Teresa Fariss McClain
Ex-Officio TrusteesLori E. Andrus
Sean C. Domnick
Lindsey E. Gale
Breean “BW” Walas
Past Presidents Advisory Committee
Gale Pearson is Senior Counsel with the law firm of Fears Nachawati in Minneapolis. Her practice concentrates on complex litigation, ranging from environmental law to pharmaceutical and medical device litigation to Qui Tam prosecution. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University at Northridge with a major in Laboratory Medicine, Physics and Chemistry, and her law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She is a nationally recognized clinical laboratory scientist. She has played pivotal roles in MDL litigations, serving on science committees, or, in the case of a class action against a tobacco company, as lead counsel. In 2003, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer presented her the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award for her work with Trial Lawyers Care, which provided free legal assistance for applicants to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Gale is a member of the Minnesota and American Associations for Justice and the American Bar Association, and is a board member for Public Justice. She has served as a speaker for Minnesota’s “We the Jury” project, and is a frequent lecturer on topics in science and law.
David Wirtes is a member of Cunningham Bounds, LLC of Mobile, Alabama, where he focuses on strategic planning, motion practice and appeals. Mr. Wirtes is licensed in all state and federal courts in Alabama and Mississippi, the Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is active in numerous professional organizations, including as a member of the Alabama State Bar Association’s Ethics Committee, and Long-Range Planning Committee and as an editor of The Alabama Lawyer. He is a long-time member of the Alabama Supreme Court’s Standing Committee on the Rules of Appellate Procedure and has served on that Court’s Standing Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure. He is a Sustaining Member of the Alabama Association for Justice and has served in numerous capacities, including as Member, Board of Governors and Executive Committee (1990-present); Member and/or Chairman, Amicus Curiae Committee (1990-present); and Co-editor, the Alabama Association for Justice Journal (1996-present). He is also actively involved with the American Association for Justice where he formerly served on its Board of Governors and continues to serve as a Member of its Amicus Curiae Committee (1999-present).
Mr. Wirtes is a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America; Founder and former Executive Director of the American Institute of Appellate Practice (and one of just twelve persons certified nationwide by AIAP as an Appellate Specialist); a Supporting Fellow and Officer of the National Civil Justice Institute, and a Sustaining Member and the former Alabama Representative for Public Justice. He has published numerous journal articles and is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars, having spoken on such topics as Defeating Unlawful Discrimination in Jury Selection, Appellate Practice, Perfecting the Appeal, HIPAA and Ex parte Contacts, Recent Updates on the Law, Electronic Discovery, Arbitration, and Immunity.
Peggy Wedgworth is a partner with Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman, PLLC, in New York. She is a managing partner and chair of the Antitrust Practice Group. She has handled numerous securities, commodities, antitrust and whistleblower matters, representing defrauded investors and consumers. She currently represents a nationwide class of plaintiff car dealerships alleging antirust violations in the data management systems, consumers in the Google Play antitrust litigation, and consumers in contact lens and and Hard Disk Drive antitrust litigation. She has also successfully tried numerous cases including a tobacco case in the Engle litigation. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Antitrust Committee, NCJI and the American Association for Justice. She holds a B.A. degree from Auburn University and a J.D. degree from the University of Alabama Law School.
Andre M. Mura is a partner at the Gibbs Law Group, LLP in Oakland, California, representing plaintiffs in class action and complex litigation concerning consumers’ and workers’ rights, products liability, drug and medical devices, federal jurisdiction, and constitutional law. In 2019, Andre received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award for his work in De La Torre v. CashCall, 5 Cal. 5th 966 (2018), a landmark decision holding that high interest rates could render loans unconscionable under California Law. Previously he was senior litigation counsel at the Center for Constitutional Litigation PC, in Washington, D.C., where he represented plaintiffs in state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. In Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, 376 S.W.3d 633 (Mo. 2012), Andre successfully argued that a state law limiting compensatory damages in medical malpractice cases violated his client’s constitutional right to trial by jury. Andre is on the Board of the Civil Justice Research Initiative of Berkeley Law and UC Irvine School of Law, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Lawyers Committee of the National Center for State Courts, a Trustee of the National Civil Justice Institute, Chair of the American Association for Justice’s LGBT Caucus, and Trustee of the National College of Advocacy.
