As an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger school, an intense combat leadership course, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces and a decorated combat veteran, John brings his military philosophy to his law practice. Specifically, he defines the mission, and then accomplishes it.
John is the head of litigation for Wagner, Myers & Sanger, P.C., where he is responsible for management and leadership of the firm’s litigation efforts. He relies on good judgment, integrity, and his skill in the courtroom to solve his clients’ problems.
John’s legal practice and background includes a wide range of complex commercial litigation including the defense of class action lawsuits, antitrust and unfair competition suits, labor and employment disputes, lender liability claims, product liability suits, disputes over control of businesses, representation of bankruptcy trustees in protracted complex litigation arising out of collapsed Ponzi schemes, and the like.
John spent 31 years in litigation at Hunton & Williams and 5 years at Merchant & Gould, P.C. His practice has spanned a breadth and depth of legal and business issues, from the nuances of Delaware corporate merger law to the complexities of radiation monitoring systems for nuclear power plants.
Military Experience -
Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law.
Leadership and Civic Involvement - Past President, West Point Society of East Tennessee. Executive Committee Member for the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention 2014. Fellow, Tennessee Bar Foundation. Fellow, Knoxville Bar Foundation
Personal Interests - John competed and took first place in his age group in an Ironman triathlon. He is a private pilot who loves reading, military history, mountain climbing, hiking, biking and personal fitness. Those personal interests, however, are frequently subordinated to his favorite past times of cross examining expert witnesses and trying cases. Follow John’s progress on his walk across Switzerland by visiting his blog at http://bravoblue6.wordpress.com/
Prevailed in a 5-4 decision by the U. S. Supreme Court in Pioneer Investment Services v. Brunswick Associates Limited Partnership, 501 U.S. 380 (1993).
Member of a trial team that defended a multi-national company in a complex class action trial on ERISA claims in U.S. District court in Knoxville. After trial, the Court found for John’s client on all claims and dismissed the case. The decision was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Obtained a series of summary judgment orders resulting in the dismissal of a complex lender liability case against a major bank. At the conclusion of the case, John obtained a sanctions award against the plaintiff for over $1.6 million, which is believed to the be largest sanctions award ever entered by a Tennessee court.
Obtained a substantial default judgment against a major coal mining company and its holding company, including an adjudication that punitive damages would be awarded as a sanction for discovery abuses.
Represented the plaintiff in a securities fraud action against a major securities firm. The defendant's standard customer agreement contained a mandatory arbitration clause. After a trial of the defendant's motion to compel arbitration, obtained a ruling that the defendant's standard arbitration agreement was unenforceable for a variety of reasons, including that it was unconscionable. This ruling by the trial court was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
Represented a multi-national company that had been sued for trademark violations and unfair competition. In a case in Atlanta, GA after a hung jury, the judge entered judgment as a matter of law for his client.
Represented a multi-state convenience store owner whose franchise had been terminated by a major international oil company. The case was tried before a jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The jury returned a verdict in favor of his client on all 26 breach of contract claims made by the major oil company. It also awarded his client $500,000, plus attorneys’ fees, on the counter-claim under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act.
Represented a high-tech company against class action claims, when it was sued in an effort to block a $1 million merger between his client and a multi-national corporation. John was retained to spearhead the defense effort even though his client had been represented for a number of years by a prominent firm that would continue working on the case. To put together an effective team of potential competitors who would work smoothly together, subordinating their competitive instincts to the client’s best interest, was a challenging leadership task. With the cooperation of everyone, John was able to put together a team that proved its worth by quickly and decisively defeating the plaintiffs and obtaining the dismissal of all claims against his client, allowing the merger to proceed.
Lead counsel for the tobacco industry in a number of large high-profile suits in Tennessee, some of which potentially involved hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars. As lead counsel for the industry he was responsible for coordinating the efforts of the defense group, examination of key witnesses, making the oral arguments on motions and appeals, and generally providing leadership to a diverse group of sophisticated litigants and attorneys in big cases. This was a challenging task because to accomplish it effectively John had to gain and retain the confidence and respect of diverse group of aggressive, sophisticated lawyers, type-A personalities, all.
Represented a major international construction company in complex litigation over a radiation monitoring system at nuclear power plant. The case was resolved in favor of his client with a very favorable settlement after three days of trial.
Represented a kayak manufacturing company in a jury trial for trademark infringement and inducement to breach contract in the United States District for the District of Idaho. Although a jury verdict was entered against the defendants, John was able to obtain a reversal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which rendered a judgment in favor of his client on all claims without requiring a new trial.
Lead trial counsel for the trustee of a failed industrial loan and thrift company. In this role John coordinated the filing, preparation and trial of over 1,000 suits to recover fraudulent conveyances and preferential transfers. He tried scores of suits, and argued motions and appeals too numerous to count. See, e.g., In Re SIBC, 59 B.R. 978 (Bankr.E.D. Tenn. 1986; In Re SIBC, 56 B.R., 349 (Bankr.E.D.Tenn 1986).
Prevailed in various jury trials, defending financial institutions against a variety of claims.
Best Lawyers in America 2013, by The Best Lawyers in America.
Named as one of Knoxville Top Attorneys by Cityview Magazine for Antitrust, Appellate Practice, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation, Class Action-Defense, Federal Court Practice and Securities Defense.
Selected for inclusion and profiled in Mid-South Super Lawyers.