Client-Recommended Attorneys, Adjusters and Experts
Client-Recommended Attorneys, Adjusters and Experts



Best's Recommended Insurance Attorneys - General Defense


211 Athens Way, Suite 200, Nashville, Tennessee 37228

Established: 1942

Practice Areas

  • Insurance Defense


About Us

Cornelius & Collins was founded in 1942 by Charles L. Cornelius, Charles L. Cornelius, Jr. and W. Ovid Collins, Jr. The firm consists of 7 partners, 3 associates and 5 Of Counsel attorneys, as well as 3 paralegals and 7 support personnel. Our goal is to provide legal services of unparalleled quality in service to our clients, while maintaining the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our practice.

The firm specializes in all areas of civil litigation, including trials and appeals in all local, state and federal courts, as well as state and federal administrative forums. In addition to its traditional representation of numerous major insurers and their policyholders, the firm offers a wide range of legal services in the areas of general business, corporate, real estate, labor and employment, product liability, medical/professional malpractice, governmental liability and civil rights, estate and probate, bankruptcy, copyright and entertainment law.

A portion of the firm's numerous reported decisions include: Olinger v. University Med. Ctr., 268 S.W.3d 560 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008); Padilla v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 324 S.W.3d 507 (Tenn. 2010); Davis v. McGuigan, 325 S.W.3d 149 (Tenn. 2010); Stevens ex rel. Stevens v. Hickman Cmty. Health Care Svcs., Inc., 418 S.W.3d 547 (Tenn. 2013); Coffey v. Dowley Manufacturing, Inc., 187 F. Supp. 2d 958 (M.D. Tenn. 2002); Pride v. BIC Corp., 54 F. Supp. 2d 757 (E.D. Tenn. 1999), aff'd, 281 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2000); Watts v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC., 254 S.W. 3rd 422 (Tenn. Ct. App 2007); Carr v. United Parcel Service, 955 S.W.2d 832, 72 Empl. Prac. Dec. p. 45, 053 (Tenn. 1997); Campbell v. Florida Steel Corp., 919 S.W.2d 26, 64 USLW 2660, 70 Fair Empl. Prac. Cases (BNA) 509, 67 Empl. Prac. Dec. p. 43, 999 (Tenn. 1996); MacDonald v. General Motors Corp., 784 F. Supp. 486 (M.D. Tenn. 1992); Tennessee Medical Ass'n v. Board of Registration in Podiatry, 907 S.W.2d 820 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995); Middle Tennessee Associates v. Leeville Motors, 803 S.W.2d 206 (Tenn. 1981); Bundren v. Peters, 732 F. Supp. 1486, 59 Educ. Law Rep. 733 (E.D. Tenn. 1989); Justice and Harmon v. Angus R. Jessup Associates, 619 S.W.2d 522 (Tenn. 1981).


Client Information

Insurance Clients

Non-Insurance Clients

  • Ascension Health
  • BIC Corporation
  • Hamilton Ryker Group, LLC
  • Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems
  • The Hermitage Hotel
  • Insteel Industries, Inc.
  • The Manitowoc Company, Inc.
  • Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
  • Purity Dairies, Inc.
  • Tennessee Medical Association
  • Tennessee Pharmacists Association

Personnel Information

Founders


Charles L. Cornelius — (1888-1968)


Charles L. Cornelius, Jr. — (1915-2005)


W. Ovid Collins, Jr. — (1918-2013)

Partners


Blakeley Dossett Matthews

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Appellate Practice
  • Business Litigation
  • Contracts
  • General Litigation
  • Insurance Law
  • Insurance Defense
  • Workers' Compensation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1986
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 1986
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1986
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, 2002
Additional Biographical Details:

Mid-South Super Lawyers, 2013-2019; Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation 2009; Best Lawyers in America, Workers' Compensation Practice, 2012-2021

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Centre College of Kentucky, B.A., 1983
  • The University of Tennessee, J.D. (with high honors), 1986

Born: 1961


Joseph R. Wheeler

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Product Liability
  • Tort Litigation
  • Insurance Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Professional Liability
  • Litigation & Appeals
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1987
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Tennessee, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1989
Additional Biographical Details:

Lawyer of the Year-Product Liability Litigation-Defendants-2021, Best Lawyers in America, Product Liability Defense and Personal Injury Defense, 2011-2021

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
  • Fellow, Nashville Bar Foundation
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy
Education:
  • Vanderbilt University, B.A. (cum laude), 1984
  • The University of Tennessee College of Law, J.D., 1987

Born: 1962


Rebecca Wells Demaree

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Labor and Employment
  • Litigation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1989
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1993
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2015
Additional Biographical Details:

Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law 2017-2021

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Transylvania University
  • University of Louisville, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1985
  • Vanderbilt University Law School, J.D., 1989

Born: 1963


Daniel P. Berexa

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Insurance Law
  • Motor Vehicle
  • Product Liability
  • Civil Litigation
  • Tort Litigation
  • Business Litigation
  • Personal Injury
  • Professional Liability
  • Wrongful Death
  • Litigation & Appeals
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1992
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 1992
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, 2000
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 2002
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, 2010
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2014
Additional Biographical Details:

Mid-South Super Lawyers 2011-2019; Best Lawyers in America 2013-2021, Personal Injury Litigation; National Association of Distinguished Counsel-Nation's Top One Percent

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee, Williamson County and Nashville Bar Associations
  • Barrister, Harry Phillips American Inn of Court
  • Fellow, Nashville Bar Foundation
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
Education:
  • University of Florida, B.A., 1987
  • The University of Tennessee College of Law, J.D. (cum laude), 1991
Military:
Captain, U.S. Army Reserve (1985-2000)

