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03/20/07

Law firms look to better pastures without state caps


Medical malpractice seems to have become a net practice target for law makers. What started in 2002 and 2003 by the Pennsylvania State Legislature and the State Supreme Court's mandates, med-malpractice has since seen a sharp decline. Dallas too has caught on the virus. From downing shutters to heads rolling on the chopping block, firms have seen it all.

The State Legislature passed the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act and the State Supreme Court introduced rules for change of venue. This moved a number of cases out of Philadelphia and into the suburbs and made lawyers secure a certificate of merit for their cases. Philadelphia juries have a reputation for awarding large judgments against healthcare providers. According to the Supreme Court statistics med-mal filings in Philadelphia were down by 54%. Most firms in the area at that time had their major chunk of revenue accrued from its med-mal cases.

However, some lawyers still stuck on. They have since shifted vision, says bizjournal.com.

Mike Sawicki, a Dallas-based and once-upon-a-time flourishing med-mal lawyer has seen his business take a nose dive in 2003. The state law put a cap to non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits at $250,000 per claimant. This was when lawyers were at the prime of their careers and attorneys like Sawicki earned $606 million jury award in a Dallas County case. The fizz fizzled.

He looked towards the product liability and general negligence practice for the greens. He found many others follow suit. And many offices tallying the books again, augmenting serious changes in work force, work areas, and focus, besides logistical dynamics.

The latest in the line is the shunting off of 160 attorney and staffers from Baron & Budd PC. Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox LLP closed shop. Godwin Pappas Ronquillo LLP lost its named partners Keith Langley and Gregory Weinstein, plus five associates and two secretaries who moved to form an independent firm. Though Jenkens & Gilchrist PC is on the verge of dissolution, the reasons aren't solely the legal shifts.

Biotech Beach Law Group expands practice area, adds FDA Practice
Leading patent and trademark law firm Biotech Beach Law Group added FDA practice to its patent and trademark services. The move is a bid by the San Diego-based firm to help inventors advance technology. The firm intends helping the inventors obtain FDA clearance for life science, medical device, and biotechnology inventions. This intellectual property law firm, located in La Jolla, CA, helps biotechnology and life science companies in the area manufacturing medical device and pharmaceutical inventions attain patents and FDA clearance. Raymond Wagenknecht, the managing patent attorney, said that the firm's FDA services will concentrate on providing these life sciences clients with affordable and personalized representation.

FUN NEWS

Cat Bite worth $122k
A Genesee County jury awarded $122,400 to Michael Sabo, 57, for a three-year-old cat-bite. The cat, renowned for its biting-tendencies, leapt on to Sabo's lap in March 2004 and bit his right hand. The bite resulted in "plump hot dogs" resembling fingers and an "Incredible Hulk" like arm, reports Sabo's attorney Tom Pabst to The Flint Journal. Apart from the severe pain and swelling, Sabo also racked up $20,000 in medical bills and lost $11,500 in income. Initially, Sabo tried to get the money from the homeowner's insurance policy owned by his sister. The company refused his claim, which then forced him to take matters to court.

Baron & Budd PC

    

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