DRI Faculty List

Medical Liability and Health Care Law Seminar

Hilton Nashville Downtown | Nashville, TN | March 20 - 22, 2019

Erika L. Amarante
Wiggin and Dana LLP

Erika L. Amarante is a partner in Wiggin and Dana's Litigation Department. She represents hospitals, physicians and other health care providers in cases alleging professional negligence, lack of informed consent and negligent credentialing. She has extensive experience defending claims of wrongful death, birth trauma, delayed diagnosis of cancer, and brain injuries, as well as the catastrophic injuries that often arise in such claims. Erika also has had the unique experience of serving in a claims management position, setting reserves and valuing cases. She regularly counsels health care providers on issues of liability and risk reduction strategies. Erika has tried cases to verdict and most recently secured a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case, a defense judgment after a bench trial in a case alleging lack of informed consent, and a directed verdict in a jury trial in a medical negligence case. In addition to being an active member of DRI, Erika also serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association and the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association's Litigation Section. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Connecticut Bar Journal from 2010-2013, and is a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.

Joseph (Joe) Buchholz
Aspen Litigation Support

Joseph (Joe) Buchholz is a Forensic Social Media Capture expert with over 400 investigations in the past two and a half years. Mr. Buchholz's technical knowledge comes from 18+ years of working as a System Administrator, Network Administrator, and end-user support. The investigation process the Aspen team uses allows their clients the ability to find the publicly available information that most investigators don't find. Mr. Buchholz will explain how this process falls in line with the new FRE 902 [13]&[14] and the current landscape of case law around the country.

Frederick B. (Rick) Carlton, Jr., MD
University of Mississippi Medical Center

Frederick B. (Rick) Carlton, Jr., MD graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1980 and is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and currently is the Medical Director of the Emergency Department and Chief Medical Officer for UMMC Grenada. Additionally, he has served as Chair of the EMS Advisory Council for Mississippi since 2008.

Expert Witness Nurses

Dawn L. Cook, RN, CNLCP, LNCP-C, CLCP is a licensed registered nurse with over 30 years of experience in clinical settings and as a life care planner and medical bill reviewer. She has prepared reports in 22 states in Life Care Planning and Past Medical Bill Reviews.

James O. (Jim) Craven
Wiggin and Dana LLP

James O. (Jim) Craven is a litigator in Wiggin and Dana LLP's New Haven, Connecticut, office. He is a vice president of the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association, an officer on the New Haven County Bar Foundation and a long-time member of the House of Delegates of the Connecticut Bar Association.

Andrew DeSimone
Sturgill Turner Barker & Moloney PLLC

Andrew DeSimoneis a civil litigator at the office of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, in Lexington, Kentucky. Andrew defends health care professionals from malpractice lawsuits throughout the State of Kentucky. He is AV-rated from Martindale-Hubbell, as well as Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers. He has garnered numerous trial and appellate victories in medical malpractice, insurance defense and governmental law.

Joseph A. (Joe) Farchione
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP

Joseph A. (Joe) Farchione has over 30 years of trial experience specializing in the defense of healthcare professionals, hospitals, and their insurers in high-exposure medical malpractice cases, especially in the area of birth trauma. He has tried more than 100 cases across the country for a variety of clients. Joe's success, knowledge, and experience have earned him a national reputation as a "go-to" trial lawyer for numerous clients and carriers in handling catastrophic cases across the country.

Michele J. Grimm, PhD
Wayne State University

Michele J. Grimm, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Wayne State University. In additional she holds an appointment as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Grimm completed her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Since joining Wayne State, a significant portion of her research has involved injury biomechanics – from characterizing important tissue properties to developing appropriate models for the assessment of injury mechanisms. For the past 20 years, that work has focused on the biomechanics of neonatal brachial plexus injuries. She has had the privilege of working with obstetricians to develop computer models of a process for which patient-based clinical studies are not appropriate. The work has provided an understanding of the pathomechanics of this injury, supporting the results that have been found through epidemiological and case study based research.

