Biographical Information

Daniel Clayton named Best Lawyers 2015 “Lawyer of the Year” – Nashville – Medical Malpractice Law.

Best Lawyers compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2015) is based on more than 3.9 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. The lawyers being honored as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high ratings in our surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

Steven Naifeh, President of Best Lawyers, says, “We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. We would like to congratulate Daniel L. Clayton on being selected as the ‘Nashville Best Lawyers Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs Lawyer of the Year’ for 2015.”  This is the second time in the past 4 years Daniel Clayton has been honored with this prestigious award.

In addition, Daniel Clayton was named to 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Medical Malpractice Law, Personal Injury Litigation and Product Liability Litigation. Daniel has also been selected to Mid South Super Lawyers Top 50 Lawyers in Nashville, and Top 100 lawyers in Tennessee.

Professional Background – A Leader in the Law.

Daniel Clayton is certified as a Civil Trial Specialist and a Medical Malpractice Specialist by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization (www.cletn.com). Only a few attorneys in the state of Tennessee hold both certifications. Daniel has been named to Best Lawyers in America (www.bestlawyers.com) as well as being selected for inclusion as a Mid-South Super Lawyer (www.superlawyers.com) – a list compiled by Law and Politics magazine featuring the top 5% of attorneys in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.  Not only was Daniel included in this list, but Mid-South Super Lawyers also listed him in the Top 50 lawyers in Nashville and Top 100 lawyers in Tennessee. He is also a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association (www.theatla.com) which is a national organization composed of The Top 100 Trial Lawyers from each state. Membership is obtained through special invitation and is extended only to those attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers. Because of his success and insight, he is a much sought after speaker on the subject of trial practice. He has given presentations across the state of Tennessee, Florida and Georgia not only to other attorneys, but also as a featured speaker at multiple seminars for Tennessee judges. He has tried cases in Alabama, Kentucky and across the state of Tennessee. He has represented clients in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, Illinois and Florida.

Daniel is a Past President of the Tennessee Association for Justice. He also serves on the Board of Governors for the Tennessee Association for Justice, the Medical/Legal Committee for the Nashville Bar Association and is a member of the American Association for Justice. He is a member of the Circle of Advocates and the Nashville Bar Foundation. Daniel was selected as a Senior Counsel member of the American College of Barristers. The status of Senior Counsel is a distinction honoring his skill and experience as a trial lawyer as well as his demonstrated commitment to promoting excellence in the art of trial advocacy. Daniel was also appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve as a hearing officer for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

Daniel is a graduate of Lipscomb University (B.A. 1984) and the University of Tennessee College of Law (J.D. 1987). While in law school, he was a National Semi-Finalist member of the National Trial Moot Court Team. He received the United States Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell Medal for Excellence in Advocacy. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and is a past recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the legal community. Daniel enjoys an AV-Preeminent rating with Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating that can be achieved and identifies lawyers with preeminent legal ability as well as the highest professional and ethical standards.

Community Service – A Leader in his Community.

Giving back to the community is an important part of Daniel’s life. As he says, “My mother and father emphasized faith, family and service. They not only taught it – they lived it. My father was a minister. All of my brothers have served in the ministry.  My mother was the one who cast the vision for me to go to law school.  I remember when I was in law school going home and visiting my mother and father shortly before my father passed away from cancer. He asked me ‘Daniel, what will you do to serve?’ I have used that question to help guide me in my life, not only in my law practice, but in my community and with my own family and my children. I remember that conversation with him just as vividly now as the day it occurred 28 years ago.”

In 1994, Daniel was elected to the Franklin Special School District Board of Education. He served as the Treasurer of the Franklin Special School District Board of Education from 1994-1997. During his tenure, the Franklin Special School District received the Tennessee School Board of the Year Award from the Tennessee School Board Association.

Daniel is an active member of the church he and his family attend. Daniel has been involved as a team leader in missions work, not only on U.S. soil, but also in areas of Mexico and Jamaica. He and his wife are members of the Williamson County Foster Parent Association. During the past 17 years, they have served as foster parents to over 35 children including special needs and disabled children. They actively support Graceworks Ministries, Mercy Children’s Medical Clinic and Faith Family Medical Clinic. Daniel served as a Youth Basketball Coach for 14 years with the YMCA, Williamson County Recreational League, Grassland Athletic Association, and the West Nashville Sports League. He and his wife, Stacy, along with their four children, live in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Courtroom Success – A Commitment to Excellence.

