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Law Firm News

Cocke named 2016 "Lawyer of the Year" in his field

Local attorney John Cocke with Merkel & Cocke was recently named this year's "Lawyer of the Year" for personal injury litigation-plaintiffs in the Memphis area.
(Copyright 2015 by The Clarksdale Press Register).

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Press Release: Best Lawyers of the Year for 2014

Charles M. Merkel, Jr., John Hartwell Cocke, and Charles M. Merkel, III, lawyers of Merkel & Cocke, P.A., were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).

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Cocke Honored as Lawyer of the Year

Merkel & Cocke, P.A. is pleased to announce that John Cocke has received Best Lawyers "Lawyer of the Year" award for 2013. Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year," making this accolade particularly significant.

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Clarksdale's Merkel is Inducted into International Academy of Trial Lawyers

Charles M. Merkel, Jr., Esq. of Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in Clarksdale, MS was recently inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) at their Mid Year Meeting held July 25-29, 2012 in Vail, Colorado.

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Connell Recognized In Legal Profession

Edward “Ted” P. Connell, Jr., Esq., of Merkel & Cocke, P.A., in Clarksdale, Mississippi, was recently inducted into the “Leadership in Law Class of 2012" as selected by the Mississippi Business Journal. This honor recognizes the State of Mississippi’s leading legal professionals based on their professional and community achievements. The criteria for selection were across four categories: professional abilities and success, professional recognition, level of influence in professional organizations, and community involvement.

The attorneys receiving this award were honored at a reception held at the Hilton in Jackson, Mississippi.

Since being formed in 1983 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Merkel & Cocke has provided legal services to Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas and has handled cases from California to New York. Merkel & Cocke is composed of seven attorneys, providing a variety of services to its clients primarily in the litigation arena.

Press Release: Best Lawyers of Year for 2010

Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession, has named Charles M. Merkel, Jr. as the “Jackson, MS Best Lawyers Personal Injury Litigator of the Year” for 2010.

Best Lawyers named John H. Cocke “Lawyer of the Year” for 2012 for medical malpractice in the Memphis, Tennessee area.

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Charles Merkel, Jr. Receives MAJ's Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Merkel, Jr.

The law firm of Merkel & Cocke is proud to announce that Charles M. Merkel, Jr., has received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Association for Justice.

Charles M. (Charlie) Merkel, Jr. has been a trial lawyer since 1966 when he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He was born and raised in Mississippi and attended the University of Mississippi for both his undergraduate and law degrees. After law school, he worked for four years with the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, trying tax cases in a five state area.

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John Cocke Receives The ‘Beyond The Call Of Duty’ Award From The Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project

John Cocke

John Cocke, a founding member of Merkel & Cocke, received the ‘Beyond The Call Of Duty’ award from the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP).

The MVLP is a joint venture of The Mississippi Bar Association and Mississippi Legal Services Programs. More than 1,600 Mississippi attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to participate in the Project, and as a result, more than 5,000 low income citizens are assisted by the Project each year.

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Merkel & Cocke's clients receive a $23.6 million verdict in medical malpractice case

Memphis, TN – A Shelby County, Tennessee jury returned a $23,600,000 verdict in favor of Plaintiffs Courtney Hill and Robert Hill of Desoto County Mississippi on July 10, 2009. Plaintiffs’ counsel are William B. Raiford of the Clarksdale, Mississippi law firm of Merkel & Cocke, Jim Lees of the Charleston, West Virginia law firm of Hunt & Lees, and Philip Stroud of the Southaven, Mississippi firm of Stroud & Harper.

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Merkel & Cocke Wins Two Significant Verdicts in Five Days

Merkel & Cocke recently received two favorable verdicts in five days. The first verdict was in favor of homeowners against USAA Casualty Insurance Co. in a bad faith denial of insurance case. The second verdict was in favor of an Air Force veteran in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Kevin & Sherrye Webster v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.

On Friday, September 28, 2007, in a case tried by attorneys Charles Merkel, Jr. and Cynthia Mitchell, a federal jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi found in favor of Kevin and Sherrye Webster, a couple who sued their insurance company after Hurricane Katrina for refusing to cover more than $1.7 million in damage to their beachfront home and property in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.At trial, USAA's expert witnesses argued that nearly all of the damage to the two-story home was caused by Katrina's flood waters, which the Websters' USAA insurance policy would not have covered. The jury concluded however that 100% of the damage to the Websters' home was caused by Katrina's wind, wind-blown debris or wind-driven rain, all of which were covered by the Websters' insurance policy with USAA. This was the first Hurricane Katrina wind vs. water case to be decided by a jury wholly in favor of a plaintiff, and the Websters, as well as the Merkel & Cocke team, were extremely gratified by this watershed jury verdict.