Patrick J. Kearns
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP

Patrick J. Kearns is a civil trial lawyer in the San Diego office of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP. Patrick's practice includes the defense of healthcare professionals, hospitals and surgery centers from malpractice suits. Patrick also defends health care practitioners in administrative law matters involving the medical, dental and pharmaceutical licensing boards of California. Patrick is an active member of the legal community; he serves on the boards of directors for several professional organizations and frequently speaks to professional groups on current legal issues.

Christine M. Maiello
Allied World Assurance Co

Christine M. Maiello is an Assistant Vice President in the Complex Healthcare Professional Liability Claims unit at Allied World Insurance Company. She is responsible for managing the most technically complex and high exposure medical malpractice liability claims throughout the United States and frequently travels to negotiate settlements. Prior to joining Allied World, Christine was in private practice in Connecticut, where she defended healthcare professionals across a variety of healthcare sectors including hospitals, long-term care facilities, physicians, dentists and physician extenders. She has been a speaker at numerous industry conferences and seminars. She is a member of the Connecticut bar and is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Mark R. Mercurio, MD, MA
Yale University School of Medicine

Mark R. Mercurio, MD, MA is Chief of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Director of the Ethics Program at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital. He is also Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics at Yale School of Medicine, and a member of the medical faculty for the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE). He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemical Sciences from Princeton University, an M.D. from Columbia University, and a Master's Degree in Philosophy from Brown University. Pediatrics Residency and Neonatology Fellowship were completed at Yale. He has for many years been active in neonatology and medical ethics education for residents, fellows, nurses, attending physicians, PA students, medical students and others

J. Richard Moore
Bleeke Dillon Crandall

J. Richard Moore is a shareholder with BleekeDillonCrandall in Indianapolis, Indiana. His practice focuses on the defense of professional liability claims against physicians, nurses, long-term care providers, architects, engineers, and attorneys; advising businesses and insurers regarding large property losses, catastrophic casualty claims, complex insurance coverage questions, fraud and bad faith; and assistance in the resolution of a variety of business and commercial disputes before litigation where possible, and through trial where necessary. Richard is licensed in Indiana, Alabama and Tennessee, and has also assisted in the assessment and handling of matters in Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Mississippi and Georgia. Richard is an active member of DRI, having served as Program Chair for the 2011 and 2012 DRI Nursing Home/ALF Litigation seminars, and as Program Chair for the DRI Sexual Torts seminar. He currently serves as Chair of the DRI Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee.

Cara Osborne,SD, MSN, CNM
Baby + Company

Cara Osborne,SD, MSN, CNM is a Certified Nurse Midwife by clinical training and holds a BA in Biology from Transylvania University, a MSN in Midwifery from Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and a MS and ScD in Maternal and Child Health from Harvard School of Public Health. Her academic area of interest is perinatal epidemiology. Dr. Osborne is the co-founder of and senior advisor to Baby+Company a multi-state, private equity funded network of freestanding maternity centers. Cara is an Assistant Professor in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at University of Arkansas and was co-investigator for the American Association of Birth Centers Uniform Data Set. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health and a technical adviser to the board of directors for Midwives for Haiti.

Katherine Otto
Messner Reeves LLP

Katherine Otto is a partner with Messner Reeves LLP. She practices in Colorado and New York, representing medical doctors, chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, and allied health professionals on a variety of claims. She advises employers on labor and employment issues that frequently arise in healthcare settings, and also defends general liability, premises liability, catastrophic injury, and construction defect cases at trial. Ms. Otto is a member of DRI's Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee and Women in the Law Committee.

