How Do Plaintiff’s Attorneys Fulfill Their Professional Responsibility When It Comes to Technology?

We all know we can’t get away with pretending it’s the good old days when the height of our technological prowess was demonstrated by knowing the difference between Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Technological advances are moving at warp speed and we have to at least board the ship. What does this mean for Plaintiff’s lawyers?

First it’s about security. We have to secure our clients’ personal information (PI), and the definition of PI is ever-expanding. At first PI under the Illinois Personal Information Protection Act, 815 ILCS 530/1, et seq., was limited to a person’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements: social security number, driver’s license or State ID number, and an account number or credit or debit card number, or an account number or credit card number in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual's financial account.

Based on a bill recently signed into law, effective January 1, 2017, the definition of “Personal Information” will soon encompass the individual’s first name or first initial and last name and any one of the following: (i) Medical information (including any information regarding an individual’s medical history, mental or physical condition, diagnosis, or medical treatment by a healthcare professional, including such information provided by such individual to a website or mobile application); (ii) Health insurance information (including a policy or subscriber number, any other unique identifier, and any related medical information in an application, claims history, or appeals record); and (iii) unique biometric data (including fingerprints, retina or iris images, or other unique physical representation or digital representation of biometric data). PI even includes a user name or email address in combination with a password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.

Under the new measure a data collector that owns, maintains, stores, or licenses records that contain PI concerning an Illinois resident must implement and maintain reasonable security measures to protect those records from unauthorized access, acquisition, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure—and that definition, I would argue, includes lawyers. So not only do we have to ensure that we don’t include this information in court filings, we must securely transmit and store the PI so that it is not compromised and disclosed to third parties.

>span class="s1">Second, technological knowledge required of an attorney includes use of technology that allows lawyers to better serve their clients. While I’m sure this will be evaluated according to a reasonableness standard so you won’t have to buy the most expensive 3D medical imaging software for your next medical malpractice trial, you should certainly know how social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., can be either a valuable tool or a sword through the heart of your case. You need to know how to access email and productively search the internet but you don’t need to know how to access computer code revealing metadata in a file. Notwithstanding this, when you’re educating yourself on a client’s claim and building your case, you should also seek to discover what you don’t know and employ the experts who do, such as computer forensic experts, to partner with you to win the case. In other words, if you’re lacking the necessary technical knowledge, I would argue another way to fulfill your professional responsibility is to hire someone who possesses those skills, then everyone wins.

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$27

million

Product Liability - Family man paralyzed in a boating injury when he fell from the upper deck of a yacht. The offer by the insurance company for the defendant was only $3 million before trial and $25 million after three weeks of jury trial, offered after closing arguments.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$20

million

Construction Site Negligence - A man was demonstrating construction equipment known as a “man lift," and was elevated in the air. The lift collapsed, and the plaintiff suffered permanent injuries to his ankle and lower back. McNabola represented one of two seriously injured plaintiffs. Prior to trial, the offer was only $3 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$14

million

Medical Malpractice - Following induced labor, the unborn child suffered fetal distress, C-section delivery was delayed. The baby’s mother died from an amniotic fluid embolism during delivery and the baby suffered severe developmental delays.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$12

million

Medical Malpractice - A 52 year old man suffered an anoxic brain injury following routine bowel surgery when doctors and nurses at a suburban hospital failed to properly monitor and treat post-operative metabolic changes. This case concluded after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. The offer before trial was only $3 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A grandmother who was rendered wheelchair dependent in a motor vehicle incident involving car versus truck. The offer for settlement prior to trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$9.2

million

Medical Malpractice - A young woman suffered amputations as a result of complications following surgery at a suburban hospital in a collar county of Chicago. The doctors and nurses failed to develop and implement an appropriate plan to manage blood thinning medications pre and post-operatively leading to severe clotting and tissue death. The case settled after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. Offer before trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$8.8

million

Trucking Negligence - A young girl was killed when she was struck by a vehicle that had previously collided with a bus that was traveling too fast for conditions. After a ten-day jury trial, a Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the family. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is a record high verdict for the wrongful death of a minor in a motor vehicle accident. There was no offer for settlement by any defendant.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$7

million

Trucking Negligence - Cook County jury awarded $7 Million to a construction worker who lost his leg working on a City of Chicago site. As a result of the defendant’s failure to safely route traffic in the area the man was pinned against his truck by a driver. The defendant did not offer any money to settle the case.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6

million

Motorcycle Negligence - A teenager and her father were injured in a motorcycle accident. The 15 y/o suffered a severe fracture of her right ankle and has required multiple surgeries

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Construction Site Negligence - A young man injured on a construction site received blood thinning medication intended and prescribed for another patient at the defendant hospital. The case was tried to verdict with a jury award of $6.5 million and later settled for $6.8 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$7.8

million

Medical Negligence - After presenting to the emergency room on three out of four consecutive days with increasing and worsening symptoms, the plaintiff was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Negligence - The plaintiff suffered a stillbirth despite having carried her baby to term through a healthy pregnancy as a result of the failure of the nurses and physicians to properly monitor and treat signs and symptoms of significant fetal distress. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4.8

million

Car Negligence - The plaintiff, a front seat passenger, suffered multiple fractures and spinal cord injuries resulting in quadriplegia when the car she was riding in traveled through a construction zone and off the end of the roadway where the bridge had been removed, plunging into the construction pit, 25-40 feet below.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.8

million

Car Negligence -  Two teenage boys were killed when a tire and component parts of the wheel assembly dislodged from the axle of an 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer traveling in the oncoming lane.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Car Negligence - A young man suffered permanent disabling injuries after this care was hit by the defendant’s taxi.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.7

million

Car Negligence - A 41 year hold husband and father was killed instantly by a driver for a courier service who ran a red light and hit the plaintiff’s vehicle as it passed through the intersection.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.3

million

Car Negligence - A 51 year old mother was killed instantly when a backhoe on the defendant’s flatbed trailer hit an overpass on I-88 in Downers Grove toppling off of the flatbed and onto the top of her car as it travelled behind the flatbed.    

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.2

million

A 20 year old college student sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns over her face, neck, chest and arms when a bartender’s stunt involving flaming grain alcohol went bad. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1

million

The defendant landowner allowed an unnatural accumulation of ice and water to collect near the entrance to the loading dock receiving door at Navy Pier. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3.6

million

Medical Malpractice - A 12 year old girl was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes during a routine surgical procedure.  Plaintiffs alleged the surgical residents mismanaged the young girl’s airway and negligently allowed her condition to deteriorate before attempting intubation at the bedside.  

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola