Matt Lectures on Trials to Attorney Convention

Matt Schad teaches half day trial advocacy seminar. 

On June 2 Matt was a featured speaker at the Indiana State Bar Association Solo/Small Firm convention. He lectured on four individual topics, including “Contemporary Theories in Trial Practice”, “Putting the Theories to Work”, “Visual Storytelling” and “Unconventional Trial Prep”.  Matt is a frequently requested speaker on the attorney lecture circuit.

The powerpoint presentation from Matt Schad's lecture to the Indiana State Bar Association on modern trial theories and how to use them. Given on June 2, 2017.

If you would like for Matt to speak to your group, or you're interested in our co-counsel/trial consulting services, give him a call at 812-945-4555. 

 

 

$700,000 Medical Malpractice Verdict

On June 8th we were part of a successful trial of a medical malpractice case in Clark County.

The case was against a family practice doctor who failed to diagnosis fatal sepsis and sent a patient back home. The case was difficult becauseother hospitals after the misdiagnosis also made mistakes that contributed to the young man’s death. Matt was co-counsel and trial consultant with Bo Bolus and Nick Naiser of the Bolus Law Firm. They had worked diligently on the case for seven years prior to the trial. 

Our client, Kayla Hill; Bo Bolus; Nick Naiser; Matt Schad.  Clark Circuit 4, Hill v. Woodiel. 

Our client, Kayla Hill; Bo Bolus; Nick Naiser; Matt Schad.  Clark Circuit 4, Hill v. Woodiel. 

Winning a medical malpractice case in this state is like pushing a rock uphill. Indiana has more protections for doctors than any other state. They have almost unlimited money to defend cases and hire experts. Hardest of all, almost all jurors like doctors and give them the benefit of the doubt.  We are proud of the work we did on this case.  Bo and Nick are amazing trial lawyers who pursued the case with skill, diligence, and tenacity.  

Over the last few years Matt has started to do more trial consulting with other attorneys. He ran focus groups for this case, helped formulate trial strategy, argued objections, conducted jury questioning, and handled rebuttal closing. It’s good to be part of a well oiled team.

A legal intern shares his thoughts

 Walking into Schad & Schad for my internship for the first time, I wasn't too sure what to expect. 

-By Elias Bartlett-Kane

I asked Elias to share some of his thoughts about his internship with me. 

I asked Elias to share some of his thoughts about his internship with me. 

     Although a future law student, I had little experience and had never before stepped foot in a law firm.  Preconceived notions creeping into my head caused me to picture a drab office with stuffy attorneys and staff, with not much more to look at than tan walls and uninspired generic artwork.  Needless to say, I found Schad & Schad to be nothing like the presuppositions floating around in my head.  While the actual building was surprisingly modern and the décor was inspired, the people within the building were the big difference.  Far from stuffy, everyone I interacted with was extremely pleasant and welcoming, making me feel like an asset rather than a burden.  Starting with the receptionist Shelly greeting me at the door every morning, each member of the Schad & Schad team helped make my internship experience very pleasant.

     My internship with Schad & Schad wasn't most beneficial to me because it taught me the law.  I have the next three years of my life to be provided with that kind of education.  What was beneficial is that my experience gave me real life insight into a small corner of law where I was able to learn how lawyers, clients, and other players in the judicial process conduct themselves.  I found all the legal research and case reading interesting.  However I found it more interesting studying things such as how each lawyer or judge approached their work and also everyone’s attitudes about working in the legal field in general.  This type of observation allowed me a better picture of what might be in store for me in my future career and also gave me a better idea of how I should prepare to achieve my goals.

     Overall, I found my internship at Schad & Schad to be a great experience.  I wish I had more time to invest in the internship, but the time I did get to spend with the office was quite valuable.  I am happy to say after my internship’s completion, I am even more excited to attend the UofL Brandeis School of Law this fall than when I started!

Year in Review: Our work at Court of Appeals

Truth: I hate appeals. 

I heard someone say once that there are two kinds of lawyers: those who did most of their work at desk, and those that did most of their work on their feet. I prefer the latter, but appeals are a fact of life and a good appeal is the difference between winning and losing.  

We aren’t just trial lawyers here at Schad & Schad, PC. We represent clients at every stage of the legal process, including at the appellate level. Over the past 2+ years we have earned 2 significant victories for our clients in published decisions. Our firm advocates for our clients at every level and we currently have 2 cases on appeal in Indiana. 

When we win a big verdict, the defense almost always appeal. Good work on appeals is vital to helping our clients. 

