18. Marlie Willer, Liro Willer Law — Stand Up: Women, Medical Malpractice, and Gender Bias

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Marlie Willer, Principle owner at Liro Willer Law, advocates for families and children whose lives have been wrecked by medical malpractice, with a focus on obstetric negligence. Today, we discuss how medical malpractice suits can help change the medical industry for the better.

Women perform the bulk of unpaid labor in the home – we look at ways to seek financial compensation for caregivers and explore non-economic damages in medical malpractice and obstetric negligence cases. We open the conversation to gender bias in med mal, pumping while in court, and how to recalibrate from the daily trauma of litigation.

What’s in This Episode

  • Who is Marlie Willer?
  • How did lessons of discipline and routine put her ahead of the competition in law school?
  • Why did she choose medical malpractice?
  • How does gender bias play out in the cases she represents?
  • What about the compounding problem of racial disparity and medical malpractice?
  • Can legal action change the way medicine is practiced?
  • What common misconceptions does she wish potential clients knew about medical malpractice and birth injuries?
  • How can attorneys point to tangible damages if a women’s labor is unpaid and the trauma is mostly mental?

Transcript

Marlie Willer

If you have a gut feeling and a doctor brushes you off, make sure that you’re being heard. And if you feel as though they’re being dismissed, Find a second opinion.

Sonya Palmer

When it comes to your health and the health of your family – there is no shame in asking for a second opinion. Trust yourself and raise your hand.

Marlie Willer

There are always going to be situations where there’s negligence. Medical errors occur, but I just really wish that in general, not just in obstetrics, we start listening to our mothers.

Sonya Palmer

According to a recent survey, only 19% of managing partners in US law firms are female. We’d like to see that change. Hello, and welcome to LawHER, the show where we celebrate the trailblazing attorneys and entrepreneurs who are changing the game for women in the legal field. Be inspired by their stories. Learn from their mistakes. And look forward to the future they’re helping build for the next generation of women in law. I’m Sonya Palmer, your host and VP of Operations at Rankings. The SEO agency of choice for Personal Injury lawyers. This is LawHER. Principle owner at Liro Willer Law, Marlie advocates for families and children whose lives have been wrecked by medical malpractice. Focused 100% on litigation, she has spent the last 8 years providing clients the compensation needed to care for the ones they love. Often, for the rest of their lives. Marlie focuses on obstetric negligence and we discuss how medical malpractice suits can help change the medical industry for the better. Women perform the bulk of unpaid labor in the home – we look at ways to seek financial compensation for caregivers and explore non-economic damages. We open the conversation to gender bias in med mal, pumping while in court, and how to recalibrate from the daily trauma of litigation. As a child in a small town, Marlie was presented with typical career paths like lawyer or doctor. Her desire to help others combined with an ability to speak publicly made law school an appealing career choice. But all that changed when she went away to undergrad at Boston University. Let’s dive in.

Marlie Willer

So I went from. School with, 200 students in my class to, a school where there are 20,000 undergrad students. Things changed and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what my trajectory was going to be. My brother is actually also a lawyer. He is five years older than me and so he had said, this is something that you need to be really dedicated and it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s a lot of work and it’s a big-time commitment. Why don’t you just go work for a little while and see if that’s something that actually piques your interest? And so that’s exactly what I did. I went and I worked at a law firm I started as a legal assistant and then I moved up to paralegal status and I worked for two years and that’s really what solidified for me this is what I want to do. It was a personal injury firm and I just saw the outcomes and how you can actually make a difference in somebody’s life. So that was what brought me to law school. And I think it was for me personally, the best decision, not only to decide, Yes. this is what I want to pursue, but also getting into that work habit of kind of nine to five. And so that’s really how I treated law school, I got to school, sometimes as early as 7:30, 8 o’clock even if I didn’t have a class until noon and I would do my work, go to the classes, stay there, continue to do my work. And then I would be home by six and maybe I have to do a little bit more reading, but that was pretty much it. I feel like we ask a lot of like high school graduates. You’re 18 now choose a career that you’re going to have for the rest of your life. So I think to choose as an experience go see how you feel about this before you commit to it. And a lot of degrees are flexible, but the law is not necessarily. So I think that was really smart to choose. I guess it is just to experience something for a few years before making that commitment and yes, to treat law school like a job to it requires discipline structure which probably made it a little bit easier to digest. What other lessons did you learn in law school? If I could do it again, I would focus even more on these aspects. I would go back and I would do tenfold. You need practical experience. So you go to law school and they do not teach you how to be a lawyer.

