NTL President Mark Lanier earns Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year award

Mark Lanier

Mark Lanier of Lanier Law Firm

National Trial Lawyers President Mark Lanier, founding partner of The Lanier Law Firm, has been named the 2018 Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year by the editors and reporters of ALM and The National Law Journal. The prestigious award will be presented at the 2018 Elite Trial Lawyers event on Oct. 5, 2018, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

“There are so many outstanding and experienced attorneys representing the interests of their clients and the public every day in courts across the nation,” said Mr. Lanier. “To be selected from among that group for this award is a supreme honor.”

In July, Mr. Lanier won one of the largest verdicts in plaintiffs’ personal injury history. He and his experienced trial team secured a nearly $4.7 billion verdict on behalf of 22 women who developed ovarian cancer as a result of longtime use of asbestos-laced talcum powder made by Johnson & Johnson.

That verdict follows the firm’s success in three federal jury trials where a total of nearly $2 billion was awarded against J&J and its Pinnacle division based on claims from multiple people who suffered serious medical complications caused by the company’s defective hip implant devices. These results cumulatively put Mr. Lanier close to $20 billion in verdicts during his highly acclaimed career.

In addition, for the fourth time in the Elite Trial Lawyers award’s five-year history, The Lanier Law Firm is a finalist for recognition in three separate practice areas: Mass Torts, Medical Devices, and Product Liability.

According to the ALM legal news and information service, its researchers reviewed more than 300 submissions across 23 categories to arrive at a list of finalists that “have demonstrated exemplary performance in cutting-edge work on behalf of plaintiffs over the last 18 months.”

The Lanier Law Firm has offices in HoustonNew YorkLos Angeles and Oklahoma City. For close to 30 years, the firm has worked tirelessly to find unique solutions to its clients’ unique needs. The firm is composed of more than 60 skilled attorneys, practicing in a broad array of areas, including business fraud, asbestos exposure, personal injury, commercial litigation, and others. Visit https://www.lanierlawfirm.com.

NTL member James Kimball secures $1.625M settlement for accident victim

James KimballNational Trial Lawyers member James Kimball of Seigel Law, LLC in Ridgewood, NJ has secured a $1,625,000 settlement for a client injured in a t-bone vehicle collision in 2014. At noon on November 10, 2014, Lorna Phillips was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe on Sagamore Avenue in Teaneck, NJ.  As she approached the intersection of Belle Avenue, a Lexus LS460 being driven by Juda Klein of Monsey, New York, went through a stop sign and t-boned Ms. Phillips’ vehicle causing it to overturn. As a result of this crash, Ms. Phillips underwent left shoulder arthroscopy, left hip arthroscopy and a permanent lumbar spine stimulator implant.  Ms. Phillips, a kidney dialysis technician, was able to return to work on a limited basis. The settlement was reached on September 11, 2018 in Superior Court of Bergen Co., New Jersey, with Judge Lisa Perez Friscia presiding.

Video: Using sentencing mitigation videos in criminal court

Using “day-in-the-life” videos is nothing new for civil plaintiff attorneys. These powerful tools can make a difference in negotiations. But now criminal defense attorneys are using sentencing mitigation videos in courtrooms to help their clients receive reduced sentencing in prison. The Atlantic features the video below, No Jail Time: The Movie about Doug Passon, a defense attorney turned filmmaker. The short documentary by Lance Oppenheim shows how these videos are designed to appeal to a judge’s empathy and humanize their subjects.

NTL member Lyndsay Markley investigating alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priest

Chicago plaintiff attorney Lyndsay A. MarkleyNational Trial Lawyers member Lyndsay Markley says she’s investigating cases of alleged sexual abuse by now deceased Catholic Priest, Monsignor Thomas Mohan Of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Diocese of Los Angeles, and Diocese of Orange County, California.

