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2022-Appellate Advocacy-Seminar

Annual Meeting Spotlight

Court is in Session! Hear All About SCOTUS' New Term at DRI's Annual Meeting

The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing cases on October 3rd. Get a preview of upcoming cases to be decided by SCOTUS at DRI’s Annual Meeting, Oct. 25-28 in Philadelphia. SCOTUS expert Tom Dupree will present the session “The Supreme Court: Big Cases, Developing Trends, a New Justice, and What It All Might Mean for 2023.” Watch Tom discuss his upcoming presentation below, and register for DRI’s Annual Meeting here.

2022-Appellate Advocacy-Seminar
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Center Creates Task Force to Study Social Inflation

The DRI Center for Law and Public Policy is pleased to announce the creation of a Social Inflation Task Force. “Social inflation” describes the trend of dramatic increases in the dollar value of civil jury verdicts, without any significant change in legal or factual bases to support it.  The task force will be charged with developing policies and procedures to counteract this trend, through research into its causes and education as to its effects on the resolution of litigation. John Pierce, a shareholder in Dentons Sirote’s Mobile, Alabama, office, has been appointed as task force chair. 

“Social Inflation is a topic of significance to all defendants and to all who want to ensure fairness in the civil justice system,” said Pierce.  “Seeking to promote the Center’s thought leadership in this important area, the task force is engaged in data collection to determine the nature and extent of the phenomenon, as well as its root causes.  Using this data as a driver, the task force will develop solutions to combat the effects of social inflation, which will include best practices for counsel, jury instructions, and model rules for courts and legislation.”  

Also serving on the task force are DRI members Michael Callahan of Eversource Energy in Boston, Massachusetts; Lauren Cyphers of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in Morgantown, West Virginia; Catherine Leatherwood of Rogers Townsend LLP in Columbia, South Carolina; Jim Robinson of Hite Fanning & Honeyman in Wichita, Kansas; Chris Turney of Turney LG in Kansas City, Missouri.

The task force’s first initiative is to complete a white paper studying factors influencing the rise in the size of jury verdicts and recommending steps to limit that rise.

 John PierceMichael Callahan Lauren CyphersCatherine LeatherwoodJim RobinsonChris Turney
Pictured, L to R: Pierce, Callahan, Cyphers, Leatherwood, Robinson, Turney

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From DRI's Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month 

By Janelle Fulton

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and October 11 is National Coming Out Day. In honor of this, I’d like to share a bit of my history. 

I was raised in a small rural town in Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half west of Philadelphia. I distinctly remember the first time I heard the words “homosexual” and “queer.” I heard those words from my father, but he didn’t tell me what they meant. Specifically, he told me that my Uncle John, my mom’s beloved younger brother, was a homosexual and “a queer.” That was the sum total of what he told me in words. His tone and the look of disgust on his face told me that “homosexual” meant something very bad and very shameful. I was six years old.

I had not yet met my Uncle John, because he and his partner, Bob, lived in Palm Springs, California, on the other side of the world. But Uncle John and Bob were moving back to the area to be closer to my mom. Over the following years, I learned that Uncle John and Bob had been in a committed, monogamous relationship since their early twenties, that they were successful businessmen, and that they were warm, loving, kind, and generous to everyone. I learned that their relationship was healthier and happier than my parents’ marriage had ever been. They were together for 45 years, until Bob died in 2011 at age 69. They were never able to legally marry. That right wasn’t granted until 2015. 

When I came out to my mother, she cried. I was 20 years old, and I was devastated. I felt shame. Then she cupped my face in her hands, looked me in the eye, and said, “Oh honey, I’m not crying because you’re a lesbian. I’m crying because I know how difficult your life is going to be.” 

I’ll tell you some of the ways my life as a lesbian has been difficult, and I’ll start with my own family, because that is where it started for me, and that is where it starts with many members of the LGBTQ+ community.

My father was a fundamentalist Christian, and “homos” and “queers” seemed to be his favorite target. No matter how many times I told him that his words and views offended me, he continued to “preach” to me that “homosexuals are deviants and should be put on an island and blown up.” That is a direct quote; I heard it many times. 

My father never recognized my partner as my spouse. Instead, even after we had been together for over a decade and had children, he continued to ask me when I was going to get married, and he would introduce me as his “spinster daughter.” My father likewise never recognized my children as his grandchildren. He insisted that they call him “Mr. Fulton.” At Christmastime, my father gave special gifts to each of his grandchildren, except for my children. The pain and anger I felt when I heard my father utter homophobic slurs was nothing compared to the gut-wrenching mix of emotions I felt when he disrespected and shamed my children.

In his last years, I had to financially support my father. He had not saved money for retirement because he was convinced the Lord was going to come again “any day now” and take him home to heaven. In 2017, as I walked towards the door of my father’s church for his funeral, which I had paid for because he did not have life insurance (again, the Rapture was overdue), I looked at the church’s letter marquee. I honestly should have known better, but hope springs eternal. Rather than the uplifting, encouraging message that many churches post each week, this church’s message read: “Homosexuals will burn in Hell.” I have to admit that, despite all of the years of progress our society had made by 2017, that I had made personally, there, with the anger, I felt that old, familiar shame

You see, my father wasn’t alone in his thinking. Growing up, society taught me that homosexuals are perverts, sexual deviants, and child predators. People to be feared and hated and ostracized. People to be shamed and ridiculed and cast out.

Society also taught me that it was not safe to be LGBTQ+, because it was socially acceptable, and even encouraged, to bully, harass, and shame those who were suspected of being homosexual because of their mannerisms, those who just couldn’t hide it, and those who had the nerve to be unapologetically out and proud. I can only remember one or two of those boys, who sought refuge in theater and marching band. There were no openly lesbian kids in my school, which covered seven municipalities and an area of 140 square miles. No one even talked about being bisexual, nonbinary, or transgender. 

