Baldwin, Palmer, Robertson win $57.1 million verdict 

vs. J&J in vaginal mesh case

Kila Baldwin, Tracie Palmer and Elia Robertson won a $57.1 million verdict — $7.1 million in compensatory and $50 million in punitive damages — for a woman resulting from injuries she suffered from defective vaginal mesh devices she had surgically implanted in 2007. The verdict was the fifth and largest multi-million dollar award against Johnson & Johnson over vaginal mesh products in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, with the total jury awards totaling more than $100 million. All were tried by Kline & Specter attorneys. The latest plaintiff, Ella Ebaugh, 51, of Manchester, Pa., had two mesh devices implanted for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence. The devices seemingly worked until years later when the mesh eroded into her urethra, necessitating three mesh removal surgeries. Ebaugh suffered various injuries, including extensive scarring to her urethra, intrinsic sphincter deficiency, chronic urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, and dyspareunia, or chronic pain during sex. Her lawsuit claimed the medical device was defective and had a 15-20 percent rate of erosion. Evidence introduced during the trial proved that J&J intentionally manipulated the literature regarding problems with the products and withheld information about complications and injuries from doctors. “The company was reckless and totally ignored the real serious risk of permanently injuring women,” Baldwin told CBS3 News. (Watch the broadcast)

Stern, Crawford prevail in Tillery v. CHOP, finally

Ending a years-long appellate battle, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in Tillery v. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a case that resulted in a $10.1 million verdict in 2015 for a baby whose delayed diagnosis of meningitis resulted in deafness and developmental and learning delays. The latest decision exhausts the appeals in the commonwealth. “It is extremely important to vigorously defend jury verdicts because it ensures that your client receives the full benefit of a verdict, and it helps induce early and appropriate resolution of future cases involving catastrophically injured victims,” said Andy Stern, who tried the case with Elizabeth Crawford. He noted that because of delay damages and post-judgment interest, CHOP will now have to pay $12,412,206.19. The plaintiff in the case was Shamir Tillery, who sustained brain injuries after staff at the CHOP emergency room initially missed a diagnosis of meningitis. CHOP appealed the case several times, with post-trial motions first denied by a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge, then unanimously by a three-judge Superior Court panel which ruled that damages awarded for pain and suffering were “fair and reasonable” compensation. “We are hopeful,” said Stern, “that this outcome will help Shamir Tillery better face the serious challenges he will endure for the rest of his life.” (Read article)

Hospital procedures improved through settlement 

Shanin Specter, Amy Guth and Gary Zakeosian achieved an agreement in a medical malpractice case that resulted in not only a substantial monetary settlement but also changes in hospital protocol and training that could help many patients in the future. The case involved a woman who, because of vocal cord paralysis, underwent a tracheostomy. But during the procedure, a blockage developed in the tubing of an anesthesia machine being used and caused her to be deprived of oxygen, leading to her death. Medical staff had checked the patient’s breathing tube but failed to also check the machine, which could have been done by simply replacing it with an Ambu bag; if the breathing bag restored ventilation, that would have meant a problem with the machinery and the situation would have been remedied. Under the settlement, the hospital will now require improvements in pre-operative anesthesia equipment checks as well as for procedures during operations. Further details of the case were confidential.

Piazzas take leading role against hazing

From a terrible tragedy, sometimes some good can result. That is what the parents of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State freshman killed in a fraternity hazing incident, seem determined to bring about. Some good. Since the tragedy occurred, Jim and Evelyn Piazza have become leading national advocates to combat hazing. "I think we owe it as a duty to all the other potential impacted students, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, that we are properly represented because, again, the key here is not just justice, it’s also deterrence," Jim Piazza told Time magazine. In an appearance on an NBC Today special titled “Hazing in America,” he told a national audience: “The only way we’re going to get change is if we have some real accountability and hopefully deterrence from doing this in the future.” Tom Kline, the Piazza’s attorney, also spoke of the need for universities to “own” the problem. On the same program, U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), spoke of his co-sponsorship of the bipartisan Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act, which would require incidents be reported as part of a college’s annual crime report. “It makes the school a partner, first in reporting any kind of incident of hazing and then educating the student body prior to the school year as to what it means to haze and the fact there is going to be accountability.” (Watch the Today show clip)

