Practice Areas

Trials, Appeals and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Christian & Barton responds to client litigation needs with a team of full-time trial lawyers.  Our trial lawyers are actively engaged in trials and appeals in both state and federal courts, and advocate for our clients in arbitration and mediation proceedings before a variety of ADR tribunals.  Many of our trial lawyers served as judicial clerks in state and federal trial courts, and several of our senior trial lawyers are recognized by their peers for their skill, appearing in the Best Lawyers in America, Chambers U.S.A., the Virginia Business Legal Elite, and Super Lawyers lists of top litigation attorneys.  Four of our trial attorneys are Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Collectively, we have lawyers with depth of experience at all levels of practice in the state and federal judicial systems and the leading arbitration tribunals.

Our approach to litigation, regardless of the forum, is no-nonsense and direct.  It is our core belief that successful litigation is conducted by trial lawyers—not simply “litigators” who are unwilling or simply untrained to engage and succeed in the courtroom.  Our trial attorneys prepare a case from the outset for presentation at trial—not simply summary disposition or settlement.  Indeed, sound and comprehensive trial preparation is frequently a catalyst for favorable pretrial dispositions and settlements.  Comprehensive preparation reveals all of the facts pertaining to the merits of a client’s case and better informs our clients’ decision making.

Lawsuits are expensive and disruptive to clients under the best of circumstances.  Our attorneys seek to deliver high value to clients who find themselves in litigation by learning about the client and its needs, candidly analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each case, and communicating our advice frequently and clearly.  We encourage settlement when it is appropriate to minimize expense and allow clients to focus on their business or personal priorities.  Where trial is necessary, we advocate vigorously and ethically, minimizing fees and costs to the maximum extent possible consistent with the risks presented by the case.

We choose not to organize our Litigation Department into subgroups, as our lawyers, consistent with our philosophy, have the advocacy skills to handle a variety of matters. However, as our lawyers gain experience in their respective practices, each develops expertise in different industries and legal specialties that reflect client needs.  We frequently team with transactional attorneys in the Firm to ensure that their expertise is also brought to bear when cases involve specialized subject matter.

Our lawyers stay current on case law and regulatory decisions affecting our clients.  We conduct in-house continuing education programs, and our trial lawyers continue their education by attending and teaching outside classes and seminars.  In addition, we recruit experienced litigators who embrace our cost-effective approach.

We appear before both courts and ADR tribunals throughout Virginia, and associate with counsel outside of Virginia to handle cases outside the state where our experience and expertise may be brought to bear.  We frequently appear in cases requiring efficient coordination with other counsel and the utilization of joint defense agreements.  We are familiar with the increasingly complex problems raised by electronic discovery rules and work with clients, consultants and other counsel to solve those problems efficiently. 

The Firm has handled almost every type of litigation imaginable during its successful history, and the areas below, while not exhaustive, present a representative sample of that experience. 

Appeals

With offices a few blocks from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Virginia Court of Appeals, we are no strangers to the appellate courts in Virginia.  Our appeals have involved a wide scope of substantive areas, including First Amendment, commercial transactions, insurance coverage, ERISA, products liability, public utilities, public access to information and the Freedom of Information Act, Medicaid, Medicare, antitrust, bankruptcy, cable television, life insurance, construction, toll roads, education, zoning, employment, landlord-tenant, copyright, voting rights and telecommunications.  Our appellate experience also includes cases that hinged on the resolution of federal and state procedural issues.  We have participated in appeals in federal courts outside of Virginia, such as in the Third, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits and the Federal Circuit.  We are members of local Inns of Court in Richmond, and various state and national bar organizations that include appellate advocacy.

Commercial Litigation

We undertake litigation arising out of a wide variety of business and commercial disputes.  We have extensive experience, as counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants, with UCC, contract, business tort and statutory claims of all kinds arising out of business relationships.  The range of cases we have litigated is broad, from disputes arising out of simple contracts to multi-district federal litigation involving antitrust and securities claims. 

