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General Info

Email: ccoward@wickersmith.com
Direct: (407) 317-2003
Offices: Orlando

Biography

Clay H. Coward (“CHIP”), a partner in the Orlando office, joined Wicker Smith in 2003. He handles matters involving the defense of medical malpractice, legal malpractice, accounting malpractice, personal injury, premises liability, and automobile negligence. Mr. Coward has tried cases and obtained defense verdicts in state and federal court throughout the central Florida region in Orange, Lake, Seminole, Polk, and Volusia Counties. He is an AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell.

During his 30+ year career, Mr. Coward has gained an extensive amount of experience in the defense of complex medical and legal malpractice actions. He has represented hospitals, physicians, and allied health professionals in all types of cases including E.D., ICU and pediatric ICU, obstetrics, orthopedics, cardiology, pediatric cardiology, cardiac surgery, anesthesia, and radiology. Mr. Coward has also defended lawyers in a wide variety of legal malpractice actions involving subjects as diverse as personal injury, medical malpractice, commercial and insurance coverage litigation, commercial transactions, trusts and estates, real property, debt collection and dissolution of marriage. In addition to his work in the area of professional malpractice, Mr. Coward is well-versed in handling premises liability actions for commercial property owners and has represented drivers in automobile negligence cases.

Prior to joining Wicker Smith, Mr. Coward was the managing attorney for the St. Paul staff counsel offices in Orlando and Tampa. Having practiced law in Orlando since 1984, he was also a partner at two other Orlando law firms.

Mr. Coward graduated with honors from the University of Colorado in 1979, earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. He continued his studies at the University of Florida College of Law and earned his Juris Doctor, with honors, in 1983. He is admitted to practice in the state of Florida, in the federal court for the Middle District of Florida, federal court for the Southern District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Education

  • University of Florida (J.D., with honors, 1983)
  • University of Colorado (B.S., with honors, 1979)

Admitted

  • 1983, The Florida Bar
  • 1984, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
  • 1985, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • 2012, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Professional Affiliations

  • The Florida Bar (Chairman, Florida Bar Media Law Conference, 1989)
  • Orange County Bar Association (Chairman, Federal and State Trial Practice Committee, 1994-1995)
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association

Honors

  • Orange County Bar Association Pro Bono Award of Excellence, 1998
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association Community Service Award, 1999
  • Best Brief Award, University of Florida Moot Court Intramural Competition, 1982
  • Jonathon N. Roth Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Law and Medicine (UF Law School), 1983

Speeches & Publications

  • Professional Liability in the Performance of Escrow Services, Wicker Smith Claims Seminar, Orlando, FL (June 10, 2011)
  • Richards H. Ford & Clay H. Coward, Defense of Radiologists in Failure to Communicate Cases, DRI’s For the Defense, November 2007 at 72.
  • Clay H. Coward, Examination of Witnesses, American Inns of Court Florida Evidence (West 1997)
  • published appellate opinions:
  • Mason v. Bisogno, 633 So.2d 464 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)
  • Tanker Management v. Brunson, 918 F.2d 1524 (11th Cir.1990)