John ("Fitz") Fitzpatrick is the epitome of a trial lawyer's trial lawyer. For more than 30 years, he has been in the trenches, steadily trying in excess of 220 cases to verdict in over 40 states, and obtaining defense verdicts in the vast majority of those cases. Fitz has truly developed a reputation as the go-to, bet-the-company trial attorney for high-exposure, catastrophic matters. His cases have involved allegations of injury attributable to medical devices, pharmaceuticals, asbestos, medical malpractice, infant car seats, natural gas explosions, and stray voltage from power companies.
High-stakes Cases Nationwide
Fitz's experience ranges from class action lawsuits involving both consumer products and employment issues to bad faith insurance claims to birth trauma and traumatic brain injury cases. His ability to quickly assess a case, tell a story, and charm a jury contributes to his exemplary record of success and has resulted in his being retained as lead trial counsel in high-exposure cases involving nationally recognized companies. Fitz's clients include General Electric, AT&T, Yum! Brands, Allstate, Family Dollar, and Evenflo. He is also national trial counsel to major insurance companies, such as ACE, Aegis, AIG, CNA, Electric Insurance Mutual, and Premier, for catastrophic, product liability, toxic tort, medical malpractice, and personal injury claims.
Clients often call on Fitz to parachute into a trial two to three weeks before jury selection and get up to speed—if not set the pace—very quickly. Recent evidence of this includes a two-week asbestos wrongful death trial in Philadelphia in the fall of 2013, in which he was engaged three weeks before trial and, after all the arguments were heard, obtained a complete defense verdict from the jury following just 15 minutes of deliberations.
In addition to representing top companies in their high-stakes trials, Fitz is national trial counsel for asbestos personal injury and wrongful death cases for General Electric, Foster Wheeler, Leslie Controls, Velan, and Dana Corporation.
Just since joining WTO in 2007, Fitz has tried over 30 cases to verdict in 10 states and many of the so-called "judicial hellholes" for corporate America, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Madison County, Illinois. He frequently presents to corporate counsel around the country on how to select experienced trial lawyers for high-exposure cases.
National Specialized Litigation Teams
In addition to asbestos personal injury and wrongful death, Fitz has extensive experience trying medical malpractice actions throughout the United States. Since 2006, Fitz has tried over 30 high-exposure medical malpractice cases to verdict in 16 states and prevailed in 95% of them. He has won defense verdicts in highly charged cases involving birth trauma, brain injury, spinal injury resulting in paralysis, and death.
Fitz's first medical malpractice trial, in Virginia in 1989, led to creation of the largest medical malpractice team in that state over the next 20 years. Fitz generally had three to five of the top defense verdicts in Virginia in any given year. His expertise in cases involving babies who suffered brain damage at birth led CNA Insurance to appoint him national trial counsel for birth trauma cases in 2002, and then to assist CNA in selecting a national birth trauma team, which has since evolved into a national catastrophic injury team. In 2005, Fitz was named CNA's 2004 Health Pro Litigator of the Year. Fitz has also served as national trial counsel for high-exposure medical malpractice cases for insurers Premier and AIG, and large hospital groups such as MedStar Health and Universal Health Services.
A former concert pianist and Army Airborne Ranger, Fitz began his legal career in 1981 with the U.S. Army JAG Corps as a prosecutor trying criminal cases in Colorado. He became the Eighth Army Division's Chief Prosecutor in South Korea in 1983 before being selected as the senior medical malpractice attorney for the U.S. Army Tort Branch at the Pentagon in 1986. There he tried 12 civil cases to verdict in federal courts across the country before entering private practice in Richmond, Virginia, in 1988. Fitz's civilian trial career started when he was selected as the youngest national trial counsel for Owens-Corning's asbestos trial team in 1989.
Brought in just three weeks before jury selection, WTO won a complete defense verdict on behalf of Dana Corporation in an asbestos wrongful-death trial in Philadelphia. Bancroft v. Dana Companies et al (No. 2273, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, PA).
Won a jury verdict in Cook County, Illinois on behalf of General Electric in an asbestos "duty-to-warn" case involving power plant land turbines. Mulcahy v. Rapid American Corp., No. 08-L-006223 (Circuit Court of Cook County, IL).
Obtained a defense jury verdict for Leslie Controls, the sole remaining defendant at trial after other defendants settled. A jury deliberated for just 20 minutes before deciding our client was not liable for the plaintiff's mesothelioma. Pelletier v. Alfa Laval Inc , No. BC381497 (California Superior Court).
Won defense verdicts in simultaneous trials for Foster Wheeler in Los Angeles, CA, and Iowa City, IA.
Won a defense verdict after five weeks of trial in Massachusetts in a living mesothelioma case, the first asbestos case tried to verdict in Boston in 10 years.
Obtained the first defense verdict for Foster Wheeler in an asbestos personal injury case in California.
