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 - A married father of three was 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 $3 million before trial and $25 million after 3 weeks of jury trial.

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 two men suffered permanent injuries. McNabola Law Group represented one of two men injured totaling $20 million. Prior to jury trial the offer was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$14

million

Medical Malpractice - A young mother died during child birth when doctors failed to monitor her properly. Her newborn baby also suffered irreversible brain damage during the delivery at a Chicagoland hospital. 

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 him post-operatively. The offer before jury trial was $3 million. Case settled after it was set for jury selection.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$10

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 the defendant.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A Cook County jury entered the verdict in favor of a 72-year-old grandmother rendered wheelchair-dependent after a car vs truck accident. The offer prior to trial was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$9.8

million

Automobile Negligence - A 72 year old woman was paralyzed following an automobile accident. The defendant turned into the plaintiff’s vehicle causing her to sustain a spinal fracture and dislocation at C6-C7 requiring a fusion. She is wheelchair dependent. The offer for settlement before jury trial was $4 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$9.2

million

Medical Malpractice - A young woman suffered amputation of her legs as a result of complications following surgery at a suburban hospital. 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 during jury selection. The offer was $3 million before trial.    

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$7.8

million

Medical Negligence - A woman presented herself to the emergency room on three consecutive days with worsening symptoms. Finally, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis but suffered severe injuries due to the delay of diagnosis and treatment. The initial settlement offer was $3 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.9

million

Construction Negligence - A man lost his leg while working at a City of Chicago construction site. The man was working near his truck at the construction site when a driver struck him and pinned him against his truck. City workers failed to properly mark their construction site, failed to safely route traffic around the area, and failed to use flaggers to warn traffic to slow down and direct it to move one direction at a time. The offer prior to jury trial was zero. A Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Medical Negligence - A 48 year old woman suffered severe brain damage at a Chicagoland hospital after surgery to alleviate sleep apnea. Her breathing tube clogged because of inadequate monitoring by the nursing staff. 

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6.8

million

Construction Negligence - A 30 year old man suffered severe injuries from a 30-foot fall at a construction site and received blood thinning medication at the defendant hospital that was intended for another patient. The offer before trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6

million

Motorcycle Negligence - A teenager and her father were injured in a motorcycle crash. The 15 year old suffered severe fracture to her right ankle which required multiple surgeries. Her father sustained numerous injuries including a fractured wrist and ankle.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.8

million

Automobile Negligence - A wheel assembly dislodged from the axel of a semi-trailer killing two seventeen year old boys.  McNabola Law Group represented the family members of one of the two boys. The extent of liability insurance coverage for both families was six million dollars.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5.5

million

Automobile Negligence - A 29 year old woman suffered a fractured cervical spine and subsequently died after the car she was riding in crashed into a construction pit. The jury held the contractor liable for failing to place concrete barriers at the construction site. The offer prior to jury trial was $1 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5

million

Product Liability - A man working in Will County was unexpectedly sprayed in the face with anhydrous ammonia when a house coupler failed to close properly. The incident caused severe eye injuries. During the investigation, the coupler was thrown away. The primary cause of this action was based on spoliation of evidence against the insurance adjuster. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is a record high result for this type of injury. The offer prior to trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$5

million

Construction Negligence - A 27 year old man’s legs were crushed causing below the knee amputations when a wall fell onto his legs after an employee cut a steel beam while demolishing a Union Pacific railroad bridge. $5 million was the extent of the insurance policy limit. This case concluded after it was set for jury trial. 

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$4.9

million

Medical Malpractice - A young girl who suffered from cardiac arrhythmias due to a cardiac abnormality had a cardiac procedure. Four weeks after the procedure, she was cleared to resume sports and other activities, she collapsed in gym class and later died. The case settled prior to jury trial.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4.7

million

Construction Negligence - A man was working on a ladder, painting a Chicago building, when his ladder came in contact with electrical wires. He suffered severe electric shock, broken ankles and ribs, and a fractured back. An Illinois utility company, ComEd, was called four times before the incident to shut off the lines but they never shut off the lines. The victim has undergone multiple surgeries and has not been able to return to his career since the incident.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$4

million

Medical Negligence - A young woman died at a Chicago hospital when doctors failed to timely diagnose symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. She had a cardiac procedure performed so that she could stop taking anti-arrhythmia medications. She was discharged from the hospital only to die two days later.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3.6

million

Medical Negligence - 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. Following a two week trial the jury awarded $3.6 million. The offer before jury trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Automobile Negligence - A man’s automobile was struck by a taxicab and he suffered permanent weakness in his legs and a laceration of an artery in his chest. The extent of insurance company policy limit was $3 million

