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March 01, 2009

March 2009: Rodney R. Cate, Esq.

Preparation helps lawyer with paralysis make a difference for the medical community.

Since his first year in law school, Rodney Cate, Esq. knew he belonged in the courtroom. To maximize his chances of litigating, he entered the practice of medical malpractice law. When defending doctors in medical malpractice cases, Rodney makes sure to properly prepare for his cases. His focus on preparation has served him well for the past 16 years as a defense attorney, and has enabled him to attain a great deal of personal satisfaction.

Rodney Cate attended the University of North Carolina where he received a J.D./M.B.A. joint degree. After law school he became a litigator, and currently is a member at Hand Arendall LLC in Mobile, Alabama.

Mr. Cate begins preparing for trial as soon as he receives the plaintiff’s complaint. It is then that he begins to think about winning. He analyzes the typical aspects of a medical malpractice case, such as breach of duty and causation, while constantly reviewing medical records and depositions. Rodney also imparts this work ethic to associates at the firm as a mentor. “I make sure to keep them involved in all aspects of the case,” Cate stated, “engagement from beginning to end is very important, so they are able to see how a case develops.”

Rodney also hopes to impart to the associates the enjoyment of helping the clients. “Doctors are already under a good deal of stress, and they take these suits personally,” Cate observed, “I try to help the doctors move forward with their lives and put these incidents behind them.” Rodney remembers one case when two psychiatrists were sued because their patient, recently released from a mental institution, committed suicide. At the conclusion of a hard-fought trial, Rodney won the case for his clients. After the verdict he found them hugging the jurors in the hallway outside. “The doctors were so appreciative,” said Cate, “it was so rewarding to see their gratitude.”

As for his disability, Rodney sustained an injury to his spinal cord from a high school football injury that resulted in paralysis. With this impairment, he does not consider himself at any disadvantage. Aside from an accessible parking space at the firm and assistance in setting up visual aids at trial, he has never seen a need for accommodating his disability. “What helped me,” stated Cate, “is that from day one of practicing law I realized that a jury makes it’s determination from the facts and the arguments, not the lawyer and his appearance; therefore, instead of worrying about my disability and the jury, I am able to focus on the more important task of preparing my case.”