When I was a freshman in high school in 1984, there was a witch hunt against the girls’ swim coach (and one of our gym teachers) who someone “accused” of being a lesbian. Parents wanted her fired, and a lawsuit ensued. There was never a claim that she acted inappropriately with any student, just that she was a lesbian. In fact, she wasn’t a lesbian. In fact, she was married to one of the science teachers, Mr. Dyke (I do so swear or affirm). Mr. Donald Dyke. True story. 

I’m sure not all LGBTQ+ folks experienced the same kind of upbringing, but I think many did, and I think many still do. In many places, it is still not safe to be identified as LGBTQ+. 

In 1998, one year after I graduated from law school, two young men offered to give 21-year-old University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard a ride, but instead drove him to a remote area, brutally beat and tortured him, and tied him to a barbed-wire fence, where they left him to die.

You may be thinking, that was nearly 25 years ago. In Wyoming. Ok, fair enough. More recently, in September 2014, in the Center City Philadelphia district affectionately referred to as “the Gayborhood” due to the concentration of gay-friendly bars, businesses, and residences, three suburban young people in their mid-twenties viciously attacked two gay men who were simply walking down the street. The threesome began by yelling homophobic slurs, and then punching the men repeatedly in the face. One of the victims spent five days in the hospital and suffered a fractured jaw, requiring his jaw to be wired shut for two months.

According to a 2020 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, LGBTQ+ people are four times more likely to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault, than non-LGBTQ+ people, and six times more likely to experience violence by someone who is well known to them. LBT women are five times more likely than non-LBT women to experience violent victimization, while GBT men are more than twice than likely than non-GBT men. 

The LGBTQ+ community has fought long and hard for equal treatment under the law – to be able to marry and have the legal recognition, status, protections, and benefits that come with marriage, to have parental rights, to keep our jobs, to serve our country openly, and to not be arrested for being gay or lesbian. 

In the early 2000’s, my partner and I wanted to have children. At that time, because we could not legally marry, the non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship had to petition to adopt the child in order to have parental rights. However, many states, including my home state of Pennsylvania, did not permit second-parent adoptions. Some states, such as New Jersey, did allow the non-biological parent to adopt, and New Jersey law permitted any adult from any state to petition for adoption within 90 days of the child’s birth in New Jersey. So, by finding an obstetrician in New Jersey and driving at least an hour each way for every appointment, I was able to adopt my own children. That meant I had to hire a lawyer, get fingerprinted, have a criminal background investigation completed, and have an adoption counselor inspect my house and interview me to make sure I was a fit parent and could provide a safe home environment. And don’t think it was a rubber-stamp process, because it wasn’t. It was invasive. It was embarrassing. It was expensive. It was offensive. It was shameful

In an ultimate display of absurdity, I have a friend whose fertilized eggs were implanted in her partner. Her partner gave birth and was thus legally the biological mother. My friend then had to petition the court to adopt the children who were actually biologically her own children.

In 2003, around the same time that I was going through the process to adopt my first child, I was an associate in a Philadelphia firm that had about 165 lawyers. I was the only openly LGBTQ+ attorney in the firm. The firm required all attorneys to attend a diversity training. At that time, it was intended more to protect against liability than to foster equality and inclusion, but it was still a good thing. That is, until a senior partner stood and proclaimed: “You can tell me I can’t discriminate against Black people, and you can tell me I can’t discriminate against women, but my God commands me to discriminate against sodomites." In a room full of lawyers, no one said a word. In fact, as a lesbian, I could be legally and openly discriminated against by my employer until June 2020 – two years ago – when the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that Title VII’s workplace protections applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

On, September 20, 2011, the legislature finally repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which had been the official United States policy on military service of non-heterosexual people since 1994. The policy prohibited people who "demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the United States military because their presence "would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability." Although “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was officially repealed in 2011, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which the federal government enacted in 1996 and defined marriage as being between one man and one woman, was still the law of the land and meant that, although service members could, theoretically, serve openly, their partners were barred from access to the same benefits afforded to heterosexual couples, such as base access, health care, and military pay, including family separation allowance and Basic Allowance for Housing with dependents. Additionally, while service members could serve openly, sodomy remained statutorily illegal in the Armed Forces until 2013. 

In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states. However, even though “gay marriage” has been legally recognized for seven years, many family lawyers still recommend that same-sex parents go through the adoption process to protect against the threatened attack on gay marriage.

As you are probably aware, in his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, published on June 24, 2022, almost seven years to the day after Obergefell was published, Justice Clarence Thomas urged the Court to “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” specifically including Obergefell. Many in my community fear that this was just the endorsement that opponents of gay marriage have hoped for since 2015. Indeed, several lawmakers have already stated that they will enforce their state’s laws banning gay marriage, much in the way at least thirteen states had “trigger laws” in place to immediately ban abortion following Dobbs

In response to Justice Thomas’s remarks, and in an attempt to preempt the Supreme Court being asked to reconsider Obergefell, in July the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill intended to codify federal marriage equality. However, the bill faces strong opposition in the Senate when it is put to vote, and my community faces the very real possibility that we may lose this right and once again be considered “less than.” 