Sonya Palmer

I keep hearing that.

Marlie Willer

It’s all theoretical. I think that law school should be maybe a year or two theory-based and then a required, apprenticeship or Practical. Clinic for another year and a half, and you can read a case and read a decision and say, oh yeah, I know how that works. But then when you go into practice and you apply it to an individual case, it’s completely different. And especially, we always hear in law school, like a judge’s discretion. Let me tell you, there’s a lot of discretion and a lot of judges that have different opinions. So need to really learn how to navigate that. And something as simple as how do you file a complaint, right? What’s the filing fee. And, I practice in Massachusetts, right? Or how do you go about serving a summons on a defendant or a, what have you. And I think that those aspects in law school are just missed. So unless you have that practical experience, you’re going to come out of law school and you’re going to get into your first position and feel like a deer in headlights. And just say, what the heck?

Sonya Palmer

Yes.

Marlie Willer

Did I spend all this time doing? If I don’t even know how to do a basic complaint? So that’s really, the first thing is its practical experience and it’s okay. If you don’t know, this is the type of law that I want to do, because any practical experience and a firm is going to give you transferrable skills and, just learning how to interact in an office and how to conduct yourself in an office is extremely important as well. How to communicate with clients on a telephone, and how to communicate with other opposing counsel. All of those skills are equally as important as the law itself. And if it’s a job that you can’t seem to get there are clinics through your school or fellowships through your school, that you can go and work for credit or it’s like a pro bono sort of thing through your school. So there are other ways to do it. The second tip I would say is network, network, and. E law review is a great thing to have on your resume. Clerkships are great to have on your resume, but, making connections is so important for your success out of law school and whatever type of career that you want to do. Not just in law, obviously,

Sonya Palmer

Good advice in general.

Marlie Willer

Yeah, no, it’s just good and good advice in general. And I, it doesn’t necessarily even have to be. Other lawyers, can be professional associations in your community. It can be women’s organizations in your community. It can absolutely and should be a part, of other lawyers so that you can build a referral system. But, I found out. In my line of work. So I do mostly obstetrical negligence. I’m communicating and networking with physical therapists, occupational therapists obstetricians, and nurses, all of those people that I know are going to build my network of people in the type of field that I’m in and practicing. And, and then the last tip I think, is. Find a mentor there are a lot of people that are willing to mentor you. It’s nerve-wracking to reach out and say, Hey, this is what I’m doing, or this is what I’m up to, but it’s always going to be well-received, no one’s going to really, slam the door in your face. They might not be available, or they might not be able to mentor you, but. I found, luckily I found a really great mentor throughout my law school career. And I learned so much from that individual that has helped me throughout my entire practice. And it’s someone that I still feel like I can call and say, I’ve got this case, or this is something that I’m thinking about, or what’s your opinion on that?

Sonya Palmer

Why did you choose medical Malpractice?

