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Lori G. Cohen faces some daunting odds in convincing juries that her clients are not the bad guys. Opposing injured children or bereaved mothers, her job is to show that their misfortune did not come at the hands of her clients. “You have to have genuine empathy in the plaintiff’s plight,” she said. “You really can’t act like you have it. You actually have to have it.” At 43, Cohen has proven that she is a formidable force in the courtroom. In the past 14 months alone, she has won defense verdicts in three key cases that presented big challenges for her clients. A partner in Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office, Cohen is said to be a natural in the courtroom, demonstrating compassion, intelligence and humor. “She has tremendous people skills,” said Susan Forsling, a judge in the State Court of Fulton County, Ga. “She’s extraordinarily personable and professional.” In January, Cohen won a defense verdict in a $78 million case against medical device giant Medtronic Inc., which manufactures pacemakers. The three-month trial, in the Stamford Superior Court in Connecticut, involved a 23-year-old woman who had been in a vegetative state for nine years. The plaintiff in Hurley v. Medtronic, No. X05-CV-000177475S, argued that the Medtronic sales representative, who was present during a doctor-patient visit, failed to warn the plaintiffs about the pacemaker, making the company liable for the injuries. The plaintiff was born with a congenital heart defect and suffered cardiac arrest when she was in eighth grade. Specifically, the plaintiff asserted that the sales representative failed to warn of the potential dangers of reducing the rate at which the pacemaker was set. The jury, after deliberating for two hours, determined that the sales representative’s conduct did not nullify the warnings in the product’s technical manual approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “It was a potentially very dangerous case,” Cohen said. She added that the outcome helped determine the impact of medical sales representative’s conduct to a company’s liability. A major concern for Cohen in the Medtronic case, as in many other cases she takes on, was the jurors’ expected sympathy for a plaintiff who goes up against a medical giant. “That dichotomy was always present,” she said. Finding a way to acknowledge the hardships while simultaneously convincing a jury that her client was not the culprit was key. “You have to know how to talk and relate to a jury,” she said. Representing the plaintiff was James Horwitz, a partner at Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, Conn. Horwitz declined comment. The plaintiff has filed a motion for a new trial and a motion to set aside the verdict. Right after Medtronic, Cohen secured a victory in February for two Georgia obstetricians in a case involving a brain-injured child in the State Court of Cobb County, in Georgia. The lawsuit alleged that the doctors’ failure to accurately diagnose when the mother’s water broke while she was pregnant and the subsequent decision to send her home caused the child’s injuries. Through the use of experts, Cohen was able to show that the mother had contracted a rare and potent strain of flu bacteria, which she passed along to her unborn child, and that the doctors had not been negligent in their conduct. The case, Sanders v. Steinichen, No. CV 98A771-1, resulted in a three-week trial that involved novel issues regarding the causal relationship between the mother’s flu infection and the child’s cerebral palsy. It also showed Cohen’s ability to secure a victory for defendants amid devastating injuries to a child. “They had a simple story to tell,” Cohen said. But it was the science behind the story that convinced the jury after deliberating about three hours to issue a verdict for the defense. A motion for a new trial is pending. In March 2007, Cohen, leading a Greenberg Traurig trial team, represented another medical device maker. This time, she was counsel for Spine Solutions, a division of Synthes Inc. and maker of an artificial disk replacement device. In Kennedy v. Balderston, No. 002660, the plaintiff had participated in a clinical trial for the ProDisc, which offered an alternative to screws and rods typically used to repair the spine. The plaintiff had argued that the defendants did not obtain informed consent and that the device was defective. Representing the plaintiffs was Alan C. Milstein of Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky in Pennsauken, N.J. The case in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas was closely watched, Cohen said, for two reasons. First, the artificial spine device technology was untested in the courts. Second, cases involving liability related to clinical trials are rare. In the second week of trial, after plaintiff’s counsel presented its case, the judge entered a directed verdict for the defense. Part of Cohen’s challenge was the location of the trial, one that was “not a great jurisdiction” for defense verdicts, she said. What makes Cohen extraordinary is her tenacity, said attorney Tommy Malone of Malone Law in Atlanta. A plaintiff’s lawyer, Malone has faced Cohen in court many times and has settled numerous cases with her. “She’s an ardent, bright, veracious adversary,” he said.

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