May 22, 2019

President’s Address:  May, 2019

ABPLA President

It's a wrap! The ABPLA National Legal and Medical Malpractice Conference was held May 2-4, 2019 at the Park Lane Hotel in New York City. I left the conference absolutely exhilarated. I needed a vacation from my seminar “vacation”. 

I always come away from our Conference feeling reenergized. It is great spending time with so many colleagues and friends from around the country. And then . . . there is the MCLE. 

The Thursday, May 2nd Program opened with Susan Witt who shocked the audience with live video of the "dancing doctor” from Atlanta. Next up, another Atlanta powerhouse, Adam Malone, talked to us about overcoming challenges in medical negligence cases. The program turned to legal malpractice as Ronald Minkoff reviewed causation through a series of case studies. Trial practices was next, and Patrick Malone wowed the audience as he reviewed fearless cross-examination technique. Not to be outdone, the Thursday program ended with Mark Bower and Nursine Jackson reviewing electronic health records and audit trails.

Friday's program branched away from the traditional 50 minute presentations, and was power packed with a number of 20 minute fast hitting discussions. First up was Karen Winner who reviewed tragedies with the family law system in New York State. Dr. Charles Rawlings next thoroughly reviewed Cauda Equina Syndrome.  Michael Kaplan, who teaches the only brain injury law school class in the United States (George Washington University), reviewed delayed diagnosis of stroke giving rise to malpractice. Grace Weatherly (incoming National ABOTA Vice President) put personal experience to task as she reviewed practicing law in a divided nation. Les Weisbrod (past President of the American Association for Justice), stunned the audience with a thorough review of the benefits of cooling a distressed infant at childbirth.  Chris Carey refocused on legal malpractice and Peter Wayne (Forge) reviewed special needs planning. Closing the program, Linley Jones (past President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association), captivated the audience reviewing jury selection issues with focus on the nationalist juror.

It was my honor at the ABPLA dinner Friday night to present Thomas P. Sartwelle with the Thomas “Tommy” W. Malone “Distinguished Service Award". This annual award, (given just one year prior to Gary Brooks), is awarded to the consummate professional who demonstrates the highest level of ethical conduct, civility, and professional competence in the practice of law. It is an award earned, not simply given, and Tom Sartwelle epitomizes what we can only hope future awardees demonstrate.

Saturday's program was kicked off by our own Justin Kahn who dazzled the audience with his coverage of language and technology in the courtroom. His presentation was simply "magical". Following Justin, was Dr. Sharon Grouper who covered human interaction in the operating room. Dr. Grouper presented a case study of multifaceted failure in the OR. Counsel to the State Bar of Georgia, Paula Frederick, discussed legal ethics and social media. The program was closed through a presentation by Dr. Richard Shure, who discussed sports medicine and orthopedic injuries.

Given the half day format of the program, many of the conference attendees were able to take in a play. My son, my wife and I snuck off Saturday afternoon to see "To Kill a Mockingbird". This nine time Tony award-winning play features Jeff Daniels (Atticus Finch) in Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of the famous book. I highly recommend the play to anyone-especially those of us in the legal profession with a sense of justice.

So, as I began, it's a wrap! In the, "you spoke and we listened" category, the ABPLA Board discussed new dates for next year's Seminar. We understand that May is a busy month for graduations and other events. Accordingly, as we begin planning next year's conference, and its location, we will also examine new dates. If you were unable to attend this year's conference due to a conflict, please drop me a note letting me know your ideas on dates as well as locations for next year's conference. All suggestions will be considered.

Lastly, we need stronger input from our defense brethren and sisters. If you would like to speak at next year's conference, please shoot me an e-mail. I will make sure your name gets to the conference planning committee. Talk to you next month! 

Randall H. Scarlett
Scarlett Law Group
536 Pacific Avenue
Barbary Coast Building
San Francisco, CA  94133