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$3

million

Medical Negligence - A 60 year old man who suffered from uncontrolled diabetes and vascular disease was admitted to a Chicago hospital with an infected ankle wound. Doctors postponed the procedure and failed to timely readmit the plaintiff to undergo a procedure to reestablish blood supply to his leg. Plaintiff leg was amputated below the knee a month later.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.9

million

Medical Negligence - A DuPage County record jury verdict for the family of a 5 day old baby who died when physicians failed to timely diagnose an obstructed bowel. The jury concluded physicians also delayed administering IV fluids, antibiotics and transfer to an institution with a pediatric surgeon available. The offer prior to trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.7

million

Automobile Negligence - A 41 year old father and husband was killed instantly when the defendant ran a red light and hit his vehicle.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.5

million

Medical Negligence - A 58 year old woman died after a radiologist from a Chicago hospital misread the patient CT scan and failed to identify her bowel obstruction. 10 days later another CT scan was done and the obstruction was located and emergency surgery performed. She suffered complications which resulted in her death.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$2.5

million

Trucking Negligence - A 31 year old man was hit by a flatbed truck after he stopped and exited his car to gather a loose dog from the roadway. He suffered degloving of his left leg above and below the knee, vascular and nerve injuries. Plaintiff has been unable to return to work.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.3

million

Trucking Negligence - A woman was killed while driving on I-88 when an upraised backhoe on a flatbed trailer hit the underpass and fell on top of her car.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2.2

million

Medical Negligence - A 42 year old high school teacher died of severe coronary atherosclerosis after a Chicago hospital failed to recognize or timely provide treatment for high cholesterol and hypertension.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$2

million

Trucking Negligence - A woman driving on I-80 was cut off by a truck driver, forcing her off the roadway. Her car flipped, causing de-gloving of her right arm and serious injuries.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Construction Negligence - A 39 year old man sustained bilateral hip fractures, shoulder dislocation, and a torn rotator cuff during a fall from inadequate scaffolding at a construction site.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Negligence - A railroad worker was injured when he was working underneath a train car. The train car moved resulting in injuries to his shoulder, knees, hip and neck. The accident was caused by miscommunication between employees and the company that managed railcar movements in the yard.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Product Liability - A settlement against a furniture company in the case of a 3 year old who died when a poorly-constructed dining room chair toppled over. The front legs of the chair were one half inch longer than the back legs. The child suffered a seizure, became unconscious and died the next day at a Suburban hospital.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.8

million

Trucking Negligence - An 81 year-old woman was struck by semi-tractor trailer resulting in multiple fractures to her right femur, left tibia, left ankle and right hip. The defense had two witnesses who claimed the plaintiff walked into the back of the trailer while crossing mid-block outside the crosswalk. The case settled during jury trial. The offer before trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.7

million

Automobile Negligence - A young man was driving on a highway when his vehicle was struck from behind by a sports utility vehicle. Plaintiff suffered injuries to his back which required surgery.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.6

million

Record High Jury Verdict - A college student suffered burns on her face, arms and chest in an incident at a campus bar at the University of Iowa. A bartender poured grain alcohol into the bar well and lit it on fire. The flames went out of control and into the crowd.  After a six-day jury trial, in Iowa City the jury returned a verdict in favor of the victim. According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, the award is one of the largest in Johnson County history. The offer prior to jury trial was $200,000.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.5

million

Construction Negligence - A 37 year old mason was working on a construction site when a forklift struck a crossbar of the structural steel frame, dislodged unsecured concrete planks, and fell killing him instantly.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.3

million

Automobile Negligence - Three plaintiffs were in an automobile that struck and hit a construction barrel on I-94. The passengers took off their seat belts and one of the passengers exited the car. The defendant then struck the vehicle and the vehicle hit the passenger who exited the vehicle throwing her onto the CTA tracks. She suffered a brain bleed, fractures to her ribs, pelvis, tailbone, jaw and ankle. The plaintiffs that were in the car was ejected and died. There was a limited amount of insurance coverage.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Negligence - An 8 day old baby died on the operating table when the anesthesiologist improperly managed the baby’s anesthesia during the surgery. The anthologist failed to advise surgeons of the baby’s low blood pressure and abnormal blood gas readings.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Medical Malpractice - A woman 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 to timely reverse signs and symptoms of significant fetal distress.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1.1

million

Construction Negligence - Plaintiff fell from a temporary staircase in his new home suffering a hip injury. Investigation of the staircase concluded it was not properly re-installed and secured after hardwood flooring was installed.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$1

million

Record High Settlement - After seven days of jury trial, the parties agreed to settle a work injury case involving a reflex sympathetic dystrophy injury to a 37 year old man. The plaintiff slipped on an unnatural accumulation of ice and water at the Bismark loading dock at Navy Pier, fracturing his right leg. The injury resulted caused RSD. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is the highest result on record for this type of injury. The offer before jury trial was zero.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola