Ed was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina and attended Camden Military Academy where he graduated as the battalion commander in 1976. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Government from Wofford College and later received a joint MPA/JD degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Upon graduation Ed was accepted into the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corp. As a soldier and lawyer Ed proudly served as a Captain in the 7th Light Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California. During his three and a half year tour of duty Ed served as prosecutor and later defense counsel in dozens of trials by courts-martial and administrative elimination boards. He deployed in support of Operation Golden Pheasant, a response to Nicaraguan attacks within Honduras where he lead a legal assistance team charged with negotiating and resolving various legal issues with Honduran government officials. For his service at the 7th Infantry Division Ed received the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
While in California Ed met his future wife and together they decided to return to South Carolina to raise a family in the Lowcountry. Ed joined the nationally renowned asbestos firm Ness, Motley in 1989 while continuing to serve in the United States Army Reserves.
After approximately a year and a half of representing victims in ground water contamination cases, Ed and his Army Reserve detachment were activated and deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield/ Storm. As chief trial counsel for the Army Central Command, Ed prosecuted the only courts-martial in ARCENT during the war. His successful conviction of an Army doctor who had abandoned his duties while seeking conscientious objector status is recounted in the book, “Judge Advocates in Combat.” For his service in the Gulf War he was awarded the Bronze Star and promoted to Major upon his return to civilian practice and his Army Reserve unit. Ed graduated from the Command and General Staff College and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He resigned his commission after 12 years of combined active and reserve military service to focus on his growing family and private practice at the Ness, Motley Law Firm.
From 1991-2002 Ed worked on the asbestos property damage team helping building owners nationwide recover millions of dollars in asbestos cost recovery actions. Clients included the City of Wichita, the State of West Virginia, the New York/New Jersey Port Authority (World Trade Center, LGA and JFK airports), the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, State Farm Worldwide Headquarters, and a college and university asbestos property damage class action among many others. Ed became a Member of the firm in 1998.
In 2004 Ed opened the Cottingham Law Firm where he managed a successful lawsuit against Lockheed Martin on behalf of hundreds of residents and victims of ground water contamination in a small Florida community next to a former manufacturing site. He has also represented victims of automobile accidents, medical malpractice, asbestos disease and mesothelioma and contract disputes among other matters.
Ed understands that no two cases are the same and that each deserves passion, focus and commitment from start to finish. He is happy to offer a free consultation and candid evaluation of your situation, whatever it may be.