The Great Trials Podcast

Don Keenan | Bartholomew v. Zurbrugg, M.D. | $13.75 million verdict

January 11, 2022

This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey continue their interview Don Keenan of The Keenan Law Firm (https://www.keenanlawfirm.com/). 

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Episode Details:

Known as a tireless advocate for children and a fierce trial lawyer, Don Keenan of The Keenan Law Firm discusses how he used an innovative causation strategy to successfully represent the family of an infant who sustained a permanent brain injury as a result of her pediatricians' negligence. Sally Bartholomew was born healthy, but three weeks later, she was diagnosed with bronchitis, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and an upper respiratory infection. On January 16, 1995, Sally appeared to be turning gray and her Hilton Head Island, South Carolina pediatrician instructed Sally's mother, Carol, to drive the baby to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia. In route, Sally stopped breathing, and Carol administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until EMTs could arrive. Sally's brain was without oxygen for an extended period of time, and she suffered a traumatic brain injury that continues to limit her quality of life and capabilities to this day. Acclaimed trial lawyer Don Keenan explains how he immediately connected with the Beaufort County, South Carolina jury by beginning his opening statement with the story of Carol's traumatic drive to the hospital and simplified his presentation from a PowerPoint to pen-and-paper exhibits to better appeal to an older jury. This is the first recorded case where causation was the initial focus, meaning that Don demonstrated what caused Sally's brain injury before proving the doctor's liability in failing to prepare for the worst possible outcome. After a three-week trial, the Beaufort County, South Carolina jury returned a verdict of $13.75 million in favor of the plaintiff, resulting in the highest medical malpractice verdict in the state at the time. 

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Guest Bios:

Don Keenan:

During his forty years specializing in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, Mr. Keenan has secured over 381 verdicts and settlements over $1,000,000, including 15 over $10,000,000 and one over $100,000,000. Mr. Keenan has dedicated his practice to child injury and wrongful death cases arising from medical negligence, products liability, and premise liability, with the goal of making our society safer for children.  He has handled cases in 47 states and on three continents.

Mr. Keenan strongly believes that our duty does not end when we secure justice for the child and family. Equally important is learning from the prevention lessons of the case and formulating a public awareness campaign to help prevent future injuries and deaths and when necessary, push for legislation and regulations. He calls this unique approach to law the One-Third Solution: one-third litigating the case, one-third public awareness on the prevention and one-third pushing for regulations and legislation. Examples of his One-Third Solution are the Playground Safety Project being featured on the Today Show for the past three years, The Toy Safety Campaign profiled in USA Today and Good Morning America. The Imagine Magazine Summer 2005 issue featured Don Keenan and his One-ThirdSolution as did Mercedes Momentum Magazine in winter of 2004.

In 1992, he became the youngest National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates and during his tenure, led a delegation of lawyers to Czechoslovakia and later was invited to Russia to produce the first civil trial in the history of those two emerging democracies. In 1997, he became National President of the Inner Circle of Advocates, the most exclusive group of trial lawyers in the country. In 1999, he was given the prestigious Chief Justice Award for Civility and Professionalism, the highest award possible for a lawyer in Georgia. He now serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, which trains the majority of new judges in the United States. In 1990 and again in 1992, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Don successfully handled the 1980’s U.S. Supreme Court case of Kathy Jo Taylor which was the first case in United States history to establish due process rights for foster children. Again in late 1999, he handled the nationally publicized case of Terrell Peterson, an abused foster child, who was on the cover of Time Magazine (11/2000) and was the subject of the highest rated 60 Minute story of the year. Both cases resulted in significant changes in the rights of children in state custody. In 2006 he obtained the largest US jury verdict on behalf of an abused child.

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Free Resources:

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 1

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 2

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