Christopher T. Nace is an attorney with Paulson & Nace, PLLC where his practice includes medical malpractice, wrongful death, legal malpractice, and other serious personal injury matters. Chris is a past president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He is a member of the American Association for Justice Executive Committee, and sits on the boards of the Public Justice Foundation and Living Classrooms Foundation of the National Capital Region. He is the current Vice President of NCJI for Civil Justice and the Secretary of the National College of Advocacy. Mr. Nace was the 2019 Recipient of the American Association for Justice Joe Tonahill Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding and dedicated service to and support of consumers and the trial bar.” While in law school, Christopher served as Editor-in-Chief of the Emory Law Journal.
Carla D. Aikens attended The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and received her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a national quarterfinalist in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. While at Georgetown, she also founded a mentoring program for D.C.-area high-schoolers where she taught a law class. After a federal court clerkship, she worked with a Detroit-area law firm, doing transactional work, including extensive work for the City of Detroit. After years of working for large law firms on corporate cases, Ms. Aikens founded her own firm, with a current practice representing victims of both personal injuries and employment law violations. Carla is a member of the American Association for Justice, the executive board of the Michigan Association for Justice, and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. She also chairs the James W. Baker Trial Lawyers Caucus of the Michigan Association for Justice.
Lauren Barnes is a Partner and member of the Management Committee at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP where she focuses on antitrust and consumer protection litigation against drug manufacturers, primarily through complex class actions for consumers, large and small health plans, direct purchasers, and state governments. Lauren is a Governor of the American Association for Justice. She has also served on the Board of Directors of Public Justice, a national nonprofit legal advocacy organization combating social and economic injustice and challenging predatory corporate conduct and government abuses, since 2018 and, in 2021, joined the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee, which helps direct funds to support the delivery of legal services to low-income clients and make other improvements in the administration of justice. Lauren also recently became a Trustee of the National Civil Justice Institute. Lauren is a proud Williams College Eph and Boston College Eagle. And with three kids, she keeps a messy home and the pizza shop on speed-dial.
Rick Barrera is a principle at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm. He has served his clients in litigation proceedings in multiple areas of personal injury – wrongful death, tractor-trailer crashes, oil field work-related injuries, and medical malpractice. His commitment to his clients and his profession shows through the numerous settlements and lawsuits his firm has successfully finalized. Rick has served in various leadership capacities with Rotary International, Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic National Bar Association. He is currently Chair of the Minority Caucus for American Association for Justice. Rick is an active member in the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Rick was born and raised in the border community of Del Rio, TX. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. After successful careers in grocery retail management and financial advising, he fulfilled his childhood dream of attending law school. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico.
Jennifer Bennett is a principal at Gupta Wessler PLLC, where she heads the firm’s San Francisco office and focuses on cutting-edge public interest and plaintiffs’-side appellate litigation. Her practice covers a wide range of issues including civil rights, consumer protection, constitutional law, workers’ rights, and government transparency. Jennifer regularly litigates before the U.S. Supreme Court, including recently arguing and winning two landmark victories on behalf of workers challenging forced arbitration in Saxon v. Southwest (2022) and New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira (2019). Her victory in New Prime was the first case in over a decade in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the party challenging arbitration. She regularly handles appeals in both state and federal court on behalf of workers or consumers fighting forced arbitration and other barriers to access to justice. She frequently represents journalists, media organizations, and nonprofits challenging government secrecy, including winning a groundbreaking case in the Ninth Circuit vindicating the public’s right to access court records. She also regularly represents plaintiffs in civil rights cases involving difficult or novel legal issues. Before joining Gupta Wessler, she was an attorney at Public Justice in Oakland, California, where she also focused on cutting-edge public interest appellate litigation. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Yale University.