Born: 1965


Jason K. Murrie

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Litigation
  • General Civil Practice
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Personal Injury
  • Employment Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Insurance Defense
  • Premises Liability
  • Wrongful Death
Admitted
  • Kentucky, 2006
  • Tennessee, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 2009
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, 2010
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, 2013
Additional Biographical Details:

Best Lawyers in America, Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants-2019-2021; Mid-South Rising Stars, 2017-2019

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee, Kentucky and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • University of Florida, B.A. (with honors), 2002
  • University of Louisville, J.D., 2006

Born: 1980


Peter C. Robison

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Labor and Employment
  • Personal Injury
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate
  • Insurance Defense
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction Litigation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 2008
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Additional Biographical Details:

Mid-South Rising Stars-Employment & Labor, 2017-2019

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Brigham Young University, B.A., 2005
  • Vanderbilt University Law School, J.D., 2008
Clerkship:
Clerk to the Hon. Thomas W. Brothers, Nashville, TN (2008-2010)
Language:
  • Spanish

Managing Partner


Brian W. Holmes

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Litigation
  • General Civil Practice
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Health Care
  • Appellate Practice
  • Hospital Law
  • Insurance Law
  • Insurance Defense
  • Personal Injury
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Wrongful Death
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 2002
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 2003
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Belmont University, B.S. (cum laude), 1999
  • Vanderbilt University, J.D., 2002

Born: 1976


Associates


Mary E. Stoner

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • General Litigation
  • Health Care
  • Health Care Liability
  • Labor and Employment
  • Personal Injury
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Tort
  • Insurance Defense
  • Product Liability
  • Business Litigation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 2018
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee
  • Tennessee Supreme Court
Memberships:
  • Harry Phillips American Inns of Court 2017-2018
Education:
  • Temple University, B.A. (cum laude), 2011
  • Nashville School of Law, J.D. (with honors), 2018

Gage C. Smythe

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • General Litigation
  • Personal Injury
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Tort
  • Insurance Defense
  • Product Liability
  • Business Services and Litigation
Admitted
  • Alabama, 2018
  • Tennessee, 2021
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee, Nashville and Birmingham Bar Associations
Education:
  • The University of Alabama in Huntsville, B.A. (magna cum laude), 2014
  • Cumberland School of Law of Samford University, J.D. (cum laude), 2018

Born: 1992


Seth R. Granda

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Construction Litigation
  • General Litigation
  • Health Care Liability
  • Labor and Employment Law
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 2017
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee, Williamson County and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Belmont University, B.A., History, 2013
  • Belmont University College of Law, J.D., 2016
Clerkship:
Clerked for the Honorable Deanna B. Johnson and James G. Martin, III, Judges for the Twenty-First Judicial District of Tennessee

Born: 1989


Senior Counsel


C. Bennett Harrison, Jr.

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Civil Litigation
  • Mediation
  • Appellate Practice
  • Health Care
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Professional Liability
  • Bankruptcy Litigation
  • Business/Entertainment Litigation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1977
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 1978
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1982
Additional Biographical Details:

Lawyer of the Year-Medical Malpractice Defense, 2014 & 2020; Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2021; Top Lawyers-Commercial Litigation, 2011; Best of the Bar, 2009

Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Vanderbilt University, B.A., 1974
  • Southern Methodist University, J.D., 1977

Born: 1952


Of Counsel


Charles G. Cornelius

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Probate
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Personal Injury
  • Wrongful Death
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1969
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 1969
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
Education:
  • Vanderbilt University, B.A., 1966
  • The University of Tennessee, J.D., 1968
Military:
Colonel, Tennessee Air National Guard (Retired)

Born: 1943


David L. Steed

Nashville, TN

Practice Areas
  • Health Care
  • Litigation
  • Administrative and Licensure Board Matters
  • Internal Appeals, Medicare and Private Payor Disputes
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1980
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, 1981
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations
  • American Society of Medical Association Counsel
Education:
  • University of Miami, B.A. (cum laude), 1977
  • Vanderbilt University, J.D., 1980
Honors:
President's Award, Nashville Academy of Medicine (1995)

Born: 1955


John D. Kitch

Nashville, TN

Years of Experience: 40

Practice Areas
  • Probate
  • Appellate Practice
  • Civil Trial Practice
  • Insurance Defense
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1976
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
Memberships:
  • American, Tennessee and Nashville (President, 2002) Bar Associations
  • Master of the Bench Emeritus, Harry Phillips American Inn of Court
  • Fellow, Nashville Bar Foundation
Education:
  • Purdue University, B.A., 1973
  • Vanderbilt University Law School, J.D., 1976

Stephen K. Heard

Nashville, TN

Years of Experience: 38

Practice Areas
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Construction
  • Equine Law
  • Insurance
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Product Liability
  • Personal Injury
  • Contract Disputes
  • Commercial & Business Litigation
  • Non-Profit Business Organization
  • Transportation Litigation
Admitted
  • Tennessee, 1980
  • Georgia, 1980
  • Kentucky, 2009
Additional Biographical Details:

Who's Who Professional of the Year in Law/Workers' Compensation, 2007, 2009; Martindale Hubbell-AV Preeminent and Highest Achievable Rating; Recognized by Best Lawyers; Recognized by Lawyers of Distinction; Recognized by Best Attorneys; Served as Faculty of IADC Trial Academy

Memberships:
  • Federal, American, Tennessee, Kentucky and Nashville Bar Associations
  • State Bar of Georgia
  • Tennessee Association of Construction Counsel
  • American College of Equine Attorneys
  • Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Defense Research and Trial Lawyers Association
  • Transportation Lawyers Association
Education:
  • University of North Carolina, B.A., 1976
  • Emory University School of Law, J.D., 1980

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