Won the first asbestos wrongful death defense verdict for General Electric in Madison County, IL, one of the top "judicial hellholes" for corporate America as featured in The Wall Street Journal.
Won a defense verdict in federal court in Spokane, Washington, on behalf of Easterday Farms in a high exposure personal injury case involving a tractor-trailer collision. Sparta Insurance Co. et al v. Garfias et al (2:12-cv-05051, U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Washington).
Won a jury defense verdict in Louisiana in a premises liability case in which a sign in an AT&T store fell and injured a child. Kelly-Williams v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, et al., 231,347 (Ninth Judicial District Court, Parish of Rapides, LA).
Won a defense verdict for Pizza Hut/Yum! Brands in liability case stemming from an automobile accident involving a delivery driver. Shaw v. Pizza Hut, No. 8:08-27 (M.D. Fl. Jun. 10, 2009).
Won a defense verdict for Pizza Hut/Yum! Brands in a liability case involving traumatic brain injury and over $3.5 million in damages following an accident involving a Pizza Hut delivery vehicle. Fletcher v. Pizza Hut, No. 08cv00816 (E.D.Va. Feb. 27, 2009).
Defended the appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals of a 2011 medical malpractice defense jury verdict that WTO won on behalf of Washington Hospital Center in a case involving a baby born with brain damage. Parker v. Washington Hospital Center Corp., CAM5669-09 (D.C. Court of Appeals).
Won a unanimous defense decision for a Philadelphia psychiatric hospital in a seemingly unwinnable two-day medical malpractice arbitration involving the death of a patient killed in an auto accident hours after being discharged.
Won a complete defense verdict for a Florida hospital in a three-week medical malpractice trial. The case involved a baby who suffered cerebral palsy after a rare delivery complication. The plaintiff sued the hospital for $7 million, claiming complications could have been avoided had a C-section been performed. The WTO team successfully argued the complication was unpredictable and unpreventable, and the doctors actually saved the mother and child. Guettler v. Indian River Memorial Hospital, 31-1010-CA-10427 (19th Judicial Circuit, Indian River, Florida).
Won a defense verdict for Washington Hospital Center in a $40 million medical malpractice lawsuit that involved a severely brain-damaged baby. Temelso v. Washington Hospital Center Corp., 2009 CA 002144 M (Superior Court of the District of Columbia).
Affirmed on appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals our unanimous defense jury verdict for a hospital after a three-week trial in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs alleged the doctor provided less than the standard of care, resulting in an infant's cerebral palsy. WTO established the child's condition was attributable to his 14-week premature birth. Doe ex rel. Parker v. Washington Hospital Center Corp., Civil Case No. 2009 CA 005669 M (D.C. Super. Ct. Mar. 22, 2011) .
Represented a hospital in a four-week trial in California involving special damages in excess of $10 million in claims relating to the care of an adult male with brain damage. The jury returned a verdict of $6 million, but also found the plaintiff 75% contributory negligent. After the setoff from settling the defendant, WTO's client owed only $37,000.
Won a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case in Florida involving permanent brain injury to a well-known plaintiff's lawyer. WTO was asked to take over the case two weeks into trial and after both local and regional defense counsel recommended settling the case for $12-15 million.
Obtained a defense verdict in a New Hampshire trial involving the death of a 63-year-old man following complications from gall bladder surgery. With just two weeks' notice, WTO demonstrated that an empty oxygen tank, which the decedent used for supplemental oxygen shortly before his cardiac arrest, did not cause his death. Ultimately, the jury agreed.
Successfully defended a spine surgeon in a two-week trial in South Carolina brought by a paralyzed plaintiff who blamed the surgeon for not recognizing the early signs of paralysis.
- District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
LeClair Ryan, P.C., 1996-2006
Wright, Robinson, Osthimer & Tatum, 1988-1995
American Board of Trial Advocates
Denver Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action Defense Lawyer of the Year, 2013
Mass Tort/Class Action Litigation, 2007-2011, 2013-2015
Medical Malpractice Defense Law, 2007-2011, 2013-2015
Personal Injury Litigation, 2007-2011, 2013-2015
Product Liability Litigation, 2007-2015
Professional Malpractice Law, 2007-2011, 2013-2015
Product Liability - National, 2008-2014
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2008-2014
The Legal 500 United States
Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense, 2010, 2012-2013
Colorado Super Lawyers
Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice, 2008-2014
Top 100, 2014
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2014
Medical Malpractice - Colorado, 2011-2014
Product Liability - Colorado, 2011-2014
Virginia Super Lawyers
Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice, 2006-2007
Personal Injury Defense: Products, 2006-2007
Martindale-Hubbell AV® Peer Review Rated
General Electric's Asbestos Section of the Environmental Law Division
Outside Counsel of the Year, 2008
Law Week Colorado
Lawyer of the Year, 2008
The Network of Trial Law Firms
Defense Research Institute
United States Army
Major, Airborne Ranger, Prosecutor, Senior Trial Attorney,