NTL member Kathleen Zellner talks about trying to get Steven Avery a new trial

National Trial Lawyers member Kathleen Zellner has been working to get Steven Avery, the man featured in Netflix’s Making a Murderer, a new trial, but the state of Wisconsin apparently doesn’t want to see it happen. The state sent Zellner a 19-page response to her arguments and new evidence she presented in a brief on March 12 that points to Avery’s possible innocence. Zellner talked to Newsweek about the state’s response.

“The State is thumbing its nose at the appellate court once again,” Zellner told Newsweek on Tuesday. “That court specifically ordered that the merits of the alleged bone destruction be addressed. Rather than follow the court’s directive, the State has constructed a convoluted procedural argument that defies logic or precedent.”

Avery won a right to appeal in February from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Read more about Zellner’s response to the state’s actions at Newsweek. 

NTL member Mike Andrews investigating 737 Max 8 crashes

737 Max 8 jetAt the request of one of the victim’s family, Beasley Allen is investigating the circumstances surrounding the fatal Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane crash that took place earlier this month. We are also looking at an earlier Lion Air crash involving the same aircraft. There may be potential claims against Boeing Company, the plane’s manufacturer, as well as the airline. National Trial Lawyers member Mike Andrews of the Beasley Allen firm, who focuses his practice on aviation litigation, is leading the firm’s efforts to investigate the crashes, which are likely linked to a faulty flight-control system.

“Boeing’s conduct was unconscionable and led to the deaths of 346 people,” said Andrews. “While Boeing prioritized protecting its profits the company knew that its latest iteration of its 737 aircraft was flawed. It ignored and even tried to cover up the aircraft’s deadly problems. Not only is this the basis of possibly hundreds of wrongful death lawsuits, it also prompted an ongoing criminal investigation of Boeing by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice.”

On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 departed from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 8:38 a.m. local time. The plane was headed to Nairobi, Kenya, when it lost contact with air controllers six minutes later. The crash killed all 189 people on board and bore strong similarities to the crash of Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed Oct. 29, also killing all 189 people on board. The two aircraft were new Boeing 737 MAX 8 and both aircraft experienced the same type of erratic behavior just before they crashed.

Preliminary investigations tie the crashes to an automatic flight-control system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The MCAS was installed after a retrofit to modernize the old Boeing 737 design resulted in a tendency for the plane’s nose to pitch up while in flight. The MCAS was supposed to detect that improper pitch and automatically correct to push the nose of the aircraft back down.

However, the flawed system engages when it should not. When pilots react to the sudden downward motion of the aircraft and pull up on the flight controls, the MCAS again falsely senses a nose-up problem and pushes the nose down again. This results in a tug-of-war between the pilot and the flawed MCAS creating an undulating flight path and causing the plane to lose altitude and airspeed until it crashes.

“Boeing owes the public answers for its reckless disregard for people’s safety. It must be held accountable for purposely misleading regulators and others about the safety of its aircraft,” Andrews said.

FDA investigating possible breast implant-related cancer

The Food and Drug Administration is holding a second round of meetings on whether breast implants may be to blame for 457 cases of cancer that have been diagnosed in women who have undergone the procedure, CBS News reports. Some women who have textured implants are reporting they’ve been diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. NBC News reports some of the victims testified in the FDA hearings held Monday, along with plastic surgeons, and breast implant manufacturers. CNN reports the FDA has sent warning letters to two breast implant makers which haven’t complied with requirements to conduct studies of the long term effects of the implants. Inside Edition has this video report on women who marched in Washington to get textured implants banned by the FDA.

Podcast: How to handle your client going viral

mobile social mediaToday’s attorneys are well-versed in how a client’s social media posts can and will be used against them in a court of law. But what do you do when a client goes viral for all the wrong reasons? In this episode of the ABA Journal’s Asked and Answered from the Legal Talk Network, Stephanie Francis Ward talks to attorney Pete Wentz, an expert in crisis management and communication strategy. Wentz talks about what’s worked for him in addressing social media furors, when you should know that it’s time to take action in an online controversy, and what common legal advice can actually be least helpful in putting out social media fires. 

