters of Trial Conference, Las Vegas, NV, March 2000
· Instructor, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Florida Regional Program