Jimenez named a top millennial

Priscilla Jimenez was included in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s list of “25 Millennials to Watch in Law.” The newspaper noted that Jimenez is the immediate past-president of the Pennsylvania Hispanic Bar Association and that she has received widespread recognition as an emerging leader in the legal community. Jimenez told the Journal: “As millennials, we need to focus on branding ourselves and becoming legal entrepreneurs to create our own success instead of sitting back and waiting for people to hand us jobs or legal work.” Jimenez was previously named one of the “Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latinos” by the Spanish-language newspaper Impacto, and was included in Drexel University magazine’s “40 Under 40” list of its “most innovative, impressive and inspiring young alumni.” Jimenez is a graduate of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, where she was co-president of the Latin American Law Students Association, the student representative for the American Health Lawyers Association  and a member of the Kline School’s award-winning mock trial team. Recently, Jimenez interviewed retired Philadelphia Judge Sandra Mazer Moss for an article published in Trial magazine. (Read the article)

Michelle Paznokas hired, firm’s Lawyer No. 41

Michelle A. Paznokas, the newest lawyer of Kline & Specter and its 41st attorney, is a recent graduate of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, where she graduated sixth in her class and  magna cum laude and also was an editor of the Law Review. She has worked as a law clerk at Kline & Specter for more than a year, assisting on some of its biggest cases. Paznokas also worked several internships, including with the Philadelphia Law Department and HIAS, an organization that helps refugees. She helped first year law students and conducted weekly classes on difficult concepts, co-created and held public workshops and did pro-bono work on estate planning and immigration. Paznokas did her undergraduate work at Temple University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and also founded and was music director for an a cappella group. She was recently published in the Law Review on the topic of Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) created by Congress to protect undocumented children fleeing parental abuse or neglect. The 34-page article explores flaws in the 1990 statute, including disparate findings reached by state courts. In the article, Paznokas calls for an amendment that would create a statewide “best interest” standard based largely on current U.S. family law and the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. She also suggests a standard SIJS order that all state court judges would be required to complete when deciding SIJS matters. (Read the complete article)

Verdicts get business, Kline tells confab

The Philadelphia Business Journal conducted a forum billed as the Plaintiffs Power Panel featuring Tom Kline as one of Philadelphia’s “Legends and Rainmakers.” The conference was part of a day-long event and focused on how law firms go about attracting business. Kline told the gathering that despite technological advances in advertising, the best advertising comes from results, namely victories in the courtroom. “I still believe that first and foremost our reputation is what drives business to our firm, drives cases to our firm, [and] drives referrals to our firm,” the Journal quoted Kline as saying. He added later: “Is there an element of advertising? Is there an element of public relations?” [Yes, but ultimately] getting results and the key metrics are getting jury verdicts. It’s that simple.” Kline & Specter attorneys have won some eye-popping results in 2017 alone, among them a $95.6 million arbitrator’s award following a jury verdict in the Salvation Army building collapse case, jury verdicts of $57.1 million and $20 million in vaginal mesh injury cases, and $41.6 million and $14.5 million verdicts in birth injury cases.

Kline & Specter backs Walk Her Home benefit

Kline & Specter sponsored a 5k run held to benefit Walk Her Home, an organization formed to create awareness and raise funds for organizations that provide support and housing for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. “‘It was heartwarming to see hundreds of attendees and supporters to hear speakers on this topic that affects children throughout our community.  I was excited to share the work we are doing here at Kline & Specter to combat trafficking,” said partner Nadeem Bezar, who spoke at the event and spearheads the firm’s litigation involving human trafficking, child abuse and sexual abuse. Kline & Specter was one of the main sponsors of the Oct. 7 run held at the Westtown School in West Chester, PA. The event brought out some 300 runners and was expected to raise more than $50,000. Proceeds were to be donated to several organizations, including Dawn’s Place (, which provides housing, trauma recovery services, vocational training and other services; From Liberty to Captivity (; and the Salvation Army’s New Day New Home, the organization’s first live-in residence at an undisclosed location in the greater Philadelphia area for women 18 to 24 years old who were trafficked as minors and are “aging out” of child protective services.

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