So, while the LGBTQ+ community no doubt made significant progress in the first 20 years of this century, this progress is continually under attack, and my community fears that we are in a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario. In just the first six months of 2022, even before Dobbs, we have seen a record number of anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed, much of which is targeted at my transgender brothers and sisters. These include an Alabama law criminalizing medical care for transgender youth, a Utah ban on transgender girls participating in school sports, and Florida’s law limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

In addition to this wave of recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, many states continue to criminalize same-sex relationships. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas made sodomy laws unenforceable. However, many states have refused to repeal or amend their statutes that make same-sex relations criminal acts. Until 2013, Montana’s definition of “deviate sexual conduct” included "sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex," and sodomy was still illegal in the U.S. Armed Forces. That same year, Virginia finally repealed its “lewd and lascivious cohabitation statute.” However, to date, 14 states have not yet formally repealed their laws against same-sex sexual activity among consenting adults. Often, the state’s sodomy law was drafted to include other forms of “deviant” sexual conduct such as bestiality, and states have made no attempt to separate them. Eleven states – Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina – still have statutes banning all forms of sodomy regardless of the participants' genders, and three states – Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas – specifically target their statutes at same-sex relations only. 

While you might think these laws are not enforced, and cannot be enforced under Lawrence, I note that Lawrence was one of the other decisions Justice Thomas suggested should be reconsidered in his Dobbs concurrence (meaning that two of the three decisions Justice Thomas wants to overturn are directed at the LGBTQ+ community). In response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would defend the Texas law banning same-sex relations if the Supreme Court overturns Lawrence.

This is, in my opinion, one of the most critical times in LGBTQ+ history and the fight for equality. I am thrilled that DRI is fully committed to Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in particular has provided a safe, warm, and welcoming space for me and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

We all have a story to tell, and I thank you for taking the time to read mine. This is just part of one white lesbian’s story. LGBTQ+ people of color and those with disabilities face even more discrimination, financial instability, and threats of violence. 

In recognition of the unique experiences and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee has created an LGBTQ+ Subcommittee. I am honored to serve as the first Chair of this subcommittee, which is in its infancy. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, have a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+, are simply an ally, or want to know how to create a safe and welcoming space and help erase the shame, I encourage you to become a part of LGBTQ+ Subcommittee.

Janelle Fulton

Janelle Fulton is a partner at Devine Timoney, a minority and women-owned law firm in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  She specializes in governmental liability and civil rights, products liability, transportation, and premises liability matters. She is an active member of DRI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, currently serving as Chair of the LGBTQ+ Subcommittee and a member of the Steering and Seminar Planning Committees.

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From the Foundation

Join DRI Foundation's Inaugural International Day of Service this October

 By Jodi V. Terranova

The DRI Foundation is holding its inaugural International Day of Service this October. We are encouraging all state, local and national defense organizations (SLNDOs) to participate by holding a service project of their choice. In doing so, the SLNDO’s are giving back to the community, and strengthening relationships with DRI and SLNDO’s across the country. 

The DRI Foundation is proud to announce the list of SLNDOs participating in various service projects: 

Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia
Iowa Defense Counsel Association 
Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers
Nebraska Defense Counsel Association
NC Association of Defense Attorneys
Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
SC Defense Trial Attorneys Association
Wisconsin Defense Counsel
Idaho Association of Defense Counsel
Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
Alabama Defense Lawyers Assocation
Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association, Inc.
Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association
Kentucky Defense Counsel
Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
D.C. Defense Lawyers Association
Pennsylvania Defense Institute
Philadelphia Assocation of Defense Counsel 
Illinois Defense Counsel

But, it’s not too late to participate! The DRI Foundation welcomes all SLNDOs to be part of the International Day of Service. Please register your service project at If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me, your Regional Director, the President of the DRI Foundation, Matt Keris, or the Chair of DRI Cares, Rebecca Nickelson


Foundation - NFJE Sweepstakes – SLC Challenge

The DRI Foundation is once again holding a sweepstakes at the Annual Meeting that will support the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence. The NFJE supports a strong, independent, responsive judiciary by providing officers of the courts with educational programs and other tools to enable them to perform at their highest level. 

DRI substantive Law committees (SLCs) are participating in the SLC Challenge to support the sweepstakes. SLCs will be placed into one of three groups (organized by size) who will compete against each other to see who can raise the most funds. The winning SLC from each group will be recognized at the Leadership Conference, receive a congratulatory ad in For The Defense, get one additional speaker registration for their next conference, and get a committee surprise valued at $1,000. Last year’s winners were Insurance Law, Construction Law, and Law Practice Management. Members may make a donation to support their committee using this link to the DRI Foundation webpage. 

Don’t forget to purchase tickets for the opportunity to win one of these amazing Sweepstakes Prizes. Click on one or more of the purchasing options here to participate: $50 (two tickets) or $100 (five tickets the purchase. The more tickets you have the more likely you are to win!


A Statement in Support of Our Judiciary

DRI is the world's largest international membership organization of lawyers involved in the defense of civil litigation. It is concerned about the safety of all judges because without their service the justice system cannot function. Recently, the availability of personal information about federal judges has led to the loss of family members living with federal judges and judges and their families continue to be exposed to increased risks of harm because this information is remains easily available.

Congress should take necessary steps to increase the protection afforded members of the Federal Judiciary and their families. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act now pending before Congress offers important protections to them and should be enacted by this Congress.

“A threat to our judiciary and their families equates to a threat to our justice system. Neither can be countenanced and both must be vigorously protected.”

- Kathy Guilfoyle, Chair of the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy.  

DRI's 2023 Events Calendar is Now Available!

It's time to start planning for the new year—make sure to include a DRI seminar in your 2023 plans.

2023 Events

Grab your cell phone and put on your walking shoes and join fellow attendees for a chance to earn CLE while exploring some of the fabulous local sights as part of a guided group tour. This session will feature discussions by various DRI substantive law committees with local historic landmarks serving as the starting point for some of the hot legal issues of the day! This session is not eligible for accreditation in all jurisdictions. Please check the CLE grid for states that have approved credit. If your schedule does not permit you to participate in this activity on Thursday, you may do it at your leisure on your own while in Philadelphia or from home. CLE on the GO is included in your registration fee. Go to to register.

