Ronald T. Coleman Jr.

Ronald T. Coleman Jr.

Partner | Atlanta Office
rcoleman@phrd.com
T: (404) 420-1144
F: (678) 533-7738
 

Practice Group(s)

Services

Education

  • Duke University School of Law - (J.D., with honors, 1986) Editorial Board, Duke Law Journal 1985-1986
  • Duke University - (A.B., cum laude, 1983)

Admitted to Practice

  • Georgia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

About Ron

Ron is a trial lawyer who focuses his practice on complex business litigation, intellectual property disputes, and franchise and distribution litigation. He also regularly represents clients in a variety of commercial and business tort cases, product liability litigation, as well as federal and state appellate litigation.

Ron's intellectual property litigation experience includes representing manufacturers, technology companies, consumer products companies, franchisors, entertainment companies and other clients in a variety of trademark, copyright, trade secret and patent infringement cases.  He regularly represents national franchisors in a wide variety of matters, including cases involving breach of franchise agreements, good faith and fair dealing, fraud, RICO and antitrust violations, and competition between franchise systems.  Ron has served as national coordinating counsel for a manufacturer defending multi-state, mass tort product liability litigation. Ron has handled appellate matters before the United States Supreme Court, various federal courts of appeal, and Georgia appellate courts.

In addition, Ron frequently represents clients as an advocate in various ADR processes, including arbitrations, mediations, and mini-trials. Ron also has served as a mediator in several business and intellectual property cases, and he served as an arbitrator in a complex AAA commercial arbitration.

Ron’s background gives him a unique perspective on the business of private law practice. He was an equity partner for nine years at an AmLaw top 25 international firm before choosing to join Parker Hudson in 2004. Ron also served as outside general counsel for a client company on an interim basis for several months while the general counsel was on leave.

Ron currently serves as head of the Firm's Litigation Practice Group.

Professional and Civic Involvement


  • American Bar Association: Section of Litigation; Section of Intellectual Property Law; Forum Committee on Franchising
  • Co-chair, Trade Secret Litigation Subcommittee of Section of Litigation Intellectual Property Litigation Committee
  • Steering Committee of Litigation and Dispute Resolution Division, ABA Forum on Franchising (2000--2003)
  • Topic and Article Editor, ABA Franchise Law Journal (2004--present)
  • Pro bono intellectual property law advice for National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Board of Directors, Northwest Youth Power

Honors


  • Law Clerk to the Honorable James C. Hill, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 1986-1987
  • Selected by Best Lawyers as Atlanta “Franchise Law Lawyer of the Year” (2012)
  • Recognized in Chambers USA Leading American Business Lawyers for complex litigation (2010-present)
  • Recognized as one of Georgia's "Top Rated Lawyers" by Martindale-Hubbell and ALM (2012)
  • Georgia "Super Lawyer," Business Litigation, by Law & Politics Media (2004--present)
  • Recognized as a leading Franchise Law practitioner by The Best Lawyers in America (2006--present)
  • The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, Franchise Law (2004--present)
  • "Georgia's Legal Elite," Intellectual Property Law, by Georgia Trend Magazine (2004)
  • Charter Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Representative Engagements


