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Posted by LSK in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Aug 24th 2007, 01:45 PM
How on earth can you question him if you know about his career as a lawyer???

I see post after post here about not trusting John Edwards to fight Corporations. How in the hell can anyone say that if you know about his past? He was not born in 1998 you know.

A proud product of public schools, John became the first person in his family to attend college. He worked his way through North Carolina State University where he graduated with high honors in 1974, and then earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For the next 20 years, John dedicated his career to representing families and children just like the families he grew up with in Robbins. Standing up against the powerful insurance industry and their armies of lawyers, John helped these families through the darkest moments of their lives to overcome tremendous challenges. His passionate advocacy for people like the folks who worked in the mill with his father earned him respect and recognition across the country. /

Before running for political office, John Edwards was a personal injury trial attorney, specializing in representing people who were alleged victims of corporate negligence and/or medical malpractice.

After law school, he clerked for a Federal judge and in 1978 became an associate at the Nashville law firm of Dearborn & Ewing, doing primarily trial work, defending a Nashville bank and other corporate clients. The Edwards family returned to North Carolina in 1981, settling in the capital of Raleigh where he joined the firm of Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove.<12>

Edwards' first notable case was a 1984 medical malpractice lawsuit. As a young associate, he got the assignment because it was considered a losing case; the firm had only accepted it as a favor to an attorney and state senator who did not want to keep it. Nevertheless, Edwards won a $3.7 million verdict on behalf of his client, who suffered permanent brain and nerve damage after a doctor prescribed a drug overdose of anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse during alcohol aversion therapy.<13> In other cases, Edwards sued the American Red Cross three times, alleging transmission of AIDS through tainted blood products, resulting in a confidential settlement each time, and defended a North Carolina newspaper against a libel charge.<12>

In 1985, Edwards tried a case involving medical malpractice during childbirth, representing a five-year-old child born with cerebral palsy whose doctor did not choose to perform an immediate Caesarian delivery when a fetal monitor showed she was in distress. Edwards won a $6.5 million settlement for his client, but five weeks later, the presiding judge sustained the verdict but overturned the award as being "excessive" and that it appeared "to have been given under the influence of passion and prejudice," adding that in his opinion "the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict." He offered the plaintiffs half of the jury's settlement, but the child's family appealed the case and settled for $4.25 million.<12> Winning this case established the North Carolina precedent of physician and hospital liability for failing to determine if the patient understood risks of a particular procedure.<13>

After this trial, Edwards gained national attention as a plaintiff's lawyer. He filed at least 20 similar lawsuits in the years following and achieved verdicts and settlements of more than $60 million for his clients. His fee, as is customary in "contingency" cases, was one-third of the settlement plus expenses. These successful lawsuits were followed by similar ones across the country. When asked about an increase in Caesarean deliveries nationwide, perhaps to avoid similar medical malpractice lawsuits, Edwards said, "The question is, would you rather have cases where that happens instead of having cases where you don't intervene and a child either becomes disabled for life or dies in utero?"<12>

In 1993, Edwards began his own firm in Raleigh (now known as Kirby & Holt) with a friend, David Kirby. He became known as the top plaintiffs' attorney in North Carolina.<12> The biggest case of his legal career was a 1997 product liability lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain cover. The case involved a three-year-old girl<14> who was disemboweled by the suction power of the pool drain pump when she sat on an open pool drain whose protective cover other children at the pool had removed, after the swim club had failed to install the cover properly. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, Sta-Rite continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. Sta-Rite protested that an additional warning would have made no difference because the pool owners already knew the importance of keeping the cover secured. In his closing arguments, Edwards spoke to the jury for an hour and a half without referring to notes. It was an emotional appeal that made reference to his son, Wade, who had been killed shortly before testimony began in the trial. Mark Dayton, editor of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, would later call it "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen."<15> The jury awarded the family $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. The company settled for the $25 million while the jury was deliberating additional punitive damages, rather than risk losing an appeal. For their part in this case, Edwards and law partner David Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.<13> The family said that they hired Edwards over other attorneys because he alone had offered to accept a smaller percentage as fee unless the settlement was unexpectedly high, while all of the other lawyers they spoke with said they required the full one-third fee. The size of the settlement was unprecedented and Edwards did receive the standard one-third plus expenses fee typical of contingency cases. The family was so impressed with his intelligence and commitment<12> that they volunteered for his Senate campaign the next year.

After Edwards won a large verdict against a trucking company whose worker had been involved in a fatal accident, the North Carolina legislature passed a law prohibiting such awards unless the employee's actions had been specifically sanctioned by the company.<12>

In December 2003, during his first presidential campaign, Edwards (with John Auchard) published Four Trials, a biographical book focusing on cases from his legal career.

I don't know why anyone doubts John Edwards when he talks about taking it to Corporations. I trust John Edwards to take on the Corporations as much as anyone.

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