From the Veterans Network

DRI Annual Meeting DRI Veterans Network Huddle

Members of DRI’s Veterans Network Community are encouraged to join Dan Worthington (Chair) and David Anderson (Vice Chair) for the DRI Annual Meeting Veterans’ Network huddle on Thursday, October 27, from 5:00 - 6:00 P.M. If stories, connections, and friendships are not enough, the recent passage of the PACT Act legislation will provide much to discuss over beverages, and maybe even some MREs. Be sure to register for the DRI Annual Meeting here, then RSVP that you’ll attend the Veterans Network Committee gathering by sending an email to

Not a DRI Veterans Committee Network Member? Email DRI’s Membership Team and ask to be added!

lawyerguard extra long

And The Defense Wins

DRI Members Share Their Victories


On September 23, 2022, a jury in Sacramento California returned a unanimous defense verdict in Gibbons v Sun Mingchen, tried in the United States District Court, for the Eastern District of California. DRI member Will Kronenberg represented Mr. Sun, a Chinese national and Sixt Car Rental in a case that arose from a high-speed collision between a car driven by Mr. Sun and a bicycle operated by the plaintiff during the Mammoth Gran Fondo, a 102-mile cycling event in the High Sierra of California. As a result of the collision Plaintiff sustained serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, transverse process fractures, compression fractures of the lumbar spine and a left labral tear. 

Will Kronenberg Kronenberg Law specializes in the defense of catastrophic injury, wrongful death, sexual abuse and professional liability cases. In addition to his regular litigation practice, Will Kronenberg is often brought into cases throughout the U.S. to serve as lead trial counsel. He has tried cases to verdict in both the Federal and State courts throughout California, as well as in Montana, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina

Hinkle Law Firm Win

Congratulations to attorneys Greg Young and Brian White on their jury trial victory last week! The lawsuit involved claims of wrongful death of a 41-year-old female from a saddle pulmonary embolism. Plaintiff alleged that the patient’s primary care physician failed to order appropriate testing to diagnosis and treat a deep vein thrombosis in the left lower extremity, which ultimately led to the embolism and near sudden death. Key facts included evidence that the defendant physician did not actually see or treat the patient. Instead, the physician would have reviewed and co-signed a note prepared by the treating physician assistant. The physician assistant recommended initial conservative treatment with follow-up in a week if the patient’s leg pain had not improved.  Approximately three weeks later, the patient sent a portal message to the defendant physician stating she was not feeling well and wanted to speak about it at her next appointment, but the patient did not request specific action at that time. Defense counsel presented the testimony of the physician assistant, the defendant physician, and two standard of care experts. After 8 ½ trial days, including jury deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant physician, rejecting the plaintiff’s request for $1.1 million.

Greg YoungBrian White
Greg Young    Brian White

Keep The Defense Wins Coming!

Please send 250–500-word summaries of your “wins,” including the case name, your firm name, your firm position, city of practice, and email address, in Word format, along with a recent color photo as an attachment (.jpg or .tiff), highest resolution file possible, to Please note that DRI membership is a prerequisite to be listed in “And the Defense Wins,” and it may take several weeks for The Voice to publish your win.

DRI Member News

Congratulations to DRI Members for Their Achievements

Shelly GriffinPartner Shelly Lee Griffin is the newest member of Plunkett Cooney’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group. Shelly recently joined the firm as a member of the Bloomfield Hills office, and she focuses her practice on the defense of litigation involving property coverage, first- and third-party property casualty insurance, coverage disputes, and fraud and arson investigations.  Shelly has been a DRI member since 2018.

Joseph HannaJoseph M. Hanna (DRI member since 2005) was recently honored with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, highest civil volunteerism award presented by the President of the United States. This recognition commends the tremendous work Joe does with Bunkers in Baghdad on behalf of our country’s military and veterans.

Anthony SbarraAnthony Sbarra was named as “Lawyer of the Year” in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions– Defendants in Boston. A leader in his field, Tony is often found at the cutting edge of the industry. He is an elected National Director for the prestigious Defense Research Institute (DRI), an international membership organization for all lawyers involved in the defense of civil litigation. Recognized for his trial experience, he is also an elected member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Tony has been a DRI member since 2002 currently serves on DRI’s Board of Directors and is the 2021-2022 Vice Chair of the DRI Membership Committee. 

Samuel ThompsonDRI member Samuel “Bo” Thompson (member since 2004) was welcomed as a partner of Gordon Rees Sully Mansukhani, LLP in their Raleigh office. Bo is a North Carolina native whose practice areas include professional liability defense, health care, agribusiness and toxic tort law, privacy & data security, products liability, and general liability matters.

If you have a recent achievement or recognition, you would like featured, email your news to Please note that DRI reserves the right to review all accomplishments to ensure they are adequate for publishing. All submissions will be reviewed for relevance and compliance with DRI’s mission. Submissions may be edited to conform with our standards, and space limitations.

Professional Liability
Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium


Seminar Spotlight

What We're Looking Forward To

2023 Civil Rights and Governmental Liability Seminar

January 23–25, 2023 | Las Vegas, Nevada

DRI is proud to announce the 36th annual Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability Seminar at Caesars Palace Las Vegas! This seminar will provide you with invaluable information and tools to represent your governmental clients. This year’s faculty includes preeminent insurance professionals, a renowned Supreme Court advocate and an expert public opinion jury analyst. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in an interactive presentation with a jury expert to learn how they can mold their trial theme to result in winning verdicts in connection with a police liability case before stepping into the courtroom. As always, in addition to the outstanding programing, attendees will have opportunities to network and exchange ideas, techniques, and winning strategies with experienced litigators and insurance professionals. See you in Las Vegas!

