Edwards Kirby is led by John Edwards, a tireless proponent for social and
economic justice. As a proven advocate who will fight for fairness, equality,
civil rights and equal opportunity under the law, there is no attorney more dedicated
than John Edwards.
Throughout his national political service – as U.S. Senator from
North Carolina, 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee and candidate
for President of the United States – John tirelessly fought for
progressive social policies aimed at eliminating poverty, reforming health
care, safeguarding civil rights and protecting the environment.
Long before his service in the political arena, John was widely recognized
as one of the best trial lawyers in the country. As a plaintiff litigator,
he represented clients contesting the actions of corporate and commercial
interests, held companies accountable for reckless, unsafe or unsound
practices, and gave a voice to those seeking just and fair treatment under the law.
Making National Headlines
In the courtroom, his skills and accomplishments made national headlines:
- The New York Times called him “an exceptionally talented lawyer,
endowed with a prodigious work ethic.”
- USA Today wrote that his “magic with jurors” and his “star
qualities” in court made him “legendary.”
- The Washington Post captured the sentiments of his opponents when it described
their cardinal rule for going against John Edwards: “Never let him
near a jury.”
John grew up in the small mill town of Robbins, N.C., where his father
worked in a textile plant and his mother ran a small store. John was the
first in his family to attend college and graduated with honors from N.C.
State (BS ’74) and the UNC School of Law (J.D., with honors, ’77),
where he met his future law partner, David Kirby.
In 1978, John joined the Nashville law firm of Dearborn & Ewing, practicing
corporate law alongside the future Tennessee governor and U.S. Senator
Lamar Alexander. He returned to North Carolina in 1981, joining the Raleigh
firm of Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove, where he started a civil litigation
division. In 1984, he won his first multi-million dollar verdict in the
Antabuse case, which he followed the next year with a $6.5 million verdict
for a 6-year-old girl who had suffered brain damage at Pitt Memorial Hospital.
In 1990, John was the youngest member ever inducted into
The Inner Circle of Advocates, a group of the nation’s top 100 trial lawyers. In 1993, he founded
his own firm with David Kirby. By the mid-1990s, John’s reputation
as a master litigator was firmly established. He won a $23 million judgment
on behalf of the parents of a
baby who suffered severe brain damage by oxygen deprivation during labor, the highest
medical malpractice verdict in state history.
A defining case in John’s legal career came in 1997 after four years
of litigation against Sta-Right Industries, makers of a swimming pool
drain that had severely injured a small girl in Wake County, N.C. Following
settlement offers that started at $100,000, John eventually secured a
$25 million award, the largest
product liability verdict in state history. In his closing argument, lawyers and spectators
packed the courtroom to hear what Mark Dayton, editor of North Carolina
Lawyers Weekly hailed as “the most impressive legal performance
I have ever seen.” The Los Angeles Times wrote that “for 90
minutes, politely but persistently, Edwards spoke, without notes, without
missing a key point. Many here that January day in 1997, including the
presiding judge, remember it as the best closing argument they had ever
That year, John and
David Kirby earned the American Association for Justice’s national award for
John was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, and in 2000 was on the short
list to join the Democratic ticket alongside presidential candidate Al
Gore. During John’s Senate tenure he co-sponsored 203 bills, served
on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Senate
Judiciary Committee. In 2004, he joined presidential candidate John Kerry
as his vice-presidential running mate. Following the re-election of George
W. Bush, John turned his attention to grassroots causes, visiting homeless
shelters and job training centers, advocating an expansion of the earned
income tax credit, increased protections against predatory lending and
support for housing vouchers for minorities. During this time he also
served as co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations task force on U.S.-Russian
In 2006, John launched his bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination,
campaigning on the elimination of poverty, fighting global warming, providing
universal health care and withdrawing troops from Iraq. He eventually
endorsed front-running candidate Barack Obama.
John’s dedication to the cause of the common man is a driving motivation.
He has devoted time to understanding the needs of the disadvantaged and
disenfranchised around the world, visiting impoverished regions in Africa,
the Middle East, Central America, and Haiti. In the U.S., he has spent
time with community leaders in more than 200 local poverty centers to
better determine what can be done to bring hope and opportunity to those
who need it most.
This mission for economic and social justice has led to the founding of
Edwards Kirby, in which the team will seek cases that result in positive change.
$15 million settlement Baby suffered severe brain injury after a nurse failed to properly replace
her breathing tube.
$13 million settlement during trial for an infant who was permanently injured when EMS failed
to adjust an oxygen tube that clearly dislodged, causing brain damage.
$6 million settlement for a child who suffered from paralysis caused by an injury at a recreation center.
$30.9 million settlement (following $25 million verdict) for a 5-year-old girl who lost most of
her intestines when she was trapped on a defective pool drain at a neighborhood pool.
$4 million settlement after a truck driver dropped a delivery load on a customer, leaving him
$23.3 million verdict for a child who suffered brain injuries at birth, including cerebral palsy
and spastic quadriplegia.
$8 million settlement for a child who suffered injuries at birth from a delayed C-section.
$6.5 million verdict in a truck accident wrongful death of minister and his wife.
$2.9 million settlement for injuries received when a worker on a construction site fell through
an unguarded hole.
$4.5 million settlement in unfair trade practices involving stolen business.
$8 million settlement for a child who lost his legs because of malpractice.