20 SUPERLAWYERS.COM A T TORNE YS SELEC TED TO SUPER LA WYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
severe and sudden burning facial pain. A
neurologist prescribed her Tegretol to dull
the pain, which worked for a while, but she
eventually needed a more invasive solution.
Before she chose one of three possible
procedures, however, a neurosurgeon at
Johns Hopkins requested a CT scan, which
revealed a cyst in her skull. Though not
cancerous or life-threatening, the cyst was
a possible cause of her facial pain, the
doctor explained, and should be removed.
“I remember getting a call after the
operation to come back to the hospital,”
Staton says. His chin trembles and
his voice begins to crack. “She had
experienced bleeding in the brain that
they couldn’t stop. She ended up with
severe brain damage. She had cognition.
She understood her circumstance, but
had no control of her motor function.” He
holds up his hand. “I’m sorry,” he says.
“This is really hard.”
He grabs a tissue and wipes his eyes.
“She was stuck in a body that was her
prison,” he says. “She had to suffer the
indignity of me cleaning her. I would go
and read the paper to her, read books
to her. Back in those days, I didn’t have
a car. I’d walk there from my apartment
downtown and stay until visiting hours
Bleeding during surgery had been
caused by thrombocytopenia, a
reduction of blood platelets caused by
the Tegretol. The reduction meant she
couldn’t clot, which is what caused the
uncontrollable bleeding. Staton says
that if her platelet level was checked pre-
operatively, as it should have, this could
have been avoided.
Staton presented his case to
malpractice attorney Marvin Ellin, a
partner at Ellin & Baker. Ellin was so
impressed with Staton’s confident
demeanor and knowledge of the
medicine that he not only took the case,
but offered him a job.
Staton’s mother was transferred from
Johns Hopkins to a nursing home, where
she spent the last few years of her life. She
died at 56. Her case was resolved with an
“Very, very infrequently, I will tell clients
my story when they think that I don’t get
it,” Staton says.
At Ellin & Baker, Staton worked on
such things as motor torts and workman’s
comp cases. “I was not immediately
immersed into medical malpractice
cases,” he explains, “because experienced
lawyers don’t just put new lawyers in
position to screw up a high-value case.
I was mentored by Jon [Schochor], who
would take me along to depositions and
I would sit there with my mouth shut and
my ears open.”
“Kerry’s learning curve has been
exponential,” says Schochor. “He
absorbed the medicine as if he were
going to medical school. He was one
of those rare lawyers who can combine
his legal acumen with his medical
knowledge and present his case in an
articulate, well-reasoned, passionate and
One day, Staton was called into the office
library, where a family he’d never seen
before was seated at a conference table.
Ellin informed the family Staton would be
handling their jury trial. In two hours.
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