Reflections on a Year in the Life of a Trial Lawyer
Another year comes to a close this month. For the Ratzan Law Group, this has been an emblematic year in the life of our trial lawyers. We had our ups and our downs, our successes and failures. We took risks on behalf of our clients, and most of them proved successful. We successfully battled one of the largest transnational companies in the world. We secured favorable settlements on behalf of our clients. We lost one trial. We gave back to our community with money and with time. We fought on behalf of our colleagues. We supported a dear friend fighting breast cancer. And we celebrated life. It was a good year. We achieved, we prevailed, we fell short. We felt joy. We felt pain. We are left with a feeling of great satisfaction, but also a feeling that we can do more and we can do better. We love that feeling because we think it drives us to be our best.
Early this year, we resolved a case against Bridgestone Tire, the Japanese multi-national with international subsidiaries in every continent. We battled over a claim for punitive damages. We prevailed on the claim. A classic “David v. Goliath” struggle for justice on behalf of an elderly client whose wife died when the left rear tire fell apart causing the passenger van to fish tail off the road and roll over multiple times. Our client’s wife suffered catastrophic injuries and ultimately death due to the crash. We fought multiple law firms from all over the country, but our client’s commitment to the facts, to his case, and to us resulted in a favorable settlement. We learned the value of courage. Our client, a Baptist minister, reminded us that David won!
In another case, a young woman with a catastrophic abdominal injury sustained as an inpatient at one of Florida’s most powerful and prestigious hospitals retained us early this year. We spent most of the year working on this matter. We proved our case to the hospital’s representatives and secured a favorable settlement. Once again, David won! This time, to its credit, the hospital recognized the power of the plaintiff’s case and agreed to an amicable resolution before suit was filed. There are Goliaths out there who understand.
David does not beat Goliath unless the lawyers and the clients have faith in their cases and in themselves. But when they do, and when justice and the facts are on their side, good things can happen.
Of course, David does not win every time. We took a case to verdict this year and we lost. Our clients and we believed in the case. The defendant was the “last man standing,” the least culpable of three parties. The other two settled parties settled with our clients, leaving only one defendant in the courtroom. Still, our clients fought valiantly. No trial lawyer wins every case. As the expression goes, “if you’re never losing ’em you’re not trying ’em.” To be a trial lawyer means accepting the reality that you will lose cases from time to time. If you’re too scared to lose, you’re too scared to win!
This year our dear colleague, Kimberly Boldt, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her struggle is the most valiant of all. We have been by her side, physically and emotionally and we wish her well. She is a vivid example of the human will to survive, and how that will can conquer all adversity. Her fight is not over, and we continue to pray for her success.
We supported the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and the University of Miami School of Medicine’s new Crohn’s and Colitis Center. We raised money for the Keymorada Fishing Tournament and we fished in it as well. Stuart Ratzan was nominated as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Chapter of CCFA. It is an honor. Ratzan’s goal is to find a cure. In the meantime, his goal is to build a pediatric Crohn’s and Colitis Center in Miami. Ratzan’s daughter Baylar has Crohn’s. She is a courageous kid.
We supported the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyer Section’s Bids for Kids Event. As a sponsor for the event, we helped raise money for the DCBA YLS’s programs and committees that focus on children’s civic education in the Miami-Dade community. And we participated in the Miami Dolphins Cycling Challenge, a 104 mile bike ride from Miami to West Palm Beach in support of Cancer Research and Treatment at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. We rode for our friend and colleague Kimberly Boldt, mentioned above.
We also supported the Clinton Foundation and its global initiatives to make the world a better place, to bring health and safety to faraway places and to remind the world that the United States doesn’t just talk about caring, it brings action to those in need.
We also celebrated life, with our family and our friends, as we understand that life offers us great opportunities and great miracles, and that we must take the time to enjoy our lives with the people we love. Without celebration there is not meaningful life, no balance for the adversity we often face.
So, as this year comes to a close, we look back with gratitude for the challenges and successes, for the opportunities to do good things, and for the lessons we learned from the things we could have done better. We look forward to another great year ahead, and we wish you success and peace.