I am grateful for the kind words about me and my work in Erik Wemple’s “Malpractice Makes Perfect” (5/23), and I can understand the not-so-kind words. It is not unusual for observers to question the motives of people who try to do good. Perhaps our city would be in better shape if more gave back regardless of motives. I am satisfied with my work to date if your second lead is really true: “Doctors and opposing lawyers think Jack Olender is the devil. His clients believe he’s their guardian angel.”
A few points do require clarification.
The $2.5-million verdict in Moore v. Washington Hospital Center in 1976 was the first seven-figure obstetric malpractice verdict in the country; it was not the first seven-figure malpractice verdict. And the $10-million verdict in Leahy v. Drs. Safran & Horwitz, Chartered, in 1988, was the largest malpractice verdict in the District of Columbia and not the largest verdict of any nature.
An anonymous local defense lawyer is quoted as saying, “Ninety percent of [Olender’s] client base is disadvantaged African-Americans in the District.” If that were true, I would be proud to represent that segment of our city. Although I don’t consider the color of my clients’ skin as relevant to anything, and we don’t note or keep records of such things, I would estimate that our clientele pretty much follows the demographics of the District of Columbia: two-thirds black and one-third white and other. A substantial number of our clients, black and white, are not “disadvantaged,” unless professionals are considered disadvantaged.
The article reports that I said a disgruntled former employee was lying about a grievance he publicized. I did not accuse him of “lying.” I indicated that my perception was that the incident did not take place the way he perceived it. In fact, both an independent investigation and the appropriate government agency found that there was no basis for the grievance.
The article reports that the District is one of the few jurisdictions that haven’t imposed limitations on malpractice damage awards. In fact, a very substantial minority of states have no caps on malpractice damage awards, and the District of Columbia is one of that substantial minority.
My disappointment with the article is the failure to give prominent mention to the associates in Jack H. Olender & Associates. I am proud of the team of excellent lawyers and staff that we have developed. They are part of whatever success I have attained. Out of eight lawyers on the team, four have served as president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. In this law firm, we are developing some of the best trial lawyers in the country, and most of them are intimately involved in community activities, teaching, and mentoring. They try to give back and make a difference. I am very proud of them.