Derek H. Potts is The Potts Law Firm’s Founder and National Managing Partner. Mr. Potts is a nationally known trial lawyer who has been a court appointed leader in some of the largest complex litigations of the past decade. He also has obtained landmark jury verdicts and settlements for his clients since the beginning of his 20-year legal career.
Derek H. Potts has led high profile mass tort cases including the transvaginal mesh litigation which is the largest medical device litigation in United States’ history. Mr. Potts was also a state court leader in the General Motors Ignition Switch litigation, obtaining a victory from the Supreme Court of Missouri, and then successfully resolving hundreds of cases. Mr. Potts is currently leading litigation due to mass property damage inflicted on the residents of Houston, Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the United States Army Corps of Engineers release of water from reservoirs.
As founder of the Potts Law Firm, Derek Potts’ aggressive litigation approach coupled with choosing to be at the forefront of some of the most complex and groundbreaking legal cases of the day have set him and the law firm apart. Mr. Potts has been honored as one of the Best Lawyers in America, is a member of Super Lawyers, and holds a Martindale-Hubbell A rating, the highest attorney rating.
In addition to his work at The Potts Law Firm, Derek Potts has provided pro bono representation to indigent clients, children and the elderly as part of the Jackson County Bar Association Volunteer Attorney Project. Mr. Potts is also the chairman of Potts Family Foundation, which is involved with multiple charitable foundations including MJ & M and Promise for Haiti.
Mr. Potts discovered his love of oral argument and advocacy as early as eighth grade. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, he was a member of the Central High School Debate Team where he won local and regional tournaments. He attended William Jewell College on a debate scholarship and debated nationally on the college debate team.
Internship and John Cheek Trial
As a law student, Mr. Potts moved to the Courtroom as quickly as he could by obtaining a special license from the Kansas Supreme Court which allowed him to appear in Court while still in law school as a prosecutor intern in the Wyandotte County, Kansas District Attorneys’ Office. Using his intern license, he prosecuted major crimes in state court including rape, drug distribution and murder. He was the second chair prosecutor after his second year in law school of the closely watched case of Kansas City, Kansas Police Officer John Cheek, who went to trial for the murder of a security guard at a nightclub. After a six week trial, Officer Cheek was convicted of First Degree Murder.
Brown and James and Cullan
After graduating law school, Mr. Potts joined the regional corporate defense firm of Brown and James where he defended insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and product manufacturers. Mr. Potts obtained multiple defense verdicts on behalf of his clients. He also worked as an associate at the Cullan Law Firm in Kansas City where he handled plaintiffs’ medical malpractice, trucking collision, and nursing home negligence trials to verdict.
THE POTTS LAW FIRM
Kansas City and St. Louis Verdicts /Missouri Supreme Court, and Settlements
Knowing that his real passion was to help others, Mr. Potts founded the Potts Law Firm in 2002 with 3 clients and no support staff. He gradually built the firm on the basis of record setting plaintiffs’ verdicts and settlements. Some of these included the $3.0 verdict in Novogradac vs. Shirshekan, a nursing home negligence case tried in Platte County Missouri Circuit Court which was appealed and sustained by the Missouri Supreme Court and Millard v. Gard, M.D. a medical malpractice case tried in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas which resulted in a $12.1 million verdict for a minor injured due to medical malpractice.
Medical Device Mass Tort Litigation:
In 2009, Mr. Potts was appointed to be a member of the Kugel Hernia Mesh MDL Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee(“PSC”). As a member of the PSC, he was one of the leaders of the litigation on behalf of all plaintiffs and was one of the lead trial counsel in the first bellwether jury trial that resulted in a finding of defective design of the medical device.
Mr. Potts began pursuing cases for women injured by transvaginal mesh products in 2009. He was one of a handful of plaintiffs’ lawyers from around the country who spearheaded the establishment of what would become the largest medical device MDL consolidations in history. He would be appointed by the Judge overseeing the litigation as one of 8 members of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Executive Committee and Plaintiffs’ Co Lead Counsel of 3 transvaginal mesh MDLs. He and his partners in the litigation would ultimately resolve over $1,000,000,000 in transvaginal mesh settlements.
Pharmaceutical Mass Tort Litigation:
Mr. Potts has also been involved in numerous mass pharmaceutical litigation including being appointed the Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel of the Los Angeles Country Superior Court’s consolidation related to the drug, Xarelto.
Mr. Potts has also been involved in multiple class actions including being class counsel for the states of New York, New Jersey, and Arkansas in the In Re ATT Mobility MDL which resulted in over $1,000,000,000 in settlements nationwide.
Auto Defect Mass Tort Litigation:
Mr. Potts also spearheaded a series of state court consolidations against General Motors related to its ignition switch defect in certain model cars. Mr. Potts successfully resolved hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death cases with General Motors through his state court consolidations.
