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John E. Winters

  • Partner, Managing Partner 2013-2015
Martindale-Hubbell | AV Preeminent | Peer Rated For Highest Level Of Professional Excellence | 2019

John E. Winters, an effective trial lawyer with over 23 years of experience, focuses his practice in the areas of Labor and Employment and Commercial Litigation. His vast knowledge and experience coupled with a common sense approach to resolving disputes is vital to helping his clients save not only money but also valuable time away from their businesses. He takes the time to understand his clients' needs and legal goals and looks for cost-effective solutions that will get them the results they want.

For those cases that require court action, Mr. Winters has extensive trial experience. He has served as lead counsel in approximately 50 jury trials throughout Tennessee, and represented clients in cases filed in Ohio, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Indiana and West Virginia. He has also served as lead counsel in many non-jury, arbitrations and administrative hearings.

The Best Lawyers in America, a highly regarded peer-review publication, first selected Mr. Winters for inclusion to its list in 2011 for Labor and Employment and Insurance Law. He has received this distinction every year since.

Mid-South Super Lawyers recognized Mr. Winters in the field of Civil Litigation - Defense in 2014 and 2015.

Martindale Hubbell has awarded Mr. Winters an AV Rating.

In his Labor and Employment practice, besides providing litigation assistance, Mr. Winters gives general employment law advice, provides training and represents companies in a wide array of matters before state and federal administrative agencies. His practice includes the following issues:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Non-Competition Agreements
  • Contract Disputes
  • Retaliation
  • Trade Secrets

In his Commercial Litigation practice, he represents companies as well as individuals in federal and state courts and arbitration proceedings.

Mr. Winters was selected by the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 to serve as a member of the Merit Selection Panel for the Eastern District of Tennessee. In this position, Mr. Winters played a role in the selection of two Bankruptcy Court judges for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Representative Matters

Mr. Winters obtained dismissal of his client, a large financial institution, in a case in which its broker was alleged to have been negligent regarding a life insurance policy valued at $1 million.

He obtained a Preliminary Injunction for a large financial institution, which barred a former broker from contacting former clients.

He obtained dismissal of a case filed by a former medical school student, who claimed that he had been discriminated against due to an alleged disability.

He was lead trial counsel in a jury trial for an aviation company that purchased an airplane relying on misrepresentations made by the agent during the negotiations. He was successful at obtaining a verdict against the seller of the airplane.

He negotiated resolution of a non-compete agreement for a former employee that allowed the employee to remain employed in the same field.

Mr. Winters was on the firm's defense team that successfully defended a putative class action with 17 named plaintiffs in a Title VII claim. The claims of all 17 plaintiffs were either dismissed on summary judgment or voluntarily dismissed with prejudice in exchange for a waiver of court costs after summary judgment was filed.

He was also on the firm's defense team that defended a putative class action involving failure to hire issues with a proposed class of over 300 members. In this case, the plaintiffs' motion to certify the class was denied, and two of the individual claims were dismissed on summary judgment. On the one claim that survived summary judgment, he served as the lead trial counsel. The jury returned a verdict in favor of his client.

He represented a company that obtained a $920,000 jury verdict against a competitor for engaging in interference with contractual relations, interference with business relations, unfair competition, breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy. This verdict was later affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Areas Of Practice

  • Labor and Employment
  • Commercial Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1993
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Tennessee, 1994
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Tennessee, 1994
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of Tennessee, 1994


  • Memphis State University School of Law, Memphis, Tennessee
    • J.D. - 1993
    • Honors: With Honors
    • Honors: University of Memphis Law Alumni Board 2010 - 2014
  • University of Tennessee
    • B.A. - 1990
    • Honors: Graduated with Honors

Published Works

  • "What are the Rules After Hoffman?" Tennessee Bar Journal, July, 2008

Representative Cases

  • Shaikh v. Lincoln Memorial University, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7113 (6th Cir. April 27, 2015)
  • Johnson v. Lenoir City Housing Authority, 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 189 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 31, 2008)
  • Johnson v. Reineke, 2004 Tenn. App. LEXIS 119 (Tenn. Ct. App Feb. 25, 2004)
  • FTA Enterprises, Inc. v. Pomeroy Computer Resources, Inc., 2001 Tenn App. LEXIS 116 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 12, 2001)
  • Yarnell v. TransAmerica Life Ins. Co. and SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., 694 F. Supp. 2d 849 (E.D. Tenn. 2010)
  • Linson v Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44654 (E.D. Tenn. June 29, 2006)
  • Duff v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60747 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 25, 2006)
  • Andrews v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68027 (E.D. Tenn Sept. 21, 2006)
  • Miller v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79293 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 18, 2006)
  • O'Neal v. Wackenhut Services, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34634 (E.D. Tenn. May 25, 2006)

Classes / Seminars

  • Anatomy of an Age Discrimination Complaint, Kramer Rayson LLP Sixth Annual Employment Law Conference, Knoxville, 2009 to 2009
  • Reducing the Potential for Discrimination and Harassment Liability, National Business Institute, Knoxville, 2009 to 2009
  • Managing a Diverse Workforce, Kramer Rayson LLP Fifth Annual Employment Law Conference, Knoxville, 2008 to 2008
  • Proposed Amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure Regarding Discovery of Electronically-Stored Information, Tennessee Bar Association Seminar on Electronic Evidence, Knoxville, 2008 to 2008
  • Preparing the Employment Law Case, National Business Institute Seminar, Knoxville, 2008 to 2008
  • Trade Secret Claims and Covenants Not to Complete, Kramer Rayson LLP Fourth Annual Employment Law Conference, Knoxville, 2007 to 2007
  • How to Select the Right Jury for Your Case, National Business Institute's Building Your Civil Trial Skills, Knoxville, 2007 to 2007
  • After Burlington Northern: Developments in Retaliation and Whistleblowing , Kramer Rayson LLP Third annual Employment Law Conference, Knoxville, 2006 to 2006
  • Principles of Electronic Discovery, Barristers - Trial Practice in Tennessee, Knoxville, 2005 to 2005
  • What to Expect When You've Been Sued, Principles of Employment Law Discovery , Kramer Rayson LLP Employment Law Conference, Knoxville, 2004 to 2004

Honors And Awards

  • Martindale Hubbell - AV Rating
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, 2011 - 2018
  • Best Lawyers' Lawyer of the Year 2018 for Labor Law - Management
  • Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers in General Civil Litigation - Defense, 2017
  • Listed as one of Knoxville's Best Employment Lawyers by CityView Magazine 2009-2017

Professional Associations And Memberships

  • Merit Selection Panel for Eastern District of Tennessee - Knoxville Bankruptcy Judge Positions, Member
  • Merit Selection Panel for Eastern District of Tennessee - Chattanooga Bankruptcy Judge, Member
  • Tennessee Bar Association, Leadership Law Class , 2007
  • Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, Hearing Officer, 2012 to Present
  • Tennessee Bar Association, Litigation Section, Executive Committee, 2006 to 2009
  • Tennessee Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education Committee, 2008
  • Hamilton Burnett American Inns of Court, President, 2013 to 2014
  • Hamilton Burnett American Inns of Court, Executive Committee, 2010 to 2015
  • Hamilton Burnett American Inns of Court, 2007 to Present
  • Knoxville Bar Association
  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • ABA's Labor, Employment Law and Litigation Sections, Member

Civic / Community Involvement

  • Fellow, Knoxville Bar Foundation - 2014 Inductee
  • Fellow, Tennessee Bar Foundation - 2015 Inductee