The alleged victims, some of whom reside in Cook County, Illinois and others in California, claim that  they were sexually abused as children by Mohan during their participation in the Catholic Faith, including performing tasks as altar boys.  Following Mnsgr. Mohan’s retirement from his work as a Catholic Priest within the Archdiocese of Chicago in the early 1970s. Thereafter, he performed work as a pastor and Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange County until 1997. Mohan died on November 28, 2002. Many of the current allegations against Mohan arise from his time in California.

In response to multiple queries regarding the status of these claims, Attorney Lyndsay Markley is investigating these matters on behalf of her clients and working with the representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Orange County in an effort to reach an amicable resolution of these claims outside of litigation.

The timing of these claims is fortuitous given the impending enactment of California resolution AB-3120 – an amendment to the California statute that sets the statute of limitations for civil claims against private entities. Under this new version of the law, many of the previous barriers to victims of sexual abuse in California would be removed.  The law also provides for treble damages. Illinois’ law still creates a difficult barrier to victims from this time period.

Attorney Lyndsay Markley says:

“Given the passage of time, many witnesses to the wrongful actions of Monsignor Mohan are no longer available and we urge anyone with information regarding this priest to come forward to help these victims achieve justice.  For far too long the Catholic Church has known about sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior indicating abuse committed by its priests and acted to protect the priest to the grave detriment of children. For too long, the Catholic Church has covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges, and civil lawsuits by running down the clock on the time period available to a victim to file a lawsuit.

Most recently we are seeing this sad story play out in Pennsylvania, where over 300 priests have molested and abused nearly 1,000 children since the 1970s.  Now it is time to hold the church accountable civilly and criminally for all of their years of wrongdoing by removing any impediment to a victim’s right to bring a lawsuit.

“In the future, hopefully the Archdiocese of Chicago will prevent the admittance of predators into the clergy so that innocent children will remain unharmed and we don’t have to rely on the justice system to address a victim’s needs after the fact.”

Lyndsay Markley has represented and currently represents several victims of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Chicago arising out of sexual abuse that occurred by defrocked priest, Daniel McCormack. She has also represented survivors of sexual abuse  in lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Board of Education, United Airlines, Inc., daycares, and many other entities.

Judge Rules Cullman County, Alabama’s Bail System Illegally Discriminates Against the Poor

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. – Today, people who were jailed simply because they could not afford bail in Cullman County, Alabama, won a significant victory when a federal court judge ruled that the practice of jailing those who cannot pay is unconstitutional.  The judge entered a preliminary injunction order that prohibits Cullman County from continuing to discriminate against the poor through its bail system.  This follows a memorandum opinion entered last week explaining why the county’s practices were illegal.  As the Court explained, “Cullman County’s discriminatory bail practices deprive indigent criminal defendants in Cullman County of equal protection of the law” and its justifications for using a bail schedule are “illusory and conspicuously arbitrary.”

This preliminary injunction will remain in effect while the lawsuit challenging the practice is fully resolved and permanent relief is ordered.

The lawsuit was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Corps, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on behalf of Bradley Hester, who was held on a $1,000 bond he could not afford. The organizations jointly issued the following statements:

Statement from Sam Brooke, deputy legal director, the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Today was a big win for all Cullman County residents because no longer will the county be allowed to treat residents with means differently than those without in our criminal justice system.  Jails are not meant to warehouse people who have not been convicted of a crime, particularly where, as here, the rich are able to buy their freedom and impoverished people are left to languish in jail. This form of wealth-based discrimination that keeps people in jail just because they cannot afford their freedom is unconstitutional.  We will continue to fight to eliminate wealth-based justice.” 

Statement from Katherine Hubbard, attorney, Civil Rights Corps:

“Reforms are underway.  Most municipal courts in Alabama have already moved away from money bail.  Today’s decision affirms that progress, and encourages more, recognizing that our district and circuit courts still have a long way to go.

