About Us About Us

About the Firm
The firm offers services and has experience in all forms of civil litigation, business formation and organization, all areas of taxation, estate planning and probate, labor and employment, creditors' and debtors' rights, and real estate.  It represents individuals as well as local, national and international businesses.  Its attorneys try cases and do appellate work in state and federal courts.  The thirteen active attorneys have a wealth of diverse experience and support each other as complexities of legal problems often involve numerous areas of practice. 

The firm was founded in 1929 and has included an overlapping succession of partners over the past 75 years.  These have included two presidents of the Kentucky Bar Association, five members of the Board of Governors of the KBA, a U.S. District Judge, three Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and a Special Justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

Firm members are and have been active and leaders in local civic and religious institutions, and local, state and national legal groups.

Specific Experience

Attorneys have litigated all forms of personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents, trucking litigation, products liability, workers' compensation, medical negligence, toxic tort and premises liability.  The members of the firm possess extensive experience in insurance litigation, including policy interpretation, bad faith claims and errors and omissions.  They also have experience in the areas of defamation, libel, and media law.  Business litigation issues have included contract disputes, corporate dissolution, RICO, bankruptcy, foreclosure, collection, construction, Medicare fraud, stockholders' suits, antitrust and restrictive trade practice.

In addition to labor and employment litigation, including discrimination, wrongful termination, covenants not to compete, NLRB representation, and injunctions, attorneys have given advice regarding recognition of unions, work stoppages, contract negotiations, hiring practices and employment manuals.

Business representation includes establishing corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and other forms of doing business. Ancillary to this is experience in mergers and consolidations.

Attorneys have extensive experience and an active practice in estate planning and administration, along with related litigation.

Real estate work includes title examinations, litigation of title, planning and zoning, land use development and condemnation.

Attorneys in the firm represent financial institutions and work with all forms of financing, including the Uniform Commercial Code, and creditors' and debtors' rights.

The firm has an extensive maritime litigation and transactional practice representing towing companies and their insurers in maritime litigation in state and federal courts involving personal injury or property damage arising from recreational and commerical vessels; marine insurance; ship owners limitation of liability; and maritime contracts and charter party disputes.

In administrative procedures and professional liability trials, firm members have represented physicians, engineers, attorneys, accountants, psychologists, dentists and others.

The firm's construction law practice includes representing owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and insurers with regard to construction defect litigation, subrogation and indemnity, insurance coverage issues, contract drafting, negotiation and disputes, collections, and related matters.

Appellate advocacy experience includes appearances before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Kentucky, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Four members of the firm served as federal law clerks: Three for the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, and one for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Representative clients include:  A&K Construction, Inc.; Acceptance Insurance Companies; AIG; Air Products & Chemicals, Inc.; AutoOwners Insurance Company; Arkema, Inc.; Big Rivers Electric Energy Corporation; Briggs & Stratton, Inc.; Calvert City Marine Works; Chicago Title Company; The Cincinnati Insurance Companies; City of Paducah, Kentucky; Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company; Countryside Mobile Homes, Inc.; Crounse Corp.; The Doctors Company; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Kentucky; Emro Marketing Company; ESIS; Falconite Development Group; C.B. Goodman & Sons, Lumber; Goodrich Corporation;  Great West Casualty; Honeywell International, Inc.; Jefferson Insurance Group; Kemper Insurance; Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association; Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Linwood Motors; Market Marine Industries; Marketing Services of Indiana, Inc.; Matthews Investments; MeadWestvaco; The Medical Protective Company; Midwestern Insurance Alliance; New Page; Paducah Bank & Trust; Paducah Board of Education; Paducah Junior College, Inc.; Paducah Ford, Inc.;  Paducah-McCracken County Convention & Visitors Bureau; Paducah-McCracken County Convention Center Crop.; Paschall Truck Lines, Inc.; Paxton Media Group, LLC; Progressive Insurance Company; Ray Black and Son, Inc.; Regions Bank; Regions Morgan Keegan Trust; River Enterprises; Shelter Insurance; State Farm Mutual Insurance Companies; State Volunteer Mutual Insurance; Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Three Rivers Boat and Barge; Travelers Insurance Company; U.S. Bank, N.A.; USEC; VMV Enterprises; Wagner Moving & Storage, Inc.;  Waterways Equipment Exchange, Inc.; WPSD-TV.

Approved attorneys for:   Chicago Title Insurance Company; Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company; Stewart Title Guaranty Company.

Firm History

Thomas S. Waller was a successful criminal and civil litigation lawyer and a native of Morganfield, Kentucky.   Clement S. Nunn was a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals and a native of Marion, Kentucky.   In 1929, these two esteemed attorneys established the Paducah legal firm today known as Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub, PLLC.   For more than 75 years the firm has provided legal services to clients and service to the community.  In addition to representing tens of thousands of clients, its members have helped found Paducah Junior College and the Paducah Symphony Orchestra and have served as officers in hundreds of civic, church, and bar activities.

Thomas W. Threlkeld, Mr. Waller's cousin, joined the new firm upon his graduation from Vanderbilt Law School in June of 1929.  In 1935, Judge Nunn was killed in an automobile accident placing a new burden on the remaining partnership.  The addition of Henry O. Whitlow in 1937 and Georgia Mae Nelson in 1938 brought new life to the newly named Waller & Threlkeld.  After Henry Whitlow returned from military service with the 12th Armored Division in 1946, the firm Waller, Threlkeld & Whitlow was established.   Henry Whitlow actively practiced law until 2001 and his influence on the firm is unparalleled.

In 1962, Richard C. Roberts joined the firm after graduation from Yale Law School.  Gary Houston, a Murray native, became an associate in 1967 following graduation from Vanderbilt.   In 1970, Tom Russell, a University of Kentucky graduate with an Order of the Coif Award, was added as an associate.

Mr. Waller actively managed the firm until his death in 1975.  Known to abhor second place, he applied his bountiful energy and brilliance to that end and was in the office the day before he died.  Mr. Waller was well known in the early part of the last century for his skillful oratory.  It has been said by members of the firm who have followed that, no one has told a story as well since Mr. Waller died!   After Mr. Waller's death, the firm became known as Threlkeld, Whitlow & Roberts.  When Thomas Threlkeld retired from the firm, the name was changed to Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Russell.

Mark Whitlow, son of Henry Whitlow, a 1977 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, joined the firm as an associate in 1978.   By this time, Anne Fowler Gwinn, a graduate of Washington University Law School, had also joined the firm.

In 1980, Rick Straub joined the firm quickly building a strong practice in litigation and insurance defense.   In 1994, partner Tom Russell was appointed as Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and the firm was re-named Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub.

The firm is very active in Bar association work.   Tom Waller and Tom Russell served as presidents of the Kentucky Bar Association.   Tom Threlkeld, Tom Russell, Dick Roberts and Mark Whitlow each served on the Board of Governors.  Dick Roberts was the first president of the Kentucky Defense Counsel.   Henry Whitlow was Kentucky's Lawyer of the Year in 1993. Printable home page copy