This month, we are pleased to introduce William (“Bill”) Johnson, Managing Partner of Tyson & Mendes’ new branch in Nashville, Tennessee! Bill is a skilled trial attorney with extensive experience in all facets of litigation, including defending against claims of catastrophic personal injury, sexual torts, including childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault, medical malpractice, and employment practices liability. We are thrilled to welcome him to the team! Learn more about Bill below.
T&M: How did you get into the insurance defense industry?
WJ: I had an opportunity to work at a well-established firm that primarily handled professional liability claims on behalf of healthcare providers. Over time, my practice evolved into handling church-related litigation and a variety of other claims including premises liability, employment practices liability, and automobile claims.
T&M: Why did you decide to join Tyson & Mendes?
WJ: I was familiar with the firm, having practiced in California. I touched based recently with Orange County Managing Partner Rick Somes, with whom I worked and developed a friendship some years earlier. Rick told me about the firm, the extensive efforts to make sure everyone stayed connected during these very challenging times, and the leadership’s commitment to transparency. He told me that Tyson & Mendes endeavored to foster a strong collegial environment. I did some research and read Bob Tyson’s first-ever book for the defense, Nuclear Verdicts: Defending Justice for All.
T&M: What do you hope Tyson & Mendes’ new Tennessee office will accomplish under your leadership?
WJ: I want to develop a thriving practice that will be a pillar within the state and the South.
T&M: Tell us about your biggest or most significant trial win?
WJ: I tried an elder abuse case arising from a hip fracture at a skilled nursing facility. Plaintiff’s counsel requested $2.4 million, not including the punitive damages and attorney’s fees that he would also be seeking in the event of a favorable liability verdict. The jury returned a 12-0 verdict in our favor.
T&M: Similarly, what has been the biggest professional challenge you have faced?
WJ: The best and most challenging part of being a lawyer is the constant change and the adversarial process. The case law and statutes are changing, and the approach to litigation evolves. The challenge is staying on top of that.
T&M: What did you want to be when you grew up?
WJ: A veterinarian.
T&M: What made you decide to pursue a career in law instead?
WJ: Organic chemistry was a hurdle that I could not overcome.
T&M: You are licensed in both California and Tennessee – what would you say is the biggest difference between the two states in terms of practicing law?
WJ: Tennessee has a cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury claims, whereas California has a cap on such damages solely for medical negligence claims. Additionally, elder care claims in Tennessee are alleged as medical negligence, whereas in California they are subject to a separate statutory scheme and often alleged as elder abuse.
T&M: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
WJ: Bruce Broillet, Esq., a prominent Plaintiff’s attorney with whom I had the pleasure of working early in my career, told me that adversity can be the best teacher so long as you allow yourself to learn from it. He told me this during a challenging time in my life, and he could not have been more correct.
T&M: Any shows or podcasts you are watching/listening to that you would recommend?
WJ: Ted Lasso (Apple+); Chef’s Table (Netflix); Ozark (Netflix); The Boys (Amazon)… The pandemic has afforded me an opportunity to watch more TV than I typically would!
T&M: Tell us about your favorite “hidden gem” in Nashville?
WJ: Nashville is a growing city with an amazing restaurant, bar, and music scene. Cheekwood is amazing. Ryman Auditorium has some of the very best music shows in a killer venue. There is also a thriving brewery and distillery scene here that is great fun to explore, such as Corsair Distillery, Yazoo Brewing Company, Jackalope Brewing Company, The Black Abbey Brewing Company… And of course, there is Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, which happens to be in a dry county.
T&M: If not at work or home, where are we most likely to find you?
WJ: Right now, work is home, and home is work! Just kidding – but not really. In the non-pandemic world, you would probably find me out exploring Middle Tennessee. I love to go on drives – the sky seems bigger here, it is so green, with waterways everywhere, rolling hills and open spaces. I also like to explore the dining scene, which is not something we have been able to do much in the last 6+ months.