So much has been made of trial Lawyers saying they are bad for America. I found this in my search for truth. As a law student, it is my duty to find the truth, and John is a lawyers' lawyer. Nothing shyster like here, he is good, no, great for America. If I was sick or injured and needed a lawyer, which happens, he is my man, my pick of all the lawyers running.
He will make a fine president.
Democratic Candidate President, 2008
Legal Professionals, see The Thomson Legal Record for John R. Edwards
Providing the complete litigation record for John Edwards
Born: June 10, 1953, Seneca, South Carolina
Occupation: Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Prior Occupations: U.S. Senator, North Carolina
Education: B.S., North Carolina State University, 1974
J.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1977
Jump to: Cases litigated by Edwards | Profile | News & Commentary
Major Cases Litigated by John Edwards:
The charts below contain a selection of the multi-million dollar cases litigated by John Edwards during his legal career, including personal injury & product liability cases, medical malpractice cases, and motor vehicle injury cases.
PERSONAL INJURY & PRODUCT LIABILITY CASES
Beyond representing clients in routine personal injury cases, Edwards developed a specialty in swimming pool injury cases. In one case involving a 5-year-old girl who was disemboweled by suction from a pool drain, the jury awarded her $25M, the highest personal injury award in North Carolina history at the time.
Case Summary of Facts Case Type Result
Lakey v. Sta-Rite Industries
(Wake Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1996) 5-year-old girl was disemboweled, but survived, after being caught and suctioned by wading pool's defective drain. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, manufacturer continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. Product
Passe v. General Transport Systems, Inc.
(Wake Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1997) 850-lb. box delivered to attorney's home, fell on him breaking his back, causing paraplegia, and confinement to wheelchair. Negligence
Weckbacher v. J.B. Hunt Transport
(U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D.N.C. 1997) 33-year-old died during rescue attempt after head-on pickup–tractor-trailer collision. Settlement included worker's comp claim. Wrongful Death
Buck v. Atlantic Veneer Corp.
(Carteret Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1987) Worker fractured both ankles, jaw, and skull after fall from 24-foot scaffold in defendant's plywood plant. Premises
Morgan v. Southeast Jurisdictional Admin.
(Wake Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1988) 14-year-old girl rendered quadriplegic from neck injury resulting from improperly supervised dive into shallow end of defendants' pool. Premises
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES
Another specialty Edwards developed was in medical malpractice cases involving problems during births of babies. According to the New York Times, after Edwards won a $6.5M verdict for a baby born with cerbral-palsy, he filed at least 20 similar lawsuits against doctors and hospitals in deliveries gone wrong, winning verdicts and settlements of more than $60M.
Case Summary of Facts Case Type Result
Griffin v. Teague, et al.
(Mecklenburg Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1997) Application of abdominal pressure and delay in performing c-section caused brain damage to infant and resulted in child having cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia. Verdict set record for malpractice award. Medical Malpractice
Campbell v. Pitt County Memorial Hosp.
(Pitt County, NC, 1985) Infant born with cerebral palsy after breech birth via vaginal delivery, rather than cesarean. Established North Carolina precedent of physician and hospital liability for failing to determine if patient understood risks of particular procedure. Medical
Wiggs v. Glover, et al. Plaintiff alleged infant's severe cerebral palsy was caused by negligent administration of pitocin, failure to use fetal monitor, or timely intervening in baby's fetal distress. Medical
Cooper v. Craven Regional Med. Ctr., et al. Infant suffered severe brain damage after obstetrician failed to moderate use of Picotin after baby displayed clear fetal distress. Medical
Dixon v. Pitt County Memorial Hospital
(Pitt County, NC) Birth-related injuries including cerebral palsy and mental retardation allegedly caused by obstetrician's failure to diagnose fetal distress, including umbilical cord wrapped around baby's neck prior to delivery. Medical
Sawyer v. St. Joseph's Hospital Doctor prescribed drug overdose of anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse, resulting in permanent brain and nerve damage. Medical
Estate of Fuller v. Mazzaglia 38-year-old female committed suicide after psychiatrist discontinued suicide watch. Medical
Allen v. Bostic
(Forsyth Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1991) Doctor's delay and failure to properrly treat 45-year-old's severely lacerated foot ultimately required amputation of foot three years later. Medical
MOTOR VEHICLE INJURY CASES
Another specialty Edwards developed was in motor vehicle accident and injury cases involving tractor-trailers.
Howard v. Collins & Aikman Corp.
(NC Superior Ct., 1990) Suit against trucking company by estate of man killed by company driver, arguing that company acted recklessly in paying drivers by the mile, thereby encouraging unsafe conduct. Truck
Kim v. Poling & Bacon Construction Co., Inc.
