Mr. Wells' trial practice concentrates on complex mass tort, environmental and product liability cases, often handling the defense of class actions or mass consolidated cases throughout the South. He has handled cases in Alabama, Virginia, California, Texas, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and the District of Columbia. Mr. Wells is listed in the Best Lawyers in America® and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America. In 2008 and 2009, he was listed as one of the Top Ten attorneys in Alabama by Super Lawyers.
Obtained 12(b)(6) dismissal by Northern District of Alabama of putative nationwide class action over rescission of old Southwest Airlines "Rapid Rewards" drink coupons, which contained no expiration date, and succeeded in having dismissal affirmed in the Eleventh Circuit in October, 2012. Grimsley v. Southwest Airlines, Co., No. 2:11-cv-03420, 2012 WL 1339722 (N.D. Ala. April 17, 2012), aff’d Baxley v. Southwest Airlines, Co., 491 Fed. Appx. 146 (11th Cir. 2012).
Obtained dismissal of all consumer fraud and unjust enrichment counts of putative nationwide class action in the Northern District of Illinois on Airline Deregulation Act federal preemption grounds, in action involving Southwest Airlines Business Select fares and their associated drink coupons, leaving only a breach of contract count remaining. Settled breach of contract claim in December 2012 on 23(b)(3) class basis by agreeing to issue replacement coupons on a claims made basis. Levitt v. Southwest Airlines, Co., 846 F. Supp. 2d 956 (N.D. Ill. 2012). Settlement approved by U.S. District Court in Chicago. In re Southwest Airlines Voucher Litig., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120735 (Aug. 26, 2013)
Successfully pursued multi-million dollar business interruption claim for specialty chemical manufacturer against electrical contractor who failed to adequately seal electrical switchbox, leading to short circuit during rain event. The short circuit shut down the entire plant, causing production losses and lost profits.
Successfully defended major airline in suit by two passengers who alleged “bleed air” from the aircraft’s jet engines contained toxic chemicals which caused them neurological injuries.
Successfully pursued substantial breach of contract claim against coal supplier for specialty chemical manufacturer, including assuring adequate coal deliveries for plant use until end of term.
Obtained summary judgment for chemical manufacturer of methylene diisocyanate and methylene diisocyanate-containing formulated product against claims of in utero exposure via mother who worked in coal mines.
Succeeded in obtaining unanimous affirmance by Alabama Supreme Court, after oral argument, of summary judgment entered in asbestos exposure case, in seminal statute of limitations decision. Henderson v. MeadWestvaco, 23 So. 3d 625 (2009).
Obtained summary judgment on remaining claims in asbestos case remanded to the Northern District of Alabama from the Philadelphia MDL court. Riggs v. Mead Corp.,2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169440 (Nov. 29, 2012).
Defended Fortune 100 chemical company in mass tort actions pending in Alabama and West Virginia. Obtained settlement the night before opening arguments to the empanelled jury in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Successfully defended operator of coal preparation facility in a multi-week “bellwether” jury trial of trespass and nuisance claims due to air pollution from industrial facility.
Successfully defended steel fabricator in federal environmental enforcement action tried to a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Defendant had been charged by EPA with violating Clean Air Act permitting rules. U.S. v. Nucor, 17 F.2d 1249, (N.D. Ala. 1998), vacated by agreement, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27933 (May 6, 2002).
Obtained decision from U.S. Supreme Court invalidating discriminatory state tax on hazardous waste disposal facility in Alabama. Case was filed in state trial court, and favorable U.S. Supreme Court ruling (after trial, appeal to state supreme court, and certiorari petition) was announced only two years after the original complaint was filed. Chemical Waste Mgt. v. Hunt, 504 U.S. 334 (1992).
Defeated motion for class certification in nuisance/trespass case against manufacturer alleged to be responsible for property damage due to air emissions in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
Won settlement of hundreds of asbestos cases for premises defendant in state court in Beaumont, Texas.
Won arbitration of post-settlement allocation proceeding between co-defendants and insurance carriers. Arbitrators upheld allocation that attributed only 30% of total damages to client.
As court-appointed co-lead counsel, won case for mining industry in proceedings in Washington, D.C. alleging widespread, nationwide tampering with personal respirable dust samples in underground mines of numerous companies.
Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent Rating
The Best Lawyers in America®, Energy Law, Litigation - Environmental, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants, Natural Resources Law, Product Liability Litigation - Defendants, 2007-2015
Alabama Super Lawyers® - Environmental Litigation, Class Action/Mass Torts, Personal Injury Defense: Products, 2008-2015; Top 50 Alabama Super Lawyers, 2009-2012; Top 10 Alabama Super Lawyers, 2008-2009
The International Who's Who of Commercial Litigators, 2013
International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, 2005-2010
The International Who's Who of Environment Lawyers, 2010
Benchmark Litigation 2014 - "Alabama Local Litigation Stars"
Tommy's Affiliations & Civic Involvement
American Bar Association, President (2008-2009); House of Delegates, Chair (2002-2004); Section of Litigation, Chair (1999-2000); Alabama State Delegate (1992-2001)
American Law Institute
Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
Alabama State Bar Association
Inns of Court
Birmingham Bar Association
American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL)
Law 360, Editorial Board for Environmental Law
Birmingham Metro YMCA, Board of Directors, Chair (2003-2006)