When we win a big verdict, the defense almost always appeal. Good work on appeals is vital to helping our clients. 

In Heritage Operating, L.P. d/b/a Empire Gas v. Mauck and Thomas, our firm represented 2 victims of a devastating gas explosion. Our clients occupied a rental property that contained a half full propane gas tank owned by Empire Gas. The tank had been left there by a prior tenant. When our clients moved onto the property, there was noted confusion as to who owned the gas and whether our clients could use the gas for heating purposes. When our clients utilized the gas, escaped gas later caused a massive explosion that left our clients with severe and permanent injuries. We sought recovery from both the owner of the property and the gas company. The gas company attempted to have the case dismissed at the trial court level, which was the basis for this appeal. Ultimately, as to the central issue of the case, the Indiana Court of Appeals stated that a gas company owes the public a general duty of reasonable care to persons who might be injured by the propane. This matter later resolved out of court.

In Nolan v. Clarksville Police Department and Town of Clarksville, we sought recovery for a young woman who was injured while serving as a volunteer in a police training exercise. This was a difficult case and was initially dismissed at the trial court level on technical pre-suit notice issues regarding injuries caused by governmental entities. However, we vigorously argued on behalf of our client in the Indiana Court of Appeals, which ultimately reversed the trial court’s dismissal. While both parties sought further review by the Indiana Supreme Court, the case resolved out of court and the appeal was dismissed.

In Harrison County Sheriff’s Department v. Leandra Ayers, Personal Representative of the Estate of Christine Britton, Deceased, our client was the surviving daughter of a woman who lost her life in a tragic set of circumstances involving her husband. The central issue in the case was whether the husband of the deceased woman, who was a deputy sheriff for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, was furthering his employer’s interests at the time of his wife’s death. Although a jury rendered a verdict for our client in the amount of $1.2 million, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned that result. Currently, the matter is awaiting final adjudication before the Indiana Supreme Court.  

At Schad & Schad, we are proud of the fact that we successfully handle cases from pre-suit negotiations all the way to arguing appeals in the Indiana appellate court system. We are prepared to advocate for our clients every step of the way.

Intern Update: Elias gets full ride to UL law!

Congratulations to Elias Kang-Bartlett!  Elias just finished an internship with us before he’s off to travel Japan then go on to University of Louisville Law School this fall.  He received a full academic scholarship, a rare thing indeed this world of hyper-competitive law student admissions. He’s exceptionally bright and gifted. I speak for all of us when I saw that we fully expect him to do great things. 

Don't let the smile fool you. This kid is a stone cold killer. 

Reception Honoring the Career of Don Forrest

Don is retiring at the end of the month. We're going to miss him. He's a "lawyer's lawyer". Honest, straightforward, and unafraid of any odds. He's been fighting for injured people for over 50 years. Please stop by our reception to help us honor his career. 

Jury Verdict: $330,000 verdict against State Farm Insurance

Matt Schad and co-counsel Rob McCrae won a $330,000 jury verdict in Bloomington on November 10th. 

It was a difficult case and State Farm had refused to make ANY offers to settle. Our client was a wonderful older gentleman who was rear ended with very little property damage. Like many of our older clients, he degenerative disk disease in his spine before the collision, and had some prior problems in his back as well.  

State Farm argued that all of his conditions were pre-existing, and that the impact of the crash was so minor it could not have hurt him.  The company hired a neurosurgeon from Louisville and a biomechanics engineer from Atlanta to support their theory. We called our client’s treating doctor and his wife as witnesses. 

After a hard two days right after a bitterly contested election, the Monroe County jury found in our favor and returned a verdict of $330,000.  

We were thrilled to have been asked to participate in the case by McCrae and McCrae, an outstanding Bloomington law firm.  Matt frequently gets asked to partner up with other attorneys as part of their trial team.  

I think that one of the keys to victory was creativity in the preparation. We developed our themes and arguments in several practice jury focus groups until we understood exactly what we though would work.
— Matt Schad

Do I file for Disability or Early Retirement?

Do I file for Disability or Early Retirement?

Filed under the "Things Every American Should Know But Doesn't" tag, this short entry details a little known option that many folks have if they have become disabled and are also approaching early retirement age (age 62).

3 Reasons Fishermen Make Good Trial Lawers

Disclaimer:

The comments below reflect the views of the author only, and not the legal community at large, the local bar association, or any state or national trial lawyers organizations. Further, the views of the the author are specifically disclaimed by his firm, staff, family, Facebook friends, and acquaintances. Schad & Schad, PC (an Indiana public corporation) and its heirs, successors, assigns, and affiliates expressly disclaim (and disapprove) of the opinions set forth in this blog entry, and discourage both lending it credence or re-posting in any manner. 