  • Colonial BancGroup Auditor Malpractice Litigation (M.D. Ala.). Trial counsel for trustee of Colonial BancGroup as plaintiff in audit malpractice action, seeking damages of more than $500 million against external audit firm and outsourced internal audit firm for failing to detect fraud that led to bankruptcy of bank holding company. Trial anticipated in 2017.
  • Andritz v. M&G Finanziaria (N.D. Ga.). Lead counsel for plaintiff in action for breach of non-disclosure agreement and trade secret misappropriation arising from business relationship to develop biofuel production technology. Case currently in discovery.
  • Montileone v. AAMCO Transmissions (S.D.III.). Lead counsel for AAMCO in defense of putative class action on behalf of current and former franchisees, who alleged breaches of contract, fraud, and RICO violations. Obtained dismissals before any discovery in initial action and in re-filed action.
  • Bowbliss v. Quick-Med and Quest Diagnostics (Fulton County Superior Court). Took over defense of blood draw malpractice case after first trial resulted in $5.4 million verdict for plaintiff. Convinced trial court to grant new trial, and obtained complete defense verdict in retrial.
  • Chatham Funds v. BB&T (Superior Court of Fulton County, Ga.). Trial co-counsel for BB&T in defense of negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims arising from commercial loan losses, where plaintiffs sought more than $20 million. Complete defense verdict.
  • Lone Star Fund V (US) v. UFCW Pension Fund (N.D. Ga.). Lead counsel for multi-employer Pension Fund in action to hold private equity fund and affiliate liable for more than $60 million of ERISA withdrawal liability incurred by bankrupt portfolio company. Cross-motions for summary judgment pending.
  • AmeriPath, Inc. v. Stevens (S.D. Fla.). Lead counsel for AmeriPath in action to enforce non-compete against former senior sales person working for competing medical practice. Obtained preliminary injunction enforcing non-compete after contested evidentiary hearing. Obtained settlement on eve of trial for injunctive relief beyond term of non-compete and for monetary damages.
  • Andritz, Inc. v. SMC (M.D. Ga.). Lead counsel for Andritz in action for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of duty against former employees who started competing business. Obtained preliminary injunction requiring return and non-use of Andritz information. Case settled after filing summary judgment motions, resulting in consent order for injunctive relief and substantial payments to Andritz.
  • Acuity Brands, Inc. v. Thomas & Betts Corp. (N.D.Ga.). Lead counsel for Acuity in breach of contract and fraud case arising from asset purchase agreement. After three-week trial, judge ruled from the bench in Acuity's favor on its breach of contract claims. Case settled favorably for Acuity during post-trial briefing on remaining claims.
  • Federal Signal Firefighter Litigation (State courts in Ill., N.Y., N.J., Md., Pa.). Served as national coordinating counsel for defense of mass tort product liability claims by more than 2,000 firefighters from multiple states alleging permanent hearing loss due to the design of Federal Signal's sirens. Coordinated strategy, discovery and trial preparation that resulted in complete defense verdict in bellwether trial of first 27 plaintiffs in Chicago. Argued and won affirmance on appeal of motion to dismiss before any discovery in New York action. Trial co-counsel in initial trial in Philadelphia cases.
  • Exeon, Inc. v. Superior Essex, Inc. (N.Y. state court). Represented Superior Essex as defendant and counter-claimant in complex multi-venue dispute over right under asset sale agreement to proceeds of antitrust settlement resulting from claims pending at time of asset sale. Obtained $19.5 million settlement for client.
  • DFW Airport v. Federal APD, Inc. (N.D. Tex.). Represented Federal APD in major commercial and construction dispute over project for new airport parking and revenue control system. After Airport terminated contract and both sides filed lawsuits, successfully resolved Airport's claims of more than $30 million in damages for less than likely cost of defense.
  • Light Valve Solutions v. 3M Co., et al. (N.D.Ga.). Counsel for Hitachi America in multi-defendant patent case regarding LCD projectors. Case settled favorably for client without significant discovery.
  • Confidential Trade Secrets Matter. Obtained substantial settlement, confidentially and before filing complaint, on trade secrets claim against professional services firm for misappropriating our client's business plans and using them on behalf of a competitive entity.
