Insight

How Panel Voir Dire Impacts Medical Malpractice Law

Annette Gonthier-Kiely, 2019 "Lawyer of the Year" award winner for Medical Malpractice Law in Boston, discusses her practice and trial strategy.

Annette Gonthier-Kiely "Lawyer of the Year"
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

April 16, 2019 04:39 PM

Annette Gonthier-Kiely, winner of the Best Lawyers 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” award for Medical Malpractice in Boston, has a long and consistent record of multimillion-dollar medical malpractice verdicts and settlements throughout her long career. “Helping families who have lost a loved one or individuals who have been seriously harmed by medical malpractice to receive substantial compensation and ease their burden gives me great satisfaction,” says Gonthier-Kiely.

Knowing that medical malpractice work improves safety for all patients is an added bonus. One such example was a win of more than $7 million against a top cardiac doctor who had three board certifications and was specifically hired for his well-known expertise in performing cardiac ablation for the patient’s type of arrhythmia. At the last minute, he lateraled the patient to his far less experienced, non-board certified protégé. The protégé was found negligent for missing signs of impending heart block and continuing to ablate leading to permanent heart damage. The jury found negligence, lack of informed consent and breach of contract against the doctor who had been hired, a verdict she refers to as her “hat trick.” This verdict was later featured in a Chicago Tribune article about patients’ need for informed and transparent discussions with the doctor before surgery about who is doing what.

To improve outcomes for medical malpractice plaintiffs, Gonthier-Kiely welcomed the opportunity to serve as chairman of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys Voir Dire Committee. She strongly believes that panel voir dire will assist in weeding out jurors who could never find against a doctor or who require a much higher standard of proof than the “more likely than not” civil standard, or who harbor other biases which prevent them from being impartial. To that end, as president of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys from 2015 to 2017, Attorney Gonthier-Kiely spearheaded statewide hands-on voir dire workshops to educate members on how to do panel voir dire effectively within the constraints of Massachusetts' standing order. “We still have a long way to go but the future is brighter.”

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