Daniel has handled numerous high-profile cases that have received local and national media attention including the death in an automobile/motorcycle wreck of the world’s most decorated aerobatic pilot (whose planes are on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.); the wrongful death of a woman after the car she was driving burst into flames after it was hit in the rear-end by a tractor-trailer; the disabling back injuries a man received when a deck collapsed because of improper construction, causing him to fall 20 feet; the death of a well-known pharmacist after his CT scans were misread, and severe injuries a lady received after pure 99.9% acetic acid, instead of a 4% solution, was used on her during a gynecologic procedure. In March of 2010, Randy Kinnard and Daniel Clayton obtained a 22 million dollar jury verdict – the largest medical malpractice verdict in Tennessee history for an individual person. Daniel has successfully handled multiple brain injury cases including birth trauma injuries.  He is currently handling multiple cases against defendants in the Tennessee fungal meningitis matters.

In June 2014, a Rutherford County jury awarded 1.96 million dollars in damages to Daniel Clayton’s client, Scott Summerville.  This verdict was part of a nearly $3 million dollar verdict in a wrongful death and personal injury trial presided by Judge Royce Taylor.  Newspaper reports indicate that the jury verdict is the largest award ever made in a Rutherford County car-crash case.

His areas of practice include catastrophic and personal injury, tractor trailer and charter bus accidents, including accidents caused by tire explosion/defective tires on buses and trucks, automobile collisions, wrongful death, medical negligence, and product liability. For more information regarding Board Certification, please visit www.abpla.org and www.cletn.com.

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Civil Trial Specialist
  • Medical Malpractice Specialist
  • Civil Pre-Trial Procedure, National Board of Trial Specialty

Other Information.

Daniel enjoys running (2012 Chicago Marathon, 2010-2012 Music City Marathon-Half Marathon, 2012 Savannah Half-Marathon), fishing, reading, playing golf with his son and son-in-law, and playing tennis. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his family – and vacationing in beautiful Seagrove Beach, Florida.

Areas of Practice

  • Catastrophic and Personal Injury
  • Charter Bus and Defective Tires
  • Wrongful Death
  • Medical Negligence
  • Product Liability
  • Charter Bus and Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Litigation Percentage

  • 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Admission Dates & Jurisdictions

  • Tennessee, 1987


  • University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville, Tennessee
    • J.D. – 1987
    • Honors: National Semifinalist Member, National Trial Moot Court Team
    • Honors: Who’s Who in American Law
    • Honors: AV Rating with Martindale-Hubbell
  • David Lipscomb University
    • B.A. – 1984


  • Medical Malpractice Update
  • Proving Road Construction Cases
  • The Impact of the Tort Reform Bill
  • Hot Topics in Medical Malpractice
  • Effectively Handling Medical Malpractice Cases in Tennessee
  • Introduction to Nursing Home Litigation

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America
  • Nations’ Top Attorneys – Top 100
  • Top 100 attorneys in Tennessee
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers
  • Preeminent Lawyers, Highest AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America – Lawyer of the Year – Medical Malpractice Law, Nashville 2015 and 2012
  • The National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Top 50 Lawyers in Nashville
  • Best Lawyers’ 2015 Nashville Medical Malpractice Law-Plaintiff “Lawyer of the Year”
  • The Best Lawyers in America — Medical Malpractice Law-Plaintiffs, 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America — Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs, 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America — Product Liability Litigation-Plaintiffis, 2015


Professional Associations

  • Tennessee Association for Justice, Past President
  • Board of Trustees, Nashville Bar Foundation
  • Nashville Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Tennessee Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • American College of Barristers, Senior Counsel
  • Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, Hearing Officer
  • Southern Trial Lawyers Association, Member
  • Tennessee Association for Justice, Member
  • Nashville Bar Association, Member
  • American Association for Justice, Member
  • Tennessee Bar Association, Member

Verdicts & Settlements

October 2014 – $5,000,000.00 Pediatric Medical Malpractice Verdict in Nashville, Tennessee involving failure to diagnose a tick bite illness.  A 12 person Nashville jury awarded 5 million dollars to Kinnard Clayton & Beveridge client, Story Laurent, whose 22 month old child died from an undiagnosed tick infection.  Ryder Laurent, age 22 months, had a tick bite a few weeks before presenting to his pediatricians with a fever and rash. A first pediatrician (Patton) thought it was an ear infection. Mother returned the next day. A second pediatrician (Keffer) at the same group thought Ryder was having an allergic reaction. The boy was worse the next day and yet he was twice dismissed by Vanderbilt Hospital.  Finally he was seen two days later.  After being admitted to the hospital, an infectious disease physician was consulted and made the presumptive. Ryder had Ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne illness. Had he received prompt treatment (Doxyycline), it was probable he would recovered.  Prior to trial, the claims against Vanderbilt had been resolved.  The case went to trial against Old Harding Pediatrics, where the two pediatricians practiced. They were both found at fault.  The 12 person jury unanimously awarded $750,000 for Ryder’s pain and suffering and $4.25 million more for his pecuniary loss.