#1 - A Fisherman is an excellent storyteller. 

Everyone knows that fisherman are good storytellers.  Just ask them to tell you about that special big fish, and be prepared to strap yourself in for a long ride.  The story will be filled with drama, plot twist, and colorful language. And, in the end, the hero always gets the fish.  Aren't trial lawyers just storytellers with suits? 

#2 - Fishermen, like lawyers, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

Fishermen have a flexible approach to facts.  Lawyers and fishermen don't let the facts get in the way of a good ending. Both skilled lawyering and skilled fishing require a certain ambivalence toward reality. Fishing may be the only profession which has a lower public perception of truthfulness than the law. 

#3. Fishermen are doggedly persistent and seldom, if ever, give up before they've nailed their quarry. 

A fisherman will drive 1000 miles for the privilege of fishing in the rain for three days in the vain hope of of catching one big fish. He will set his alarm for 3:30 a.m. and hike through the woods to jump a good hole.  He will sit in the broiling sun for eight hours without sunscreen to bring home his catch.  I recently drove 1000 miles in the vain hope of getting an opposing expert to tell the truth in a deposition. 

Bonus: The "Fly Fisherman Enhancement" factor

If you have the good fortune to be represented by a lawyer who is a flyfisherman you can expect some added value. He will be obsessively compulsive about case details. He's probably well dressed. He will have spent so much money on flyfishing equipment that he has to work twice as hard as he should. 

But - and this is the most important bonus - he'll be smiling a lot of the time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nursing Home Abuse: Top 5 Lessons Learned

I recently settled a nursing home negligence case. They're disturbing, not just because of the treatment that our elderly receive, but because they forced me to think about aging, dying, and our responsibilities to our parents. Here are some of my takeaways. 

1. Nursing Home cases are difficult and complicated. You're trying to prove that negligence caused medical problems. But almost all nursing home patients have lots of health problems already. Some are nearing the end of their life, regardless of the care they receive. There were over 6000 pages of medical records to review in this recent case, many of them indecipherable. Taking them on takes meticulous attention to detail. 

2. Everyone, regardless of their age, is entitled to their dignity. As we age and our bodies fail we grow accustomed to certain losses of our independence, and consequently, some of our pride. When I look at these cases I am struck by the absolute truth that the same will happen to me and most of the people I know.  And yet, we are all entitled to basic human dignity as we age and die. To my way of thinking, that's the most important things that nursing homes can provide. When they fail, the loss hits everyone. 

3. At some point, most of us will have to put our parents in a nursing home - and there's nothing wrong with that. Looking through these records you realize just how much care and expertise it takes to care for the elderly. Most of us would not be equipped to handle it. Medications, frequent MD appointments, personal care. . . most families are simply not equipped to handle it.  And yet, it makes the decision to place our loved ones in care no less anguishing. If they are harmed in nursing home care, there is even more guilt involved.  I think that the best we can hope for is to make sure that once our loved ones are in care we remain their guardians. Caring and supportive. Making sure they are not lonely. Connecting them to their past. And, remaining vigilant against carelessness. 

4. As a society, we have work to do. Our nursing home facilities vary widely in quality from one place to another. Most of us have no insurance to cover better accommodations.  The government regulates facilities but really does little to enforce standards. Most for profit homes can't afford to pay the right people - or enough people - and they are perpetually understaffed. I've come to the conclusion that we would be better off as a society if the government took over these functions.  After all, Medicare and Medicaid pay for virtually all of this care anyway. That money could be put to better use it was going for care, not for the profit margins of the nursing home. 

5. Be a bulldog. The best way to protect your loved ones is to complain.  I hate to say it, but it's true. Send a clear message to care providers that you are watching. That you care. That you will hold them accountable for their failures - and at the same time praising them when they do a good job. Your family is safer when you are involved. 

Bonus Lesson: when all of the above fail, and something bad happens, call me. 

Matt Schad speaks at Trial Lawyers seminar

This week Matt spoke at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association Lifetime Achievement seminar.  His topic: Using online demands for creative settlement and trial negotiations.  Matt is perhaps the first attorney in Indiana to use the unique approach of setting up a specific web page to present a settlement demand for a client. The demands include photos, video, multimedia, and text to tell each client's story. The approach is a radical departure from to traditional approach of writing a letter and sending a few medical records.  Matt is a frequent speaker on trial creativity and technology.