Hurricane Harvey Litigation
After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, Mr. Potts spearheaded litigation against the United States Army Corp of Engineers related to its intentional release of water during the storm which flooded tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the City. Mr. Potts was appointed as Plaintiffs’ Class Counsel by the United States Court of Claims to lead the prosecution of the case.
Mr. Potts frequently speaks to lawyers groups around the country as well as the news media about litigations which he is handling. See links to interviews here.
- New York
- U.S. District Court District of Kansas
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri
- U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Arkansas
- U.S. District Court Western District of Arkansas
- U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court Western District of Texas
- U.S. District Court District of West Virginia
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Georgia
- Appointed Co-Lead Class Counsel for the Hurricane Harvey Litigation (In re Downstream Addicks and Barker (Texas) Flood Control Reservoirs, Cause No. 17-9001L)
- Liaison and Co-Lead Counsel in In Re Mentor Corp. Obtape Transobturator Sling Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2004
- Bellwether trial team in In Re Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 1842 (also a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering committee)
- Executive Committee member for the plaintiffs in transvaginal mesh consolidated litigation, including In Re C.R. Bard, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2187; In Re American Medical Systems, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2325; In Re Boston Scientific Corp., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2326; In Re Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2327; In Re Coloplast Corp., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2387; In Re Cook Medical Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2440; and In Re Neomedic Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Case No. 2511
- Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel in California’s Judicial Council Coordinated Proceedings for all Xarelto cases
- Plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in the CR Bard and Neomedic MDLs
- J.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City
- B.A., William Jewell College
Mr. Potts attended William Jewell College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in History. His scholarship earned him admittance into Phi Alpha Delta, the largest co-ed professional law fraternity in the country. He was also named a member of Mortar Board, a national honor society recognizing outstanding students.
After college, he pursued his Juris Doctor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, where he made the Dean’s List, participated as a member of the National Appellate Advocacy Team, and received the Judge Conrad B. Duberstein Appellate Advocacy Award.
- The Best Lawyers in America© 25 Edition, Best Lawyers®, 2019
- AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell, 2006-2018
- The American Society of Legal Advocates Award
- Best Lawyers in America (a Woodward White, Inc. service), 2012-2014, 2016- 2017
- Best of the Bar, American Lawyer Media
- Best of the Bar, Kansas City Business Journal, 2005, 2007, 2009-2011
- Super Lawyers® Texas (a Thomson Reuters service), 2016
- Super Lawyers® Missouri & Kansas (a Thomson Reuters service), 2008-2014, 2016
- Super Lawyers® Top 100 Missouri & Kansas (a Thomson Reuters service), 2011
- Super Lawyers® Top 50 Kansas City (a Thomson Reuters service), 2011
- Thomas J. Conway Young Trial Lawyers’ Award, Kansas City Missouri Bar Association, 2008
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, 2011-2014
- Top Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts, Martindale-Hubbell, 2013
- Up and Coming Lawyers Under 40, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, 2002
- American Association For Justice (AAJ/ATLA), 1995-Present
- Board of Governors for New Lawyers, 2001-2004
- Alloderm Litigation Group/ Co-Chair
- Nursing Home Litigation Group
- Kugel Mesh Litigation Group
- Transvaginal Mesh Litigation Group
- Arkansas State Bar
- Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association 2008 – present
- Houston Trial Lawyers Association
- Kansas State Bar
- Kansas Trial Lawyers Association changed to Kansas Association for Justice, 2000-Present
- Board of Governors, 2009-2014
- Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, 2001-Present
- Board of Governors
- Missouri Bar Professionalism Committee
- Missouri State Bar
- New York State Bar
- Sports Lawyers Association
- Texas State Bar
- Texas Trial Lawyers Association
- UMKC School of Law’s Litigation Advisory Committee, 2008- Present
- State of Kansas vs. John Cheek Jury Trial – Wyandotte County District Court, 1995. Member of Prosecution Trial Team which obtained a 1st degree murder conviction of an off-duty police officer.
- Wilburn vs. Bethany Medical Center Jury Trial – Wyandotte District Court, 1995. Member of Plaintiffs Trial Team which obtained a $4,600,000 jury verdict for a minor. Total fees and expenses of $2,300,000.
- Sgroi vs. St. Louis University Hospital – St. Louis City District Court, 2009. Lead Plaintiffs Trial Counsel which obtained a $1,004,421 verdict due to medical malpractice and successfully argued appeal before Missouri Supreme Court upholding verdict. Total fees and expenses of $525,702.04. See Sgroi vs SLUH, No. SC 89840.
- Novogradac vs. Shirshekan – Platte County Circuit Court, 2009. Co-Lead Plaintiffs Trial Counsel which obtained a $3,022,500 verdict for the estate of a deceased nursing home resident. The defendants appealed the verdict and, after going through the appellate process, the Novogradac estate was awarded the original verdict amount plus interest, totaling $3,581,455. Total fees and expenses of $1,588,482.97. See Novogradac v. Shirsheken 295 S.W. 3d 528.
