ABOUT Carl R. Edwards
Carl R. Edwards is a partner of the law firm Edwards & Jennings, P.C. He obtained his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Michigan Lutheran College in 1970. Thereafter, he performed graduate work at the University of Detroit and obtained his Master’s Degree in Urban Economics in 1972. He attended Wayne State University Law School, and obtained his Juris Doctors Degree in 1974. After leaving law school Mr. Edwards served his legal apprenticeship with famed attorneys Harry M. Philo and Kenneth V. Cockrel, Sr., at the law firm of Philo, Maki, Robb, Cockrel and Cooper. In 1982, he and Alice Jennings, established Edwards & Jennings, P.C.
Throughout his forty-two (42) years in the practice of law Mr. Edwards has represented a diverse clientele, including employees, executives, professionals, attorneys, physicians, judges and such luminaries as Mrs. Rosa Parks, the mother of the modern civil rights movement, and entertainer, Ms. Anita Baker.
Mr. Edwards is past President, Michigan Trial Lawyers Association (MTLA) 1987-88. During his tenure as President, the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association established the annual James A. Tuck Memorial Protect Your Rights Conference on behalf of consumers, workers and injured victims and their organizations. He is a co-founder of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association’s PEOPLES LAW SCHOOL, which not only operates across the entire State of Michigan, but also has been established by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and is currently operating in over 15 states nationwide.
Mr. Edwards is the recipient of the Presidential Citation awarded by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. Mr. Edwards is a Gordy Scholar, 1969-1970. He is a former official of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Michigan Chapter. In 1988, he was selected as a member of a delegation of attorneys and judges from the United States who traveled to the Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China to educate these governments, law professors, scholars and citizens concerning the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Philosophically, Mr. Edwards believes that law should be used to advance the cause of social justice and to progressively advance the human race. In 1977 he served as lead counsel in the landmark case to save the City of Detroit’s Detroit General Hospital, the only municipally owned hospital in the city which served medically uninsured City of Detroit citizens. Mr. Edwards was also a leader of the coalition of representatives from labor, elected officials, religious leaders and community activist who formed the Coalition to Save Detroit General Hospital.
Thereafter, Mr. Edwards was asked by African American Detroit Waterfront workers to help organize and later represent the historic Brotherhood of Waterfront Workers organization in contract negotiations with a coalition of international companies in the commercial shipping industry to establish a labor union on the Detroit waterfront. After relentless negotiations and social action, the Brotherhood of Waterfront Workers won a contract from the international commercial shipping industry.
Mr. Edwards has been in the forefront fighting police brutality. In the 1970’s, he was a member of the legal team headed by Attorney Kenneth V. Cockrel, Sr., in the groundbreaking case, The People of the State of Michigan v. Madeline Fletcher; he was also a leader in the community organization of the same name, Committee to Free Madeline Fletcher, in Flint, Michigan. Also, Mr. Edwards served as co-lead counsel and community organizer in several police brutality and political prisoners of conscience cases in Detroit, Michigan. Additionally, he served as lead counsel in the 1980’s in Battle Creek, Michigan on behalf of the Coalition to Free Larry Guy. Similarly, he was legal counsel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the historic police brutality case of the Committee to Free Ricky Bullock. In 2008, when James Ware, an African American, was shot in the back by a white Wichita, Kansas police officer, Mr. Edwards was requested to lead the legal team that filed a lawsuit seeking money damages for this vicious shooting. A substantial legal settlement was reached on behalf of Mr. James Ware.
In the late 1970’s, Mr. Edwards was called to give leadership in the crisis in Affirmative Action in the United States. Along with Alice B. Jennings, they became co-coordinators of the Michigan Coalition to Overturn the Bakke Decision, a broad-based organization composed of elected officials, labor organizations, churches, religious organizations, priest and ministers and community activist, gay lesbian organizations and women rights organizations. Out of the several dozen state organizations, the National Coalition to Overturn the Bakke Decision, which was comprised of similar organizations and individuals, was born. The movement coalesced in a historic march on Washington. Nearly 100,000 citizens marched in support of Affirmative Action in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., in May 1978.
