Practice

Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, a regional law firm with offices in Little Rock and Springdale, Arkansas, provides a full range of legal services to individuals and business organizations of all forms and sizes, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, regional businesses, small entities, governmental bodies, and individuals. Our practice encompasses a wide variety of transactions, litigation, regulatory advice, and estate planning.

The following sections provide a brief description of some of the areas in which we practice.

Appellate Practice

We have an active, experienced team of appellate lawyers who have handled appeals before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits, the Supreme Court of Arkansas, the Arkansas Court of Appeals, the Mississippi Court of Appeals, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the New York Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Illinois. We have also been responsible for petitions for writs of certiorari and responses to petitions for writs of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States. We have assisted with merits briefing and preparing for oral argument in the Supreme Court. Following law school, a number of our attorneys served as law clerks to appellate judges, including judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Supreme Court of Arkansas.

Banking

The firm has extensive experience in a wide range of banking issues for state and national banks and bank holding companies, including bank formation, holding company formation, branching, bank acquisition, mergers, loan transactions, representation of the bank as creditor, as well as regulatory and compliance issues involving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), and the Federal Reserve Board. We are frequently called upon to prepare loan documentation and provide legal opinions in the areas of usury, enforceability of security interests, and choice of law issues. We handle revolving and term loans involving the full spectrum of loan purposes and collateral including agricultural loans, inventory financing, debt restructuring, and real estate acquisition. We can assist banks in creating loans with multiple participations and loans capable of being syndicated. We have represented more than forty banks with market capitalizations ranging from a few million dollars to over fifty billion dollars.

We also regularly represent banking clients on work-out negotiations and reorganizations, credit card issues, compliance with the Gramm Leach Bliley Act and the USA Patriot Act, issues regarding financial and other activities of bank subsidiaries and affiliates, and emerging privacy issues. Our firm’s lawyers have been general counsel to the Arkansas Community Bankers Association for over two decades.

Bankruptcy

Our bankruptcy attorneys are experienced in negotiating and drafting bankruptcy filings and litigating contested bankruptcy matters. These hearings involve the full range of bankruptcy issues, including contested use of cash collateral, extension or reduction of exclusivity periods, assumption and rejection of executory contracts, dischargeability matters, claims litigation, and plan confirmation issues. We are also capable of handling complex preference, fraudulent transfer, and other avoidance power litigation. While most of our bankruptcy matters have been tried before the bankruptcy courts in Arkansas, we have also litigated bankruptcy matters before federal district courts, as well as on appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.

Business and Complex Commercial Litigation

Complex business litigation and environmental and toxic tort litigation are the mainstays of our litigation practice. Nearly all our trial attorneys have experience with complex business litigation. We have been involved in class actions, multiple plaintiff and multiple defendant claims, and claims pending in multiple jurisdictions. We handle litigation matters involving a wide spectrum of business-related claims, including deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, breach of warranty, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, securities violations, patent infringement and invalidity, violations of franchise rights, antitrust violations, unfair competition, tortious interference with contractual relations or business expectancy, libel and First Amendment claims, construction disputes, toxic tort claims, civil racketeering claims, and constitutional claims. We represent corporate and individual clients, as both plaintiffs and defendants, in commercial litigation matters. We have extensive litigation experience in trial and appellate courts on both the state and federal levels.

Business Transactions

We have advised clients on a variety of business transactions ranging from entity selection and formation to dissolution, including the formation of hundreds of entities encompassing C-corporations, S-corporations, non-profit corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships. We have represented business entities in mergers and acquisitions as both buyer and seller. In this practice, we have substantial experience in negotiating and drafting asset and stock sales agreements, and agreements ancillary to mergers and acquisitions such as employment and management agreements, covenants not to compete, and stock option agreements.