- Millard vs. Gard, M.D. – U.S. District Court of Kansas, 2010. Lead Plaintiffs’ Trial Counsel which obtained a $12,100,000 jury verdict for a minor.
- Whitfield vs. C.R. Bard – U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, 2011. Co-Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel which obtained jury finding that C.R. Bard’s Kugel Mesh is unreasonably dangerous.
- Callen vs. Heartland – Buchanan County Circuit Court, 2006. Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel which obtained a seven-figure settlement during trial due to medical malpractice.
- In re: Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch Litigation settlement – Lead Negotiating counsel for thousands of cases resulting in multi-million dollar settlement as part of a global settlement.
- In Re: American Medical Systems Litigation settlement – Co-Lead Negotiation counsel for over 13,000 cases resulting in near global settlement.
- In Re: AT&T Mobility Class Action Settlement – Class counsel for consumers in states of New York, New Jersey and Arkansas which participated in a global settlement.
- 2018 Speaker – “Navigating the Most Expensive Hurricane Season in U.S. History – A Claims Handling Boot Camp,” Harris Martin’s Hurricane Litigation Conference, Miami, Florida
- 2018 Panelist – “Legal Impacts of Hurricane Harvey,” Eminent Domain- Hurricane Harvey and Pipeline Takings Conference, Houston, Texas
- 2017 Speaker – “What is Inverse Condemnation and How Do I Identify Potential Claims?” Harris Martin’s Hurricane Harvey Conference, Houston, Texas
- 2016 Speaker – “Current Status and Future Potential for the Use of Mesh and Slings in Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery,” American Urogynecologic Society Conference, Denver, Colorado
- 2015 Speaker – GM Litigation for the Harris Martin Conference, Miami, Florida
- 2015 Speaker – “Breakout GM Strategy Session,” at the Mass Torts Made Perfect Conference
- 2014 Speaker – HTLA- Law Practice Management, Houston, Texas
- 2014 Speaker – HBA- TVM
- 2014 Speaker – HarrisMartin’s CLE Summit- Major Developments in Drug and Medical Device Litigation (TVM), New Orleans, Louisiana
- 2013 Speaker – Chicago- TVM
- 2012 Speaker – “Mentor ObTape and Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) Litigation Update,” American Association for Justice Teleseminar
- 2010 Speaker – “Weaving Community Safety Standards Through Discovery and Trial,” Kansas Association for Justice Annual Convention, Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri
- 2010 Speaker – “Implementing Community Safety Standards in Trial,” Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association Seminar, Bentonville, Arkansas
- 2009 Speaker – “The Reptile And Trial Techniques,” David Ball and Don Keenan Seminar, Dallas, Texas
- 2008 Speaker – “Vytorin and Zetia Class Action,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 2007 Moderator/Speaker – “Emerging Hospital Liability Trends,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2005 Moderator/Speaker – “Update on Nursing Home Litigation,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2003 Speaker/Witness – “Prevalence of Medical Malpractice and Its Correlation to Systemic Breakdown in Hospitals,” Missouri Patient Safety Commission
- 2003 Speaker – “Advanced Nursing Home Litigation Strategies,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2003 Planning Co-Chair/Speaker – “Hot Topics in Medical Malpractice, Hospital and Nursing Home Neglect-Decubitis Ulcers, Malnutrition, and Dehydration,” Missouri Bar, CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2002 Speaker – “Investigation of Nursing Home Resident Abuse and Neglect,” Missouri Ombudsman Program/Northwest Region Winter Training Meeting
- 2002 Moderator – “Proving Catastrophic Damages,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2002 Speaker – “What is Medical Malpractice?,” American Society of Registered Nurses, ASORN, Annual Meeting, Kansas University Medical Center
- 2001 Moderator/Speaker – “Evaluation and Prosecution of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri
- 2000 Moderator/Speaker – “Nursing Home Negligence: Plaintiff and Defense Perspectives,” Missouri Bar CLE, Kansas City, Missouri
- 1999 Speaker/Witness – “Understaffing in Nursing Homes,” Missouri Senate Elder Law Committee
- 1999 Speaker/Witness – “Prevalence of Nursing Home Abuse,” Missouri House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Elderly Abuse
- 1999 Speaker – “Nursing Home Negligence,” Missouri Ombudsman Program Winter Meeting
- “Wrongful Death Settlements,” 2009, Chapter Supplement, Missouri Bar Litigation Settlements Deskbook
- “Proving Liability for Pressure Ulcers,” August 2002, Missouri Lawyers Weekly Newspaper
- “Proving Traumatic Brain Injury With Positron Emission Tomography,” August 2000, Missouri Lawyers Weekly Newspaper
- “Handling HMO Negligence Cases in Missouri,” July 1999, Missouri Lawyers Weekly Newspaper
- “Newman v. Ford Motor Company, the Confusion Remains over Product Defects,” Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers’ Journal, Winter 1999 edition, page 5
- “Defective Product Design, What Does “Unreasonable Dangerous” Mean?” December 1998, Missouri Lawyers Weekly Newspaper