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Crestwood attorney joins prestigious Inner Circle

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By John Foster

A Crestwood attorney received his birthday present a day late, but he’s not complaining.Tyler Thompson was inducted into the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., the day after his 47th birthday.The Inner Circle is limited to 100 of the top plaintiff lawyers in the country. The only time a position opens is when a member retires or dies.Thompson is a senior partner in the firm of Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd, Kinney and Wilt PSC. He specializes in personal injury suits.Thompson has received numerous honors, including recognition as the Peter Perlman Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Kentucky Academy of Trial Lawyers in 2003. In 2007, he was recognized by his peers in the annual list of Best Lawyers in America.He said even so, the Inner Circle is his greatest recognition.“This one is pretty special,” he said, like a golfer being invited to join Augusta National.To be eligible for the Inner Circle of Advocates, a lawyer must complete at least 50 personal injury trials and have won at least three verdicts in excess of $1 million or one verdict in excess of $10 million, according to the organization’s Web site. Former and current members of the Inner Circle include the late Johnny Cochran of O.J. Simpson trial fame, the late Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Charles Leibson and Sen. John Edwards.Thompson has two verdicts in excess of $20 million.In 1998, a judge granted a juries decision to award $20.8 million to the family of a boy who they determined suffered a brain injury, cerebral palsy and blindness due to a botched delivery at a U.S. Army hospital in Fort Knox.In 2002, a jury awarded $27 million to a Bowling Green woman with injuries due a collision with a trash collection truck that was parked on the wrong side of a narrow road near the crest of a hill.Thompson said the amount of work that goes into such a case is enormous.For the suit against the trash collection company, he gathered more than 15 expert witnesses plus about 60 other witnesses to testify. He had witnesses testify about the complexities of the woman’s brain injury, trucking experts, witnesses who reconstructed the accident and economists to calculate how much income the woman lost during the course of her life plus a lifetime of medical expenses. That’s not to mention all the witnesses who saw the accident, or to testify that the truck was constantly parked in unsafe spots despite numerous complaints.That case took 2 1/2 years, and that was exceptionally fast, he said.He said cases of that magnitude are challenging in part because large corporations – or in this case, the U.S. government – hire attorneys who specialize in a specific type of case. It also can be a challenge convincing a jury his client is a victim, not someone out to collect money, he said.But when the jury comes back with a verdict in his client’s favor, it is a wonderful feeling of relief for the client and for him, Thompson said.The child in Fort Knox and the woman in Bowling Green will still have a difficult life, he said, but the money helps cushion the blow.“The parents are really worried about what will happen [to their child] when they’re gone,” he said. “Once they have that financial security, it’s a big mental relief.”He said he dreamed of winning trials like the Fort Knox and Bowling Green cases since he was a kid. Some elementary students know they want to be a basketball player. Ever since watching Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Thompson knew he wanted to be a lawyer fighting on behalf of victims.Even his opponents respect him. Attorney Richard Schiller said he has lost a lot of money to Thompson’s courtroom acumen.“He’s been my nemesis for years,” Schiller said.Even so, Thompson is a genuine, honest guy with natural charisma, Schiller said.“He’s about as class an act as you can get,” he said, “a perfect gentleman.”And he’s not a bad looking guy either, Schiller said.“You really have to double press your suit and triple spit-shine your shoes when you go up against him or you’re gonna get outclassed big time,” he said.A former law partner and current executive director of the Louisville Bar Association, Scott Furkin, said Thompson exudes passion in his goal of righting wrongs.He said passion is required to deal with the pressure of trial and the large amount of travel. He said it also takes nerves of steel to spend six figures working on a case with no guarantee of payment. If he doesn’t win, he loses it all.“You have to believe in what you’re doing, or you’ll get completely overwhelmed,” Furkin said.He said Thompson doesn’t win through putting on a big show, but by relating naturally to jurors.“It’s not about the flash,” Furkin said. “It’s more about relating to people on a human level.”Furkin said he believes jurors relate to Thompson partially because he wasn’t raised on a silver spoon. He worked his way through Berea College. And Thompson said when he finished law school he went to work for $18,000 a year because he wanted to learn from one of the best — Fred Dolt, a now-deceased member of the Inner Circle.The biggest thing he learned from Dolt?“Always put the interest of your clients above your own,” he said.Thompson stays down to earth by tending to his horses, chickens and cows on his farm on Mt. Zion Road with his wife, Dr. Frances Thompson, an anesthesiologist at Baptist East Hospital, and their three daughters, Calley, Madison and Ellery.He said he enjoys the farm more than his wife does with her allergies.“It’s a lot like Green Acres,” he said.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com.