Fenwick Secures Settlement for Pro Bono Client Denied Medical Care

Mountain View, Calif. (December 9, 2014)– Fenwick & West secured a significant settlement on behalf of one of the firm’s pro bono clients, a state prisoner who was denied medical care for appendicitis and a ruptured appendix. Fenwick was assigned to the case through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Federal Pro Bono Project.

The client asserted that despite increasingly urgent formal pleas for medical services, he was denied medical care at the prison until his condition was so severe that he was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital where he was treated for a ruptured appendix and infection. The client’s ruptured appendix was initially inoperable due to the severe infection, which had abscessed. After being treated at the hospital for a week, he returned to prison where he was initially given follow-up medical care and antibiotics for the remaining infection. However, the client asserted that after he filed a formal appeal regarding his designated doctor’s refusal to treat him before the hospitalization, he was again denied medical care at the prison and experienced a relapse of appendicitis.

Prior to Fenwick’s involvement in the case, the court had granted summary judgment in favor of two of the three defendant doctors.Once appointed to the case, Fenwick attorneys filed a motion for reconsideration of the court’s summary judgment order. Fenwick’s pro bono team convinced the court to partially vacate its prior order of summary judgment as to the two defendant doctors. Fenwick’s pro bono team also defeated another summary judgment motion subsequently filed by one of the defendants.

With trial set for November, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation settled the case in favor of Fenwick’s client. “This victory highlights Fenwick’s strong litigation expertise and our attorneys’ dedication to fighting for justice on behalf of pro bono clients,” noted litigation partner Patrick Premo, chair of the firm’s pro bono practice.

The Fenwick team that worked diligently for months to secure this win includes associates Melanie Mayer, Ewa Davison and Jeffrey Ware; they received support and advice from litigation partners Lynn Pasahow and David Tellekson.

Fenwick’s nationally recognized pro bono program includes a broad range of client representations across all the firm’s practice groups. Over the past five years, Fenwick attorneys and staff have completed nearly 50,000 pro bono hours valued at roughly $20 million in legal fees.

Fenwick has received several awards in 2014 for its exemplary commitment to pro bono work, including the San Francisco Business Times’ Community Impact Award, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Beacon of Justice Award and the San Mateo County Legal Aid Society’s Guardian of Justice Award. The National Law Journal selected Fenwick for its 2014 Pro Bono Hot List; Fenwick was one of only 10 law firms in the United States to receive this recognition.

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