In anticipation of the gathering, here’s what our members are most looking forward to. 


Program Vice Chair Kevin P. Allen of Allen Glaessner Hazelwood & Werth said that beyond the world-class educational programming available at the seminar, attendees will also gain access to several networking events where they can speak with subject matter experts and consequently improve their practice back home. 

Additionally, Allen said Las Vegas provides “many fun things to do outside of sessions” for all attendees given the local restaurant, recreational, and cultural scene.


Program Chair Mary G. Erlingson of Erlingson Banks PLLC said this seminar will help attendees learn about national trends and legal matters that might not have reached their local jurisdiction just yet. This will allow attendees to get ahead of local trends and better serve their clients when those national matters become local.

2023 Women in the Law Seminar

January 23–25, 2023 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Now is the time to invest in yourself. After three long years of pandemic-related stressors and restrictions, afford yourself the time to refocus your energy on the future. DRI’s Women in the Law (WITL) seminar provides a multitude of opportunities for you to reenergize both your personal and professional goals.

WITL’s workshops, CLE sessions, and networking opportunities are designed to help women attorneys and their supporters take control of their professional development and prioritize their health and wellness. Expand your knowledge and learn tried-and-true networking techniques that you can put to work immediately. Enjoy WITL’s small group gatherings and also develop your connections through our partnerships with the Construction Law and Civil Rights and Governmental Liability seminars taking place simultaneously in Las Vegas.


“We want people to feel renewed and regenerated after this seminar and feel like they made meaningful connections! We want them to find solidarity among their peers. We also want them to feel welcomed and form long-lasting relationships,” said Committee Vice Chair Sandra J. Wunderlich of Tucker Ellis LLP.

Program Vice Chair Stephanie Holcombe of Porter Hedges LLC echoed the sentiment. 
“One of the reasons I enjoy going is that everyone feels burnt out at the end of the year, and this is a time to come together and jumpstart the year and feel that sense of comfort and ability to reconnect! Our seminar content has always been built to address the package of a woman professional, including her aspirations, desires, need for support and what her future looks like. The seminar also harbors a feeling of inclusivity for new people attending for the first time,” she added.


Program Vice Chair Sarah E. Thomas Pagels of Laffey Leitner & Goode LLC is excited to focus on her personal and professional development at the seminar. 

“One of the things about this seminar is this is the seminar we do for OURSELVES. This is the seminar I go to for ME,” she said.

civil rights


SLDOs Name Officers for 2022-2023 Term

10 DRI members have been named officers for the new 2022 – 2023 leadership term in their respective State and Local Defense Organization (SLDO) during the month of September.  

District of Columbia Defense Lawyers Association named DRI member Matthew D. Berkowitz as Secretary. Matthew has been a DRI member since 2015. 

Three DRI members from the Iowa Defense Counsel Association were selected for leadership roles for the new term. Sam Anderson (member since 1996) was nominated as President, Amanda Richards (member since 2013) as President Elect, and Patrick Sealey (member since 2001) as Secretary. 

Kentucky Defense Counsel, Inc. elected DRI members Kristen Fowler as President, Todd Page as President Elect, and Andrew DeSimone as Secretary-Treasurer. Kristen joined DRI in 2015, Todd joined in 1994, and Andrew joined in 2008.     

One DRI member was nominated into a leadership role for the Montana Defense Trial Lawyers. Elizabeth Hausbeck was selected as the President Elect. Elizabeth has been a member since 2008.    

DRI member Ryan Sanders (member since 2013), and a member of the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association, will be the new President for their organization.  

Tri-State Defense Lawyers Association named Marrielle B. Van Rossum as the upcoming New Hampshire President. Marrielle has been a DRI member since 2015. 

In Memoriam 

A Tribute to DRI Drug and Medical Device Steering Committee Member Mark Myhra

By Carter Thompson

Mark Myhra

Like many of you, my heart was broken over the loss of my dear friend, Mark Myhra. Some of you may not know that Mark passed away in December 2021 after a courageous six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mark graduated from high school in Great Falls, Montana. A devout Catholic, he attended college at Notre Dame. Mark served in the United States Marine Corps for five years after college. He graduated from Loyola University School of Law in Chicago and began his legal career at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. Later Mark moved to Minneapolis and joined a boutique litigation firm, Greene Espel. He spent the last fifteen years of his life as Senior Managing Counsel at Boston Scientific.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mark in the mid-90’s when our firms were engaged in the defense of a mass tort with an MDL pending in Los Angeles. That was back when computers were just beginning to come of age and were of limited use in such cases. Accordingly, Mark and I, along with others from our firms and the other two regional counsel firms, spent a lot of time together reviewing and “tagging” documents. Mark served as the leader of what he dubbed “The Aggressor Platoon,” comprised of the lieutenants in each regional counsel firm. The AP was charged with the responsibility of identifying the so-called “bad documents” and developing the strategy and likely themes of our opposition. That was a big job, and fortunately it allowed us to meet in person several times a year. It was during those sessions, and the inevitable socializing that accompanied them, that I developed one of the most important personal and professional bonds of my life--my friendship with Mark.

It lasted over 25 years.

In addition to being a smart lawyer with a nimble and imaginative mind, Mark was one of the finest human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind, compassionate, loyal, and honest. If Mark told you he would do something, it was as good as done. After our mass tort was in the history books, Mark and I did not get to spend as much time together, but we kept in touch. Whenever I spoke to Mark or had the opportunity to spend time with him, we picked up right where we left things. He was always interested in my life and the life and development of my family. Likewise, I enjoyed keeping up with the growth of Mark’s family. He was a great husband, dad, and “Papa.”