Our firm has advised businesses on general commercial law matters and has negotiated a wide variety of contracts involving distribution arrangements, property licensing, and other matters. We have broad experience representing and counseling outside members of corporate boards of directors on issues of corporate governance and the exercise of their fiduciary duties in serving on special committees. We have also advised corporations and their boards on a variety of business litigation-related topics including indemnification of officers and directors and coverage issues under director and officer insurance policies. We have created corporate compliance programs for both public and private companies and have advised companies on the implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Data Privacy and Security

Several attorneys in the firm have experience in data privacy and security. Our work in this area includes identifying data protection laws applicable to a client’s business and developing a proactive plan to ensure compliance while reducing the risk of a data breach. Our attorneys are well-versed in technology matters and have experience with technology issues related to Software as a Service (SaaS) agreements, web development and hosting, cloud computing contracts, and software licensing agreements. We also assist clients with cyber insurance counseling.

Electronic Discovery and Document Management

Electronically stored information has become a primary target of discovery in litigation. We have a talented and experienced team of attorneys, paralegals, and information technology specialists to assist our clients in addressing e-discovery issues in cases of any size. We have expertise in all areas of electronic discovery, from information governance policies to processing and production of electronically stored information.

Our electronic discovery program includes
• identifying electronically stored information that should be preserved;
• collecting information responsive to discovery requests;
• processing electronically stored information into a standard format for
an efficient review and production process;
• culling the data set to remove duplicate and system files;
• reviewing and coding the collected electronic information; and
• producing responsive electronic information in the agreed upon format.

Multiple lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions often involve some of the same electronically stored information. Instead of relying on various outside firms to re-review some of the same documents, our firm can provide a centralized discovery database eliminating unnecessary overlap in coding and document review. A centralized discovery database increases efficiency, accuracy, and consistency in responding to electronic discovery issues across multiple jurisdictions. Our firm hosts secure on-line web access to discovery databases for our clients, experts, and co-counsel.

Employment Law

The firm has an active, diverse employment law practice. We regularly defend businesses against a variety of employment claims, including claims of wrongful termination; allegations of age, race, gender, and disability discrimination; claims of retaliation; hostile workplace allegations; the validity of covenants not to compete; contract disputes; and wage-and-hour claims. Our work in this area includes defending against employment-related class-action claims and litigating complex business claims that arise in the employment context. In appropriate cases, we represent our business clients in connection with claims against former employees related to restrictive covenants, non-solicitation and non-competition agreements, and misappropriation of trade secrets and other proprietary information. Our employment lawyers have experience in state and federal courts in Arkansas and Tennessee and before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in employment-related matters. We also regularly represent major ERISA plan administrators in cases brought by claimants to recover benefits under ERISA, and we frequently advise businesses faced with employment issues, including drafting and editing handbooks, policies, and job descriptions; conducting internal investigations and reviews; and offering training and compliance advice to management.

Environmental and Regulatory Practice

Our environmental attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in environmental regulatory actions, transactional issues, and site-specific litigation in regards to air, water and solid/hazardous wastes, including amendments to state water quality regulations pursuant to the Clean Water Act. Our team includes the former Chief Counsel for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and a former attorney for the United States Department of Justice Environmental Defense Section. We have significant experience representing clients before the Arkansas Public Service Commission and other federal and state regulatory agencies, as well as experience in environmental remediation litigation, oil and gas regulatory matters, environmental management systems, permitting issues, insurance, and site investigations.

Governmental Organizations

Several of our attorneys have extensive experience in representing governmental organizations. We have represented the Pulaski County Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board (Verizon Arena), Pulaski County, the City of Little Rock, the City of Sherwood, the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Arkansas Contractor Licensing Board, the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, and other governmental entities including improvement districts. We have handled a variety of projects for governmental entities including assisting in litigation matters and drafting various ordinances and regulations. Our attorneys have also represented clients before numerous regulatory entities.

Insurance Coverage and Defense

Many of our attorneys have represented businesses and insurance companies involved in insurance coverage disputes. These cases have involved disputes over policy language, pollution exclusions, triggers of coverage, covered occurrences, and endorsements, among other matters. One of the most notable cases in which we were involved is Unigard Security Ins. Co. v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 331 Ark. 211 (1998), which involved a coverage dispute that addressed a variety of insurance policy construction issues pertaining to damages arising from the contamination of real property and the resulting breach of a lease of the property. Claimed damages exceeded $8 million. We represented Unigard Insurance Company through the two-week trial and the appeal, which resulted in a dismissal of the complaint.

