Cari K. Dawson - Alston & Bird LLP

Cari K. Dawson

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2009
Phone: 404-881-7766

Cari Dawson is a creative problem solver, legal strategist and committed advocate. She chairs the Class Action Practice Team and has an established track record of successfully defending Fortune 500 companies as lead counsel in high-profile litigation nationwide. Cari has defended hundreds of class actions across an array of industries and regularly assists clients in commercial litigation, strategic counseling and crisis management. 

In 2015, Cari was named one of the country’s “Most Influential Black Lawyers” by Savoy Magazine and a “Woman Worth Watching” by Diversity Journal. In 2013, the National Law Journal named Cari one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” for her work as lead class action counsel in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration MDL in California. Chambers USA has consistently named her one of “The Best Lawyers in America.” In 2014, Cari was named one of the Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in Georgia by Super Lawyers magazine and one of the “Most Powerful & Influential Women” by the National Diversity Council. In 2012, the John M. Langston Bar Association named her “Corporate Counsel of the Year,” and in 2011, The American Lawyer named her to the “45 Under 45” list of remarkable women lawyers. 

Cari currently serves as co-chair of the Firm’s Diversity Steering Committee. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Commercial Law Section of the National Bar Association.

Princeton UniversityAB 1990Harvard UniversityJ.D. 1993
National Bar AssociationAmerican Bar Association Atlanta Bar Association

Case History

  • Served as lead class action defense counsel to Toyota in one of the largest multidistrict litigations in U.S. history following widely publicized vehicle recalls.
  • Defended hundreds of class actions in virtually every state in the country and across a variety of industries involving claims of fraud, breach of warranty, RICO, breach of contract, consumer protection, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and all varieties of state and federal statutory claims.
  • Serves as relationship partner and national class action counsel for two of the world’s largest insurance companies and in that capacity represents them in all varieties of complex litigation matters, including, but not limited to, class actions, regulatory matters, coverage disputes and bad faith litigation.
  • Serves as regional counsel for a worldwide transportation and logistics company through its Core Counsel Network.
  • Defended numerous insurance class actions in both the property and casualty, and life, disability, accident and health industries.
  • Defended environmental, products liability and mass tort class actions.
  • Defended physicians, hospitals and other health care providers in several medical malpractice cases.
Orange County, CA:
  • Successfully defeated several of the plaintiffs’ claims and limited the scope of liability for an automobile manufacturer in MDL litigation by (1) defeating the effort by the plaintiffs to apply California law to consumers who purchased their vehicles outside of California, thereby foreclosing the possibility of certification of a nationwide class action; (2) obtaining a certificate of immediate review from the district court and obtaining an interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit of the question of Article III standing of consumers whose vehicles have not manifested the alleged defect to bring any legal claims; (3) winning the dismissal of foreign plaintiffs’ claims; and (4) winning the dismissal of Florida and New York consumers’ claims through a Court ruling that the plaintiffs in Florida must have experienced a manifested defect to state any claim and New York plaintiffs must have experienced a manifested defect or recognized loss on the sale of a vehicle in order to state a claim. Because several jurisdictions have laws similar to New York and Florida and less than one percent of class members experienced any alleged manifestation of the defect, this ruling not only limited the scope of liability, but strengthened arguments against certification due to the need for individualized inquiry to determine which class members’ vehicles had manifested the alleged defect and to determine questions of causation and injury.
Portland, OR:
  • Won issue of first impression in the United States Supreme Court regarding whether the insurance company client willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to give the statutorily required notice of "adverse action" under the Act. The client was sued in U.S. District Court in a nationwide class action, where we won summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit reversed on appeal, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court ruled the client did not, as a matter of law, willfully violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Philadelphia, PA:
  • Won issue of first impression in the Third Circuit regarding whether the client violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act or properly complied with the Act in its “offer of insurance.” Obtained a dismissal of this putative class action in the U.S, District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit affirmed on appeal.
Atlanta, GA:
  • Successfully defended a multinational chemical corporation in a mass tort environmental class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia filed on behalf of several thousand class members asserting personal injury and property damage claims allegedly caused by releases of a pesticide-related chemical from a wastewater treatment facility. After obtaining a dismissal of several claims and successfully striking all of the plaintiffs’ scientific experts, we negotiated a favorable settlement for a fraction of the plaintiffs’ original demands.
  • Represented an international conglomerate in the prosecution of claims against sublicensees for a breach of licensing agreements and a trademark infringement arising out of the Olympic Games. 
  •  Defended a logistics provider in a series of bet-the-company nuisance suits seeking a shutdown of the client’s operations and exemplary damages. Won partial summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ claims and settled suits for a nominal sum.
Seattle, Washington:
  • Defeated a purported nationwide class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking damages under various consumer protection statutes for failure to disclose and pay diminished value under insurance contracts.
Edwardsville, IL (Madison County):
  • Won a dismissal of an insurance client in a multi-defendant conspiracy class action in which the plaintiffs sought more than $1 billion for alleged injuries involving the specification of aftermarket parts.
Canon City, CO:
  • Defeated class certification in a putative class action brought against an insurance client alleging failure to explain available personal injury protection benefits in the sale of automobile insurance policies. Denial of class certification was affirmed on appeal and petition for certiorari was denied.
Mt. Vernon, WA:
  • Won summary judgment for an insurance client in a putative class action alleging consumer fraud and breach of contract arising from installment service fee charges. Summary judgment in the client’s favor was affirmed on appeal, and petition for certiorari was denied.
Los Angeles, CA:
  • Represented an Internet service provider in a fraud suit against one of the world’s largest secured global data communication networks and recovered a substantial settlement on the ISP’s behalf.

Office Location

One Atlantic Center, Suite 4900
1201 West Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30309-3424
United States

Practice Areas

Commercial Litigation
Insurance Law