An OC lawyer gained a personal-injury case. Then got here the celebration video, and an apology

Robert L. McKenna III, a medical malpractice lawyer, was telling an Orange County jury how completely meritless, insulting and outrageous was the case towards his consumer, a gastroenterologist. The plaintiffs’ demand for $10 million for the demise of their father, a 49-year-old forklift operator, amounted to nothing lower than “extortion,” he stated.

“I take delight in what I do, and I’ve bought to inform you, within the 30 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve by no means seen a extra insulting, factually devoid presentation in my total profession,” the Huntington Seaside lawyer defended on the trial in April.

McKenna advised jurors to ignore the demise certificates, which blamed the demise on sepsis and peritonitis as a result of a colon perforated by a feeding tube, which his consumer had inserted. He pointed to failures by different hospital employees, and argued that the affected person died from different causes. This, he argued, was a money seize.

“Welcome to America. Welcome to the personal-injury machine, the personal-injury industrial complicated,” he advised jurors, who shortly returned with a 12-0 verdict for his consumer.

However McKenna summarized the case with decidedly totally different language when he and colleagues gathered on the workplace amid balloons in Might to rejoice current victories.

The case concerned “a man that was in all probability negligently killed, however we form of made it seem like different folks did it,” McKenna stated. “And we really had a demise certificates that stated he died the very approach the plaintiff stated he died and we needed to say, ‘No, you actually should not imagine what that demise certificates says, or the coroner from the Orange County coroner’s workplace .'”

McKenna was not achieved.

“Overcoming all of these hurdles, we managed to sock three attorneys within the face,” he stated, referring to 3 plaintiffs’ attorneys. It was the quickest protection verdict he had ever gained, he stated, inviting the authorized companion who had tried the case with him to ring a victory bell.

McKenna’s speech was recorded on video and posted to his agency’s social media web page, however shortly eliminated. However, it’s now in broad circulation, with livid backlash from the authorized neighborhood.

“In my view, this is likely one of the causes folks are likely to mistrust and even hate attorneys,” stated Jorge Ledezma, the lead lawyer representing the plaintiffs within the feeding-tube case. “They’ll say one factor to the jury or in public, after which say the other in personal.”

Within the video, he stated, McKenna is actually “admitting to tricking the jury,” including: “This may be the equal of Johnnie Cochran saying, ‘I do know OJ did it, however we bought him off anyway.’”

In a press release to The Instances, McKenna stated his remarks on the video, which he didn’t know could be recorded and posted, had been “supposed purely as an inside briefing to our employees, utilizing shorthand phrases which could understandably trigger confusion for a lay viewers unfamiliar with the case at hand, and the regulation generally.”

McKenna described his remarks to his employees as “ineloquent” and “imprecise,” and stated he understood why folks outdoors the workplace “may take offense.”

“I’ve expressed my apologies to my consumer, opposing counsel, and each the medical and authorized communities,” McKenna stated. “Nevertheless, nothing about my remarks ought to name into query our very clear trial technique or the jury’s verdict in favor of my consumer.”

The case centered on the therapy of Enrique Garcia Sanchez, who labored as a radio host in San Salvador earlier than coming to the USA within the early 2000s. He settled in Santa Ana together with his two daughters, working in a motorcycle store and later as a forklift driver.

“He would stroll us to high school and take us all over the place,” stated his elder daughter, Johanna Garcia, 27. “He was a very proud dad.”

On Nov. 5, 2017, he arrived at South Coast World Medical Heart in Santa Ana with extreme belly ache. His mom had lately died, his household stated, and he had been depressed and consuming. He was identified with alcohol-related pancreatitis and struggled for a month, in the end dropping his capacity to swallow.

Dr. Essam Quraishi, the gastroenterologist, inserted the feeding tube in Sanchez’s stomach in early December. In response to the lawsuit filed by Sanchez’s household, the tube pierced the colon, infecting his physique and killing him later that month at UC Irvine Medical Heart in Orange.

“He fought to be alive. He fought by way of the ache to be with us as a result of that is just about what he had — us,” Johanna Garcia stated. “To be there sitting subsequent to him till his final breath, give him a final hug and seconds later he is chilly and stiff, it is traumatizing.”

Garcia stated she was turned down by 4 attorneys earlier than Ledezma, a Santa Ana lawyer, agreed to take the case.

“I believed it was probably the most meritorious medical malpractice instances that I’ve ever seen,” Ledezma stated. “The proof is so convincing, so black and white.

“It was the coroner’s workplace that stated he died on account of a badly positioned PEG tube,” Ledezma stated, referring to the feeding tube. “To me, the story was very compelling, and I believed, even in a really conservative space like Orange County, the story could be obtained.”

Ledezma argued that Quraishi had relied on an X-ray that mistakenly confirmed the tube was correctly positioned within the abdomen, however that he ought to have ordered a extra detailed CT scan.

McKenna, the physician’s lawyer, is a founding companion on the regulation agency of Kjar, McKenna & Stockalper, with places of work in El Segundo and Huntington Seaside. The agency’s web site boasts that the companions had been named “Tremendous Attorneys” by Los Angeles Journal.

In Quraishi’s defence, McKenna pointed to a UC Irvine Medical Heart surgeon who had handled Sanchez and believed he didn’t have peritonitis.

“This home of playing cards that they’ve constructed that this man by some means bought peritonitis and sepsis and died doesn’t stand the check of scrutiny, and it is mindless,” McKenna advised jurors.

McKenna stated that Sanchez “had a catastrophic harm that ate most of his pancreas,” including: “That’s not a survivable occasion.”

Referring to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, McKenna stated that “Mr. Jorge and his workforce” had been a part of the “personal-injury industrial complicated.”

Specialists employed by McKenna’s workforce stated there was no Negligence in Sanchez’s demise. However the lawyer additionally argued that hospital employees did not relay key info from a radiology report back to Quraishi.

“Dr. Quraishi needed accountability and needed his day in courtroom and didn’t need to get denied that by the extortion from the opposite facet,” he stated.

Sanchez’s household requested for $10 million in closing arguments in Orange County Superior Court docket Decide James Crandall’s courtroom.

When McKenna’s celebratory remarks appeared on social media — bearing the Instagram tag of certainly one of his agency’s companions — attorneys started downloading the video instantly.

On Torthub, an Instagram web page frequented by attorneys, it has been considered greater than 5,500 occasions. Many of the feedback had been important of McKenna, some blisteringly so. “Completely sickening,” one commenter posted. “How is he not disbarred???”

Others defended McKenna. “They did their job. That is what attorneys do, signify their consumer to one of the best of their capacity.”

Johanna Garcia stated she was in shock when she noticed McKenna’s video.

“I could not imagine it. It was infuriating to see that,” she stated. “Ringing bells, as if it wasn’t a life that was taken away.”

On the identical time, she stated, she felt a form of reduction. “He was admitting to himself that we had been proper. I really feel like the reality got here out, even when justice wasn’t served.”

Her household’s lawyer, Ledezma, stated that McKenna’s remarks had “achieved plenty of harm to the career,” and stated the celebration video is notable for what McKenna didn’t say in regards to the case.

“He did not say Dr. Quraishi was a very good physician,” Ledezma stated. “He did not say our case was with out benefit. He did not say Dr. Quraishi was the sufferer of a frivolous lawsuit. He additionally did not say that justice was achieved.”

Ledezma plans to enchantment the decision on the premise of what he referred to as authorized errors within the trial and on McKenna’s “inflammatory closing argument.”

“Mr. McKenna is a very good lawyer,” he stated. “If his purpose was to confuse the jury, he did a very good job of that.”

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