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Nepotism policies prevent family members from working together at many of Atlanta’s big law firms. But two father-son attorney teams at litigation boutiques recently tried — and won — cases together. Thomas G. Sampson and Thomas G. “Woody” Sampson II, both of Thomas, Kennedy, Sampson & Patterson, won a $532,500 verdict for their client in December. It was the first case the father-and-son team had tried together. And Thomas W. “Tommy” Malone and his son R. Adams “Adam” Malone recently won a $126,000 verdict in a case against Delta Air Lines Inc. The senior Malone assisted his son in that trial. THE SAMPSONS Woody Sampson, who is 32, has worked for his father’s firm for six years. When the junior Sampson first arrived at Thomas Kennedy, the senior Sampson says, he was encouraged to work with all the other lawyers besides his father. “The concern was the father might be too hard on the son,” Thomas Sampson, 54, jokes. But he adds that he did want his son to gain more experience by working with the other litigators at the firm. The Sampsons represented a Monroe County, Ga., woman, Henrietta Wilder, who tripped over a BellSouth telephone wire while jogging. The wire was in the Wilders’ yard and had been there for eight months. Wilder sued BellSouth alleging negligence in failing to remove the temporary telephone wire from her rural property. Wilder v. BellSouth, No. 97A35178-5 (DeKalb State, civil action file, removed May 15, 1997). At first, Wilder required knee surgery, then two years later she needed a total knee replacement. The senior Sampson says Woody was assigned to work on the case before anyone realized the severity of Wilder’s injury. When the case grew more complex, the elder Sampson says, he decided to step in and help his son. Woody says he normally does defense work for clients such as State Farm Insurance and MARTA. On Wilder, a plaintiff’s case, he says he and his father split the work equally. “I can’t say there wasn’t any bickering,” the younger Sampson says. But lawyers at the Thomas Kennedy firm assist each other with cases all the time, he says. So it wasn’t that unusual for the Sampsons to be working together. “On other cases,” the son says, “he lets me come up with the themes for the closing [arguments]. … We operate as a team even on his other cases.” The jury returned its $532,500 verdict on Dec. 11. BellSouth appealed and moved for a new trial. One day before the hearing on the motion, BellSouth agreed to pay Wilder the jury award plus one-half the interest that had accrued, which Sampson says was about $7,000 to $8,000. NO PRESSURE FROM DAD Woody says his father didn’t actively encourage him to attend law school. “He never pushed me, but it was something I naturally gravitated to,” he says. Thomas Kennedy was founded in 1971 as Kennedy, Bussey & Simpson and is the oldest minority-owned law firm in Atlanta. In January, the Malones represented Richard L. Carraro, a paraplegic, who was being transferred by AHL Services Inc. from a Delta flight to a wheelchair. Delta contracted with AHL to provide such services. Carraro was injured during the transfer and had to undergo surgery. Carraro v. Delta Air Lines, No. 00VS-002320 (Fulton State, civil action file, Feb. 25, 2000). Adam Malone, 28, says the jury awarded $126,000 after Delta and AHL had offered a $15,000 settlement. Tommy Malone says his son originally handled the case with S. Bradley Houck, another attorney at Malone’s firm, Thomas W. Malone, P.C. Houck became ill during the trial, and Tommy Malone says he told him to go home. That’s when Tommy Malone became second chair to his son, he says. “We make a much stronger team than we do [when we litigate] individually,” the elder Malone says. The senior Malone, who is 58, has been second chair only to the late Melvin Belli in 1970, Adam says. The father-son generation gap was apparent at trial, Adam says. At one point, when attempting to show the jury an exhibit on videotape, the senior Malone fumbled with the videocassette recorder. “He couldn’t work the VCR right,” Adam says, “and the jurors had to tell him how to do it.”

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