Daniel Clayton of Kinnard Clayton & Beveridge, Nashville on behalf of Story Laurent, the mother of Ryder Laurent.

Thomas Wiseman and Kimberly Silvus of Wiseman Ashworth defending for Old Harding Pediatric Associates.

The Plaintiff’s Trial Brief

The Verdict and Judgment

June 2014 – Daniel Clayton obtains reported record jury verdict in car crash case in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee.  $2,960,000.00 total verdict.  http://www.murfreesboropost.com/-3-million-wreck-verdict-cms-39853

March 2010 Chattanooga jury awards $22,000,000.00 verdict on behalf of clients represented by Kinnard Clayton & Beveridge lawyers, Randy Kinnard and Daniel Clayton. Bette Donathan was in an automobile accident on April 11, 2006, in Winchester, Tennessee. She had a broken leg. She had surgery that was supposed to repair her broken lower right leg. However, as she was prepared for surgery at Southern Tennessee Medical Center in Winchester, medical personnel inserted an epidural catheter for post-operative pain control. The epidural catheter should have never been inserted because she was on blood thinner due to her having a mechanical heart valve. Bette Donathan developed a spinal bleed that left her paralyzed from the waist down. The jury, in a trial that lasted almost two months, awarded 62 year old Bette Donathan 19.2 million dollars, and 3 million dollars to her husband, Ben Donathan. It was reported that the verdict for Bette Donathan was the largest malpractice judgment for an individual in the history of Tennessee. “This should never have happened,” Mr. Kinnard said. “Bette Donathan went into the hospital with a broken lower leg, and came out a paraplegic.”

Speaking Engagements

During his career, Daniel has been asked by numerous organizations to speak to their members. He has given speeches to lawyers, legal professionals, health care professionals and judges. He has testified before State Senate and House Committees on issues involving our jury system. He has been a featured guest Editorialist for The Tennessean on Nursing Home Issues. Here are the titles of some of his presentations:

  • 2014: Depositions, A Guide for Every Lawyer
  • 2013 – Handling the Automobile Wreck case
  • 2012 – The Essential Elements of handling the Automobile Collision case
  • 2011 RoadBuilders Bill – Proving Road Construction Cases
  • The Impact of Governor Haslam’s 2011 Tort Reform Bill on Medical Malpractice
  • Hot Topics in Medical Malpractice
  • Medical Malpractice – Staying up with the New Medical Malpractice Law
  • Trial Strategies for a Changing World
  • The Law of Subrogation in Tennessee
  • Effectively Handling Medical Malpractice Cases in Tennessee
  • Introduction to Nursing Home Litigation
  • Medical Malpractice – The New Law and Beyond
  • The 21st Century Trial Attorney – Success through Education and Motivation
  • Tort Law Update – The Most Important Cases of the Year
  • Three Important Aspects of Voir Dire
  • Seven Steps Followed by Highly Effective Legal Nurse Consultants
  • Winning Ways of Master Trial Lawyers: Walking the Walk; Talking the Talk
  • Trial Practice Changes after the Jury Reform Commission Report
  • Filling your Toolbox
  • Breaking the Chains that Lead to Defeat – A Closer Look at Opening Statements
  • HIPPA – New Regulations Impacting our Practice
  • Standard of Review on Appeal
  • Planting the Seed: The Effective Use of Voir Dire
  • Auto Torts Litigation: Resolution by Settlement, Mediation or Trial
  • Medical Malpractice in a Nutshell
  • Auto Torts: Preparing Your Case for Settlement and Trial
  • The Ethical Solicitation and Representation of Clients
  • Auto Torts: Depositions that Win
  • Paralegals and the Litigation Team in Tennessee
  • Litigation: Trial Practice for Legal secretaries and Legal Assistants
  • Personal Injury Seminar: First Contact and Meeting with the Client