  • Bandag, Inc. v. Michelin North America, Inc. and Michelin Retread Technologies, Inc. (S.D. Iowa). Co-lead counsel for Michelin in antitrust, tortious interference, and trade secret case involving dispute between competing franchisors in retread truck tire industry. Case was settled two weeks into a scheduled eight week jury trial, at close of Plaintiff's case, on terms favorable to Michelin.
  • Blissitt v. DMLR, Ackerman McQueen, Inc., et al. (Superior Court of Fulton County, Ga.). Lead counsel for advertising/PR firm and medical coalition in privacy and commercial misappropriation case arising from filming of news documentary showing hospital patients. Successfully limited sensitive discovery by using First Amendment and anti-SLAPP statute defenses. Achieved confidential settlement on favorable terms.
  • Advanced Interactive, Inc. v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., et al. (N.D.Ill.). Lead counsel for Scientific-Atlanta in multi-defendant patent infringement lawsuit against companies from all aspects of the cable television industry. Obtained early Markman hearing with minimal discovery obligations for defendants and prevailed on claim construction summary judgment motion on behalf of all defendants. Affirmed on appeal without opinion.
  • Rightway Restaurants, Inc. v. Oldfield Eastern Corp., et al. (N.D. Ala.). Lead counsel representing franchisor and principal shareholder of the "Steak-Out" restaurant system in dispute with the founder and largest franchise over sale of the franchise system and subsequent operation of founder's franchises. Case settled favorably for client after pretrial order.
  • Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. v. ViaSat, Inc. (N.D.Ga.). Lead counsel for Scientific-Atlanta in breach of contract and fraud case arising out of asset purchase agreement for sale of business division to ViaSat. Case settled on confidential but favorable terms following mini-trial mediation.
  • Amadasun v. Dreamworks, LLC, et al. (N.D.Ga.). Lead counsel representing Dreamworks, Sony Pictures and Montecito Picture Company in copyright infringement action involving the film "Evolution." Obtained summary judgment on all defenses, including lack of protectable copyright interest in plaintiff's works, no inference of access, and no substantial similarity. Affirmed on appeal by Eleventh Circuit.
  • Bunn v. Kenny G, Arista Records, et al. (N.D.Ga.) Lead counsel for Arista Records and EMI Music Publishing in copyright infringement action involving a Grammy award winning Kenny G song. Obtained summary judgment on grounds that plaintiff had not established inference that defendants had access to the allegedly infringed work. Affirmed on appeal by Eleventh Circuit.
  • John Keenan Co. v. Norrell Corp., and Interim Services, Inc. (E.D.La.). Lead counsel for Norrell Corporation and Interim Services, Inc. in bench trial on claims by large franchisee for breach of contract and business torts arising from the merger of temporary work force services companies. Defeated motion for preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin merger. Prevailed at trial on all of plaintiff's contract and tort claims relating to the merger.
  • Burger King Corp. v. Agad, et al. (N.D.Ga.). Counsel for BKC in lawsuit to enforce terminations against its largest Atlanta-area franchisees. Obtained preliminary injunction requiring franchisees to maintain critical operational standards pending resolution of lawsuit. Obtained summary judgment on all counterclaims alleging virtually every conceivable franchise-related contract and tort claim. Case settled after mediation on the eve of trial resulting in franchisees exiting the system entirely.
  • Blue Bird Body Company, Inc. v. Northrop Grumman Corp. (N.D.Ga.). Lead counsel for Northrop Grumman in multi-million dollar dispute over contract for production and sale of electric power trains for school buses. Case settled on favorable terms following two-day mini-trial mediation.
  • Holiday Inns Franchising, Inc. v. Branstad (S.D. Iowa). Counsel for Holiday Inns in successful constitutional challenge to retroactive application of Iowa franchise relationship statute. Affirmed on appeal by Eighth Circuit.
  • Clean Serve, Inc. v. Kmart Corp. (N.D.Ga.). Trial co-counsel representing Kmart in retrial of tortious interference case which had resulted in $8 million dollar verdict against Kmart in the first trial (in which we were not involved). Obtained a complete defendant's verdict in second trial.
  • Taco Tico Acquisition Corp. v. W.R. Grace, et al. (Superior Court of Fulton County, Ga.). Trial co-counsel for defendant in the "Penzoil"-type case, in which plaintiff claimed W.R. Grace breached allegedly binding letter of intent and fraudulently induced plaintiffs to proceed with the deal but then sold company to competing bidder. Prevailed in two-week jury trial on virtually all claims, and judgment on only adverse claim was reversed on appeal.