When the business community in southeastern Michigan came together to challenge the City of Detroit’s Human Rights Ordinance, Mr. Edwards was again requested by the Detroit City Council, NAACP, United Automobile Workers (UAW) and other organizations to lead the legal team and give political leadership to the Coalition to Save the Detroit Human Rights Ordinance. Among other things, this Coalition forced employers doing business with the City, to hire African American Detroit citizens, Hispanic Detroit citizens, and other ethnic Detroit citizens, women and citizens with alternative sexual orientation. Mr. Edwards and law partner Alice B.Jennings were awarded the Spirit of Detroit award and a Testimonial Resolution by the Detroit City Council for their successful pro bono defense of the City of Detroit Human Rights Ordinance.
In the early 1980’s when the Mayor of the City of Detroit, Coleman A. Young, attempted to privatize city services, threatening the loss of thousands of jobs for City of Detroit workers, their families and residents, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Jennings were again requested by the Detroit City Council, elected officials, officials from labor organizations, religious leaders and community activists to give leadership to the movement that resulted in the creation of the Coalition to Stop Privatization and Save Our City. This movement led to the creation of a new City of Detroit Charter, which specifically prohibited privatization of City of Detroit government services.
In the mid 1980’s through the 1990’s when epidemic levels of youth violence exploded in Detroit resulting in “kids killing kids, and babies killing babies”, Mr. Edwards joined Ms. Alice B. Jennings in providing leadership and financial support to the grieving mothers who formed Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD) with Clementine Barfield. Out of this movement Alice B. Jennings birthed the companion organization, “Arms Around the Children.” Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Jennings partnered with world renowned sculpturer Oliver LaGrone to create a sculpture Garden as symbolic protection of the children of the City of Detroit.
Among Mr. Edwards’ many legal achievements include the landmark case of Steward v. City of Detroit, et al., establishing 42 USC 1983 liability against the City of Detroit for gross negligence in the failure to properly train City of Detroit police officers; Fletcher v. Hafagee, liability of a physician for medical negligence, although both Plaintiff and Defendant were technically co-employees, employed by the City of Flint, thus avoiding the exclusive remedy bar of the Workers’ Compensation Act; J. F. Cavanaugh, et al. v. City of Detroit, Association of Minority Contractors and Local 334 building trades, as interveners, where the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the inherent right of the City of Detroit under its police power to provide equal opportunity in employment and the award of City of Detroit construction contracts in the construction industry to women and minorities; Reed v. Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council, Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act included within its terms a cause of action against the Executive Director of the Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council for racial discrimination in the sale of one of Defendant’s Girl Scout Camps even though the Executive Director was not a licensed real estate seller or broker; Galbert v. General Motors Corporation, establishing that the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act does provide a cause of action against an employer for retaliatory discharge of an employee who used General Motors’ “open door” policy to complain about employment discrimination; Burkhardt v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Court of Appeals ruled a white employee who objected to racial discrimination and was demoted but who was not directly discriminated against stands in the shoes of African American employees and has standing under Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to challenge her demotion; Lauren Hall Tate, Personal Representative of Robert Hall, Sr. v. Detroit Receiving Hospital, Michigan Court of Appeals interpreted the new Michigan medical malpractice statute, which required Plaintiff’s expert witness qualifications to be identical to that of Defendant physician, to only require Plaintiff’s expert witness be qualified in the same area as Defendant physician at the time the negligence occurred. In so doing, the Court of Appeals rejected the narrow interpretation urged by Defendant Detroit Receiving Hospital which asked the Court to rule that Plaintiff’s expert must possess the identical certifications as Defendant’s expert in all respects; Sandra Johnson and Hiram Jones v The Detroit Edison Company (June 16, 2010). Plaintiffs, employed as power plant operators, suffered severe burn injuries when hot ash exploded out of one of the boilers while they were emptying bottom ash from the boiler. Plaintiffs alleged that the employer was liable for damages under the intentional tort exception to the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act’s (WDCA) exclusive remedy provision, MCL § 418.131(1). The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled, in a published opinion, that under the second sentence of MCL § 418.131(1), the plaintiff can satisfy the specific intent requirement of an intentional tort claim if the plaintiff can show that the employer had “actual knowledge” that an injury is “certain to occur” yet “willfully disregards” such knowledge. The Court of Appeals further ruled that plaintiffs proffered sufficient circumstantial evidence in support of their intentional tort claim to survive summary disposition. The Court of Appeals held that a jury may conclude that an employer knew the injury was “certain to occur” where a plaintiff can show that (1) the employer subjects the employee to a continuously operative dangerous condition that it knows will cause an injury; (2) the employer knows that its employees are taking insufficient precautions to protect themselves against the danger; and (3) the employer takes no action to remedy the situation. This was the second case in the State of Michigan since 1996, 14 years, where an employee/worker who was injured on the job was successful in pursuing a civil claim for damages in addition to workers disability compensation against their employer.
