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America's Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys

75 Years of Results as Top Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers

Since 1949, we have treated our personal injury law clients like family. Johnson & Ward was the first, best, #1 personal injury lawyer firm in Atlanta. The firm was formed in the post-WW2 period when Atlanta's old streetcar system shut down and freeway construction began. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for personal injury and wrongful death clients.

The firm’s founders also helped form the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and firm members served as Presidents and Vice Presidents thereafter. Firm alumni have served as judges of the Fulton County Superior Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals. Firm members have served as President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chair of the Litigation Section and in other capacities with the Atlanta Bar Association.

Our current team of personal injury lawyers has over 368 years of cumulative experience and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for clients. They include:

  • A former president of the State Bar of Georgia
  • A former president of the Atlanta Bar Association
  • A former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section
  • A former executive vice president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
  • The lead author of eleven editions of a leading book on Georgia personal injury lawyers practice (Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice). Authors of chapters in Handing Motor Vehicle Cases, 2d Edition, and AmJur Trials.
  • The first Georgia personal injury lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Built upon an excellent professional reputation as personal injury lawyers and traditional word-of-mouth referrals from other professionals, the firm has never advertised on TV or billboards. We didn’t need to.

Unlike heavily advertised personal injury law firms based in other states that open an outpost in Atlanta, we are deeply rooted in Atlanta. Most personal injury lawyer “mills” that advertise heavily on billboards and television assign young lawyers caseloads of 500 to 600 cases, virtually precluding creativity and top-quality representation. In contrast, we are selective and limit the caseload to 20 to 40 cases per personal injury lawyer. That allows us to provide personal attention and quality work for our personal injury clients.

Types of personal injury cases we handle:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is Personal Injury Law?

“Personal injury” is any injury to a person, either physically or emotionally, suffered due to an accidental or intentional injury. Personal injury law has developed over centuries to enable injured people to be compensated for harm done to their body or mind.. Damages can include the injured person’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.

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When Should I Hire an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you have been injured, you may be dealing with significant pain and facing significant medical expense as well as loss of income. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can inform you of your rights guide you through the process of making a claim for personal injury or the wrongful death of a family member. If you for a family member has been seriously injured due to the fault of another, consult an Atlanta personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

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What are The Time Limits to File a Personal Injury Case in Georgia?

Two years in most cases, but there are exceptions and traps for the unwary.

The limitation period for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia is two years, with a four-year limit for loss of consortium claim by the spouse of the injured person. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.

The time limit for filing suit is suspended until criminal charges against any defendant is concluded, up to six years.

In wrongful death claims, the time limit for filing suit runs from time of death, not time of fatal incident.

For injuries to minors, the time limit for filing suit runs from 18th birthday, which sets the time limit at the 20th birthday. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-90(b).

In claims against state government in Georgia, a notice of claim must be sent within 12 months of the date the loss was discovered or should have been discovered. O.C.G.A. § 50-21-26. That notice must be in writing specifying the basis of the claim and the amount claimed up to the statutory limit of $1, sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery return receipt requested, to the Risk Management Division of the Department of Administrative Services, with a copy to the head of the agency involved. But this time limit may be suspended in circumstances that would suspend running of the statute of limitations.

Claims against municipalities must be sent within six months of the incident. The statute of limitation is tolled for claims against a municipality between the time a valid pre-suit notice and demand is served and the city’s taking action (O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5). This does not apply to claims against counties or the state government.

Claims against counties must be given to the county governing authority within 12 months. Otherwise, the normal limitation period and tolling rules apply except that “minors or other persons laboring under disabilities shall be allowed 12 months after the removal of the disability to present their claims.” O.C.G.A. § 36-11-1

If a defendant leaves the state, “the time of his absence from the state until he returns to reside shall not be counted or estimated in his favor.” OCGA 9-3-94.

Medical malpractice claims have a strict two-year statute of limitation. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-73. If a child under age five is injured by medical malpractice, the child’s suit must be filed in court by the seventh birthday. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-73(b). The statute of limitation may be tolled in limited circumstances where the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney seeks medical records following strict statutory procedures (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-97.1).

The complex interaction of these rules under the facts of individual cases may form traps for the unwary.

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What Are Exceptions Are There to Georgia’s Statutes of Limitations?

For injuries to mentally incompetent people, time limits for filing suit generally run from time disability is removed.

