NEW YORK, Dec. 2 With the addition of a Manhattan-based team of five veteran attorneys, led by Neil H. Ekblom, LeClairRyan's medical malpractice defense practice has dramatically expanded its reach in the New York market. Mr. Ekblom, a former state prosecutor, has significant experience in defending ophthalmology-related malpractice claims.
The New York team adds to an existing group of medical malpractice defense attorneys located in LeClairRyan's offices in Newark, Boston, San Francisco and Virginia.
Mr. Ekblom, who was named a shareholder in the firm's Tort Defense Group, has been a first-chair trial lawyer for more than 100 jury trials to date. He began his civil career at Bower & Gardner in New York and was most recently a partner at Clausen Miller PC. In addition to defending his clients in court, he routinely assists physicians in transactional and regulatory matters, including drafting employment agreements, forming physician entities and arranging mergers or purchases of practices. Mr. Ekblom also represents physicians before the Office of Professional Medical Conduct and the Department of Health. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1985.
"Mr. Ekblom has significant practices in both New Jersey and New York, and is widely known for his successful defenses of a number of physicians and hospitals in the Northeast," said Rodney K. Adams, a shareholder in the firm and leader of its Tort Defense Group. "In particular, Neil is highly sought after for his expertise in ophthalmology cases, routinely representing both LASIK surgeons and equipment distributors."
LeClairRyan is expanding the scale and scope of its New York team and its medical malpractice defense practice at a time when such cases are front-and-center in the national effort to lower healthcare costs. As Mr. Adams noted, the costs associated with both awards and settlements in these cases continue to rise. According to the Physician Insurers Association of America, for example, the median medical jury award in medical liability cases more than tripled from 1997 to 2006, with the average award during this period rising from $347,134 to $637,134. Meanwhile, median and average settlements rose from $100,000 to $204,500, and from $212,861 to $335,847, respectively.
"The rising cost of damage awards and settlements in medical malpractice cases continues to take a heavy toll," Mr. Adams said. "The recession, moreover, has done nothing to hurt the thriving business of filing medical malpractice claims. With these additions to our medical malpractice defense team, LeClairRyan is now in an even stronger position to help New York-area healthcare providers fight back."
Joining Mr. Ekblom on LeClairRyan's New York-based medical malpractice defense team are Scott W. Bermack, who was named a partner, and counsel Afaf S. Sulieman, Deborah I. Meyer and Kim A. Carnesi.
Mr. Bermack, formerly of Callan, Koster, Brady & Brennan, has significant first-chair jury trial experience and numerous reported defense verdicts. In addition to winning malpractice cases on behalf of medical specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists and ob/gyns, he has represented a wide range of clients in cases involving products liability, construction and labor issues, non-medical professional negligence, trucking liability, premises liability and personal injury. Mr. Bermack earned his law degree from American University's Washington College of Law in 1989.
Ms. Sulieman, who previously practiced with Mr. Ekblom at Clausen Miller, was a clinical pharmacist in both the hospital and industrial sectors for 10 years prior to earning her law degree from Temple University in 2000. Fluent in English and Arabic, Ms. Sulieman represents physicians, physicians' practices, hospitals and related businesses in medical malpractice and healthcare law matters. She also represents physicians and pharmacists in disciplinary proceedings, and defends tort suits involving complex medical and pharmaceutical product liability claims.
Ms. Meyer joins LeClairRyan from New York City's Mental Hygiene Legal Service, where she represented mentally disabled individuals held in state mental hospitals due to civil commitment proceedings. She previously served at the firm of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker. Earlier, as an attorney with the New York Law Department's Office of the Corporation Counsel, Ms. Meyer represented the city's Health and Hospitals Corp. against claims of federal civil rights violations that included failure to provide medical treatment to prisoners and detainees. She also defended the city in class-action proceedings regarding healthcare and treatment of women at Rikers Island. Ms. Meyer earned her law degree from New York Law School in 1998.
Ms. Carnesi, formerly of Amabile & Erman, focuses on medical malpractice and general liability defense, and has significant experience in both state and federal civil litigation. She earned her law degree from Seton Hall University in 1996.
Founded in 1988, LeClairRyan provides business counsel and client representation in corporate law and high-stakes litigation. With offices in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the firm has more than 300 attorneys representing a wide variety of clients throughout the nation. For more information about LeClairRyan, visit www.leclairryan.com.