(Wake Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1992) Head-on car-truck collision injured 5 in car, including 7-year-old who suffered fractured skull and massive brain injury Truck
Casey, et al. v. Fredrickson Motor Exp. Corp.
(Buncombe Co. Superior Ct., NC, 1991) Part-time employee suffered severe brain damage after vehicle collided with defendant's semi-truck. Truck
As a veteran trial lawyer, John Edwards brings to his Vice Presidential candidacy years of legal experience honed in personal injury cases in state and federal courts. Until he graduated law school at the University of North Carolina, he explains in his autobiography The Four Trials, "[t]here were no lawyers in my extended family. There were millworkers, grocery clerks, ministers, Marines, boxers - but not lawyers." When he was eleven years old, Edwards wrote that he wanted to be a lawyer "to protect innocent people from blind justice the best I can." Edwards pursed this vision trying to live his life by righting wrongs, captivated by television shows like The Fugitive and Perry Mason. Twenty-seven years after he passed the bar exam, Edwards' track record as a litigator remains remarkable: according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, he obtained verdicts and settlements for his clients totaling more than $175 million over his career.
Republicans and Democrats continue their debate over malpractice awards medical costs, and corporate liability during the 2004 presidential election campaigns, but even conservative publications like The National Review bestow a healthy respect of Edwards, acknowledging that he "brings real strengths to the Democratic ticket." His twenty years of success as a trial lawyer, followed by his election to the U.S. Senate, are surely a key factor for such respect.
Edwards' successful track record as a trial lawyer is intimately connected to his skill at communicating his clients' cases to juries. He is a master of breaking down sophisticated medical terms into layman's language, and known for his meticulous trial preparation.
The wide variety of personal injury cases that Edwards accepted (some of which are detailed in his Thomson Legal Record and on Westlaw) were generally complex, and typically involved life-altering tragedies. He obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for catastrophic birth injuries to newborns. In the 1988 case of a couple whose daughter suffered cerebral palsy when a doctor and hospital staff failed to timely respond to fetal distress, Edwards' and his legal team won a $1.5 million pre-trial settlement against the obstetrician, and $6.5 million trial verdict against the hospital (later reduced to $4.25 million). In another case involving birth-related injuries, including cerebral palsy, he secured a jury verdict of more than $23 million.
Edwards' first big damages award involved the medical malpractice case of E.G. Sawyer, a salesman who sought medical help for his drinking problem. Instead of help, however, he received a debilitating overdose of Antabuse, the drug used to control alcoholism. Edwards showed the jury that the doctor and hospital gave his client three times the maximum daily recommended drug dosage, resulting in permanent brain and nerve damage. A judge warned him that local "juries down here don't award more than a hundred thousand dollars." Since the plaintiff was an alcoholic, the judge added, he said Edwards' client would lose the case. The jury's disagreed, awarding Mr. Sawyer damages of $3.7 million. Injuries and wrongful death lawsuits from motor vehicle accidents involving cars and trucks were also a staple of Edwards' law practice. Reported settlements for some of these included damage awards of $3 - $5.89 million. Settlements in some of his other, similar cases remain confidential, but may have been even higher.
Perhaps no trial victory was greater in the eyes of Edwards's fellow lawyers than his record-setting product liability award for the Lakey family, parents of a five-year-old girl whose daughter was disemboweled after she became caught in a wading-pool drain, and lived. The manufacturer, Sta-Rite Industries, knew about similar drain cover injury lawsuits involving its products, but still failed to include a warning on the drain's cover. The company initially offered Edwards' $100,000 to settle his clients' case, The jury rendered a verdict of $25 million. Under North Carolina law at the time, punitive damages could have tripled that award, but Edwards' clients settled. For that case, Edwards and his law partner were honored with a public service award from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
In January 2004, an obscure conservative web site charge that Edwards' trial record was based upon "junk science", alleging that cerebral palsy and brain damage may not be birth-related injuries. GOP supporters and talk show hosts have repeated this "junk science" label, but retired North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert Farmer, who presided over a landmark $25M product liability case that Edwards successfully litigated, rebuked such claims in an interview on Fox
Edwards: From Trial Lawyer To V.P. Candidate
This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Tonight we continue our special series on the future vice president, John Edwards, with an in depth look at his career as a trial attorney.
John Edwards, the lawyer, first made national news in 1997 winning $25 million, the largest settlement in North Carolina history, for a little girl who had been hideously injured by the drain of a wading pool.
