Wednesday, July 07, 2004

In OTHER lawyer news...

You're gonna hear an awful lot in the coming days and weeks about how John Edwards is an evil personal-injury lawyer. Lawyer lawyer lawyer. Evil Evil Evil bloodsucker. Yadda yadda yadda.

The Publicans don't like him because he goes after corporate malfeasance. Yeah - he's a lawyer. Yeah, he's made a LOT of money at it. But much of it was fighting for little guys, against big guys. Hey, somebody ought to, and if that somebody ends up the Vice President of the United States, all the better for us.

Here's the kind of lawyer Edwards is:
The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.
From a 2001 Washington Monthly article, via Fred Clark's Slacktivist blog.

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