Intellectual Property

Several attorneys in the firm have experience in intellectual property matters. Our work in this area includes assisting clients in registering, maintaining, and enforcing trademarks, service marks, and copyrights. We regularly handle litigation matters involving claims of patent, trademark, and copyright infringement, trade secrets, confidential information, unfair competition and false advertising across a broad spectrum of industries and technologies.

Land Use

We have helped our clients address a variety of land use issues including rezoning, development exactions, land dedications, and impact fees. Our attorneys have handled numerous zoning issues including assisting clients in acquiring conditional use permits and variances. We assisted in the creation of Arkansas’s first large-scale multi-use zoning district, which included commercial, office, and residential space in one high-rise building.

Legislative Advocacy

Several of our attorneys regularly assist clients in drafting legislative proposals for consideration by the Arkansas State Legislature. As part of our firm’s representation of the Arkansas REALTORS® Association, during each General Assembly session, we draft and assist with the passage of numerous legislative proposals. We undertake legislative drafting work for the Real Estate Committee of the Arkansas Bar Association. Our attorneys have also been active in drafting economic development legislation for various clients and coordinated passage of Act 43 during the 2003 legislative session, and Act 2231 during the 2005 legislative session, to enhance the Arkansas Tax Increment Financing law. Several of our attorneys have testified before state legislative committees in connection with consideration of legislative proposals.

Media Law and Defamation

Many of our attorneys have defended newspapers and other publications against libel and defamation claims. We routinely advise newspapers and other entities regarding Freedom of Information Act issues and publication review issues, and we represent newspapers and other entities in litigation concerning these issues. We have represented media entities that have received third-party subpoenas, and we have filed suit to challenge court-issued prior restraints that restrict First Amendment rights. We are counsel for the Arkansas Press Association. We also prepare a general compilation of Arkansas state law regarding privacy and related decisions against the media for the Fifty State Survey published by the Libel Defense Resource Center.

Products Liability

Several of our attorneys have extensive experience in products liability cases. Our experience in products liability cases involves products such as automobiles, personal water craft, recreational products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, herbicides, chemicals, welding consumables, industrial machines, heavy equipment, and consumer goods. These matters include claims alleging traumatic amputation, cancer, neurological injury, paralysis, and death. Some of these matters also involve claims of crop loss, property damage, lost profits, and nuisance. We represent a number of companies on a national, regional, and statewide level, and our attorneys have tried products liability cases throughout Arkansas and the United States.

Real Estate

All of the firm’s real estate attorneys have extensive experience representing world-class developers in a variety of transactions including commercial leasing, acquisitions, and development. The firm also has the largest active membership of any Arkansas law firm in the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

We work on transactions involving the purchase, sale, construction, financing, development, management, and operation of commercial, industrial, and residential projects throughout Arkansas and the United States; the public and private offering of various types of real estate securities; securitized lending transactions; leasing on behalf of landlords and tenants; real estate litigation (including litigation involving real estate brokers); and restructurings on behalf of lenders and borrowers. We are also active in more traditional real estate loans (including construction loans), as well as interest rate swaps, letters of credit, tax deferred exchanges, and convertible mortgages. A primary focus of our real estate practice is the representation of national and regional real estate developers, investors, landlords, tenants, and lenders in numerous development projects throughout the United States, including shopping centers, distribution centers, office buildings, hotels, and luxury condominiums. We have worked on numerous multi-million dollar projects including construction of Verizon Arena, the Heifer Project International Global Village, and the fourteen-story First Security Center in the Little Rock River Market District. The lawyers at QG&T have substantial experience in timber land acquisition, sale, and related matters, including oil, gas, and other mineral interests frequently associated with timber land. We have also represented developers on Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and New Market Tax Credit projects inside and outside the State of Arkansas, including interim construction financing, permanent financing, and syndication. We also advise on restructurings and reorganizations, both inside and outside of bankruptcy, for lenders and borrowers alike. We are counsel to the Arkansas REALTORS® Association and the Arkansas Homebuilders Association.

