Practice/Industry Group Overview
The Birth Injury Litigation Practice Group at Marshall Dennehey consists of a core group of attorneys with experience handling cases in Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In addition, we have experienced medical malpractice trial attorneys that work in collaboration with this group, or independently, as the case requires.
Our attorneys keep abreast of the latest trial tactics and trends in medicine and are often called upon to speak at events hosted by clients and various industry groups. We have access to the country's top experts on:
- Maternal fetal medicine
- Pediatric neurology
- Pediatric infectious disease
- Placental pathology
- Pediatric neuroradiology
- Life expectancy
Steve Ryan, the chair of the Birth Injury Litigation Practice Group, has focused his practice on the defense of birth injuries for more than 25 years. He tried a landmark case in 1985 in which the Pennsylvania Medical Professional Liability Catastrophe Loss Fund (CAT Fund) refused to accede to an $8 million settlement demand in a multiple defendant case involving a (by then) 7-year-old girl with blindness and spastic quadriplegia who suffered from 50 mini-seizures a day and had a significant life expectancy. During the trial, a $2.2 million settlement offer was rejected within seconds of it being offered, the court declined the defendants' request for appointment of a guardian and the jury returned a verdict for all defendants. This decision was used as leverage by judges all over the country to settle cases for reasonable amounts, even threatening to appoint a guardian with power to accept an offer sufficient to guarantee the child's care.
Following the trial, Steve was selected to serve on an inaugural panel of counsel for a large insurer of physicians. The theory was that all the resources of a national carrier, including literature, depositions of opposing experts and access to world-class experts in multiple specialties, could be brought to bear on any given case filed anywhere in the country. An early emphasis was placed on causation defenses in addition to standard of care. Over time it was learned that a jury could find a defendant negligent in a birth injury case, but award no damages because there was no causation. More recently, especially with the imposition of caps on non-economic damages, plaintiffs' life care plans have been inflated to extreme dimensions and the emphasis has been placed on defending against these plans with a variety of sophisticated techniques.
With a deep understanding of the issues involved in these types of cases, the Birth Injury Litigation Practice Group is well situated to provide a state-of-the-art defense, either as primary defense counsel, co-counsel or as a resource to the primary carrier or self-insured's defense counsel. We also offer discrete services in selected cases, including the selection, retention and cultivation of experts, jury research and focus group services. In addition, we provide mock deposition services where we play the role of plaintiff's counsel to test the readiness of a defendant or nurse-witness for the real thing.