Marlie Willer

So that was something that I initially fell into. So I started clerking at affirm that primarily focused on medical malpractice. And then I was assigned a lot of birth injury cases and I worked heavily on those cases. After that, I clerked for them while I was in law school. And then after I, I passed the bar, I was offered a position there. And so I started as an associate at this firm and I continued to work on birth injury cases. And then I became a mom myself. it was that moment when I sat back and I was able to connect with my clients in a different way than I had before. I think becoming a parent is, such a life-changing experience. Your brain becomes wired in a different way. You see the world through a completely different lens within a matter of moments, I think that’s one of the most amazing things is you go in one person, you leave a completely different person and to be able to help someone when that first moment of becoming a parent is so traumatic. When becoming a P a parent is the best and sometimes the worst day of your life, right? Because it has been it’s been such a traumatic experience. Either you, yourself, as the mother have become permanently injured or your child. And that is, is just an absolutely devastating thing to go through what I found is as a mother, myself, and as women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to protect our children. I think as a mom, the moment you become pregnant, that’s instinctual. I, I need to protect this individual, this baby. And when the birth happens and your child gets injured, we automatically feel like the first step of parenthood failed. I have failed to protect my child. And the first thing that I always say to my clients is this is not your fault. This is not your fault. you cannot put blame on yourself for this, even though as women and as mothers and as parents, we do that because we want to do everything within our power to protect our children.

Sonya Palmer

Yes. And they’re so vulnerable in those moments. So I think it’s an incredibly noble thing and yes, I think, it’s difficult to not empathize or be concerned about those things, but then to understand it by being a mom. So yes.

Marlie Willer

I also found that. There’s a lack of kind of women in this space. As far as me being a civil litigator, number one, and number two, being a civil litigator in medical malpractice cases, you’re three to four times more likely in, in civil lawsuits, to begin with, to have the lead counsel be male. But then we add on medical malpractice statistics, and it is it’s older, gray hair, white men. That’s who you typically see in the courtrooms on these matters. And I think when it comes to birth injury, I feel very comfortable talking about birth and being that voice for my clients in front of a jury, because I’m a mom and I’ve done that, I’ve been pregnant, I’ve birthed children, and I have a different perspective and a unique perspective that some of my opposing counsel they don’t have, and I feel very strongly in comfortable talking about that. And so that’s always something that I say to my clients, I can relate to you and I can be your voice in describing what it is that you’ve gone through to the jury, which is ultimately what our role as trial lawyers is, right? My, role as a trial lawyer is to be able to tell my client’s story in a way to this jury so that they understand what occurred and what it is that they can do to rectify this situation.

Sonya Palmer

As a mother, Marlie is positioned to represent her clients with empathy that comes from the shared experience of parenthood. She recently opened her own practice. Here she walks us through the journey.

Marlie Willer

I was in a situation where I was either going to go work at another firm. Or bet on me and do it my way I had, one child at the time when I made this move, I knew I was going to have another child and traditional civil litigation firms they’re not designed for young mothers that are interested in having both a career and B have children. And I realized, it’s just not necessary that type of inflexibility. It’s not necessary. And we know it’s not necessary because a lot of women go out and they start their own firms and they’re highly successful. So we know that doesn’t have to be the model. my husband and I talked about it and he really said to me, you’re passionate about this. And I believe in you, I support you. what’s the worst thing that can happen, right? The worst thing that can have. Do you go work for somebody else again? And so I took the leap and I wish that I did it sooner. The way that I work is from 5:30 to 7:30, those are the hours for my children. I get up and I get out of the house and they work and I’m home by 5:30. We play games, we eat dinners together and then they go to bed and I finished whatever it is that I’m working on. if I have to wake up early and do some work at home, that’s completely fine too. And I’m hoping that after the pandemic we’ve now seen, Hey, people can work from home. People can work from home or in a non-traditional way. And the work still gets done in just as an effective way. And I just think we’re failing miserably for women in the, in this role. Every time I go in the courtroom, eight times out of 10, I’m the only female in the courtroom. It’s always a male, opposing counsel and oftentimes it’s a male judge and I’m happy that women are leaving careers that they’re not satisfied in, but I think we’re just doing such a disservice because we’re eliminating valuable, such a valuable talent by not offering these policies that are just very easy to implement paid leave without having to race back before we’ve even properly healed from childbirth, flexibility to work at home, sufficient pumping breaks, right? Not Hey, run in the back room for 10 minutes and get it completed, there’s just so much more that we can be doing, especially in law for women. I completely agree. I think you opened your firm in 2020, so right in the middle of the pandemic and what you said. I think the pandemic taught us a lot of lessons that traditional. Male run law firms want to like we’ll go back to normal. But it added so many tools and systems that like, you can be flexible without having to sacrifice efficiency or things like zoom, where you don’t have to take into consideration, travel time to meet a client or trying to match up schedules and things like that. You can meet face to face with them. And accomplish all that in 20 minutes. What took two hours now takes 20 minutes. I think just the way that we measure work in general by these weird times 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Sometimes later when, if you can get the job done and like half of that time, why wouldn’t you?

