Cari K. Dawson

Cari K. Dawson

Alston & Bird LLP

Recognized since 2009

Atlanta, Georgia

Practice Areas

Commercial Litigation

Insurance Law

Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants

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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.


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


  • Harvard University , J.D., graduated 1993
  • Princeton University, AB, graduated 1990

Bar Admissions

  • Georgia, State Bar of Georgia


  • American Bar Association - Member
  • Atlanta Bar Association - Member
  • National Bar Association - Member

Alston & Bird LLP
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

240 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

99 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

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Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2023 for work in:

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Insurance Law
  • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants

Special Focus

  • COVID-19

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  • Serves as lead class action defense counsel to Mazda in multidistrict litigation in Miami following widely publicized vehicle recalls relating to allegedly defective Takata airbags.
  • Serves as co-lead class action defense counsel to The Home Depot in multidistrict litigation in Atlanta following a widely publicized criminal cyber intrusion and data breach.
  • Served as lead class action defense counsel to Toyota in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration MDL in California—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.
  • Served as relationship partner and national class action counsel for two of the world’s largest insurance companies, and in that capacity represented them in all varieties of complex litigation matters, including class actions, regulatory matters, coverage disputes and bad faith litigation.
  • Defended numerous insurance class actions in the property and casualty, life, disability, accident and health industries.
  • Defended multiple environmental, products liability and mass tort class actions.

Representative 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 on the question of Article III standing of consumers whose vehicles had 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 1 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 U.S. 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 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 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 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.
  • Seattle, WA: Defeated a purported nationwide class action filed in 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 multidefendant conspiracy class action in which the plaintiffs sought more than $1 billion for alleged injuries involving the specification of aftermarket parts.
  • Cañon 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.
  • Atlanta, GA: 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.
  • Atlanta, GA: 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.

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