Kathy Farinas has been an active member of the Indiana Bar since 1997. After practicing employment and civil rights litigation, she began focusing on toxic exposure injuries, including those caused by asbestos and other environmental exposures. She was named a Partner at George & Farinas, LLP in 2011, where her practice focused on representing those injured by toxic exposures, dangerous medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. In 2021, Kathy joined Dean Omar Branham Shirley, LLP (DOBS) as the managing attorney of the Indiana office, DOBS & Farinas, LLP. At DOBS, Kathy is actively involved in all phases of personal injury and mass tort litigation, including intake, client outreach, liability discovery, mediation, trial preparation, and trial. She works closely with the clients and medical experts in the field of asbestos disease and other injuries to assure the highest quality treatment opportunities for her firm’s clients. Kathy is on the Executive Board of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar Association. She is the current PAC Chair for the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, Co-Chair of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association Governmental Affairs Division, Active Member and Past-Chair of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Women’s Caucus, Co-Chair of the AAJ Hernia Mesh Litigation Group, Co-Chair of AAJ’s Asbestos Litigation Section, and Member of AAJ’s Product Liability, Zofran, and Personal Jurisdiction Litigation Groups. Kathy is a National Civil Justice Institute Fellow and Trustee, and an AAJ PAC Eagle Member. She is active in several community organizations and activities, including the Indiana Division of Lung Force and the American Lung Association, as well as efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, and promote sports and the arts in our public schools.
Teresa Fariss McClain is a partner at Robins Kaplan LLP in Minneapolis. She has devoted her career to advocating for individuals, first as a registered nurse in the areas of labor and delivery and high-risk obstetrics, later as a critical care nurse and now as an attorney, obtaining justice for those who have been harmed by medical errors or medical negligence. As a result of her commitment to excellence in the practice of law, Teresa has been admitted to the following invitation-only organizations: American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA); the International Society of Barristers; the American Bar Foundation, Life Fellow; and the Warren E. Burger Inn of Court, Master. Teresa is a leader in the legal community and is currently serving on the Executive Committee of the Minnesota Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), is a member of the Board of Governors for the Minnesota Association for Justice and is a member of the Advisory Board for Minnesota Women Lawyers. She has served as President of Minnesota Women Lawyers, and Minnesota Women Lawyers Foundation.
Misty A. Farris is senior counsel and an appellate attorney with Dean Omar Branham & Shirley in Dallas. She has spent more than 25 years litigating asbestos, pharmaceutical, and medical device cases for plaintiffs. She has also worked as a teacher, as a minister, and at a home for the developmentally and physically disabled. Ms. Farris received her B.A. from the University of Houston and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. She also holds an M.Div. degree, summa cum laude, from the Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology. She is a Fellow of the National Civil Justice Institute, and a member of the American Association for Justice, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and Public Justice (of which she was a Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2006).
A managing partner at Fay Law Group, Caragh Glenn Fay works to bring justice to those who have caused harm to others. She has over a decade of legal experience and is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Her practice spans all key areas of personal injury law, including general negligence, medical malpractice, and terrorism. She is also president-elect of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Brandi Gatewood is a partner with LoCoco, LoCoco & Gatewood, PLLC, in D’Iberville, Mississippi. She works primarily on behalf of plaintiffs and focuses on motor vehicle wrecks, premises liability, workers’ compensation, and Longshore claims. Brandi also regularly serves as appellate counsel for plaintiffs and criminal defendants. Brandi is Co-chair of the Mississippi Association for Justice Amicus Committee, and she serves on the MAJ Executive Committee as the Revitalization Board of Governor to the American Association for Justice Board of Governors. She is Chair-Elect of the American Association for Justice’s Women Trial Lawyers’ Caucus, and she is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Brandi is also a member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Alabama-Mississippi Chapter, Board of Trustees.
Raymond R. Jones is in private practice in Washington, DC. focusing on Criminal Defense, Personal Injury and Employment law matters. He has extensive experience litigating matters in state and federal courts. He also represents individuals against some of the largest defense law firms in the country. Mr. Jones serves on the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers (MWELA) Board of Governors and the American Association of Justice Board of Governors. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Temple University, his J.D. from The American University-Washington College of Law and an LL.M in Trial Advocacy from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
Michelle Kranz is a partner and has been a member of the Ohio law firm Zoll & Kranz, LLC, for more than 20 years. She focuses her practice on mass torts, personal injury, pharmaceutical and product liability, and antitrust. She has extensive experience litigating before state, federal and appellate courts and has handled numerous high-profile cases. She is admitted to practice law in Ohio and before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 6th and 7th Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving a Bachelor of Science (cum laude) from Miami University in 1990, Michelle earned her J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1993. Michelle is a Past President of the Toledo Bar Association and is currently serving on the Toledo Bar Association Foundation Board of Directors. She stays involved with her law school alma mater, serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board and is Past President of the UT Law Alumni Affiliate. Ms. Kranz is a member of the Toledo Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the American Association for Justice and the Ohio Association for Justice.