His rhetorical skill not only convinced the jury and made a supporter out of the judge presiding over the case.
Joining us from North Carolina is that judge that presided over that case and a Kerry supporter, retired Superior Court Judge Robert Farmer.
Judge, thank you for being with us tonight.
JUDGE ROBERT FARMER, RETIRED JUDGE: Thank you.
COLMES: Did you have any sense when you were presiding over that trial that this was a man who would perhaps one day be where he is now?
FARMER: No, not running for vice president. I thought he would keep on being a trial [lawyer]; he was so good at it.
COLMES: You know, a lot of people are going to say this guy is supposed to be impartial. He's a judge. Now he's showing his true Democratic colors.
At what point did you become a Kerry and/or Edwards supporter?
FARMER: I became a supporter January 1 of this year, because I was a judge for 25 years and you cannot support other candidates by money, by word of mouth or anything else. So when I retired January 1, then I became a supporter of John Edwards.
COLMES: Now I understand in the wading pool incident, he turned down $17.5 million, took a huge gamble, convinced the family to turn down an incredible offer, thinking he could do even better. Well, that already would have been a record award.
What your take on that and what did that tell you about John Edwards?
FARMER: I did not know it at the time, I knew it after the trial was over. But it indicated to me that he was extremely confident, not only in his own ability, but in being able to have the facts presented to this jury in a way that they were going to return a verdict larger than that $17 million.
COLMES: I understand that people came from all over to see his closing arguments. Can you tell us what it is, what it was about him as an attorney that attracted so much attention?
FARMER: John Edwards is probably the best-prepared trial lawyer I've ever seen in a courtroom in my 25 years. He's extremely brilliant. And when he did his final argument to the jury, it lasted about an hour and a half.
The courtroom had been empty most of the two months but all of the young lawyers in Raleigh turned out to watch, what I think they considered to be, the master, argue to a jury.
And what they saw was a man who argued for an hour and a half or more and never used a note. He had it all in his head. He'd studied this case from beginning to end and I think the jury realized that he knew what he was talking about.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: All right. Judge, you're a supporter of his. You've even gone to campaign for him, as I understand it, and I just want to get that on the record for our audience.
HANNITY: The case you're talking about, I actually thought it was a very valid case about the drain in the pool and this young girl that was hurt and I thought it was a devastating case.
But there are other cases and allegations by people that Senator Edwards used junk science to get these huge jury award amounts, in the case of saying that problems during the birthing process caused cerebral palsy.
I have a lot of quotes from people. For example, "What he has done with those lawsuits has increased the cost of medicine. He's not changed the practice of medicine in a way that you can see that there are fewer cases in any way, forcing doctors into retirement."
What about those charges?
FARMER: I do not know of any case that you are talking about, because I've never heard of it as a trial judge.
HANNITY: Well, apparently, it became a point of expertise for him. He did this quite often, these particular cases.
FARMER: Well, let me make one thing clear. When you say John Edwards is getting money from doctors and perhaps insurance companies, it's juries that make the awards, not trial lawyers.
The trial lawyer has nothing to do with the award to this little child. It's totally a jury of 12 people. And in North Carolina, it has to be unanimous.
HANNITY: Well, there are medical studies, for example, that went back to the 1980s which asserted doctors could do very little to cause cerebral palsy (search) during the birthing process.
And there were two new studies that came out in 2003 that said as much, and even well-known doctors in the field but he had a series of cases that he was involved with where he won fairly big awards.
For example I know that David Sousa (search), general counsel to the Medical Mutual insurance company of North Carolina, said, "He made a fortune suing ordinary people, ordinary doctors who paid liability insurance. He has single-handedly put this state in a position where we are losing good doctors. He's done a tremendous amount of damage."
So what you're describing is somebody who may be slick, but was he honest? Did he use real science? Did he abuse the system? Did he bring out the worst in what we see as a trial lawyer? This is what they're saying.
FARMER: Well, they may say that, but I have not observed that in any courtroom with John Edwards. I think he maintains the highest standard of ethical conduct that any lawyer could.
HANNITY: Could it be because you're a supporter of his?
FARMER: I would have said that before Jan. 1 when I was on the bench.
HANNITY: But you supported him then.
COLMES: Thank you very much, Judge Farmer, for being with us. Thank you for your time tonight.
As you can see, John has a great record in the legal field and I would chose him as my lawyer if I was injured on the job, as I was. I am a medical professional and John is the best choice period, bar none, for president I have ever seen during my lifetime. Where has he been anything but honorable. As good a record as Abraham Lincoln, who I know a lot about, being a Lincoln scholar also.