Killing Them with Kindness

Killing Them with Kindness

Some streets over stands the baltimore firm in which he started out and became a companion. Eventually there’s one south road, domestic to goodell, devries, leech & dann, a boutique litigation firm he and his companions founded 25 years in the past. Devries grew up in ruxton, simply north of the town border but in the i-695 beltway. His father become vice president of koppers co., a fortune 500 that not exists. He could travel to the organization’s diverse manufacturing facilities and chat with the employees, going out of his manner to recognize them. This changed into the person who taught devries how a man must behave. “he spent his life operating tough and [was] completely involved within the baltimore civic community,” says devries, fingering the gold signet ring bequeathed to him through his father. The rims of the circle of relatives crest—a lion jumping on a shield over the moon and stars—inscribed on the face are worn smooth. “he was a function model for his paintings ethic, his uncompromising integrity, his humility and subject for all of his personnel and was constantly a total gentleman. He became also fairly committed to civic endeavors, and that become a big have an effect on on me. I made up my mind that all of us owe some thing to the community and need to all supply back in a few manner or some other.” devries’ manner is with the maryland institute for emergency medical offerings systems, the handiest such machine within the kingdom. These days, it boasts eleven trauma centers, 49 emergency rooms, eleven police helicopters, 500 ambulances and extra than 30,000 pre-health center vendors. However within the early nineties, it almost collapsed due to economic problems and the retirement of its founder, dr. R adams cowley. To save you that from taking place, then-gov. William shaefer formed a board to govern the entire statewide system and appointed devries chairman in 1993. Each governor on account that then has reaffirmed the appointment. Devries’ legal accolades and well-earned popularity as the best man around town would be enough to puff the chest of any lawyer. However instead of displaying off his many “excellent of” awards, it's far a plaque within the nook that devries factors to. Inscribed are the phrases “ems issuer of the year.” maybe it reminds him of his father’s civic advocacy. Or perhaps it’s that the legal huzzahs without a doubt come second to giving back. “that’s the award i’m most proud of,” he says. “there was lots of distrust due to the fact there was this management vacuum for 2 or 3 years,” says dr. Robert r. Bass, the government director of maryland’s ems systems. “it changed into don’s constant hand and his leadership that brought the device returned collectively. And in view that that time, his constant hand has maintained it. His subject matter basically is what he calls cooperative excellence. Likely his biggest contribution to the system is his potential to carry human beings collectively.” devries began out in dartmouth’s pre-med curriculum with the overall aim of earning a lab coat and stethoscope. It turned out technological know-how became not his strong in shape. He switched to history. Graduating in 1969, he entered the university of maryland college of regulation, uncertain of what he might do together with his j. D. It wasn’t till a summer season clerkship with semmes, bowen & semmes that he found his calling. At the same time as gaining knowledge of questions of evidentiary factors, he got to witness the tango of litigation. He become a goner. “all of a surprising,” he says, “the profession made lots of sense to me.” whilst semmes took him on as an companion, devries made it clean that he wanted into the court docket. Any courtroom. “returned then quite a few instances may be tried,” devries says. “obviously as an associate, i didn’t get extreme instances; however the fender benders have been there and insurance corporations in those days didn’t have massive, in-house criminal departments. It changed into a remarkable opportunity for people of my ilk to learn to get their feet at the floor in the court pretty darn quickly.” the flipside was a number of frivolous court cases. In 1985, devries was one of the attorneys appointed to a governor’s venture force on tort reform in maryland. One of the matters that came out of that changed into a requirement that inside ninety days of filing, plaintiffs needed to reap a file from an expert witness saying the lawsuit had advantage. “it’s tended to hold the acute case that has no capability advantage out of the machine,” says devries. “all of the vintage ones where we used to mention, ‘oh this man’s an fool. Why did he document that?’ the ones generally aren’t in there anymore. It has additionally tended to pay attention the malpractice instances inside the hands of fewer and less plaintiff’s lawyers who're very skilled in this area.” whilst devries wasn’t attempting his own instances at semmes, he changed into in court watching his mentor john mudd attack witnesses on the stand. “he become a totally