Roger L. Mandel is a business litigation and class-action attorney at the Jeeves Mandel Law Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth, where he is chair of the firm’s class action practice. He has successfully represented consumers and small businesses in class actions for almost 35 years. He has tried numerous cases, including one of only two cases known to have been tried to a jury in Texas state court. He is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has briefed and argued appeals in the majority of the federal courts of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. He received his B.B.A (with High Honors) and his J.D. (with Honors) degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Roger currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Public Justice Foundation, where he is a new member of the Executive Committee, and the Dallas Trial Lawyers Association, where he is a past president. He is a Fellow of the National Civil Justice Institute, the Texas Bar Foundation, and the Dallas Bar Association Foundation. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, where he served as a Co-Chair of the Class Action Litigation Group, and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, where he formerly served on the board.
Amber M. Pang Parra represents people nationwide who have been injured by pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and dangerous and defective products. She is accredited by the VA to represent disabled veterans challenging disability appeals. Ms. Pang Parra also has extensive experience working with state and federal courts, having worked with the Hawaii State Judiciary, and the Federal Judiciary in the District of New Mexico, and the Northern District of Texas. Ms. Pang Parra is a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), as well as a member of AAJ’s Committee on the Judiciary, is an alumna AAJ’s Leadership Academy, and currently serves as the chair of the Minority Caucus of AAJ. She holds memberships with the State Bar of Texas, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Hawaii State Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates. Ms. Pang Parra currently leads the Mass Torts, Veterans Law, and Immigration Law divisions at Justinian & Associates PLLC, working primarily out of their San Antonio, TX office. She is a Trustee of the National Civil Justice Institute.
Ellen Presby specializes in pharmaceutical injury cases at the law firm of Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough in Dallas, TX. She has diligently litigated against large drug companies who profited off the sales of drugs that injured countless, innocent individuals. She was co-lead counsel in the consolidated Pradaxa litigation in Connecticut. She was appointed to the Plaintiff Steering Committees for the Risperdal Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (JCCP) in California, the Granuflo multi-district litigation in Massachusetts, and the federal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) litigation in Arkansas. Additionally, she was co-lead negotiator in FenPhen, securing $1.25 billion for victims. Outside the courtroom, Ellen serves as Adjunct Professor at Southern Methodist University (SMU) School of Law where she teaches product liability law. She is a board member of the Public Justice Foundation (including Executive Committee), a board member of the National American Board of Trial Advocates (including Dallas Chapter Executive Committee), and has been Co-chair of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice (TIPS) section of the American Bar Association (ABA). She co-authored Texas Pretrial Practice, published in 2000. She has been selected Texas Super Lawyer every year since its inception and is included on D Magazine’s list of Best Lawyers in Dallas.
Lori E. Andrus specializes in class actions and complex litigation, work that encompasses many subject areas. She represents individuals who have been harmed by dangerous pharmaceuticals or medical devices, defrauded or discriminated against by large corporations, or sold defective products. Ms. Andrus also has considerable experience in individual personal injury cases. She prosecutes class actions in state and federal courts across the country. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Andrus completed her undergraduate work at Boston University, earning cum laude distinction. Between college and law school, Ms. Andrus worked for two Members of Congress in Washington, D.C., first for U.S. Representative Rick Boucher from Virginia, then for U.S. Representative James Hayes, from Louisiana. After graduating with honors from Duke University School of Law, Ms. Andrus joined the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, where she was promoted to partner after five years of practice. As a partner at Lieff Cabraser, Ms. Andrus played a leadership role in nationwide consumer class cases and defective pharmaceuticals cases.
Sean C. Domnick is an experienced civil trial lawyer and shareholder in the law firm of Domnick Cunningham & Whalen in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. He has a statewide and national practice devoted solely to trial work and has dedicated his practice to seeking justice for clients who have suffered catastrophic injury. His areas of specialization include litigating cases involving wrongful death, medical malpractice, product liability, and nursing home abuse. He is a national leader in the plaintiff’s bar and currently serves as President-Elect of the American Association for Justice. He serves as a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and has served in several capacities for the Florida Bar Association, the Florida Justice Association, and many other legal professional organizations.