For claims of unrepresented estates, the time limit for filing suit is suspended for up to five years.

For unrepresented estates of deceased parties, the statute of limitation is tolled for up to five years (O.C.G.A. §§ 9-3-92, 9-3-93).

Fraud preventing the claimant from taking action may toll the statute of limitation under certain circumstances (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-96).

Where there is a pending criminal charge against any defendant, the limitation period may be extended until the prosecution of such crime or act has become final or otherwise terminated, provided that such time does not exceed six years. (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.10).

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What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?

At Johnson & Ward, when we handle your personal injury or wrongful death case, you only pay if we win your case. We advance all expenses of the litigation to be reimbursed at the end, and our fee is only an agreed percentage of what we recover for you. We get paid when you get paid. That is how our firm has worked since 1949.

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What Do I Need to Prove a Personal Injury Case in Georgia?

To make a personal injury claim in Georgia courts, you must establish fault, meaning you must meet the burden of proof or “preponderance of the evidence” in a personal injury case before the burden to rebut the claims shifts to the defendant.

You have to prove these four elements:

Duty: The defendant owed you a duty of care or had a responsibility to you.

Breach: The defendant breached their duty or failed to act reasonably. Most personal injury cases involve negligence as defined in Georgia Code Section 51-1-2, which states, “In general, ordinary diligence is that degree of care which is exercised by ordinarily prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances. As applied to the preservation of property, the term "ordinary diligence" means the degree of care which every prudent man takes of his own property of a similar nature. The absence of such diligence is termed ordinary negligence.” When negligence is a proximate cause of injury to another person, the negligent party may be liable for such injury and damages.”

Injuries: The defendant’s breach was your actual, proximate cause. The legal explanations of “proximate cause” can sound confusing, but it usually boils down to common sense.

Losses: You suffered a loss due to your injuries, whether economic or non-economic. Seasoned trial lawyers make judgment calls about which damages are worth pursuing and how best to present them.

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What if I Have a Pre-existing Condition and I’m Injured in an Accident?

Insurance companies attempt to use any preexisting condition to diminish how much they must pay for legitimate personal injury claims. However, an injured person is still entitled to recover damages for any aggravation of a preexisting condition. It is extremely important to be forthcoming, honest, and candid about preexisting conditions in order to maintain credibility and avoid being labeled as a liar. It is often prudent to treat most new injuries as aggravations of preexisting conditions. Many seasoned personal injury lawyers view a well-proven aggravation of a preexisting condition may have greater value than a new personal injury with no preexisting condition.

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How Can I Choose a Top Personal Injury Lawyer for My Case?

There are some key questions to ask in choosing a personal injury lawyer:

  1. How long has the firm been established in personal injury litigation? Johnson I& Ward has been a leading personal injury law firm in Atlanta since 1949.
  2. Does a lawyer have extensive experience in jury trials? Lawyers at Johnson & Ward have been active in trial work across Georgia since 1949. Current members of the firm have tried hundreds of cases before Georgia juries and have handled cases is a majority of Georgia’s 159 counties.
  3. Has the lawyer earned top ratings from peer review organizations, not just the phony “awards” that sound good but any lawyer can buy for $250? For example, the National Board of Trial Advocacy is authorized by the American Bar Association to administer specialty certification programs that require substantive recommendations from judges and colleagues, review of experience in the specialty, and an extensive written examination. Our firm includes the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
  4. Has a lawyer been a leader in the profession? Ken Shigley is a past president of the State Bar of Georgia, received the Traditions of Excellence Award, and was chair of the largest practice area section of the American Association for Justice, the national organization of plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers. Bill DeGolian is a past president of the Atlanta Bar Association.
  5. Has a lawyer lectured and published in the area of personal injury litigations? Ken Shigley was lead author of eleven annual editions of a practice manual in personal injury trial practice, taught other lawyers in scores of seminars across Georgia and the United States, wrote a chapter in the treatise Handing Motor Vehicle Accidents Cases (2nd Edition), and was chair of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia. Bill Lanham and Clark McGehee coauthored” Sample Settlement Brochures,” published at 31 AmJur Trials 527.