aggressive go-examiner,” says devries. “i couldn’t imitate his style. There are regularly i want i could have, but the bottom line is we ought to do it our personal manner. My fashion is my fashion. You can practice regulation and be a gentleman. That’s been my mantra for my whole profession.” henry e. Dugan jr., a partner at dugan, babij & tolley, can attest. “one of the matters as a plaintiff’s attorney which you hate the most in a defense attorney is they’re without a doubt likable,” says dugan. “and juries don’t just find don likable, they locate him adorable. Even if he’s eviscerating an professional, he does it in a completely satisfactory manner. We’ve been going at it many times through the years, and that i continually wonder at his ability to do that. He’s the silver-haired fox.” again then, devries cherished litigation a lot, he thought: wouldn’t it be tremendous to have a firm that simplest did litigation? So in 1988, he and 3 other companions left semmes to construct simply the issue. “this turned into a sizeable event for the baltimore legal community due to the fact, previous to that point, attorneys tended to paintings for one firm for their entire profession,” devries says, acknowledging that now, there’s extensive mobility within the legal community. “we only handle instances that are in litigation or so as to contain capability litigation. We’re no longer complete-carrier,” devries says, wiping the air in the front of him as if erasing something. He gesticulates regularly. “it would be malpractice for me to put in writing you a will or give you tax recommendation. Possibly the same might be actual for all my partners.” however devries is adamant about one element—“i have the fine group of scientific malpractice legal professionals within the country. It's miles to them that i owe my achievement.” along the way to attempting over a hundred jury instances to verdict, devries has honed his courtroom skills to a razor’s edge. On the other hand, he’ll be the first to endorse a purchaser now not to draw blood. “the bottom line is there are very few cases that don’t warrant at least the thought of settlement,” he says. “statistically most cases do settle, and the settlement cost has no sliding scale. The agreement price is what each facets can finally conform to. The vintage pronouncing is real: ‘the best agreement is the type where each facets walk away unhappy.’” over the years, devries has come to be the fellow to peer for malpractice cases during maryland and washington, d. C. Medstar health, a nonprofit nearby fitness care gadget that employs over 1,three hundred physicians and handles approximately one malpractice claim each 2½ days, chooses devries as one of its go-to attorneys to deal with its biggest and most complicated cases, which includes the ones regarding neurological impairment to babies and adults. “i want any person who can establish an instantaneous rapport with a medical doctor, on occasion a high-profile health practitioner in our organization who has simply discovered himself the target of litigation,” says larry l. Smith, vice chairman of hazard management for medstar. “i don’t should do some thing greater than have don make touch with that physician and the issue can be solved. He has a manner of referring to physicians and making a right away connection that profits their believe and their self belief.” similarly impressed with devries is m. Lauree barreca, senior recommend for litigation in the johns hopkins fitness gadget. “he is someone who has the honour not simplest of the litigation part of our commercial enterprise, but also sincerely all the manner as much as the top,” she says. “if i inform my standard counsel that i’ve retained don, it'll be like, ‘good enough, we recognize the case could be satisfactory.’” in a latest case, for example, a woman became giving delivery at home within the care of a midwife, however after complications, she changed into rushed to johns hopkins, in which the kid became born with permanent physical and mental disabilities. Moved via the child’s injuries, the jury offered $55 million to the parents. However devries didn’t permit pass. He argued on enchantment that the defense must had been allowed to introduce evidence of the midwife’s alleged negligence, to illustrate that the baby’s accidents had passed off at domestic beneath her care. In 2013, the court docket of unique appeals vacated the judgment and ordered a new trial. “i suppose he led [the case] through along with his team very well to get us to wherein we needed to be,” says barreca, “information genuinely pretty early on we weren’t going to win this, however we were going to maintain the report for an attraction. [that] changed into the motive we had been able to in the end get someone to extra rationally observe the statistics and the reversal changed into granted.” the plaintiffs appealed the reversal, but on oct. 21, 2013, the courtroom of appeals denied their appeal. “the case has been remanded returned to circuit courtroom to be attempted over again,” devries says. “i’ll get a second bite of the apple.”