Lindsey E. Gale is a personal injury attorney at Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa. Her practice is committed to representing victims of nursing home abuse. Ms. Gale’s areas of expertise include cases involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. She received her Juris Doctorate cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law. While in law school, Ms. Gale was the Online Publications Editor for the University of Miami Inter-American Law Review and a member of Miami Law Women. Ms. Gale was a fellow with the University of Miami Children and Youth Law Clinic where she advocated for children who are or were in the foster care system. Ms. Gale also taught a weekly class on legal issues to high school students as a fellow with the University of Miami STREET Law Program. Ms. Gale is licensed to practice law in Florida and the District of Columbia. She is a member of several professional associations including the American Association for Justice, Florida Justice Association and Florida Association for Women Lawyers.
Amanda Fox Perry is a personal injury lawyer specializing in anti-terrorism litigation. Her practice is primarily focused on Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) claims for victims of terrorist attacks, most of whom are veterans, diplomats, or employees of US embassies abroad who were injured or killed in acts of state-sponsored terror. She also represents veterans who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and other military bases. Prior to becoming an attorney, Amanda spent almost a decade working for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs which gives her a unique understanding of the legislative process and government affairs.
Tad Thomas Mr. Thomas opened his own practice immediately upon graduating law school in 2000 and quickly gravitated to civil litigation. In January of 2008, Mr. Thomas accepted an offer to join the senior staff of the Kentucky Attorney General. Initially upon joining the office, he served as the director of the Office of Civil and Environmental Law, which was responsible for handling civil litigation on behalf of the Attorney General and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Only two months after joining the Attorney General’s office Mr. Thomas was promoted to a position as one of two Assistant Deputy Attorneys General. In January of 2011, Mr. Thomas returned to private practice and established Thomas Law Offices which has grown to a firm of twelve lawyers with offices in Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Columbia, MO and Chicago, IL. He is a cum laude graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of law and obtained his undergraduate degree from Georgetown College.
Jennie Lee Anderson is a past president of the National Civil Justice Institute, and a founding partner of the San Francisco law firm of Andrus Anderson LLP. Ms. Anderson exclusively represents plaintiffs in a variety of class and complex cases in both state and federal court, including consumer, antitrust, employment and product liability matters. Ms. Anderson has served as lead counsel, liaison counsel and on the plaintiffs steering committee in multiple state and nationwide class or mass actions. She has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer for eight consecutive years, and lectures frequently across the country on a variety of issues relating to class and complex litigation.
Ms. Anderson also serves on the American Association for Justice Board of Governors and is the past Chair of the AAJ Class Action Litigation Group, Antitrust Litigation Group and Business Torts Section. Ms. Anderson is active in the American Bar Association, Consumer Attorneys of California, Public Justice and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Legal Aid at Work.
Kathryn Clarke is a sole practitioner in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in appellate practice and consultation on legal issues in complex tort litigation. She is a past president of the National Civil Justice Institute, and is currently a member of its Advisory Committee. She is a member of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and has been a member of its Board of Governors for over 25 years, serving as President from 1995 to 1996; in 2006 she received that organization’s Distinguished Trial Lawyer award. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Jus-tice. She was a member of the adjunct faculty at Lewis and Clark Law School, and taught a seminar in advanced torts for several years. In 2008 she served as a member of a work group on Tort Conflicts of Law for the Oregon Law Com-mission, which resulted in a bill passed by the 2009 legislature. She has served as member and Chair of Oregon’s Council on Court Procedures, and has been a member of the Oregon State Bar’s Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee.
Kathleen Flynn Peterson has devoted her life to providing advocacy for people dealing with pain, suffering and loss. She began her career as a registered nurse, speaking for her patients’ needs and speaking up against institutional problems in the medical system in order to provide her patients with the best possible care. Drawn to the law after serving as a juror, Kathleen has continued advocating against health care injustices by focusing her law practice on the representation of individuals and families who have experienced injury or death as a result of medical negligence.
