The Trial Lawyer Winter 2018 - Page 14

TOP40UNDER40 Paul M. da Costa Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC New Jersey foreperson announced the $1.5 million verdict. Full justice had been served. What was the first job you had? My first legal job was with a mid-sized civil litigation defense firm. I was assigned a variety of different types of cases, including auto, premises liability, asbestos and products liability. The best aspects of the job was the courtroom experience and deposition experience I obtained early and often. What’s your proudest moment as a trial lawyer? My proudest moment as a trial lawyer was receiving my first seven-figure verdict. It was a medical malpractice case where the defendant ob/gyn perforated my client’s uterus and bowel during a D&C hysteroscopy. Since the perforations were recognized intraoperatively and did not require a colostomy, my client’s damages were not valued to be more than low six-figures by the defense and the trial judge. The defense minimized my client’s damages and called into question the veracity of her psychological claims. To that end, my client was disturbed by the fact her abdomen was quite distended for several months, which resulted in various people assuming she was pregnant. My client and I ultimately explained to the jury the core truth of her mental distress, which was that she and her husband had attempted for several years to get pregnant but were never successful. Although they ultimately adopted two beautiful children, the fact my client looked pregnant for the first, and only time, in her life due to the negligence of the defendant was traumatic to her. I will never forget the tears my client shed when the 12 x The Trial Lawyer I attribute my success to… The unwavering support and faith in me that I receive from my wife, Ingrid, every single day. She understands and supports my drive and passion to obtain justice for my clients, as well as all the long hours away from her and our beautiful children that comes with being a trial lawyer. I also attribute my success to my yearning to always become a better trial lawyer, which means I am always reading trial skills books and attending various CLEs. What is your most notable verdict or settlement? My most notable verdict would probably be an $8.5 million verdict in a medical malpractice case. My client was 17 years old when she was diagnosed with a cyst on her left thyroid lobe, and we claimed that the defendant general surgeon should have never performed surgery. Rather, we alleged that my client only needed a biopsy that would have been negative. Unfortunately, my client and her parents were scared into a surgery because the defendant convinced them it was likely a cancerous mass in her left thyroid lobe. Ultimately, the defendant ended up removing both thyroid lobes and neither had any cancer upon pathological review. My client required life-long hormone replacement medication, and she developed emotional injuries in the form of PTSD. What is your guilty pleasure? I would have to say single malt scotch, especially after a good day in the courtroom. What do you like to do in your time off? Spending time with my wife, kids — NTL MEMBERSHIP NEWS & NOTES — and our dog, which a lot of the time involves getting outdoors and going fishing and spending time on the lake. What’s your favorite hobby? Bass fishing with my sons. What’s one word that describes you? Tenacious. I do not allow any defendant or expert to get away with a non-answer, and I will never cease trying to get the truth before a jury. What keeps you awake at night? Responsibility. The serious responsibility I feel for my family, my legal team made up of partners, associates and paralegals, and of course to my clients and their pursuit of justice. What newspaper do you generally read daily? I read my home state’s paper, New Jersey Star Ledger, The New York Times and the AP’s and MSNBC’s mobile content. What advice would you give a young attorney? I think young attorneys should appreciate that this is a wonderful profession and not a job. They should try to understand that there is no replacement for hard work and dedication. They should identify successful attorneys and figure out what makes them successful. And, I would tell all young attorneys to be brave and bold in chasing justice for their clients! What’s your most embarrassing moment in life? Too many to pick from… but I think falling into a pot of cactuses while trying to catch a football is a strong contender.