Sonya Palmer

I think that, yeah, we punish people for being efficient because we still expect them to put in so many additional hours. Which doesn’t make any sense. And I completely agree you have women turning away from leadership positions that, and they’re so necessary for them to be there simply because of these sort of archaic expectations of what work should look like. I’m hopeful. We’re rounding a corner.

Marlie Willer

The other thing that I will say about, doing my own thing is that I’ve been able to speak up and ask for accommodations. I think that sometimes when we’re in a political firm or affirm, that feels political, Get discouraged by. Asserting ourselves or saying, oh, I need this. Or can I have that? But I have found that, if you do ask sometimes that’s all that needed to be done. They didn’t think of it, or they didn’t, realize it. And some people are more comfortable asking for those accommodations than not. But my daughter was five months old when I tried my first case after she was born. And. I was in a courthouse that there was at that point had not yet had a lead female attorney that was nursing. And so I specifically had to ask them, Hey, is there a room where I can pump? And I’m going to need at least 20 minutes, every three hours throughout the trial to pump. And they were so accommodating that the judge actually gave me a key and I pumped in his chambers for eight days, every three hours. He gave me 20 minutes, every three hours. And there was no discussion about, that he just said that, oh, we’re taking a break. And the jury was taken out and nobody it was fine. And I think that was. Just a wonderful thing. And I’ve since tried two other cases I’ve tried one pregnant, I’ve tried two more breastfeedings and every single time I’ve done that, I’ve been able to speak up and get the accommodations that I’ve needed. And I think. That’s just such a great move in the right direction. Whereas 10 years ago it might have been different or there might’ve been pushback. And I’m not saying that it’s perfect. Obviously, we still have a long way to go, but I just hope that by talking about that or telling other female litigators. Through this podcast yeah, I’ve asked for it and they’ve been very accommodating and it guess what it wasn’t enough and everybody was fine. Nobody was worse off for doing it,

Sonya Palmer

Maternal morbidity remains inexcusably high in the United States. A 2018 report from the Commonwealth Fund notes that among 11 high-income countries, American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy complications. I asked Marlie how she sees gender bias playing out in the cases she represents.

Marlie Willer

I see it across the board for women in general, but specifically with women of color and of lower socioeconomic class. So we know in medical malpractice that one of the key Risk factors for being a victim of negligence is a clinical assessment by a provider. Okay. So that means somebody that the provider going in and assessing that patient and being able to use their clinical judgment to say, okay, this is what we need to do for this patient. And so what happens with women of color and women of lower socioeconomic class- we are not listening to them. So they’re going to these providers and the providers are giving them assessments. And they’re saying, Hey, I’m concerned about this, or I’m worried about this and they’re being brushed off. So there’s a lack of communication and really just listening. And then there’s also, the availability of proper healthcare to these women. And we know, especially with the mortality rate and women of color, that Applies to educated women applies to across the board. And so we know that they’re not listening to these patients and we know that they’re not spending the time to assess them properly and they’re brushing them off. When it comes to birth and obstetrical negligence, we. We are not giving women the information that they need and the support that they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare. And it’s really simple small mistakes that are costing women, their lives, literally, as you can see by our mortality rate, but then also causing severe injuries to themselves and their children. So I think it’s a major breakdown of communication and a breakdown of the assessment of these patients and listening to these patients and doing the proper. Testing and care that they deserve and that they need Three to five of these deaths that are occurring are actually preventable. And it’s either, from this assessment or this judgment that they’re not getting it’s from lack of follow-up, lack of the accessibility to health care for these women. We’re one of the only countries where there are only one postpartum visit six weeks. And we know that the bulk of these incidents is re are occurring during that time. We don’t have at-home care, we don’t have at-home visits. And we don’t have the proper insurance to make sure that these women who are at high risk are being caught at a time where it can be prevented.

