“There have been many road blocks that make it harder to obtain adequate verdicts or settlements for an injured person.”–Jack H. Olender

The name Jack H. Olender can make some physicians and obstetricians more than a little nervous. Known as the “King of Medical Malpractice”, Olender won the first multi-million dollar obstetric malpractice verdict in the United States in 1976. Today, he has achieved more than 200 verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more.

Olender became interested in the law through his high school’s speech and debate club. His interest continued through college. By the time he graduated law school, he knew that he wanted to represent injured people in personal injury and malpractice cases.

A majoring turning point in Olender’s career happened when he met a little girl named Janetta. Errors made by two resident obstetricians during Janetta’s birth rendered her with cerebral palsy. Janetta’s case was turned down by two seasoned malpractice attorneys before her mother made a visit to Olender. In 1976, Olender achieved a $2.5 million verdict for Janetta.

“Doctors testified that she would never live to see adulthood, but the award we obtained from the case enabled Janetta to get the care she needed, graduate college, and serve as a teacher for handicapped children,” Olender says. “A case like hers had never been won. We prevailed over great odds. Janetta had a terrific impact on my life because she inspired me to represent other children with great injuries.”

Since then, Olender has earned an uncompromising reputation for relentlessly fighting for medical malpractice clients. Olender’s expansive legal career is decorated with an overwhelming amount of honors and awards. He became the first lawyer in the District of Columbia certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Olender has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the District of Columbia, the Washington Bar Association and the National Bar Association.

During his more than 50 years in practice, Olender has observed numerous changes affecting medical malpractice cases.

“When I came along I benefitted from the golden age of torts in 1980s and 1990s. That’s when the plaintiff ’s attorney could prevail and get large awards. But since then there have been many road blocks that make it harder to obtain adequate verdicts or settlements for an injured person,” Olender says.

For one thing, it has become more expensive to prosecute medical malpractice cases, Olender says. The complexity of the cases commonly requires attorneys to hire more medical experts to review cases and testify in trial.

“If you don’t have this testimony, the defense is able to knock out the case even before you ever get to a jury trial,” Olender says. “They knock them out on procedural fine points and summary judgment.” Some medical groups and specialty groups have retaliated against doctors who testify for plaintiffs and have enacted guidelines or rules that support defendants in such cases, Olender says.

“It’s very rare that a plaintiff ’s malpractice firm can handle the case without investing at least $100,000 to $250,000,” Olender says. In addition, legislation that caps the damages that may be collected present further challenges to attorneys like Olender. The legal landscape means that many plaintiffs’ attorneys must be selective in accepting cases.

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–Ashley Cisneros
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Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.