In the 1990’s, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Jennings were organizers in the Campaign for Corporate Justice at Detroit Edison Company, a statewide gas and electric utility in Michigan, on behalf of Detroit Edison employees. Working with the National Organization of Women (NOW) and its President, Patricia Ireland, the Rainbow/Push Coalition and its President, Jesse Jackson Sr., famed actors and playwrights Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee, internationally renowned activist James and Dr. Grace Lee Boggs, the Council of Baptist Pastors of Southeastern Michigan, the Catholic Pastoral Alliance, civil and human rights icon Mrs. RosaParks and a broad based coalition of officials from organized labor, elected public officials and community activist, Detroit Edison was forced to implement structural changes company wide in its employment policies, procedures and practices to arrest employment discrimination. In a seminal class action lawsuit, Gilford v. Detroit Edison Company, the Plaintiffs won a verdict in the amount of $45 million dollars against Detroit Edison. Alice B. Jennings was lead counsel inthis historic lawsuit and community campaign.
In the 21st Century, Mr. Edwards and law partner Alice B. Jennings, continued their legal and social justice advocacy. They partnered with famed Florida attorney Willie Gary and represented managers and executives at Ford Motor Company who still faced a culture of discrimination.
Also, in the 21st Century, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Jennings partnered with the Atlanta, Georgia law firm of Doffermyre Shields Canfield Knowles & Devine, LLC to represent over one thousand (1,000) residents of the Krainz Woods neighborhood in the City of Detroit who were exposed to lead pollution over a period of thirty (30) years by a lead smelter that burned lead car batteries. This case led to a historic settlement on behalf of the Krainz Woods residents in 2010 and 2011 against National Lead (NL) Industries, Honeywell Inc., and other corporate polluters.
In 2008, Mr. Edwards was retained by the Detroit City Council as an expert witness in the Detroit City Council’s hearings to remove then City of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as Mayor of the City of Detroit after Mayor Kilpatrick was criminally charged with several felonies by Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy. A plea agreement was subsequently reached and the Mayor resigned.
In 2016 Mr. Edwards was elected to the Board of Directors of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African History*.
Thereafter, in August 2017, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Jennings were selected top 100 Plaintiff Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Mr. Edwards’ areas of legal specialty includes class action litigation, environmental law, personal and work place injury, automobile and bus injuries, construction injuries, medical malpractice, police brutality, product defect liability, wrongful death, civil rights, public interest and constitutional law. He is a sought after lecturer both throughout the State of Michigan and nationally.
Mr. Edwards’ biography appears in Marquis Who’s Who in the World and in Who’s Who Among Black Americans.
Areas of LAW
- Bus Accident
- Car Accident
- Civil Rights
- Drunk Driving Accident
- Medical Malpractice
- Motorcycle Accident
- Personal Injury
- Products Liability
- Truck Accident
- Wrongful Death