Sonya Palmer

It’s known that the United States really struggles and it’s always oh, what can be done about that? And I feel like you just laid out a very obvious explanation. What’s the path forward look like? What can an attorney do?

Marlie Willer

I think that our continual representation of these people is integral and important. And I think it’s also by holding these medical providers accountable and the institutions accountable. I think that’s a huge thing, but it also requires us to go in and discuss Other ways that we can put these policies into place so that they actually occur. So there are policies and procedures that are in place at these hospitals. And then they’re not even being followed. So it’s not enough to just put the policy in place. We need to actually be following them. And I think that’s one of the biggest things that, We need to bring attention to, and then this attitude of them versus us. And, a lot of medical malpractice attorneys take that position where it’s we’re fighting against this machine and what have you. And I definitely am in that. I, it, when I’m advocating for my clients, but at a certain level, I’m like we need to be working together. Because my main job is not only to advocate for the women and the children and the families that have suffered from obstetrical negligence, but I really want to prevent it in the future. There are always going to be situations where there are negligence and medical errors occur. It just is going to happen no matter what we do about it. So I’m not worried, that I’m not going to have any cases or I’m not going to be able to do my job, we need to be working together and I think that everyone wants to point the finger, right? And it’s is it the chicken or the egg? If you stop using us, then we’d be able to give proper care. And then we’re like if you gave proper care you would stop using us. And I think that there is definitely, especially in the obstetrical world, this vicious cycle that’s happening, but I just really wish that in general, not just in. Obstetrics, but in child-rearing and obstetrics we start listening to our mothers because they’re telling these people, so I have clients come to my office and say, I went in and I said, I was experiencing these symptoms. Or I went in and I said that I didn’t think that my baby was moving enough or whatever it is, they, a woman’s intuition and mother’s intuition starts before the baby’s even born, and that’s what I always say to future mothers. if you have a gut feeling and a doctor brushes you off, you should just let that go. If you have a gut feeling, make sure that you’re being heard. And if you feel as though they’re being dismissed, Find a second opinion. I feel like a lot of women get nervous about it, okay. If I go to get a second opinion, they’re going to be mad or whatever who cares. Get a second opinion. it’s exactly. And there’s no fault in that or shame or any reason why you can’t get a second opinion. Maybe the second opinion is exactly. What the first one was, and then you’re reassured and you feel good about it.

Sonya Palmer

Yes. You mentioned women of color. Can you talk about the compounding problem of racial disparity and medical malpractice?

Marlie Willer

I think just what I had touched on before was this lack of accessibility to proper healthcare. Number one, it’s not listening to them when they’re town literally telling these providers, that this is what’s going on. The systemic racism in the medical world that’s even unconscious, right? I’m not even saying that these providers are doing it, but I did a really interesting study where I was talking to lawyers and students. And I had seven obstetrical textbooks in front of me. So I had, three obstetrical textbooks. Then I had neurology books and I said flip through these pages and tell me if any of the medical illustrations are of people of color. Not one, there was no one. So that’s something that a medical student might not even realize is occurring. They’re ingesting all of this information and they’re ingesting it in a kind of racially biased way and they don’t even know that it’s happening. So then they get into practice and, I just think that just being more aware of it. Yeah. Putting these illustrations and discussions in the medical textbooks themselves even is a start. So that’s just something that I’ve found to be very interesting. Whereas, I don’t know how many people, even those who aren’t medical students would know that about illustrations.

Sonya Palmer

Yes, implicit biases. there was a diagram of a person of color and it went viral on Twitter because so many people were like, I have never seen something like this before. So I think just for people to be aware that they’ve never seen something like that before. That is, that awareness, I think, provides a path forward. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health from 2008 to 2016, each year, an average of 73 Illinois women died within one year of pregnancy of those deaths. 72% are considered preventable by review committees numbers like those, like these feel inexcusable, What is being done in the legal sector to help make that right?

