Trial attorney Lindsay Tygart shows a dedication to helping victims of medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and other personal injuries that is founded in the lessons she learned growing up in her Jacksonville home.
Tygart, head of Coker Law’s medical malpractice division, absorbed her father’s many stories of making a positive difference in people’s lives through the law — he was a civil trial attorney in the city for over 50 years. She was inspired by the way her mother showed support and unconditional love for her family, and today models her mother’s example in her own family life. She points to her maternal grandmother’s influence as a true “Southern lady.”
“She was a soft spoken, delicate flower who would turn into a rattlesnake if anyone tried to mess with her children or grandchildren,” Tygart says.
“I am incredibly humbled by the fact that these families trust me to lead them through some extremely difficult times.”
This strong and supportive foundation helped Tygart become a self-described “trusting and optimistic” person who can turn on the toughness whenever necessary. It also drove a passion in Tygart for helping others that would eventually lead to her choosing a practice area in which she could help shepherd people through what could be some of the most difficult and challenging times of their lives.
“It is incredibly rewarding to help injured individuals and their families obtain even a little bit of justice in some truly tragic situations,” Tygart says. “I am incredibly humbled by the fact that these families trust me to lead them through some extremely difficult times.”
CHOOSING THE LAW
The law runs deeply in Tygart’s family. In addition to her father, her two brothers are attorneys. She has two uncles and a cousin who are circuit judges. Tygart’s husband, Fraz Ahmed, also practices at Coker Law, representing plaintiffs in auto collisions and other personal injury matters.
In spite of her family ties to the legal profession, practicing law wasn’t Tygart’s first career choice. Throughout her middle and high school years, she was heavily involved in theater and the performing arts. Following high school, she continued pursuing her dream of becoming a stage actress by majoring in performing arts and art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
It was her father who, perhaps not so subtly, offered her a different career path.
“When I graduated from college, my dad basically said to me, you can either go to New York and eat beans out of a can and live in a shoe box, or I will pay for you to go to law school,” she laughs. “I don’t like beans much, so it was sort of a no-brainer. Plus, throughout my life I saw how passionate my dad was about trial work and how much he loved what he did. So now I perform in front of people in a different capacity.”
There is no doubt that the acting world’s loss was the legal profession’s gain. Once she decided on the law, Tygart pursued law school and building a legal practice with a perfectionistic dedication that is her trademark today in arguing cases for her clients. She earned her Juris Doctor at Florida Coastal School of Law.
During law school, she gained practical litigation experience working as a certified legal intern for the Office of the Public Defender of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Her first job as an attorney was for a firm that mainly handled commercial and business litigation.
The partners at her first firm allowed Tygart to explore different areas of the law, and she began handling small scale trip and fall and auto accident cases. After gaining that experience, she moved to another firm where she handled medical malpractice and nursing home neglect cases, and her practice grew exponentially.
She joined Coker Law two years ago.
“When I joined Coker Law, Howard and the other partners allowed me to really zero in and laser focus on what I wanted to do,” she says. “I am incredibly blessed that they allowed me to pursue these practice areas I am so passionate about.”
ON WOMEN IN LAW
Tygart also feels fortunate to be able to bring a woman’s unique qualities to the practice of law. Generally speaking, the legal profession is male dominated. She notes that while some female attorneys believe that to be successful, they must try to act more like a man in the way they practice law, she disagrees.
“That is a disservice to both themselves and their clients,” she says. “Women are different from men and are supposed to be. As a woman lawyer, I have unique qualities that men don’t have. I embrace the qualities that I have that are different from a man and a male lawyer. The way I feel and think about situations, analyze and form opinions and the way I deal with clients and opposing counsel are different. Those differences should be celebrated and not suffocated. I truly wish more women lawyers would embrace the qualities that make them unique.
“As a woman lawyer, I have unique qualities that men don’t have. I embrace the qualities that I have that are different from a man and a male lawyer.”
“Of course,” she continues, “Being female I have had to deal with things like sexual harassment and gender discrimination that maybe a man wouldn’t have had to, but those experiences make me distinctively qualified to educate and empower those who have endured the same issues.”
Tygart recently received a favorable result for a female client in which she brought those unique characteristics to bear. The plaintiff in the case was sexually assaulted by a doctor she had visited for weight-loss surgery.
“This physician was in a position of power over a vulnerable patient and took advantage of that situation, which is unacceptable,” Tygart says.
Tygart’s challenge was to prove that the doctor’s actions fell within his insurance coverage, which through a meticulous investigation and research, she and her medical malpractice team were able to do.
Another recent case that particularly hit home for Tygart, as a mother herself, was that of a young pregnant woman who died during childbirth because doctors delayed providing treatment for a life-threatening condition. The condition caused the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby to enter the mother’s bloodstream during delivery.
This condition is dire and often fatal, but, with the help of physician experts, Tygart was able to show that had this young mother received timely and appropriate medical interventions, the ultimate outcome would have been different.
These are just two examples of the many difficult, complex and heartrending cases that Tygart has successfully resolved for clients.
Tygart and Ahmed are the proud parents of two young daughters, Salem, 4, and Silas, 18 months.
“They are the greatest treasures of my life,” “Tygart says. “Being a working mom is tough but so rewarding in number of different ways. First, I am so very fortunate to have a partner in life who is unbelievably involved in raising our children. Fraz is completely hands-on, even in the day-to-day and I am so grateful for that. Since having my girls, I have learned so much about myself and my life’s priorities, specifically my roles as a mom, wife, lawyer, boss, friend, daughter and all the other hats working attorney moms wear. It is truly a balancing act. But, I never allow myself to forget that I am a mom first, a wife second and an attorney third. I am not afraid to say that.
“That is one of the things that drew me to practicing here at Coker Law. It is truly a family centered atmosphere. Howard and the other partners don’t just accept that my family comes first, they encourage it. It is unfortunate that this is somewhat rare in law firms. I wish that everybody in my position had the support that my firm provides me.”
In addition to balancing life with children, Tygart has two dogs, Mia and Molly, both black labrador retrievers and both rescues. Another of her passions, she notes, is animal adoption. She is a proud supporter of Labrador Rescue of North Florida and the Jacksonville Humane Society.
FINDING HER TRIBE
Adding to her busy but fulfilling schedule is her involvement with the Jacksonville Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, and the Jacksonville Women Lawyers’ Association, all of which she has been a member since 2006.
“Every working mom needs a tribe of loyal, supportive friends and I have been blessed beyond measure with mine.”
“My involvement in these groups has benefitted me and given me opportunities I never in a million years thought I would have,” she says. “I have made numerous business connections, but more importantly, I’ve made my best friends through these organizations. For a working attorney mom to have a trusted group who is there to listen, offer advice, grab a glass of wine and even dish a bit.”
“I refer to them as my tribe,” she adds. “Every working mom needs a tribe of loyal, supportive friends and I have been blessed beyond measure with mine.”