Each year, it is a unique pleasure to recognize lawyers in our firm who have done an exceptional job for their clients and for the firm, not only in the past year but throughout their career. Beasley Allen Litigators of the Year for 2014 are Leigh O’Dell and Ben Baker. The Litigator of the Year award is presented to the attorney or attorneys in the instance who demonstrate exceptional professional skill throughout the course of the year and best represent the firm’s ideal of “helping those who need it most.” Leigh and Ben have done especially well during the past year, and we are most appreciative of their dedication and hard work.
Leigh works in the Mass Torts Section. Currently, Leigh is the firm’s lead lawyer on the transvaginal mesh litigation, which involves thousands of victims who have had transvaginal mesh used to repair conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Complications include erosion of the mesh into the vaginal wall, chronic pelvic pain, urinary tract infections, bleeding, painful intercourse, urinary and/or fecal incontinence, organ perforation, and leg pain. Numerous surgeries are often required to remove the mesh, which can be risky. For many, symptoms can be debilitating and permanent. The transvaginal mesh is manufactured by various companies, such as American Medical Systems, Bard, Boston Scientific, Caldera and Johnson & Johnson. Leigh was selected to the transvaginal mesh Plaintiff’s Steering Committee for all four Multi-District Litigations (MDL).
Ben works in the firm’s Personal Injury / Products Liability section. Ben has worked on numerous cases aimed at compensating clients for human losses and influencing corporations to manufacture safer products as well as nursing home litigation, aviation crashes and construction site injuries. In the fall of 2014 Ben received a $9.9 million verdict against Mazda Motor Corporation for a post-collision fuel-fed fire accident caused by poor design of the 2008 Mazda 3. Ben also was part of the trial team that obtained a $3 million verdict against Toyota in Oklahoma City in 2013 as part of the unintended acceleration litigation.
Beasley Allen also selected Lawyers of the Year in each section. Those lawyers selected were:
- Kendall Dunson, Personal Injury Section Lawyer of the Year – Kendall is currently working on cases involving personal injury including workers injured or killed on the job by no fault of their own. Kendall was a member of the trial team that prosecuted a wrongful death case against a corporate defendant resulting in a $2.5 million verdict, the largest jury verdict in Selma, Ala.; and was lead counsel in a maritime lawsuit resulting in a $5.75 million verdict.
- Graham Esdale, Products Liability Section Lawyer of the Year – Graham was the lead attorney in the Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration litigation. 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 October 2013 he was a part of the trial team that was awarded a confidential amount for the death and serious injury of his clients. Graham was 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.
- Alison Hawthorne, Fraud Section Lawyer of the Year – Ali is focused on complex litigation on a national level. Ali began her career working on the Average Wholesale Price and McKesson litigations, which seek to recover millions of dollars lost by state Medicaid agencies as a result of price reporting by the nation’s largest drug manufacturers. She was a part of the trial team working with Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell that recently reached an $88.4 million settlement with 25 pharmaceutical companies in that state’s ongoing Medicaid Fraud litigation
- Navan Ward, Mass Torts Section Lawyer of the Year – Navan is the firm’s leading attorney on the metal-on-metal hip implant litigation. Navan was selected to Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) for the DePuy “ASR” Hip Implant Recall Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Navan also was appointed as co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs Executive Committee in the Biomet M2a Magnum Hip Implant Products Liability MDL. Most recently, he helped craft a global settlement with Howmedica Osteonics Corporation / Stryker Orthopedics to resolve thousands of claims related to injuries suffered as the result of defective hip implant parts. It is estimated the settlement will cost Stryker more than $1 billion.
- Parker Miller, Toxic Torts Section Lawyer of the Year – Parker is currently focused on complex litigation and property owner and business-on-business environmental litigation. He is currently focusing much of his attention on BP Oil Spill litigation. Parker has counseled some of the largest business entities in the Southeast and has served as co-counsel to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in the valuation of the State of Alabama’s oil spill claims. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the multi-billion dollar BP Settlement agreement, which compensates businesses and individuals harmed by the April 20, 2010, explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and sparked the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history as oil flowed into the Gulf for months.
In addition to these annual awards, this year it was our particular honor to establish a new award, the Chad Stewart Award. This honor was created in memory of Beasley Allen lawyer Chad Stewart, who passed away unexpectedly in April at the very young age of 41. In addition to being a dedicated lawyer who worked hard for his clients, Chad truly modeled Jesus Christ in his daily walk. The Chad Stewart Award was created to recognize a lawyer who best exemplified Chad’s spirit of service to God, his family and the practice of law in the task of “helping those who need it most.” We were proud to present the 2014 Chad Stewart Award to Gibson Vance.
Gibson is familiar to lots of the Report readers who also watch The Beasley Allen Report each week on WSFA. He is the longtime host of that popular show. Gibson practices in the firm’s Personal Injury and Consumer Fraud sections, concentrating in actions against those who negligently or intentionally harm others. He is active in service to the legal profession. Gibson is past president of the Alabama Association for Justice and the American Association for Justice. He received the Joe Tonahill Award by AAJ’s New Lawyers Division for his outstanding service to the civil justice system. Gibson also was appointed to the Alabama Judicial Compensation Committee by the Lt. Governor of Alabama, and he currently serves on the Troy University Board of Trustees. Gibson is a worthy recipient of the Chad Stewart Award.
Each of the lawyers recognized this year has done an excellent job and we are very thankful for them and for their efforts. Congratulations to all of these lawyers for a job well done. Their hard work and dedication to their clients is greatly appreciated.