My one-year term as President of the Maryland Association for Justice ended last night at our Annual Presidents Dinner in Baltimore, MD. The event was held at the Hilton which overlooks Camden Yards. Robert Zarbin is now the President of MAJ. Mr. Zarbin is going to be an incredible leader, and he has done a fantastic job as Legislative Chairman this year.
I am proud of our accomplishments this year. Our legislative team had an amazing year and we passed 3 new laws that will help our clients who are injured in Maryland car accidents. One of the new laws increases the minimum limits of liability insurance from $20,000.00/$40,000.00 to $30,000.00/$60,000.00. This is the first time these minimal limits have been increased since 1972. I am also very proud of the strides Maryland Association for Justice made in the area of Membership. We gained over 210 new members in the last year. MAJ has an incredible staff (our Executive Director David Walls is top notch), an energized Board of Governors, and an engaged membership.
Last night was a great event. There were many notables there including Governor O’Malley, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Judge Harrell from the Court of Appeals and many other Judges, State Delegates, U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil from the Eastern Shore, MD and several State Senators including Senator Garagiola from Montgomery County and Delegate Joe Vallario (Chair of House Judiciary Committee). One of the highlights for me was hearing U.S. Congressman Bruce Braley speak about the civil justice system. Bruce Braley is a trial lawyer from Iowa who was elected to U.S. Congress a couple of years ago. He is at the forefront of holding big corporations like BP (British Petroleum), Toyota, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce accountable and honest in their presentations to Congress. Last night several videos were played of Congressman Braley cross examining witnesses in committee hearings in order to get the truth out to the American People. We are lucky to have a trial lawyer like him there.
Baltimore trial lawyer Henry Dugan, George Tolley and Bruce Babij won the trial lawyer of the year award. Henry Dugan gave a very moving a philosophical speech about the importance of the civil justice system, and in particular, the subpoena. He won the award for the McQuitty case in which his firm obtained a $13 Million dollar verdict in a case that had been rejected by 4 other law firms before coming to his firm. The case went to the Maryland Court of Appeals, and it made new law in Maryland regarding informed consent and essentially held that a patient must receive information about the risks and treatment options before undergoing medical treatment. As a result of this case, medical doctors in Maryland are now being trained to give more information to patients about treatment options than they were previously.
As I leave office, I feel very lucky to have had the privilege of serving as the MAJ President. Our Association does amazing things for the community and for our injured clients. As I am now getting involved in representing businesses and individuals harmed by the BP Oil Spill, and seeing what they are going through as a result of the gross negligence of BP, Transocean and Haliburton, I feel stronger than ever that open access to the civil justice system is absolutely necessary in a democratic and capitalistic society.