One of the first things I did when I became Chair of this committee was to appoint Mark, a long-standing member of DRI, to our steering committee. Among other things, we needed more insight from our in-house lawyers, and Mark was the perfect fit. He offered great insight and helped us tailor our programs and other offerings to appeal to our friends in-house. Along the way, I know that many of you came to appreciate and love Mark the way I did.

Mark was such a great friend, I used to tell my wife and others that Mark would be the person I would call if I was down to my last dime (later quarter--and this was all before cell phones). That is the kind of guy Mark Myhra was: A trusted friend and confidant that would do whatever it took to help a friend.

The last time I spoke with Mark, not long before he passed, Mark

• Was optimistic, but realistic (he knew he needed a miracle).

• Had a good perspective on his situation – from the time of his diagnosis, he was able to spend time with the people he loved and put his affairs in order. As he said, “not everyone gets to do that.”

• Was not worried about himself, but rather was concerned about his wife, children, and grandchildren.

Mark was the kind of guy that was not afraid to use the word “love.” I am pleased that in our last conversation months or so ago, we both said: “I love you, man.” My only regret is that I did not get one last hug before he was gone.

May Mark rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.

From comments made in Mark’s honor at the 2022 DMD Seminar September 9, 2022, in Nashville, TN.  J. Carter Thompson, a former Chair of the DRI Drug & Device Committee, is a shareholder at in the Memphis and Jackson offices of Baker Donelson and member of their Complex Tort Group.

DRI Cares

ALIVE in NASHVILLE.  Butterfly Houses, Painting, and Fundraising for a Cause  

By Jim Craven

Nashville in early September was an amazing treat.  It was great to see so many old friends and meet so many new ones.  The familiar retort of its almost back to normal was heard throughout the Omni’s corridors. The Drug and Medical Device Committee Members were thrilled to see each other in person once again.  Senior Living Seminar attendees also filled the hallways.  It was a good event.  As has been the custom for more than a decade, Drug and Medical Device Committee attendees combined their seminar with a DRI Cares Service Project.  This year it was a combined project with the Senior Living attendees.  Indeed, superstar attorney Shana O’Grady from the Senior Living team did much of the planning behind the scenes. It was brilliant.    
We partnered with a charitable organization in the local community called Alive Hospice.  Alive Hospice is the only nonprofit hospice in Middle Tennessee.  In addition to hospice care, Alive Hospice also provides caregiver support, counseling, end-of-life care education, community building, and remembrance events.  Yes, we painted Butterfly Houses for them.   The Butterfly Houses are assembled as bare wood by former prisoners from donations of old picket fences and the like.  They are eventually used in some of their remembrance ceremonies where they release butterflies in tributes with the families of loved ones.  Painting Butterfly Houses definitely was a stretch for me but with the help of stencils and some actual artists a few passed quality control.  Our volunteers actually completed a number of awesome creations that Alive Hospice will be able to use in the future.  In addition, building on the generosity of our members throughout both Seminars also collected donations and the DRI Foundation will be sending the proceeds from that collection on to Alive Hospice.     

Thanks to everyone that made this project such a success.





DRI New Members and Advocates

DRI welcomes the following members and advocates:

