CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (June 5, 2015) -- McKool Smith has secured a $36.5 million jury verdict on behalf of the developers of Canyon Ridge Resort against financial services firm Sterne Agee & Leach, Inc. and one of its former investment bankers, Edmund J. Wall.

The developers of Canyon Ridge Resort, a planned hotel and convention center located on Lookout Mountain in Walker County, Georgia, accused the defendants of breaching various contractual and fiduciary duties by creating and promoting a development project that competed with the development project Canyon Ridge Resort had hired the firm to help promote.

Robert Manley, the McKool Smith principal who was the lead trial lawyer for the plaintiffs, said “This was a hard-fought trial with very fine opposing counsel that spanned seven long weeks.  The jury should be applauded for their steadfast dedication and commitment to measuring the facts and weighing the evidence.  It was a privilege to have represented these parties and to have tried the matter in Hamilton County.”

The seven-week trial began April 21 and concluded June 1, 2015, when the jury sided with the plaintiffs and awarded $20,599,000 in compensatory damages and imposed $11,500,000 in punitive damages on the defendants.  The court awarded an additional $4.5 million in prejudgment interest, for a total award of $36.5 million for the firm’s clients. The final judgment was entered on June 4, 2015.  The trial is reported to be the longest and the verdict one of the largest, if not the largest, in Hamilton County, Tennessee history.  The matter proceeded before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge J.B. Bennett. 

The McKool Smith trial team representing the Canyon Ridge developers included firm principals Robert Manley, Gary Cruciani, John Campbell, and Michael Fritz, and associates Avery Williams, Travis DeArman, Paul Williams, and Blake Bailey.  The McKool Smith team was assisted by local counsel Bill Colvin of William G. Colvin PLLC.  

The case is Canyon Ridge Resort, LLC, et al. v. Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc. et al., No. 11-C-1083, in the Circuit Court of Tennessee, Eleventh Judicial District at Chattanooga.

With more than 185 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C., McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America’s leading trial firms. Since 2006, the firm has secured nine nine-figure jury verdicts, as well as ten eight-figure jury verdicts. The firm has also won more VerdictSearch and The National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" over the last eight years than any other law firm in the country. Courtroom successes like these have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade.” McKool Smith represents clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and white collar defense matters.

For additional information, please contact Michael R. Coston at 212-402-9450 or

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