“We look forward to working with the county officials to ensure their new practices comply with the preliminary injunction order, and we will continue our litigation against Cullman County until permanent relief is implemented. We hope other courts will take notice and end these abuses in their own jurisdictions without waiting for a lawsuit to force the issue.”

Statement from Brock Boone, staff attorney, ACLU of Alabama:  

“The federal court’s decision today acknowledges what policy makers, advocates, and state courts across the country are recognizing:  that locking people up simply based on poverty is unacceptable, and that a just bail system must provide robust protections to ensure that those presumed innocent are released pretrial, while only the most severe cases will require detention. 

“Cullman County is in many ways typical of courts across Alabama.  Far too often, its bail system results in people being locked away pretrial simply because they could not pay.  Courts throughout Alabama, and the country, are setting bail above what people can pay, without any protections to ensure that this draconian penalty is used only when absolutely necessary.”

Learn more about the fight to end wealth-based pretrial detention here

NTL member Tommy Malone honored with scholarship

Thomas MaloneNational Trial Lawyers member Tommy Malone, who is battling stomach cancer, is being honored by his peers who are funding a scholarship at Mercer University Law School in his name. That’s where Malone earned his J.D. in 1966. Malone went on to found the Malone Law Firm in Atlanta and has tried personal injury and wrongful death cases for more than 40 years. According to The Daily Report, one of the lawyers donating to the scholarship fund, Brent Savage, called Malone “the best trial lawyer in Georgia in my lifetime.” National Trial Lawyers member Robert “Bart” Turner, another Mercer alumnus, is also one of the scholarship’s founders. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, go to http://law.mercer.edu/campaign/. Author Vincent Coppola has also written a biography of Malone, which is available here. 

Impeachment of 4 WVA justices begins this week

Impeachment proceedings against four West Virginia Supreme Court Justices begin this week with initial appearances before the state Senate scheduled for Tuesday. According to Talking Points Memo, a pre-trial conference will be held Tuesday before the Senate, which will act as the jury in the impeachment process. No date has been set yet for the actual impeachment trials. West Virginia’s House of Delegates voted in August to impeach Justices Allen Loughry, Beth Walker, Margaret Workman and Robin Davis, although Davis retired after the vote. The move to impeach arose from an investigation into how renovation funds were spent on the Justices’ offices. Democratic lawmakers have called the impeachments a power grab by the GOP.

State Farm settles class action for $250M

State Farm has settled a class action for $250 million claiming it created a RICO enterprise to funnel campaign money to an Illinois Supreme Court justice who later voted to overturn a $1 billion verdict against the insurance company, according to the ABA Journal. The lawsuit claimed that State Farm used non-profit organizations to secretly fund the election of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. A trial was scheduled for last week, but a preliminary settlement was approved by a federal judge on September 5, with a hearing on final approval set for December 13. According to an amended complaint, State Farm orchestrated as much as $4 million of $4.8 million in campaign contributions to Karmeier through an organization called the Illinois Civil Justice League, which was created by a State Farm lawyer, who also hired the ICJL’s president. The New York Times also has details on the settlement. A news release from State Farm denied any liability and said the plaintiff’s claims were without merit.

Podcast: Demystifying legal tech trends

smartphoneNew technology has the potential to help law firms manage many things, but how does one sift through all the options to find the best solutions? In this edition of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing from the Legal Talk Network, Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street talk to Chad Burton, the CEO of Curolegal about the latest trends in legal technology and which ones are right for your firm.

Manafort’s lawyers back in court

Paul ManafortAttorneys for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort will be back in court, one week after he was found guilty on eight counts. Manafort faces a second trial in Washington, DC that’s set to start September 17. While Manafort awaits sentencing on the earlier convictions, he won’t be appearing in court this time. CNN reports his lawyers will be arguing against asking potential jurors whether they voted in the 2016 election. Manafort faces seven criminal charges in the upcoming trial. Then on Wednesday, prosecutors will state whether they intend to seek another trial on the ten charges in which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.