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Members of The Firm (in alphabetical order)
John Adkins
  • Managing Partner
  • Graduate of Kennesaw State University, B. B. A. in Finance, Magna Cum Laude
  • Doctor of Law (J. D.) Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California
  • Won various mock trial competitions in the Intensive Advocacy Program at the University of San Francisco
  • Admitted to practice law in Georgia and California
  • American Bar Association
  • Cobb County Bar Association
  • Atlanta Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice
  • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
  • Barrister. Bleckley Inns of Court
Christopher Farmer
  • Former partner in a prominent insurance defense law firm in Atlanta.
  • Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer over 10 years
  • Atlanta Magazine “Super Lawyer” listing over 10 years
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • AV (highest) rating in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Graduate of Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College
  • Graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School
William D. DeGolian
  • Former president, Atlanta Bar Association (2002)
  • Princeton University (graduated 1972)
  • U.S. Navy Aviation Flight Officer
  • University of Georgia Law School (J.D., 1979; president, Student Bar Association)
  • Former mayor of Washington, Georgia
  • Mr. DeGolian is a civil litigator and personal injury lawyer who represents claimants in tort, property, casualty, and commercial litigation matters, including medical, nursing and emergency medical services neglect, roadway and intersection design, elevator malfunction, uninsured motorist, and insurance coverage disputes.
James Goodman (1939-2009)
Baxter P. Jones
  • Copyright and Trademark (including litigation, registration, and transactions). His clients include authors, screenwriters, software companies, toy designers, and visual artists. Mr. Jones has handled numerous successful trademark registrations and advises clients on copyright issues. Mr. Jones is active in Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and serves on the boards of several Atlanta arts organizations.
  • Emory University (B.A., 1979)
  • University of Georgia (J.D., 1982)
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium (LL.M., 1983)
  • Research Editor, Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, 1981-1982.
  • Member: Atlanta, Decatur-Dekalb and American Bar Associations; State Bar of Georgia; Lawyers Club of Atlanta.
  • Assistant County Attorney, Dekalb County, 1986-1987.
  • Languages: French.

