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

Robert L. McKenna III, a medical malpractice legal professional, 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 loss of life of their father, a 49-year-old forklift operator, amounted to nothing lower than “extortion,” he mentioned.

“I take satisfaction in what I do, and I’ve acquired 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 whole profession,” the Huntington Seashore legal professional defended on the trial in April.

McKenna advised jurors to ignore the loss of life certificates, which blamed the loss of life on sepsis and peritonitis because 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 advanced,” 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 individuals did it,” McKenna mentioned. “And we really had a loss of life certificates that mentioned he died the very method the plaintiff mentioned he died and we needed to say, ‘No, you actually should not consider what that loss of life certificates says, or the coroner from the Orange County coroner’s workplace .'”

McKenna was not executed.

“Overcoming all of these hurdles, we managed to sock three attorneys within the face,” he mentioned, referring to 3 plaintiffs’ attorneys. It was the quickest protection verdict he had ever gained, he mentioned, 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.

“For my part, this is without doubt one of the causes individuals are likely to mistrust and even hate attorneys,” mentioned Jorge Ledezma, the lead legal professional 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 non-public.”

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

In an announcement to The Instances, McKenna mentioned his remarks on the video, which he didn’t know can be recorded and posted, have been “meant 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 on the whole.”

McKenna described his remarks to his employees as “ineloquent” and “imprecise,” and mentioned he understood why individuals exterior the workplace “may take offense.”

“I’ve expressed my apologies to my consumer, opposing counsel, and each the medical and authorized communities,” McKenna mentioned. “Nonetheless, 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 US within the early 2000s. He settled in Santa Ana along with his two daughters, working in a motorcycle store and later as a forklift driver.

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

On Nov. 5, 2017, he arrived at South Coast International Medical Middle in Santa Ana with extreme belly ache. His mom had lately died, his household mentioned, and he had been depressed and ingesting. He was recognized with alcohol-related pancreatitis and struggled for a month, finally dropping his capacity to swallow.

Dr. Essam Quraishi, the gastroenterologist, inserted the feeding tube in Sanchez’s stomach in early December. Based on 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 Middle in Orange.

“He fought to be alive. He fought by means of the ache to be with us as a result of that is just about what he had — us,” Johanna Garcia mentioned. “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 mentioned she was turned down by 4 attorneys earlier than Ledezma, a Santa Ana legal professional, agreed to take the case.

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

“It was the coroner’s workplace that mentioned he died on account of a badly positioned PEG tube,” Ledezma mentioned, 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 can be acquired.”

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

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

“This home of playing cards that they’ve constructed that this man one way or the other acquired peritonitis and sepsis and died doesn’t stand the take a look at of scrutiny, and it is senseless,” McKenna advised jurors.

McKenna mentioned that Sanchez “had a catastrophic harm that ate most of his pancreas,” including: “That isn’t a survivable occasion.”

Referring to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, McKenna mentioned that “Mr. Jorge and his crew” have been a part of the “personal-injury industrial advanced.”

Consultants employed by McKenna’s crew mentioned there was no Negligence in Sanchez’s loss of life. However the legal professional additionally argued that hospital employees did not relay key info from a radiology report back to Quraishi.

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

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

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

On Torthub, an Instagram web page frequented by attorneys, it has been seen greater than 5,500 instances. Many of the feedback have been vital 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, characterize their consumer to the most effective of their capacity.”

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

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

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

Her household’s legal professional, Ledezma, mentioned that McKenna’s remarks had “executed a variety of harm to the occupation,” and mentioned the celebration video is notable for what McKenna didn’t say concerning the case.

“He did not say Dr. Quraishi was physician,” Ledezma mentioned. “He did not say our case was with out advantage. 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 known as authorized errors within the trial and on McKenna’s “inflammatory closing argument.”

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