Marlie Willer

That’s more a legislative question. So I really, unfortunately, don’t have specifics specific answers for that other than I am the person that gets that case afterward, unfortunately. So I’m more on the back end of that. Fighting the occurrence of it versus, how do we prevent it? But I know that there are the acts that are being discussed right now in the legislature to try and catch more of these women and how to implement these policies and ways that we can catch them before that occurs. I know that’s, it’s definitely taking place and it has to, and I think what I was saying before is it’s just not enough that we have the policy in place because again, I get the case afterward where I see, okay, there are policies and they’re not being followed. Or there are policies. No, one’s enforcing them or they’re being overridden by somebody at the hospital, and then it’s still occurring. The legislation is great, but it’s also putting that into practice and then putting it into practice in rural areas where the bulk of these incidents are occurring. And I think that’s something else that needs to be discussed because, I practice in Boston, and maternal health care in Boston is very different than the healthcare in a lot of rural communities that I traveled to, to represent some of these women. And so I think that it’s really getting to identify. Okay. Where is this most occurring and where are we falling short from it?

Sonya Palmer

On your Instagram posts. It says that across 4,000 doctors, 71% said that medical malpractice cases did not affect their careers. What is the ultimate goal of winning cases?

Marlie Willer

The ultimate goal for me, for any of my clients, is to provide them with the compensation that they need to be able to get the care that they are going to have through the remainder of their life. And then for the pain and suffering that they’ve endured. So that’s, and it’s a horrible way to look at it, right? Because we don’t, we essentially have to monetize this. And it’s a horrible way to look at it from my client’s perspective because there’s no amount of money that would make these individuals whole, again, it just isn’t going to happen, but that’s what our judicial system has to offer them. And that’s the only way that we can do it. And I think that by having it’s interesting to me, Getting the compensation that they need is obviously extremely important. We have life care planners, we’ve got adaptive equipment for homes and things that they’re going to need for the rest of their life. But, I hear time and time again from these parents. I just don’t want this to happen to somebody else. I hear that all the time. I want to hold them accountable because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I don’t want anyone else’s child or anyone. Else’s mother, wife, whoever it is to go through what it is that we went through. So it’s really for them, I would say from my client’s perspective, it’s being their voice. Holding these individuals accountable so that it doesn’t happen again is always one of the very first things that they say to me. And then of course the compensation for everything, obviously that I don’t even need to, everybody knows. It is secondary.

Sonya Palmer

I think what we’re circling is can med mal cases change the way that medicine is practiced? You talked about being like on the backend you’re at the result of that. But, you’re good enough at your job. And these things are thorough. Can that influence the way medicine is practiced?

Marlie Willer

I sure hope so. I sure hope so. We’re telling them, any plaintiff’s attorney that does, this is telling these hospitals is telling these doctors we’re showing them we’re coming to them and saying, this is where we’re making this. You know whether or not they do with that information. I don’t know. I can’t necessarily say that. I do know that they pay very close attention to it. Verdicts and settlements and what’s happening. And they do report. CRICO does, an annual, or they just did a ten-year report on medical malpractice and why they’re occurring and how these things can be changed. But we can’t force them to implement it. It has, they have to do it themselves, but we’re certainly telling them. What they should be doing and showing them the effect. And I think my Medscape post about asking those doctors, it’s really powerful because 71% said that the medical malpractice lawsuit did not affect their overall career.

Sonya Palmer

Yeah.

Marlie Willer

A hundred percent of patients that suffered from medical malpractice say, Yeah. Affected my entire life, not just my career. I think that it’s that statistic sort of speaks for itself for sure.

Sonya Palmer

I agree. I agree. Yeah. I think it almost overwhelms the industry, and make them pay attention. When it comes to medical malpractice and birth injuries, are there any misconceptions that you wish potential clients knew about?

