Ex-Drummond executive David Roberson, the “fall guy” of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, had a major legal victory against embattled law firm Balch & Bingham today.
The Alabama Supreme Court today reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by former Drummond Company vice president and lobbyist David Roberson, who was convicted in 2018 of bribing a state lawmaker.
Roberson sued Drummond Company, his former employer, and the Balch & Bingham law firm in 2019, alleging they concealed and misrepresented information that contributed to his conviction.
A Jefferson County Circuit Court judge dismissed Roberson’s lawsuit in September 2020, agreeing with Balch & Bingham that the case was barred because of time limitations imposed by the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act.
Today, in a 4-3 decision, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed that and sent the case back to the circuit court.
The Supreme Court agreed with Roberson that his case did not fall under the Alabama Legal Services Liability Act because he was not a legal client of the defendants but was suing for common law fraud.
In Roberson’s lawsuit, he claims he acted on assurances by [Balch & Bingham partner Joel I.] Gilbert that the contract with [State Rep. Oliver] Robinson had been cleared as ethical and legal by Balch & Bingham attorneys. He claims that Gilbert did not inform him after Balch & Bingham later determined that Robinson’s conduct was illegal.
According to the lawsuit, Roberson wrote a $5,000 check on behalf of Drummond to pay for winter coats for children in north Birmingham as part of the public relations campaign opposing the EPA listing. The lawsuit says Roberson did not learn until his criminal trial that Robinson received $2,500 of the $5,000 check, and that payment to Robinson was used as damaging information against Roberson in the trial.