Greater Toronto Area lawyer excelling in Georgia
August 7, 2019
Being waitlisted by a university can be frustrating.
Instead of just sitting around awaiting a reply, it’s best to explore other options which is what Alwyn Fredericks did after being put on hold by York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.
With younger brother, Gavin, on a soccer scholarship at Clayton State University in Georgia, he decided to apply to law schools in that state and the responses were heartening.
Accepted by Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law which is one of the oldest law schools in the United States, having being founded in 1873, Fredericks graduated in the top third of his class in 1998, started a law firm in Atlanta with two partners and is now rated among the top personal injury lawyers in Georgia.
Last year, he received the highest rating – a perfect 10.0/10.0 – from the leading attorney rating organization for his groundbreaking work on behalf of injured clients and families of wrongful death victims.
Excelling in law school was a priority for Fredericks.
“It means you will get interest from large and reputable firms and I got that coming out of law school which is the reason I ended up staying south of the border,” he pointed out.
Prior to co-owing a law practice, Fredericks spent two years at a small litigation firm and another three years at Clarkson Copeland.
“In those five years, I learnt to practice law,” he said. “I wasn’t a lawyer who was doing it because it was work. I engaged it and I wanted to be good at what I was doing.”
Fredericks was surprised when Andrew Cash, who he worked with at Clarkson Copeland, approached him with an invitation to start a law firm.
“My initial reaction was ‘no’, but Andrew didn’t take that for an answer and walk away,” he recalled. “He told me that I was a much better lawyer than the lawyers at Clarkson Copeland and that I was going to have lots of people to leapfrog in order to be properly appreciated and recognized.”
The reasoning made sense and Fredericks agreed to start the firm with Cash on one condition.
“Andrew is a lot like I am in that he’s a front man and he wanted to be the one that made all the legal arguments in court,” Fredericks, who is listed among the Top 100 Georgia Super Lawyers, noted. “I knew that in order for us to do the type of law we wanted to and the type of practice we wanted to develop, we needed to have a partner that was detail-oriented with a high level of legal intelligence.”
David Krugler, who was second in his class at Emory University, became the third partner in Cash, Krugler & Fredericks that represent victims and their families who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of negligence or intentional misconduct.
“We take cases that other firms can’t necessarily litigate,” pointed out Fredericks who underwent bypass surgery six years ago to rectify a congenital heart defect. “We will either try them if they have to or we will get them resolved through settlement. The complex litigation that we do is not always simple as there can be a legal issue of concern.”
Before 2005, apportionment of damages was permitted in Georgia only in cases against ‘more than one person’ where the plaintiff was to some degree responsible for injury or damages.
With the introduction of Georgia’s apportionment statue in 2005, defendants have to prove the equivalent of a tort case against any non-parties they intend to blame and it’s the plaintiff’s burden to defend any such entities. These considerations are further complicated in cases where expert testimony is required and both sides are required to identify and make available for deposition their expert witnesses before trial.
Fredericks has made presentations to the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and other legal bodies on the evolving apportionment law.
“It’s a little bit hairy to navigate and firms that don’t want to do that bring those cases to us and we will litigate them,” he said.
The firm’s area of expertise also include auto & trucking accidents, defective products, premises liability and medical malpractice cases.
“With medical malpractice, I have to learn the area of medical practice in which the doctor is the expert and that takes a level of intellectual curiosity and going outside the box,” said Fredericks who co-chairs the American Association for Justice Minority Caucus Education Committee.
For the last six years, Cash, Krugler & Fredericks has advocated for a nationwide recall of home elevators as children have been crushed and killed because of a design flaw. They filed a petition for a recall with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commissioner, flew to Washington, DC on several occasions to argue its case and has represented families whose kids have been catastrophically injured or killed in home elevator accidents.
Even though Fredericks success rate for his clients is high, there are some cases that trouble him. There’s one involving the death of six children that still haunts him.
In November 2016, a school bus driven recklessly crashed and flipped in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Fredericks represented the family of one of the deceased children whose two siblings were also injured in the deadly accident.
“That case was particularly troubling because the bus company allowed the driver to operate the vehicle despite the fact that there were hundreds of speeding incidents that they could have identified pertaining to him through their satellite surveillance,” the married father of three children said. “There were multiple other indicators that he should not have been driving. He was always late for work and he had a disregard for authority. That case was very tough for me.”
It was in high school at North Albion Collegiate Institute that Fredericks’ passion for law was ignited.
“I like to argue my case and it’s something I thought I could do well based on my personality,” said the York University History & Political Science graduate. “I worked at Eaton Credit Corporation and went through their management training program but, after two years, I realized that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.”
Though Atlanta has been his home since 1997, Fredericks makes frequent trips to Canada.
He spent four days last month in North Saskatchewan fishing with his two sons, a couple of days hanging out with high school friends in Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County and some quality time in Pickering with his parents – Robert and Janeth ‘Dolly’ Fredericks – who he adores.
Married for 51 years, they moved from Guyana when their eldest son was four.
“My parents are huge in my life and I always tell people I won the parent lottery,” he said. “When I was at Mercer, they refinanced the family home to get money for me to go through law school. You can’t ask for much more than that. They committed themselves to working every day so their children can have a better life. They also supported our extracurricular activities. When I see my parents, I have warmth about them.”
Playing hockey until age 16 and a soccer striker at York University, Fredericks – the nephew of late Guyana and West Indies opening batsman Roy Fredericks -- has two younger siblings.
Gavin works in the finance sector in Toronto while Angela White is a massage therapist in Acworth, Georgia. Her husband, Dr. Anthony White is a chiropractor, graduated from the University of Toronto like his wife and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and is a peak performance specialist for the United States men’s freestyle wrestling team.
Fredericks and his wife – Caroline -- who he met during his fourth year at York University, tied the nuptial knot 20 years ago. Their 18-year-old son is pursuing History Studies at Queen’s University beginning in September while their daughter – a talented soccer player -- and youngest son are entering Grades 11 and nine respectively.