Secured Transactions

Many of our attorneys advise clients on issues involving interests in personal property, with special emphasis on issues that arise under Article 8 (investment securities) and Article 9 (secured transactions) of the Uniform Commercial Code. We provide advice with respect to structuring secured transactions and reviewing and analyzing collateral used in such transactions. In recognition of the importance of legal opinions in this area, we regularly prepare and negotiate security interest opinions with, and for, other counsel. We have experience in all types of personal property matters, including property subject to the Uniform Commercial Code and other statutes such as those pertaining to aircraft and intellectual property.

Securities Regulation

Several of our attorneys represent clients in a variety of securities law issues. The firm has advised clients on issues involving financing for public and private entities. We have represented both issuers and investors in private placements. We have acted as bond counsel and trustee counsel in Arkansas Development Finance Authority bond issues. We have counseled issuers in numerous corporate securities offerings, including initial and secondary capital offerings for financial institutions, offerings for bank holding companies, foreign offerings pursuant to Regulation S, and restricted offerings pursuant to Regulation D. Frequently in connection with securities offerings, we are called upon to offer professional advice on ancillary issues in securities offerings such as taxation, real estate, banking, and environmental matters.

Taxation and Estate Planning

In our tax practice we help our clients plan, structure, negotiate, and implement numerous forms of business transactions, combinations, and financings. The types of matters handled also include tax-free and taxable reorganizations, spin-offs, acquisitions and dispositions, recapitalizations, joint ventures, leasing transactions, and tax litigation. We also have experience in employee compensation and benefit plans and provide general tax counseling to corporations, individuals, and charitable organizations.

Not only do we advise in the areas of personal tax planning, retirement, philanthropy, risk management, and asset protection, but also we assist with probate and trust administration, guardianships, estate and gift tax compliance, generation skipping transfer tax, the formation of nonprofit corporations and foundations, and areas concerning the formation, operation, and disposition of family business interests. We utilize the expertise of the firm’s other real estate, business, and litigation groups to provide thorough service in these areas.

Tax Increment Financing

Our firm has significant experience in the formation of redevelopment districts utilizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF Districts). We played a central role in the formation and development of two of Arkansas’s first TIF districts, in Jonesboro and North Little Rock. Several of our attorneys are frequent lecturers to municipalities and civic groups regarding TIF Districts. During the 2003 legislative session, we were instrumental in drafting Act 43, which was adopted to clarify the computation of the value of assessed property within TIF Districts. During the 2005 legislative session, we spearheaded Act 2231, which contained many revisions to TIF law and revitalized TIF by incorporating many key changes and compromises. We have assisted in TIF projects in Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Rogers, Paragould, and Sherwood.

Tort Litigation

Several of our attorneys have extensive experience in the defense of claims alleging negligent conduct, failure to warn, negligent design and manufacture, and professional negligence. These cases involve automobile and truck accidents, premises liability, and general negligence, in addition to the products liability cases discussed separately. We also regularly represent clients in cases alleging business torts, malicious prosecution, false arrest, and other claims.

Toxic Torts and Environmental Litigation

Toxic torts and environmental cases are an integral part of our practice and generally include allegations of personal injury, nuisance, property damage, medical monitoring, and emotional distress allegedly due to environmental contamination. While most of these cases involve allegations of chronic personal injury, others involve acute injury, property damage, and business losses, all relating to the effects of toxic substances. Such cases have involved claimed exposure related to air emissions, groundwater and surface water contamination, explosion or catastrophic failure, subsurface migration, industrial contact, and product usage. In addition to toxic tort cases, we have considerable experience in environmental litigation resulting from remediation of contaminated sites. As an example, we represented Chemtura Corporation in the litigation surrounding the cleanup of the Vertac Chemical Corporation site at Jacksonville, Arkansas.