Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Health Care Professionals

Goldberg Segalla attorneys have counseled and defended health care professionals and businesses through some of the most sweeping regulatory changes, advances in technologies and practices, and trends in individual and class action litigation to affect the industry in the last two decades. Our winning team combines deep and diverse health care industry experience, a collaborative and holistic approach to legal services, and relationships with the nation’s top expert witnesses to find the ideal resolution for the claims our clients face — whether through early settlement or dismissal, mediation, trial, or appeal.

Our litigators have defended claims of obstetrical malpractice, improper surgical technique, neurologic misdiagnosis, psychiatric treatment, and a variety of hospital in-patient claims. They have tried to verdict scores of medical malpractice cases and other professional liability cases, defending physicians, administrators, nurses, physician's assistants, a wide variety of medical specialists, and other health care professionals; as well as hospitals, long-term care facilities, specialty medical practices, and health care systems.

In addition, we provide our clients with timely alerts on case law and regulatory developments, and provide proactive risk-management counsel. We anticipate the manner in which the widespread use of electronic patient records, HIPAA law, telemedicine, and health insurer subrogation claims — to name just a few emerging issues — may impact our clients, and we counsel them to greet these changes with the confidence that comes from foresight and comprehensive legal preparation.

Our Health Care Industry Experience
Many of our seasoned litigators draw on health care backgrounds, bringing to each matter an invaluable understanding of the internal and external pressures that our clients face — as well as a powerful authority in the courtroom. Our team includes former in-house counsel for health care businesses and systems, long-term care company board members, hospital and emergency room advisory committee members, and a former paramedic.

Our attorneys are also committed to the constant refinement of their trial technique and expanding their knowledge of current medical science through service on the Steering Committee of the Defense Research Institute's Health & Medical Liability Committee, which has over 2,000 members nationally. They have spoken at its national annual conference to hundreds of trial attorneys and health industry professionals on the subject of advanced trial technique in the defense of medical malpractice cases.

In addition, our attorneys are active members and leaders in legal and industry organizations including:

  • Vice Chair of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC) Health Care Section
  • Vice Chair of the Defense Research Institute (DRI) 2018 Nursing Home and Assisted Living Seminar
  • American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) — Chapter Editor of Post Acute Care Handbook
  • Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)
  • Faculty of the Long Term Care Risk Forum Power Lawyers Program
Our Expert Witness Edge
Decades of experience have helped us develop an extremely valuable database of expert witnesses to call upon, as well as a parallel database of the experts commonly retained by plaintiffs’ attorneys. These databases are essential in preparing defense strategies and developing effective cross-examination of opposing expert witnesses based upon close analysis of testimony they have given in other cases.

Our clients trust us to choose, prepare, and utilize the best expert witnesses for each matter, and then to translate the sophisticated concepts in their testimony into compelling narratives for the judge and jury. Recent cases reflect the complexity of the legal and medical issues involved in the claims our clients face — as well as the role that our effective preparation and cross-examination of expert witnesses has played. For example:

  • We retained a leading neurologist who had previously served as the State of Florida’s independent medical expert in the widely publicized Terri Schiavo 'right to die' life support case. The central issue in our case, in which we represented a major medical center, turned upon this expert's testimony and represented a potential multimillion-dollar swing in the jury verdict, depending upon whether the patient could receive an award for conscious pain and suffering. The use of this expert was critical in demonstrating the absence of cognition.
Our Impact
Because our attorneys are deeply embedded in the health care industry — through previous in-house and professional experience, leadership in industry organizations, and long-term relationships with clients — we are uncommonly conscious of developments in case law and the impact that each of our results could have not only on our clients, but on the entire health care community. That impact has been overwhelmingly positive. In several instances, the cases we have successfully resolved have made new law upon which future cases will be decided.

  • We tried the case of Kambat v. St. Francis Hospital, the leading case citation in New York's Pattern Jury Instructions on the subject of res ipsa loquitor, a legal concept applied when an unintended medical outcome can ostensibly have no explanation other than professional error. Although the first jury unanimously found in favor of our client, on appeal to New York's highest court the case was remanded for a second trial to be conducted with the res ipsa loquitor jury instruction, which essentially tells a jury to find for the plaintiff if the medical outcome could only be explained by medical error. On retrial, a second jury also unanimously found for our client. The case was considered significant enough to receive front-page treatment in the New York Law Journal, New York's leading law publication, and to be addressed in tort law textbooks used in law school curricula.
  • In another case which received national media attention, we defended a hospital at which a nurse had euthanized extremely ill elderly patients and was convicted and imprisoned. The hospital's liability for these actions turned upon its supervision and knowledge of the activities of the nurse, and we directed the in-house investigation which was essential to establishing defenses to the multiple wrongful death claims.
  • We won dismissal of a $25 million medical malpractice suit alleging failure to diagnose against a health clinic associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a physician working there. Law360 covered this complicated, 17-day bench trial, which involved conflicting testimony and detailed analysis of symptoms and standards of care for a rare spinal nervous condition, cauda equina syndrome. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York’s ruling that the clinic and the supervising physician were not liable for damages the plaintiff sustained due to allegedly late diagnosis not only reaffirmed the standard of care our clients maintain, but also created case law favorable to health care providers.
  • We established new law while defending a nonprofit health and human services agency for individuals with special needs, accused of causing serious injury and death of the plaintiff. The plaintiffs attempted to establish that the group home was a “residential healthcare facility” and therefore subject to the Public Health Law, which would make it easier for the plaintiffs to access punitive damages. The New York State Appellate Division Fourth Department agreed that the group home was not a “residential healthcare facility” and dismissed all claims under the Public Health Law — a landmark victory for the thousands of agencies that operate under the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) regulations, as we explained in a Buffalo Law Journal article.
We also volunteer to teach medical students at medicolegal seminars to advance their knowledge of their legal obligations, for the benefit of both their patients and their practices. In short, we are active in every important aspect of the advancement of current medicolegal thinking, and our attorneys bring that to bear for the benefit of every client we have the privilege to represent.

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4.7/5.0 (1253 reviews)
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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for Michael Rubin by a Partner on 05/28/15 in Civil Litigation

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary. Read less

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Diversity

Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.


We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:


  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.


The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.


For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.


We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.


Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.


In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.


Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.

Partnerships

Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.


We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.


We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.


Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.


On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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