Inslee M. Johnson (1911-1996)
Stanley M. Kreimer (of counsel)
  • Civil litigation practice
  • University of Georgia Law School (J.D., 1977)
William C. Lanham
  • Bill Lanham has been one of the leading plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers since the 1970s.
  • After college and law school (University of Alabama, BA and JD), he served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps in Vietnam. In the Army, Bill he tried approximately 120 general courts-martial, including the defense of two servicemen charged with atrocities allegedly committed during the infamous “My Lai Massacre.”
  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Fellow of the International Society of Barristers
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • Northern District of Georgia Bar Council, which provides advice to the Federal Courts on Local Rules.
  • Best Lawyers in America
  • Georgia Super Lawyers
  • Co-authored “Sample Settlement Brochures,” at 31 AmJur Trials 527.
  • Master, Bleckley Inns of Court
Clark H. McGehee
  • Mr. McGehee has over 45 years of experience as a personal injury lawyer at Johnson & Ward.
  • Included in Georgia Super Lawyers
  • “Top 100 Trial Lawyers”
  • Experienced in all aspects of personal injury/wrongful death civil litigation, including automotive/trucking, aviation, railroad, product liability, medical/professional negligence, highway design, and architectural/engineering negligence.
  • Auburn University (B.S., 1973)
  • Emory University Law School (J.D., 1977).
  • Mr. McGehee has written and lectured extensively in all aspects of civil litigation.
  • Published articles and presentations include:
    • Co-authored “Sample Settlement Brochures,” at 31 AmJur Trials 527;
    • “An Atlanta Lawyer’s Experience in Performing Pro Bono Representation of a 9/11 Victim Under the Victim Compensation Fund,” The Atlanta Lawyer, October 2004;
    • “High Speed Pursuits – Negotiating the Minefield,” The Verdict, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Summer 2009, and 2009
    • “Not Just the Money: Lee v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company,” The Verdict, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Fall, 2000; Auto Torts Workshop, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Amelia Island, Florida, Summer 2009.
    • “Municipal and County Tort Liability: High Speed Pursuits and Police Chases From the Plaintiff’s Perspective,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, Torts Seminar, October 2003;
    • Courtroom Medicine, “Direct Examination of Medical Experts,” Vol. 7 (Matthew Bender, 1989);
    • Stein’s Closing Arguments, “Burden of Proof” and “Damages-Size of Verdict,” Sections 304 and 317 (West, October, 2001);
    • Stein’s Closing Arguments, “Proximate Cause,” Section 350 (West, October, 1998);
    • Stein’s Closing Arguments, “Highways-Dangerous Conditions,” Section 395 (West, October, 2000); “Direct Examination of Blood Alcohol Expert,” Handling Accident Cases (West, 1998);
    • “Examination of Defendant’s Engineers,” Handling Accident Cases (West, 1997);
    • “Direct Examination of Guardrail Expert,” Handling Accident Cases (West, 1996);
    • ”Through the Looking Glass: The Discretionary Function Exception Under the Federal Tort Claims Act,” and “Complications of the Federal Tort Claims Act: The Discretionary Function Exception,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, Federal Tort Claims Act Seminars, 1996 and 2001;
    • “The Georgia and Federal Tort Claims Act,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, Torts Seminar, 1997;
    • “The Georgia Tort Claims Act: Negotiating the Mine Field,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, September and December, 1998;
    • “Emerging Issues in Personal Injury Law,” Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, 1997 and 1999;
    • “A Primer on Insurance Bad Faith-Negligent or Bad Faith Refusal to Settle,” The Verdict, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, 1995;
    • “The Tragedy of the Unforgiving Roadway – Liability for Unsafe Highway Design, Construction and Maintenance,” General Practice and Trial Section, State Bar of Georgia (1990) and Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Proof of Liability and Damages Seminar (Dec., 1988);
    • “Demonstrative, Documentary of Physical Evidence,” Georgia State University College of Law, Continuing Legal Education, Trial Practice Seminar, October, 1990;
    • “Motivating a Jury to Award Fair Damages: Use of Specialized Medical Experts,” Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Damages Seminar (Sept., 1988);
    • “Computing and Demonstrating General Damages,” Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Damages Seminar (1983);
    • “Subsequent Remedial Measures in a Product Liability Case: The Fastest Spinning Wheel in Litigation,” Georgia State Bar Journal, Nov., 1982;
    • “Defective Products: Production Defects, Design Defects and Defective Warnings and Directions,” Georgia State University College of Law, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Summer 1985; “Effective Discovery in Georgia,” Georgia State University College of Law, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Spring and Fall 1987;
    • “Bad Faith: The Other Side of Jones v. State Farm,” Atlanta Bar Association, October, 1984.
J. Michael Parsons
  • Mr. Parsons holds the record for the highest workers compensation settlement in Georgia history.
  • For eight years, he defended employers and insurance companies in workers compensation cases with a major insurance defense law firm.
  • For the past two decades, he has specialized in representing injured workers in workers compensation cases throughout Georgia.
  • Mr. Parsons is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia (B.A., cum laude, 1991, in Spanish and Political Science)
  • During college, he spent a year abroad in Valencia, Spain.
  • He received his J.D. in 1995 from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he served as an Editor for the Mississippi Law Journal, won American Jurisprudence Awards for first in class in Property II, Ethics and Corrections, and served a co-chair of the Moot Court Board.
  • Georgia Bar, Worker’s Compensation Section-Member Since: 1998
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum- Member Since: 2015
  • Civil Justice PAC- Champion Member
  • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association-Board of Governors
  • Work Injury Network PAC-Member
  • Certified New Lawyer Mentor-Georgia Supreme Court
  • Southern Trial Lawyers Association-Member
  • Atlanta Bar Association-Board of Directors
  • Cobb County Trial Lawyer’s Association
  • Cobb County Bar Association
  • Rotary International
  • Speaking Engagements:
    • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association-Speaker-“Litigating Occupational Disease Claims”-2011
    • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association- Moderator- “How to Identify Hybrid Catastrophic Claims”-2012
    • Atlanta Bar Association- Speaker- Plaintiffs Personal Injury- “ Worker’s Compensation in 3-D. Discovery, Depositions and Defense Tactics”-2014
    • Atlanta Bar Association- Speaker-“Helpful Hints for Paralegals in Worker’s Compensation claims”-2016
    • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association- Moderator- “Workers Comp for the General Practitioner”-2018
    • Institute for Continuing Legal Education-Moderator- “Catastrophic Personal Injury”-2020
    • Institute for Continuing Legal Education- Speaker- Plaintiffs Personal Injury- “Workers Comp and Identifying Third Party Claims “ -2022
Kenneth L. Shigley