Thinking "Outside The Box" – How Merkel & Cocke Sought Help For The Irwin Family

Merkel & Cocke is currently involved in a wrongful death case, representing the family of Mr. Irwin, a construction worker who was killed while working as an employee of a sub-contractor on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction project. While performing work in the "clearing and grubbing" phase of the project, Mr. Irwin was killed when a large tree fell on the cab of the track hoe he was operating. Not only did Mr. Irwin lose his life, but as with many wrongful death cases, the accident had a devastating impact on Mr. Irwin's family. Unfortunately, worker's compensation provides only limited benefits for people like the Irwin family members who have forever lost a loved one. Although it seemed that the limited worker's compensation benefits were the sole recourse available to the Irwin family, Merkel & Cocke decided to explore other avenues by which to obtain adequate compensation.

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Super Lawyers

Two law members of Merkel & Cocke are listed as "super lawyers" at the prestigious and selective Mid-South Super Lawyers (2006 – present) magazine, from the publishers of Law & Politics.

Charles M. Merkel Jr. and John H. Cocke, of Merkel & Cocke, P.A. have been listed as “super lawyers” in the prestigious and selective Mid-South Super Lawyers (2006 – present) magazine, from the publishers of Law & Politics. Charles Merkel was listed in the “Personal Injury Plaintiff Products” category, and Cocke in “Personal Injury Plaintiff: Medical Malpractice.”

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Merkel & Cocke Help Family After Propane Explosion

Merkel & Cocke recently had the pleasure of helping a family gain some small amount of justice for the injuries they suffered due to a propane explosion at their home. The path to justice was not an easy one, and we salute the family for persevering through a very difficult and lengthy process. It has taken three years, but in the end they have obtained the compensation they deserved for the injuries they suffered.

Their story begins on an ordinary day when the three children, ages 11, 7 and 6, board the bus for school. Their father, who was a farm employee, had already departed for work. As his wife was leaving the house with their infant child, she noticed the smell of propane gas coming from the rear of the house. She called her husband, who advised her that she needed to turn the valve off at the propane tank, which was located in the back yard. She followed his instructions and then left for work.

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Round Two

We previously reported on a case in which three children were burned as a result of a propane gas explosion. This case was settled for five million three hundred thirty-five thousand dollars with the local propane distributor. The plaintiffs and the local propane distributor had mediated and agreed upon a settlement. The national company, which had provided the propane to the local distributor, although being a defendant, had not been asked to join in the mediation process. The local distributor, as part of the original settlement, had insisted that the national distributor be released due to an indemnity agreement between those two parties.

The plaintiffs had agreed to such a settlement; however, when the national distributor was advised that they would be dismissed with prejudice and would not have to pay toward any of the settlement, they objected and stated that they would not consent to the settlement unless their attorney’s fees, which they had previously incurred, were paid. As a result of their refusal to go along with the settlement, the plaintiffs and the local distributor re-negotiated their settlement with the understanding that the local distributor would pay the $5.335 million and the plaintiffs would proceed to trial against the national distributor and that the plaintiffs would indemnify the local distributor in the event a verdict was rendered which triggered the indemnity provision.

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Round Three

This, however, was not the end of the story. As part of the settlement with the national defendant, we had made it very explicit and clear that the money was to be received by a date certain in a form which would enable us to immediately negotiate those proceeds and distribute them. The defendant, however, missed the deadline which resulted in the funds not being able to be negotiated for approximately ten days after the agreed-upon date.

Over the years, we have seen where insurance companies will intentionally pay settlement funds at the last minute and/or late so as to keep those funds in their account for as long as possible. This is a tactic which our firm will no longer tolerate and hence we filed a separate claim against the insurance company and their insured for this late payment. Within a short period of time after having filed this lawsuit, the defendant paid an additional $10,000.00 for their breach of the settlement agreement.

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Five years ago Cindy Mitchell came to my rescue! My uncle had a surgery where the doctor made some major mistakes! Many months of physical suffering and financial hardships followed. Cindy helped us get back on our feet and gain a sense of a somewhat normal life again.

– Kevin R., client

Contact Information

Merkel & Cocke, P.A.

30 Delta Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1388
Clarksdale, MS 38614

Toll Free: (800) 844-0461
Phone: (662) 627-9641
Fax: (662) 627-3592

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