May 24, 2000

Judson Graves Honored for One of Country's 10 Best Defense Wins for 2nd Consecutive Year

Defense Win By Trial Team of Jud Graves is Included in Prestigious National Law Journal Ranking for the Second Year in a Row

For the second consecutive year, a win by the litigation team of
Jud Graves has been ranked among The National Law Journal’s top defense wins in the country. Mr. Graves received this year’s honor in recognition of his medical malpractice defense of a Savannah, GA obstetrician/gynecologist. In 1988, the obstetrician had delivered a child with the aid of a vacuum extractor; subsequently, the baby suffered a stroke which caused a number of serious medical problems. The child’s family filed suit against the obstetrician, claiming that improper use of the vacuum extractor had caused the stroke. When Jones v. Biggerstaff came to trial in 1999, Mr. Graves successfully argued in the Superior Court of Chatham County, GA that the infant’s stroke, like most similar neurological events in newborns, was not diagnosable, foreseeable, or preventable by the obstetrician or anyone else at the hospital. The jury agreed, and, after six hours of deliberation, rendered a defense verdict. The Graves defense win recognized as one of the year’s best by the 1999 National Law Journal ranking was also an obstetrical malpractice case. In Criscills v. Williams, the plaintiffs, who sought damages of $15 to $20 million, alleged that the severe brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation to a newborn infant in 1995 could have been avoided if the delivering obstetrician had performed a Caesarean section during the last stages of labor. Mr. Graves's prevailing counter-argument was that the infant’s oxygen deprivation and consequent brain damage was due to a number of abnormalities already present before the birth, including a very short umbilical cord that wrapped around the child’s neck in utero and deprived the brain of oxygen. In April of 1998, an Atlanta jury agreed that the damage could not have been prevented by a Caesarean delivery and rendered a complete defense verdict. In commenting on this recognition by The National Law Journal, Mr. Graves stated, “Though the circumstances of each of these cases were extremely tragic, in neither case was the obstetrician responsible for the conditions from which the infants suffered. We are very pleased that The National Law Journal has, for two successive years now, recognized the importance of these defense wins secured for our clients.” Jud Graves, a partner in the Medical Products and Services Practice Group at Alston & Bird, concentrates his practice in jury trial work with an emphasis on medical malpractice and products liability defense, other insurance defense, and media law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Alston & Bird’s Medical Products & Services Practice Group has had key roles in major product liability cases, including such products as breast implants, latex gloves, pedicle screws used in orthopedic surgical procedures, and Fen-Phen/Redux weight loss drugs. As national counsel coordinating the defense of professional liability litigation for the largest providers of behavioral healthcare in the U.S., the Group also created state-of-the-art computer applications that allowed the Firm’s trial team to monitor and closely supervise local counsel in defending hundreds of claims and lawsuits against the clients' psychiatric facilities in more than 30 states. These innovations contributed to faster resolution of cases, reduction in insurance expenses, significantly lower defense costs and substantial savings in the clients' total litigation budget, the latter confirmed by independent audit.
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