New Members
Harvey R. Heller, Southfield, MI                                                                    
Patricia Epstein Putney, Madison, WI                                                                
Jennifer E. Watson, Pittsburgh, PA                                                                  
Kenneth P. Horenstein, Hartford, CT                                                                 
Sarah Schaeffer-Roth, New York, NY                                                                  
Brendan Richard, Beachwood, OH                                                                      
Mark Alfred Ackal, Lafayette, LA                                                                    
Joseph A. Hargraves, Jr., Saint Louis, MO                                                           
Julia M. Rafferty, Philadelphia, PA                                                                 
Daniel E. Bryer, New York, NY                                                                       
Lisa Bellino Apelian, Philadelphia, PA                                                              
Rosalie Haug, New Orleans, LA                                                                       
John G. Tamasitis, Columbia, SC                                                                     
Heather Kirkpatrick, Walnut Creek, CA                                                               
Stephen Adams, Boise, ID                                                                            
C. Ashley Saferight, Cleveland, OH                                                                  
Kristin Elizabeth Malcolm, Decatur, GA                                                              
Chancey Miller, Chattanooga, TN                                                                     
Kristen F. Mazzeo, Philadelphia, PA                                                                 
Sandra K. Zerrusen, Akron, OH                                                                       
Lisa Anne Cumming, Philadelphia, PA                                                                 
Thomas C. Wicker, IV, New Orleans, LA                                                               
Anthony B. Taddeo, Richmond, VA                                                                     
Matthew McColl, Boise, ID                                                                           
Cynthia Arce, San Diego, CA                                                                         
Kif H. Skidmore, Lexington, KY                                                                      
Karissa Thomas Kaseorg, Richmond, VA                                                                
Nicholas D. Wilson, Charlotte, NC                                                                   
Thomas Dannehy, Hartford, CT                                                                        
Scarlett Singleton Nokes, Nashville, TN                                                             
Katelyn R. Ashton, Memphis, TN                                                                      
Eugene Tagle, Dallas, TX                                                                            
Lauren N. Vriesinga, Mount Pleasant, SC                                                             
Angela Beblo, Charleston, WV                                                                        
Mickala Lewis, Chattanooga, TN                                                                      
Megan L. Patterson, Atlanta, GA                                                                     
Brian J. Greenfield, Lindenhurst, NY                                                                
Lindy F. Bradley, Glendale, CA                                                                      
Justin Pendleton, Salt Lake City, UT                                                                
Tina Ann Dampf, Tampa, FL                                                                           
Claire Pontier, New Orleans, LA                                                                     
Jacob Reichma, New York, NY                                                                         
Jessica Reilly, Philadelphia, PA                                                                    
Kerven M. Moon, Pittsburgh, PA                                                                      
Christopher D. Snead, Louisville, KY                                                                
Aubree Winkler, Kansas City, MO                                                                     
Jennifer Forte, Tampa, FL                                                                           
Janna Sorgatz, Manitowoc, WI                                                                        
Cody TY Lyon, Midland, TX                                                                           
Karyn R. Moore, San Diego, CA                                                                       
Carl D. Marsh, Columbus, OH                                                                         
Brett A. Fountain, Monrovia, CA                                                                     
Wade Hampton Scofield, Memphis, TN                                                                  
Benjamin Ritchie, Idaho Falls, ID                                                                   
Helen Peltekci, La Verne, CA                                                                        
Kristina Dukanac, Southfield, MI                                                                    
Brittany Warren, Edwardsville, IL                                                                   
Brea L. Dearing, Jacksonville, FL                                                                   
Elyse Nicole Cohen, Berwyn, PA                                                                      
Kaitlyn M. Acerbo, White Plains, NY                                                                 
Constantina Chloe Skeadas, Boston, MA                                                               
Robert Bandy, Charleston, WV                                                                        
James L. McCoy, Southfield, MI                                                                      
Barnaby McLaughlin, Providence, RI                                                                  
Sarah Lahlou-Amine, Tampa, FL                                                                       
Anthony Joseph Renaldo, Deerfield Beach, FL                                                         
Darrell Freeman, Nashville, TN                                                                      
Jennifer Das, Hartford, CT                                                                          
Stephen Marshall Cozart, Pensacola, FL                                                              
John W. Brooks, Houston, TX                                                                         
Ben Zinnecker, Austin, TX                                                                           
Gerri Plain, Huntsville, AL                                                                         
Thomas J. Decapio, Weirton, WV                                                                      
Omar K. Barakat, Greenbelt, MD                                                                      
Derek Gillis, Boston, MA                                                                            
Emily Linehan, Denver, CO                                                                           
Kyle Zambarano, Providence, RI                                                                      
Clifford Pascarella, Boston, MA                                                                     
Shawn J. Alves, Phoenix, AZ                                                                         
Timothy John McHugh, New York, NY                                                                   
Timothy Soefje, Plano, TX                                                                           
Michaela L. Cloutier, Charleston, WV                                                                
Stephanie Michelle Lummus, Saint Louis, MO                                                          
Josephine Alyse Battles, Glen Allen, VA                                                             
Benjamin Martin, Pittsburgh, PA                                                                     
Mac Zentner, Shreveport, LA                                                                         
Gabriel M. Elorreaga, San Antonio, TX                                                               
Jacqueline A. Kapinos, Baltimore, MD                                                                
Michael Sandner, Dayton, OH                                                                         
Brooke Hamilton, Cleveland, OH                                                                      
Vivienne Alpaugh, Seattle, WA                                                                       
David S. Cottnair, Seattle, WA                                                                      
Jason Harrington, Seattle, WA                                                                       
Kimberly Reppart, Seattle, WA                                                                       
Brett T. MacIntyre, Seattle, WA                                                                     
Melinda Drogseth, Seattle, WA                                                                       
Susan Kim, Seattle, WA                                                                              
Vala Metz, Boise, ID                                                                                
Michelle Garzon, Tacoma, WA                                                                         
Ifeanyi O. Ezeigbo, Baltimore, MD                                                                   
Amy DeLisa, Seattle, WA                                                                             
Nicholas Klann, Denver, CO                                                                          
Whitney M. Antoine, New Orleans, LA                                                                 
Rose Marie Joly, Concord, NH                                                                        
Miren First, Seattle, WA                                                                            
Christine E. Tavares, Seattle, WA                                                                   
Scott D. Kelleher, West Hartford, CT                                                                
Amber Leigh Inman, Tampa, FL                                                                        
Alexander Francuzenko, Fairfax, VA                                                                  
Samantha Andrea Gonzalez, Miami, FL                                                                 
Anthony James Madormo, Chicago, IL                                                                  
Henry Goldman, Chicago, IL                                                                          
Crystal T. Dang, Houston, TX                                                                        
Giselle Mammana, Miami, FL                                                                          
John Waldron, Woburn, MA                                                                            
Lauren Spencer, Little Rock, AR                                                                     
Randy Rea, Cheyenne, WY                                                                             
Wm. Howell Morrison, Charleston, SC                                                                 
Christopher Leon, Sacramento, CA                                                                    
Robert Gundert, San Mateo, CA                                                                       
Amanda Miller, Columbia, MO                                                                         
Jane A. Laflin, Albuquerque, NM                                                                     
Kammann Cole, San Diego, CA                                                                         
Rebecca Anne Lookabaugh, Phoenix, AZ                                                                
Thomas Emala, Florham Park, NJ                                                                      
Debra Samuels, Roseville, CA                                                                        
Kristi L. Kautz, Dallas, TX                                                                         
Thomas Mazziotti, Atlanta, GA                                                                       
Dakota Knehans, Atlanta, GA                                                                         
Timothy Bishop, Brunswick, GA                                                                       
Stephen M. Koers, Indianapolis, IN                                                                  
Ronald Flack, Houston, TX                                                                           
Lisa Carrillo, Albuquerque, NM                                                                      
Stephanie Garcia, Medford, OR                                                                       
Chip Clay, Louisville, KY                                                                           
Michael J. Petherick, Chattanooga, TN                                                               
Michael Scott Rothrock, Raleigh, NC                                                                 
Noah J. Mason, Atlanta, GA                                                                          
Elizabeth Williams, Philadelphia, PA                                                                
Gretchen F. Richards, New Orleans, LA                                                               
Troy A. Lundquist, Joliet, IL                                                                       
Tiffany Sue Boutcher, Omaha, NE                                                                     
Lauren M. Poole, Nashville, TN                                                                      
Joshua Ahren Grissom, Seattle, WA                                                                   
Mabern Wall, Knoxville, TN                                                                          
Bryan Shapiro, Philadelphia, PA                                                                     
William Sweeny, Charleston, SC                                                                      
Noel Halpin, Louisville, KY                                                                         
Carlos Carmona Jr, Pembroke Pines, FL                                                               
Patrick C. Thomas, Evansville, IL                                                                   
Penn Ely, Daniel Island, SC                                                                         
Monica Dean, Atlanta, GA                                                                            
Jesse Ryan Oates, Columbia, SC                                                                      
Holly C. White, Denver, CO                                                                          
Timothy Shawn Noon, San Diego, CA                                                                   
Donnie Niehaus, Lexington, KY                                                                       
Nicole Marie Nowlin, Portland, OR                                                                   
Elizabeth Kriz, Bismarck, ND                                                                        
Justin Bennett, Fayetteville, AR                                                                    
Samantha Lansky, Woodbury, NY  
Ashley Sumner Heslop, Mount Pleasant, SC                                                            
David S. Weinstein, Miami, FL                                                                       
Stephen E. Irving, Houston, TX                                                                      
Vincent J. Palmiotto, Washington, DC                                                                
Bryan Powell Reese, Dallas, TX                                                                      
J. Tyler Dinsmore, Charleston, WV                                                                   
Brent A. Talbot, New Orleans, LA                                                                    
Sherry A. Knutson, Chicago, IL                                                                      
Howard L. Close, Houston, TX                                                                        
Kenneth P. Williams, Southfield, MI                                                                 
Toyja E. Kelley, Washington, DC                                                                     
William P. Shelley, Philadelphia, PA                                                                
Jack W. Selden, Birmingham, AL                                                                      
Kate Mercer-Lawson, Denver, CO                                                                      
Susanna Moldoveanu, Memphis, TN 