Ken Shigley is the only Georgia attorney with this unique combination of qualifications:

  • Past President, State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). which includes all lawyers and judges in Georgia. He laid the foundations for the statewide system of electronic court filing.
  • Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement, 2019.
  • Past Chair of Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (2012-13)
  • American Bar Association House of Delegates (2013-14)
  • "Short list" of nominees for appointment to Georgia Court of Appeals (2012)
  • Chair, American Association for Justice (AAJ) Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section (2015-16), which includes over 2,500 trial lawyers in all 50 states and specialized litigation groups on:
    • Trucking Litigation
    • Bus Litigation
    • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Spinal Cord Injury
    • Motorcycle Litigation
    • Bicycle Litigation
    • Resort Torts Litigation and
    • Inadequate Security Litigation.
  • Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, appointed by Governor Nathan Deal (2011-13).
  • Commission on Continuing Lawyer Competency (2012-13)
  • Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism (2011-12).
  • Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution (2011-12).
  • Georgia Courts Automation Commission (2008-10)
  • Judicial Council of Georgia Standing Committee on Technology(2015-20).
  • National Conference of Bar Presidents (2010-13).
  • Southern Conference of Bar Presidents (2010-13).
  • Chair, State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95).
  • Chair, Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994)

Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys - Board of Regents (2015-21)

Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

  • Based on numerous verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars

Triple board certification, National Board of Trial Advocacy:

  • Civil Trial Advocacy (1995)
  • Civil Pretrial Advocacy (2012)
  • Truck Accident law (2019)

Diplomate, National College of Advocacy

Highest peer ratings:

  • "AV"
  • "Super Lawyer"
Ed Stone
  • Went to law school while working in his successful banking career.
  • Graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.B.A. in Finance and Economics.
  • He earned his J.D. degree from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.
  • His personal injury law practice focuses on auto accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, workers’ compensation, premises liability claims, dangerous or defective products, medical malpractice, and related plaintiff’s tort litigation.
  • Mr. Stone is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
  • Mr. Stone is on the Board of Directors for the Non-Profit Children’s Charity, Lekotek of Georgia, founded in 1983, which has been helping families of all incomes and ethnicities whose children have physical and/or cognitive disabilities.
Cullen M. Ward (1921-1979)
  • President, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (then Georgia Association of Plaintiffs' Trial Attorneys), 1959-60.

If you or a loved one are seriously injured, call us today at (404) 253-7862, or contact us online.

Localities in Georgia where we practice:

Our practice is statewide, and our partners have handled serious cases in most of Georgia’s 159 counties. But here are places where we have been most active. Acworth, Adairsville, Alpharetta, Atlanta, Augusta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Ball Ground, Braselton, Brookhaven, Buford, Canton, Cartersville, Carroll County, Carrollton, Chamblee, Cherokee County, Clarkston, Clayton County, Cobb County, Conyers, Coweta County, Covington, Cumming, Dallas, Decatur, DeKalb County, Doraville, Douglas County, Douglasville, Duluth, Dunwoody, Fayetteville, Forest Park, Forsyth County, Fulton County, Gainesville, Henry County, Hiram, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Kennesaw, Locust Grove, Mableton, Macon, Marietta, McDonough, Milton, Morrow, Mountain Park, Newnan, Newton County, Norcross, Peachtree City, Paulding County, Peachtree Corners, Powder Springs, Riverdale, Rome, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Savannah, Smyrna, Stockbridge, Suwanee, Villa Rica, Waleska, Woodstock

Why Do People Choose Us?

We’ve been protecting the financial future of personal injury victims throughout Georgia for decades by fighting for optimal compensation in every case.

Client Reviews
Attorney Ken Shigley - did his lawyer thing - and increased my "take home amount" of settlement - the amount after paying core medical & legal fees - by over 3000% (three thousand percent) more than what some other law firms could do. He and courtney (his assistant) were like family! True blessings... Louise W., Client, Tennessee
He communicated well, was sensitive to our concerns and obtained an optimal outcome. I strongly recommend Ken Shigley to anyone going through this sort of thing.... John P., Client, California
He was awesome in explaining everything to us in detail and looked out for us with every step of the lawsuit. I would highly recommend him... Joan M., Client, Massachusetts
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