Megan Gaffney Ouellette
Hartford Healthcare

Megan Gaffney Ouellette is the Director of Claims Management at Hartford HealthCare (HHC). Prior to joining HHC, Megan was Director of Claims at RLI Insurance Company in Glastonbury, CT where she provided oversight of the management of medical malpractice and healthcare liability claims nationwide for Rockbridge Underwriting and RLI Healthcare. Prior to that, Megan worked for many years at Yale New Haven Health, Legal & Risk Service Department, New Haven CT as an associate counsel in litigation services where she managed professional and general liability matters for distinct delivery networks within the health system (Yale University; Yale, Greenwich and Bridgeport Hospitals; Northeast Medical Group) and community insureds covering 150+ cases in litigation.

Stephen O. (Steve) Plunkett
Bassford Remele PA

Stephen O. (Steve) Plunkett is a shareholder with Bassford Remele PA in Minneapolis, represents nursing home and assisted living facilities in the Midwest. He has chaired national seminars dealing with long term care litigation issues. Mr. Plunkett is a member of DRI's Law Institute and the past chair of DRI's Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee. He is admitted to practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Mr. Plunkett has been recognized by his peers as a "Top 100 Lawyer" and "Super Lawyer" in Minnesota Law & Politics. Steve is the Vice Chair of the DRI's Law Institute.

Amy Robertson, MD
Vanderbilt University

Amy Robertson, MD earned her medical degree at the University of Wisconsin and completed an anesthesiology residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Upon completion of residency in 2006, she joined the faculty at Vanderbilt. In 2010, she attended Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management and earned a Masters of Management in Health Care. She currently serves in the role of Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs. Her clinical interests include liver transplant, vascular, and trauma anesthesia.

Michael G. (Mike) Ross, MD, MPH
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Michael G. (Mike) Ross, MD, MPH is a distinguished Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA School of Public Health. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS), Harvard Medical School (MD) and Harvard School of Public Health (MPH). Dr. Ross completed Ob/Gyn residency at the Brigham and Womens Hospital, and Maternal Fetal Medicine fellowship at Harbor-UCLA and Cedars Sinai Medical Centers. Dr. Ross served as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center from 1996-2011. He has over 300 peer reviewed publications, 600 published abstracts, five text books and numerous print and electronic book chapters. Dr. Ross is the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (Cambridge University Press) as well as a member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Maternal Fetal and Neonatal Medicine and Reproductive Sciences.

Jonathan D. (Jon) Rubin
Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP

Jonathan D. (Jon) Rubin is a senior partner in Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP's New York City office. His practice areas include Medical Malpractice Defense, Long Term Care and Nursing Home Defense, Health Care, Products Liability Defense and General Liability Defense Litigation. He is a former President of The Association for Healthcare Risk Management of New York (AHRMNY). Jonathan represents hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, psychologists, social workers and other allied medical professionals in civil litigation matters through trial in state and federal courts in New York. He also lectures frequently at numerous conferences and seminars throughout the US on a wide variety of legal and risk management topics.

Steven R. (Steve) Schwegman
Quinlivan & Hughes PA

Steven R. (Steve) Schwegmanpractices in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has tried in excess of 130 jury trials. He is an instructor for MDLA's trial academy, served as an adjunct professor at SCSU and has spoken at numerous local and national seminars. He is an ABOTA Diplomate, was selected as a 2005 Minnesota Attorney of the Year and as a "Super Lawyer" by Minnesota Law & Politics since 1999. Steve is a Past-President of MDLA, served on DRI's Board of Directors and was a faculty member at the IADC Trial Academy at Stanford University School of Law.

S. Smiley Thakur, MD, FRCPC
Transplant and Nephrology Northwest PLLC

S. Smiley Thakur, MD, FRCPC is a practicing Board Certified nephrologist with a fellowship in transplant medicine. Since 1995, he has provided independent medical evaluations to both plaintiff and defense attorneys. His clinical experience covers all aspects of outpatient nephrology management, acute hospital care, blood and peritoneal dialysis, and all aspects of renal transplantation including immunosuppression. He enjoys teaching medical residents and his patients.