DRI Education

Upcoming Seminars


The 2022 Law Firm Leaders and Managing Partners Conference
is exploring what it means to manage a law firm in these post-pandemic times. Scarce human resources, increasing overhead expenses, cyber-security threats, and changing client expectations have come to the forefront of law firm management since the world shut down in March 2020. This conference will arm law firm leaders with knowledge from numerous sources on the best ways to address and attack the challenges law firms continue to face following the COVID-19 Pandemic!

Come join a community and support network for law firm leaders facing common challenges and learn from leading experts at sessions such as Managing the Evolving Workforce: Preparing Yourself for the Future Conditions of Law Firm Operations; Post-Pandemic Recruiting, Hiring & Retention: Keeping up with the Jones Days; and Managing Those Ever-Changing Client Expectations.


Join us in sunny San Diego for a two-day seminar that will help improve your appellate skillset and grow your network. Ideal for all attorneys who are involved in appeals, this program offers sessions on many key topics including state constitutionalism and stare decisis after the U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental recent term. Plus, attendees will benefit from tips for oral argument from both sides of the bench and principles for improving legal writing. Our diverse speaker lineup is comprised of federal appellate judges and state court justices as well as experienced appellate advocates from across the country. As a bonus, the committee is teaming up with the Asbestos Medicine Committee for a joint session on effective persuasion with Dr. Jeffrey Rachlinski from Cornell University. And, as always, there will be receptions and frequent networking opportunities with other appellate attorneys and attendees at the Asbestos Medicine and Managing Partners Conferences. This includes an incredible Premier Networking Event at the USS Midway Museum, where you’ll have the chance to network and reconnect with fellow DRI members while enjoying the floating city of the sea!

Sessions include: State Constitutionalism: State Constitutions as the Source of Different—and Greater—Civil Liberties; Appellate Lawyers to the Rescue! Strategies for Dealing with—and fixing—Preservation Mistakes; and  Feeling Fin-tastic! How to be an Effective Legal Writer (Joint Session with the Asbestos Medicine Seminar).


World-renowned cancer epidemiologist Dr. Julian Peto will be presenting a session on mesothelioma as well as joining other notable experts for an “open mic” session to answer your questions.

Open Mic Session with Doctors Julian Peto, Victor Roggli, Andrey Korchevskiy and Julie Goodman (Wednesday, November 2, 2022)

Come and participate in an informal question and answer/discussion session with these notable experts.

Dr. Julian Peto, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Institute of Cancer Research, UK
Victor Roggli, M.D., Duke School of Medicine, Durham, NC
Andrey Korchevskiy, Ph.D., DABT, CIH, C&IH, Inc., Wheat Ridge, CO
Julie Goodman, Ph.D., DABT, FACE, ATS, Gradient, Boston, MA

Worldwide Epidemiology of Mesothelioma (Thursday, November 3, 2022)
Mesothelioma rates and trends vary widely between different countries, reflecting historical differences in the use of amphibole asbestos and when it ended. For example, the ratio of British to Polish male mesothelioma rates is now 8.5 above age 75 but 0.8 below age 55, and by 2050 rates in Britain and Poland will be similar at all ages. The US and Britain used similar amounts of chrysotile per head but the US used far less amphibole, and the mesothelioma rate is 5 times higher in Britain than in the US.

Dr. Julian Peto, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Institute of Cancer Research, UK

And more! Keep an eye out for additional information on these upcoming seminars:




Quote of the Month

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start." — Jason Collins