Constitutional and Civil Rights

Many of our clients’ operations require an understanding of federal and state constitutional issues.  We are frequently involved in counseling on these issues, and are prepared where necessary to litigate in order to protect our clients’ rights.  We regularly represent the print, broadcast and web-based media in cases involving their First Amendment rights.  We also represent our municipal clients in voting rights actions, as well as constitutional disputes involving water rights, zoning, condemnation, denial of due process and unlawful takings.

Construction Litigation

We represent contractors, developers, project owners and architects in litigation over construction issues, including financing, bidding, contracts, job safety, employment and bankruptcy.  We appear in the state and federal courts and before arbitration panels in connection with these claims.

Employment Litigation

We represent employers in negotiations, administrative hearings and court proceedings. Our lawyers have considerable experience defending claims resulting from alleged wrongful discharge, as well as claims filed under the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  We also represent clients in disputes over alleged breaches of employment contracts and non-compete clauses.

Environmental Issues

Our lawyers have extensive experience defending claims for pollution damages such as contamination of groundwater and soil. We have represented clients in the courts and in administrative hearings before state and federal environmental agencies. We advise local governments and public authorities on environmental matters, and we represent those groups in recovery claims, with considerable success in avoiding the expense of court actions.

Insurance

Christian & Barton attorneys represent and counsel clients in insurance disputes regarding policy coverage, including commercial general liability, property and casualty, professional liability or indemnity, umbrellas or excess, named risks, automobile, homeowners, and retrospective premium.  We also litigate a broad range of disputes implicating insured risks, including construction defects, employment matters, officer and director liability, professional liability, media liability, products liability, traffic accidents and workers compensation claims. Specific litigation experience involving life, health and disability insurance includes individual and group benefit claims, bad faith, total disability, accidental death, policy rescission and cancellation, agent conduct and ERISA matters. Cases range in size and scope from individual claims in state courts to multi-district litigation in federal courts.  We are very familiar with managing insurance carriers’ billing and cost-containment requirements. 

Further information on the firm’s experience with insurance policy coverage, defense litigation and regulatory matters can be found on the Insurance Law practice group page.

Intellectual Property

Patents, copyrights, trademarks, proprietary information and trade secrets often rank among the most valuable assets of a business.  To protect its clients’ interests, Christian & Barton has prosecuted and defended such diverse matters as Internet domain-name registration disputes, magazine trademark infringement, seizure of unauthorized musical recordings and bootleg merchandise, copyright infringement of photographs and flag designs, former employee use of company information, enforcement of non-competition agreements and protection of client trade secrets, and patent infringement claims across a broad spectrum of industries.

Our experience in this area includes federal and state courts, as well as proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Medical Malpractice and Professional Liability

Our defense of medical professional liability and malpractice actions is aided and complemented by our sophisticated health care practice.  We have represented all segments of the health care industry, including general hospitals, psychiatric and other specialty hospitals, clinics, residential care facilities, group practices, provider associations, health maintenance organizations and individual providers.  Our health care practice includes serving as active advisers in creating, developing and operating integrated delivery systems, and we have assisted local providers in establishing one of the first such systems in Virginia. We frequently counsel clients on medical staff issues and advise institutions and associations on wide-ranging state and federal health care regulations.

Through our general health care practice, the firm has access to a wide network of health-care providers who are often willing to consult on litigation matters as a result of their familiarity with the firm.  Our risk management practice requires us to keep abreast of the various regulatory and industry standards that govern the delivery of health care in Virginia and affect the standard of care in medical malpractice litigation.  In addition, we are involved in the development of managed care delivery systems and are keenly aware of the institutional considerations and pressures that affect physician decision-making on a daily basis.

Products Liability

Christian & Barton regularly defends products liability actions in state and federal courts. In recent years, we have handled cases involving a variety of products, from playground equipment to the O-rings on the solid rocket boosters of the Space Shuttle Challenger.  Defense of products liability actions has given us familiarity with automobiles and automobile systems, aircraft and aircraft systems, medical devices, prescription medications, electronic control devices, pesticides and herbicides, breast implants, cosmetics, all terrain vehicles, scaffolding, propane tanks, engine carburetion systems, construction equipment and lift trucks.