R. Graham Esdale, Jr.Principal | Personal Injury and Product Liability
Graham obtained his B.S. degree in Marketing from Auburn University before going to law school. After graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1989, Graham started his law career with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office where he was involved in over 150 trials. He was a member of the homicide and sex abuse division, which focused on the prosecution of these complicated and sensitive crimes.
Graham left the District Attorney’s office in 1994 to enter civil practice where he chose to focus on products liability and workplace litigation. Graham left Birmingham in the fall of 1996 to join Beasley Allen. His primary responsibilities have been in the area of products liability and workplace injuries.
Graham has been named one of America’s “Best Lawyers” for consecutive years. He was also elected to the Alabama Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), which is a distinct recognition and privilege. ABOTA is a national organization comprised of both Plaintiff and Defense trial attorneys and is committed to the preservation of trial by jury. To be eligible for consideration, a lawyer must have tried at least 20 civil jury trials to verdict as lead counsel. Graham is a Member and Fellow of ABOTA and serves as National Board Representative.
Graham has been involved in the firm's tobacco litigation and other notable cases including a $114.5 million verdict against a bucket truck manufacturer and a $3 million verdict against Alabama Power Company involving an electrical accident.
Graham was a leader in the investigation of claims of personal injury and death related to Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA). Graham was one of the first attorneys in the country to file a lawsuit against Toyota alleging that Sudden Unintended Acceleration caused a personal injury and wrongful death. In January of 2010, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. announced the suspension of manufacturing and sales of many of its bestselling models after a series of safety recalls involving millions of vehicles. The recalls involved both Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and mainly had to do with the problem of sudden unintended acceleration. Graham had been actively investigating SUA problems for about two years prior to the first recall, which happened in September 2009. Graham traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Congressional hearings.
In October 2013, an Oklahoma City, Okla., jury in Bookout, et al v. Toyota found that electronic throttle defects were to blame for a 2007 crash that killed one woman and left another seriously injured. The jury awarded $1.5 million to the families of both women, who were riding in a 2005 Camry when it suddenly accelerated off an Oklahoma highway and careened into an embankment. Before the jury could deliberate on punitive damages, Toyota reached a separate confidential settlement with the families. The New York Times notes the verdict “most likely spurred Toyota to pursue a broad settlement of its remaining cases.” In March 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Toyota will pay fines of $1.2 billion to settle a four-year criminal investigation into its handling of sudden unintended acceleration defects in millions of its vehicles.
Graham was selected as a finalist for Public Justice’s 2014 Trial Lawyer of the Year, along with the other members of the trial team, for his work in the verdict against Toyota in Oklahoma. This award is given by Public Justice to the lawyer or trial team making the most outstanding contribution to the public through precedent-setting litigation in the last year. Graham also was named Beasley Allen's 2014 Products Liability Section Lawyer of the Year.
Graham is a member of the Federal Bar Association, and is a member of the State Bar Judicial Liaison Committee.
He is married to the former Leigh Ann Hibbett of Florence, Alabama, and they have two children, Whitney and Robert. Whitney is a sophomore in Pre-Med at Auburn University. Robert is 9 years old, and a music lover. He apparently has the goal of obtaining every musical instrument known to man. His latest requests are for a harp and a cowbell.
- Alabama, U.S. District Court for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama (1989)
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit (1989)
- Birmingham Bar Association
- Mobile County Bar Association
- Montgomery County Bar Association
- Alabama State Bar
- Alabama State Bar - Judicial Liaison Committee
- Alabama Association for Justice
- American Bar Association
- American Association for Justice
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
- Federal Bar Association
- Alabama Trial Lawyers Association (Executive Committee)
- South Alabama Trial Lawyers Association
- Montgomery County Trial Lawyers Association
- Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
- AV Rated
- Best Lawyers
- University of Alabama (J.D., 1989)
- Auburn University (B.S., 1980)
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- Uncovering product liability
- Esdale says the book is still open on Toyota SUA investigations
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- Toyota victims family appears on KOCO News wanting answers
- Graham Esdale on WSFA demanding Toyota recall older models
- Victims family wants broader recall
- Graham Esdale and daughters of client Barbara Schwarz attending Congressional hearings
- Family of victims and attorney Graham Esdale ask Toyota to recall 2002-2006 Camrys
- Toyota Victims to Attend Hearing
- Toyota and Unintended Acceleration
- Toyota CEO appears on Today show to discuss recall
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