Our Trial Experience

While some personal injury cases settle, some deserve to go to trial. Here’s a story about one of DWKMRS’s many trial experiences.


Read The Full Opinion:

|The victory was a long time coming.

After five years and two trials, DWKMRS partners William Ruffier and Ken McKenna won $2.15 million dollars for a client who was injured by a surgeon during what was supposed to be a routine procedure.

|We began with a doctor who didn’t do his job.

Our client’s journey began in 2009 when her ureter was lacerated during a hysterectomy performed in a Florida surgical center. If the physician had performed a simple test during surgery, the laceration could have been easily discovered and repaired while she was still on the operating table. The surgeon chose not to run the test, and as a result, our client had severe complications including having to wear a urine bag for months before corrective surgery could be performed.

|We had courtroom drama.

During the first trial in 2012, the attorneys were called up to the judge’s bench to discuss an issue. Attorney Ken McKenna noticed a Post-it note, on which the judge had scribbled an offensive note obviously referencing our client and her urine bag. McKenna called out the judge, wondering how he could be fair and impartial when he obviously felt such contempt toward our client. The judge crumpled up the note, threw it in the trash, and the case went on to a defense verdict.

Ruffier encouraged the client to appeal and seek a new trial based on the judge’s misconduct. The verdict was overturned on appeal, with the appellate court commenting on the trial judge’s disrespect. (Read the opinion for yourself in the document to the right.) At the end of the second trial in 2015, Ruffier and McKenna were able to prove the physician’s negligence and their client’s perseverance was rewarded with a $2.15 million dollar jury verdict.

|We also had persistence, and an unwavering belief in the truth.

Let there be no doubt: our attorneys felt pressure to accept the losing verdict of the first trial. But as a firm, we believed in this case enough to try it again. During the second trial, the defense urged our client to drop the case and walk away. She did not. Her courage, combined with our resources and dedication, earned her a verdict reflective of her injuries which has allowed her to start her life again.


Read about the case:

Watch DWKMRS partner Ken McKenna discuss

why insurance companies want you to settle instead of going to trial:

This story was first seen in the print copy of the DWKMRS Tort Report, mailed to clients, attorneys, and community supporters. Want to get on the list? Sign up below.
In our latest edition, we celebrate our staff, many of whom have been at the firm for over ten years. Here’s a profile of our office administrator Robin Neill, who celebrates her tenth work anniversary this year:

Ten Minutes With… Robin Neill, Firm Administrator at DWKMRS

Every herd needs a wrangler (especially a law office with 9 attorneys and 13 staff members), and Robin Neill is the one who wrangles at DWKMRS. In her ten years at the firm, she’s overseen one firm name change, one complete interior renovation, three computer upgrades, and the addition of three new attorneys to the firm. One thing that’s stayed the same? The office’s tight-knit team.

Before working at DWKMRS, I… managed a Sonic drive-in franchise in Colorado. I started at DWKMRS in 2006 as the bookkeeper.

At the firm, my responsibilities include… vendor relationships, all the HR, and managing marketing, IT, and equipment. Bill Tonelli calls me the “go-to girl.” I get so many calls that “Help desk!” is how I sometimes answer the phone.

Outside of work, I… hang out with my family, including my husband of 16 years and my son (11) and daughter (13). We just moved within the Oviedo area, where I’ve coached Lake Howell Pop Warner cheerleading for the past six years.

The staff would say that I’m… their advocate. That my door is always open to them.

The attorneys would say that I’m… a horrible speller! My nickname is “Spelling Bee Dropout.”

My proudest accomplishment at the firm is… we have an office that feels like family.

Trial Experience Infographic

The staff says, “I’ll never forget that one time when…”

“I won the office chili cook-off, a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank.” Donna Charrier

“Several of us stood looking out Bill Tonelli’s office window watching Bob Dellecker argue with the meter guy who had ticketed him.” Joy Moutinho

“Brian Wilson did the ‘nae nae’ at the end of the year luncheon.” Betsy Herwig

Making Wishes Come True

All of the attorneys at DWKMRS have deep roots in community service. Learn more at our Community Connections page, and read about partner Doug Martin’s recent experience here:

On April 9, 2016, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida hosted the 22nd Annual Wishmaker’s Ball at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The event was a huge success and raised over $750,000 that will be used to grant the wishes of more than 90 local children battling life-threatening medical conditions. This tops last year’s donations of $640,000.

DWKMRS partner Doug Martin has been a Make-A-Wish board member for the past seven years, and is passionate about the foundation’s work. As board members, Martin and his colleagues review wishes made by Central and North Florida children. Says Martin: “It’s about hope. It’s about giving a child and their family something to look forward to when they are dealing with some of the most difficult moments of their lives.”

Interested in getting involved with Make-A-Wish? Visit cnfl.wish.org.