As a result of her outstanding advocacy, Kathleen has been selected for membership in many prestigious, invitation-only trial lawyer organizations and she serves as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Attorneys, the International Society of Barristers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Foundation. She also is certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and is a frequent, sought-after speaker and lecturer on trial litigation strategies. In addition, she has been an active member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, serving as their past president, and the American Association for Justice, the nation’s largest plaintiff’s trial bar. In 2007, Kathleen served as the national president of this organization. In 1999, she was honored with the association’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Steve Herman practices with Herman, Herman & Katz, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is Immediate Past President of the National Civil Justice Institute. The author of America and the Law: Challenges for the 21st Century, Herman teaches an advanced torts seminar on class actions at Loyola Law School and an advanced civil procedure course in complex litigation at Tulane. He served for six years as a Lawyer Chair for one of the LADB Hearing Committees, and serves as Co-Liaison Counsel for Plaintiffs in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation.
Patrick Malone is an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC, where he and his associates at Patrick Malone & Associates, PC, represent seriously injured people in lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, drug companies, government agencies, and other defendants. Malone is the author of Winning Medical Malpractice Cases with the Rules of the Road Technique and is co-author of the best-selling advocacy book: Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff Lawyer’s Guide to Proving Liability. He also wrote a book for consumers:. Patrick Malone is a graduate of Yale Law School and is a member of the American Law Institute, the Inner Circle of Advocates and is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Ellen Relkin is of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. in New York City and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney. She has been elected as a “Super Lawyer” of New Jersey and New York as well as AV rated and selected for the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers. She is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. She is a past president of the National Civil Justice Institute.
Ms. Relkin was court-appointed by the Hon. Brian Martinotti as lead counsel in the New Jersey In Re: Stryker Rejuvenate/ABG II Modular Hip Litigation. She was a member of the negotiating team for a settlement compensating 3,000 plaintiffs for an amount in excess of one billion dollars. Ms. Relkin is co-lead counsel in the DePuy ASR MDL litigation. In that capacity she played a key role in negotiating the $2.5 billion settlement for 8,000 victims of the failed hip implant. She was appointed this year by the Hon. Eldon Fallon to serve on the Plaintiff Steering Committee in the In Re: Xarelto Litigation. She was a member of the trial team in the landmark Vioxx case McDarby v. Merck, that obtained a $13.5 million verdict and successfully defended the compensatory verdict in writing and arguing the appeal before the New Jersey Appellate Division, 949 A.2d 223 (N.J. App. Div. May 29, 2008). This precedential case established that New Jersey recognized a heeding presumption in pharmaceutical product liability litigation. Ms. Relkin is an elected member of the American Law Institute. She serves on the Board of Governors of the New Jersey Association for Justice. She also serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of California at Irvine Law School. She is a former chair of the Toxic, Environmental and Pharmaceutical Torts Section of the American Association of Justice.
Herman J. Russomanno is a past president of the National Civil Justice Institute, and is currently a member of its Advisory Committee. He is a founding partner of Russomanno & Borrello, P.A., in Miami, Florida. Admitted to practice in Florida and Alabama, he is certified as a trial lawyer by both the State of Florida and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University and holds a J.D. degree from Cumberland School of Law. He has served as President of the Florida Bar and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and is a member of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a governor of the American Association for Justice, and has been active in, and honored by, numerous other legal and civic organizations.
Gerson Smoger of Smoger and Associates, P.C. is the President of the National Civil Justice Institute, while also currently serving on the boards of Public Citizen, Public Justice (as a past president), the Civil Justice Research Initiative, the Human Rights Center at U.C. Berkeley, the advisory board of Physicians for Human Rights, and as a Commissioner for the International AIDS Society-Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. In the past, he has served for many years on the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Board of Governors, as Chair of its Legal Affairs Committee and as Chair of its Amicus Curiae Committee. As a plaintiff attorney, Dr. Smoger has tried cases and argued appeals throughout the United States. In 2012, he was named the Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year for his role as lead trial counsel in gaining a precedent-setting award for sixteen children suffering from lead exposure. He represented Admiral Zumwalt and the Agent Orange Coordinating Council in getting benefits for Vietnam veterans for Agent Orange and argued for veterans’ rights in the U. S. Supreme Court to bring suit against its manufacturers. He has also served as Vice-Chair of the ABA’s Toxic Torts Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee and been named Missouri Environmentalist of the Year. Dr. Smoger is co-sponsor of the Hogan/Smoger Access to Justice essay contest under the auspices of Public Citizen. He earned his B.A. from Lycoming College (summa cum laude), Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (with distinction), J.D. from Berkeley Law, and is a member of the bars of Texas and California.