“ What I like most about the law is helping injured people and their families. I especially like the fact that most cases we work on are on a contingent fee basis where our own compensation is tied to what we are able to do to help the client. ”
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I handle primarily workers’ compensation and a wide variety of personal injury cases. I also participate in most of the appeals that the firm is involved in. I have lived in Pittsburgh most of my life. I went to college at Duquesne University and went to law school at the University of Pittsburgh. My wife is from Fayette County and she is retired from a career in nursing. We raised our two children here.
I became a lawyer because my father and several of my uncles were lawyers. My sister became an attorney as well. Debating issues was always a big part of our family. My brother, for example, is a career diplomat and probably was inspired by the same background.
What I like most about the law is helping injured people and their families. I especially like the fact that most cases we accept are on a contingent fee basis, where our own compensation is tied to what we are able to do to help the client. I think that helps build a better relationship between the attorney and client.
- Stapas v. Giant Eagle, ___ A.3d ___, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 6046, 2018 WL 6070787 (Pa. 2018)
- Cordes v. Ray, 87 A.3d 829 (Pa. Super. 2014)(En Banc)
- Hyrcza v. West Penn Allegheny Health System, 978 A. 2d 961 (Pa. Super. 2009)
- Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F. 3d 224 (3d Cir. 2008)
- Gann v. W.C.A.B. (MBS Management), 792 A. 2d 701 (Pa. Commw. 2002)
- Quinn v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, 1998 WL 667423 (Pa. Commw. 1998)
- United States v. Cross, 128 F. 3d 145 (3d Cir. 1997)
- Buzzelli v. Port Auth. of Allegheny County, 674 A.2d 1186 (Pa. Commw. 1996)
Other Information about Mike:
University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1989, magna cum laude; Duquesne University, B.A., 1981; North Allegheny High School, 1977
Certified as a Specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. July 1, 2015 – July 1, 2020
Honors and Awards
Pennsylvania Super Lawyers: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Law school: Law Review 1987-9, Order of the Coif 1989; George I. Bloom Scholarship, (1st Year Award) 1987; Benjamin H. Teplitz Award, (Highest GPA, 3rd Year) 1989; Military: Graduated with honors (top 10%) Marine Corps Basic Officer’s School, Quantico, VA 1982; Combat Action Ribbon, Beirut, Lebanon 1983
Membership & Associations
Allegheny County Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2015 to present; Allegheny County Bar Association, Member; Pennsylvania Bar Association, Member; Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, Member
United States Marine Corps, Captain, 1982 – 1988; Union roofer 1977-1980 (summer employment)
Some of my most rewarding cases:
- One was a medical malpractice case involving a substantial jury verdict in Allegheny County obtained on behalf of the wife and three small children of a young father who went to a local hospital with chest pain and died the next morning, after being sent home from the hospital completely misdiagnosed. I still see the family on occasion and it is very rewarding to know that we were able to help the family go on without their husband and father.
- Another was a workers’ compensation case involving a worker diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after having been involved in the cleanup of the US Air Flight 427 crash scene in 1994. In addition to simply helping this individual by winning the case, the evidence we were able to develop was extremely gratifying. While we were litigating the case, the client had some testing done which even the defense doctor had to admit provided objective evidence that my client had suffered a mental injury. Often these cases are not given credence by insurance companies, judges, employers, and even the public, so we were fortunate in this case that sophisticated testing demonstrated the veracity of our client’s problems.
- More recently, we were involved in a case which I believe shows the extraordinary lengths that this firm will go to represent a client. Our client was the widow whose husband, we believed, was a victim of medical malpractice in connection with a misdiagnosis of the precursors of a stroke. The husband eventually suffered a fatal stroke. During jury selection, we objected to two jurors who had family members being treated by the defendant doctor, and one who was an employee of the entity which owned the physician’s practice. The trial judge refused to strike these jurors. Not surprisingly, we suffered an adverse jury verdict. We filed post trial motions with the trial judge, pointing out case law which we thought showed that his decision not to exclude the jurors was in error. The trial judge denied the motions. Then, we appealed to the Superior Court. After extensive legal briefings and oral argument, we lost a two- to-one decision in front of that Superior Court three judge panel. Because we felt strongly that we were correct, rather than give up, we petitioned for the full Superior Court to hear the case (known as “en banc”). Such petitions are rarely granted. Fortunately, our petition was granted, and we moved on to a new round of the appeal process. After another round of extensive briefings and another oral argument, this time before an expanded eight-judge panel, we finally prevailed by a six to two margin, winning a new trial for the client and establishing an important precedent for all victims of medical malpractice.
More About Mike:
- Favorite Movie: The Outlaw Josey Wales.
- Favorite Artist: Bruce Springsteen.