Publications and Presentations


  • Presentations and Papers:
  • “Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information in Franchising” - Georgia Bar Franchise and Distribution Section Roundtable Luncheon (April 2012)
  • “What’s New in the Law of Trade Secrets and Non-Competes” - ABA Section of Litigation Regional CLE Workshop (June 2011)
  • Moderated panel on Georgia’s new restrictive covenant statute for Georgia Bar Franchise and Distribution Law Section seminar (February 2011)
  • Moderated a panel on the topic "Arbitration in a state of flux:  Attacks in the courts, questions by parties, answers from arbitrators" for the Georgia Bar Corporate Counsel Institute (December 2010)
  • "Litigating Incurable Defaults" - ABA Forum on Franchising Annual Meeting (October 2010)
  • Moderated a panel on the topic "Enforcing System Standards and the Risk of Vicarious Liability" for Georgia Bar Franchise and Distribution Section (November 2009)
  • Speaker and panelist for the Technology Association of Georgia's program on "Legal Advice for Consultants," addressing legal concerns regarding business use of social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, litigation avoidance and alternatives, and issues regarding nondisclosure agreements. (May 2009)
  • "Protecting Your Famous Marks and the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006" - ABA Forum on Franchising (October 2007)
  • "Annual Developments in Franchise Law 2005" - ABA Forum on Franchising, keynote presentation (with Joe Schumacher) (October 2005)
  • "Use of Expert Witnesses in Intellectual Property Litigation -- Copyright Cases" - Georgia Bar Intellectual Property Law Section (May 2004)
  • "Franchise Litigation Basics" - International Franchise Association Legal Symposium (May 2004)
  • "Franchising and Distribution Disputes: Litigation Under General Franchise Statutes" - Georgia Institute for Continuing Legal Education (January 2004)
  • "Technology and Intellectual Property Issues for Business" - Sterling Education Services (September 2003)
  • "Covenants Against Competition in Franchise Agreements" - International Franchise Association Legal Symposium (May 2003)
  • "Common Issues in Franchise and Distribution Disputes" - Atlanta Bar Association Franchise and Distribution Law Committee Seminar (February 2002)
  • "Encroachment Disputes: Overview and Recent Developments" - Atlanta Bar Association Franchise and Distribution Law Committee Seminar (February 2001)
  • "Protection of Trade Secrets and Confidential Information" - Southeast Franchise Forum Intellectual Property Program (February 2001)
  • "Trade Secrets and Confidential Information in the Franchise Relationship" - ABA Forum on Franchising (October 2000)
  • “How to Present an Effective Case for Franchisors’ Rights” International Franchise Association Legal Symposium (May 1999)
  • “Legal Issues Regarding Enforcement of Terminations and Breakaway Franchisees” - International Franchise Association Legal Symposium (May 1995)
  • "The Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing: What Standards Apply" - ABA Forum on Franchising (October 1997)
  • Publications:
  • "Applicability of the Presumption of Irreparable Harm After eBay" – Co-author with Trishanda Treadwell and Elizabeth Loyd, (ABA Franchise Law Journal, Summer 2012)
  • Covenants Against Competition in Franchise Agreements (2d ed.) Co-author of chapter on Georgia law (ABA Forum on Franchising 2012)
  • Annual Franchise and Distribution Law Developments 2005 - Co-author with Joe Schumacher, (ABA Forum on Franchising, 2005)
  • Covenants Against Competition in Franchise Agreements (1st ed.) - Regional Editor for Eleventh Circuit States; author of chapter on Georgia law (ABA Forum on Franchising, 2002)
  • How to Develop and Implement an Effective Corporate Compliance Program - Co-author of chapter entitled "Termination, Nonrenewal and Transfer" (ABA Forum on Franchising, 2000)
  • "The Constitutionality of Retroactive Franchise Laws" - ABA Franchise Law Journal (Summer 2001)
  • Franchise Law and Forums - Author of chapter entitled "Franchise Litigation from the Franchisee's Perspective" (Matthew-Bender 1992)

 
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