Michael Avenatti charged with trying to extort $20M from Nike

Michael AvenattiFederal agents arrested attorney Michael Avenatti Monday on charges from separate cases in New York and California, including allegedly attempting to extort $20 million from Nike. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles charged Avenatti with two felony counts of wire fraud and mail fraud related to embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and using fake tax returns to defraud a bank. According to The Daily Beast, Avenatti allegedly used $1.6 million of a client’s settlement for himself. CNBC reports Avenatti allegedly defrauded a Mississippi bank by submitting falsified tax returns to secure loans totalling $4.1 million. Above the Law says this charge may be more problematic for Avenatti than the Nike case. Another report on CNBC says prosecutors have Avenatti on tape. Meanwhile, HuffPost reports that Nike attorneys contacted the US Attorney’s office on March 19 that Avenatti was threatening to extort the company for up to $25 million. HuffPost has a copy of the indictment from the Southern District of New York. Avenatti formerly represented adult film star Stormy Daniels over a hush money payment paid to her after an alleged affair with President Trump. Daniels says she’s “saddened but not shocked” at news of Avenatti’s arrest. Avenatti is free on $300,000 bail, says CNN.

NTL member Geoffrey Fieger gets $23.5M med-mal verdict

Geoffrey FiegerNational Trial Lawyers member Geoffrey Fieger announced that a Cook County (Illinois) jury, sitting in the courtroom of Judge Lorna E. Propes, has awarded a verdict against Presence St. Joseph Hospital in the amount of $23.5 million dollars on behalf of a brain-damaged child. Mr. Fieger was assisted by Chicago attorneys Matthew Patterson and Jack Beam.

Amirah Whiten was born on December 19, 2014 at the St. Joseph Hospital. Fetal Monitor Strips showed the baby was in fetal distress and needed to be born by immediate C-section. The doctors waited over three hours to perform the C-section, and by the time it was done, the baby had suffered severe brain damage from lack of oxygen. Fieger stated:

“The verdict is one of the largest malpractice verdicts in Chicago this year. Presence St. Joseph, through its attorneys, for years have refused to take responsibility for Amirah’s brain damage. The facts showed that after birth, the baby needed brain cooling, and the Doctor assigned to care for Amirah did not even know that the hospital had the ability to perform such cooling. I asked for justice for Amirah, and the Jury gave it.”

The Jury deliberated for over two days before returning a verdict late Friday, March 22, 2019.

Podcast: Trial begins for white cop who shot black teen

police shootingTrial begins today in Pittsburgh for a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager last year. The former policeman shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose as he ran away after the car he was in was pulled over following a drive by shooting. Last week another teen that was in the car pleaded guilty to shooting in the drive by incident. NPR has more on the trial.

Podcast: How legal organizations and tech vendors can work together

handshake computer screen NTL webinar marketingAs advances in technology continue to disrupt the legal industry, some lawyers feel bewildered about how to form effective partnerships with legal tech vendors. In this episode of Legal Toolkit from the Legal Talk Network, host Jared Correia talks to Robert Brink of Boston’s Social Law Library and Fred Cohen of Zola Suite about how legal organizations and legal tech vendors can work together more effectively. Robert and Fred discuss their working relationship and offer insight into the importance of continued tech adoption and innovation in legal organizations.

Veterans suing 3M over earplugs

earplugs bulletsCBS News reports that hundreds of military veterans are expected to file lawsuits against 3M, the manufacturer of earplugs that the veterans say didn’t work as claimed and left them with damaged hearing. The Justice Department settled with 3M last summer over claims that the earplugs had “dangerous design defects” after being used by soldiers to protect their hearing for “more than a decade.” 3M paid $9.1 million in the settlement, but didn’t admit to any liability. A lawsuit filed by the government and one of 3M’s competitors alleged that 3M knew about the design flaw, but continued to sell the earplugs to the military from 2003 to 2015. 3M denies that the earplugs were defective. CBS News has a video interview with two veterans who suffer from hearing loss that they say was caused by the ineffective earplugs.

Video: The FDA’s hidden database of medical device injuries

legal news for consumersThe Food and Drug Administration has a special “exemption” for medical device manufacturers that lets them file reports of malfunctions in a database that can’t be accessed by doctors or the public, reports HuffPost. Since 2016, there have been 1.1 million incidents that have been filed in an “alternative summary reporting” database, according to Kaiser Health News. While deaths caused by medical devices have to be reported to a public database known as MAUDE, the hidden database has serious injury and malfunction reports for about 100 medical devices. In this video interview  from Kaiser Health News, Phil Levering talks about his father, Mark, undergoing surgery for a liver abscess that was initially thought to be cancer.

That relief turned to dread the day of surgery. The procedure was supposed to last two hours, she said. But the surgery hit a snag when the stapler “misfired,” according to the surgeon, causing so much bleeding that the minimally invasive procedure was converted to an open procedure so the doctor could suture the vein.


Levering underwent CPR for 22 minutes. A code blue was called, a nurse testified. Levering lost 3 quarts of blood — about half the blood in his body. He was put on life support and would remain in a coma for weeks.