Patton & Ryan’s Preparation Forces Defense Settlements in Catastrophic Med Mal Cases

April 24, 2020

Patton & Ryan had the opportunity to work on a complex medical malpractice and institutional negligence case in Kansas City, Missouri. Plaintiffs had previously issued a policy demand for each layer of insurance, and he successfully added a count for punitive damages against the individual treaters. Patton & Ryan entered the case after the time for motions in limine had expired and with only seven days before jury selection began. Without the ability to file motions in limine, the odds were stacked against the Defendants.

Working around the clock, attorneys from Patton & Ryan distilled over thirty depositions, thousands of pages of medical records, pleadings, and Missouri law into a new and defensible theory of the case. Most importantly, Patton & Ryan relentlessly prepared each of the defendant medical providers to testify at trial in accordance with this new theory. After the first few defendant doctors testified, it became glaringly obvious that Plaintiff’s counsel was not prepared to combat these well-trained witnesses at trial, and the result was staggering: On January 14, 2019, the Plaintiffs and John Patton began settlement negotiations, and the next morning – the case was over. Patton & Ryan settled the case well within the policy limits, no punitive damages were assessed, and each of the individual medical professional defendants were dismissed prior to the settlement.

In a similar vein, at the beginning of February 2019, Patton & Ryan was asked to represent an organ procurement organization in a lawsuit where the Plaintiff claimed that the transplant resulted in him contracting cancer. With discovery depositions still taking place in the ten days before trial, Patton & Ryan’s fresh eyes and detailed breakdown of the case revealed that Plaintiff had overlooked a major issue related to notification by the co-defendant. More importantly, Patton & Ryan’s team immediately began meeting with the witnesses who would be testifying at trial to ensure that they understood how to best defend themselves and the case. Just as with the case in Kansas City, witness preparation and a detailed analysis by Patton & Ryan changed the tenor of the last-minute mediation. Patton & Ryan was then able to significantly reduce the settlement value of the case to an amount well below the seven-figure result Plaintiff had been targeting.

Neither of these results would have been possible without the specific knowledge and expertise of the Patton & Ryan team. We have litigated and tried medical malpractice cases in over 25 states on behalf of hospitals as well as medical providers of many specialties; and we have a proven track record of settling them on extremely favorable terms. We bring a unique perspective when it comes to witness preparation, specifically preparing witnesses for both effective direct examination at trial but also surviving and even excelling on cross examination. We are adept at repairing disclosure and evidentiary issues that crop up when a prior firm has been preparing cases to settle precisely because we understand that the best way to settle a case for the best number is to prepare it like we will be trying it, and we are experienced at making ourselves part of the existing team to bring fresh eyes and helpful insight onto a defense. This approach to trials ensures that witnesses feel well-defended heading into trial and that a case is positioned to achieve an advantageous settlement should that be the appropriate result.