Ralph F. Valitutti, Jr.
Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook

Ralph F. Valitutti, Jr. co-heads the firm's birth trauma defense practice and serves as national counsel for insurers and major health systems in birth trauma cases in almost every state in the country. In almost four decades as a litigator with the firm, he has served as first chair in more than 70 trials. Mr. Valitutti is licensed to practice law in Michigan, as well as the U.S. District Courts of Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is also active in multiple professional organizations.After many years of successfully defending medical malpractice and product liability cases, Mr. Valitutti pioneered the development of a process that is designed to identify those issues which favor the defense and are ignored purposefully, typically in large damage potential cases. This includes strategies that seek to bring more of the truth about future damages before jurors than others. Recognizing the defendant has a burden of proof on the issues of damages in catastrophic injury cases, Mr. Valitutti on showing the actual cost of future care is catastrophic injury as opposed to what is black boarded (claimed). Using this strategic capability, he coordinates the defense of catastrophic actions nationwide and, is often asked to share responsibilities with local counsel in the development of examination of frequent testifiers, successfully defending cases to verdict.

Matthew T. (Matt) Wiley, MPH, PMP®
Division of Practitioner Databank

Matthew T. (Matt) Wiley, MPH, PMP® is the Branch Chief of the Policy and Disputes Branch within the Division of Practitioner Data Bank (DPDB), Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has been with DPBD since 2015, previously serving as a Compliance Officer. Before joining DPDB in 2015, Mr. Wiley served as a Health Systems Specialist with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) where he served as a national project manager for one of VHA's several mental health centers of excellence. Mr. Wiley holds a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration in Health Policy and Management and is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute.

Jamie L. Wilhite Dittert
Sturgill Turner Barker & Moloney PLLC

Jamie L. Wilhite Dittert chair of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney's Torts and Insurance Practice Group, is a litigator with a wide range of experience in defending personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accidents and premises liability matters and medical negligence defense. Her work in health care law focuses on medical malpractice defense, Medicaid recoupment and payment contests, and advising a variety of entities on HIPAA compliance, including drafting and reviewing HIPAA policies and conducting HIPAA trainings.

Albert Barclay Wong
Drewry Simmons Vornehm LLP

Albert Barclay Wong, an AV-rated Partner at Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP in Carmel, Indiana, represents health care providers His practice focuses on defending physicians, hospitals, and nursing facilities in negligence claims. He also represents all licensed health care providers, including physicians, nurses, and dentists in professional licensure matters before all of Indiana's health related boards and committees. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Wong was an Indiana deputy attorney general where he successfully litigated hundreds of administrative actions. Mr. Wong is the Vice Chair of the DRI Medical Liability and Healthcare Law Committee.

Meghan H. Yanacek
Goodell DeVries Leech & Dann LLP

Meghan H. Yanacek is a partner with Goodell, DeVries, LLP, practicing primarily medical malpractice defense in both federal and state courts. Throughout her career, Ms. Yanacek has successfully represented providers at trial and on appeal in complex medical negligence and premise liability matters. In addition to courtroom litigation, Ms. Yanacek has also defended health care providers in disciplinary actions brought by licensing agencies. Given her health policy background, Ms. Yanacek also advises clients on healthcare-related regulatory and policy issues. Ms. Yanacek has worked both in private practice and in a claims management setting. Her legal experience includes serving as Associate Counsel for a large hospital system where she managed complex healthcare claims and litigation in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Tracy L. Zuckett
Of Counsel
MedPro Group

Tracy L. Zuckett is a Claims Consultant with the Senior Care Division of MedPro Group, managing claims primarily in the Northwest, Southwest, Mountain States and Midwest. Prior to joining MedPro Group, Tracy spent nearly twenty years in private practice providing counsel on professional liability and disciplinary matters to health care providers and facilities, real estate professionals and various other licensed professionals.