Marlie Willer

I think there’s a misconception currently in our judicial system. How do we properly address the mental trauma that occurs for these parents? I don’t believe that right now we properly compensate them for what it is that they go through trauma-wise, these cases are extremely difficult to prove they’re also extremely expensive. And unless there’s substantial and significant physical damage. It’s very difficult for me to take a case where families have undergone extreme mental distress and mental trauma and say to them, we’re going to have a hard time proving your case, or we’re going to have a hard time bringing this case forward. And I think that breaks my heart because, in a lot of these situations, it’s really. A lot of this is mental, but it’s the mental trauma that they’ve undergone is sometimes more difficult than recovering from the physical trauma. We’re able to adapt to the physical trauma. It’s this mental, reliving of what occurred on a daily basis, the anxiety, the stress, they, everything that comes along with that. And so that’s hard for me to explain to a client it’s very difficult for me to explain to a client.

Sonya Palmer

And much of women’s labor is unpaid. So how do you have a mental? Trauma. And then you have to relate that when you can’t point to a salary for a potential loss wage, are there ways to demonstrate economic damages? For women who are experiencing, prolonged mental trauma and their wages were unpaid, like you can’t even point to that, are there ways to demonstrate that?

Marlie Willer

Yeah. I think that if they did, at some point hold a position or they had a position lost wages, we certainly can recover from it. And then there is, there are certain. States that allow us to bring claims for the mental stress and loss of consortium for a child’s injury. And that is sometimes capped at a non-economic amount. But I think that if we have the evidence that this has caused significant, mental trauma in a family’s life, I think that’s, A jury understands what that’s going to look like, and they’re going to be able to compensate them for that appropriately. If they find that it was due to negligence.

Sonya Palmer

What non-economic damages can be recovered?

Marlie Willer

You’ve got lost wages, you have future medical bills, you have past medical bills. Do you have life care plans, you have vocational experts which will come and say the future employability of this individual. Child what that’s going to look like. And then we have economic experts that come in and they put dollar values on that number for the next however many years. So we know that this is a permanent injury. We know that this injury is going to, go on throughout the span of this individual’s life. So if that’s X amount every year through this life care plan we know they’re going to need Physical therapies, occupational therapies, adaptive equipment medical surgeries. The list goes on, right? Everything you can possibly imagine. A lot of, families need home new homes. If they have a child that has suffered severe brain damage. As a result of their delivery, they need homes that are accessible and they need vehicles that are accessible. They need to get their child to appointments. So it’s where do they live? How long of a trip is it to the closest clinic that can treat them? Specific injury, right? All of those go into non-economic damages. And then again, once we have all of those in this life care plan, we have all of those through experts that come in and testify that this medical treatment is going to be a necessary and inappropriate. Then the economist says, okay, that’s what this is worth throughout their entire life.

Sonya Palmer

Wow. Wow. It’s incredible.

Marlie Willer

The process. It’s definitely a process, which is why it’s so important. These are very complex cases and they can take, I think the other thing you had asked me about potential clients and what I can tell them about medical malpractice cases, in general, is that these cases can take years just because there’s so much that goes into them. And there’s so much work on the backend with experts were, a client. They won’t even really have too much to do with that. So they’ll be a year, a year of expert work and they’re like, are you even working on the case? And Yes, it can take a very long time for these to start and then resolve. And it’s, that’s frustrating too, when I, meet a child client that’s months old. And then by the time we resolved the case, it’s a four-year-old and they’re getting ready to go off to kindergarten, one of the best things I think for me is when I get a photograph from a client and, the child’s off to high school or, has made this other milestone and I see them and I think, Wow. It’s just amazing to me. Not only the resilience of these children but their families.

Sonya Palmer

Yes. Yeah. And you spend a lot of time with them. You said years, you see them as little babies, and then yeah. Send them off to kindergarten. So fighting for parents and children on a daily basis is exhausting. And you’re a mom. What do you do to recalibrate, distress?

Marlie Willer

I think that’s really important. And I think that’s something that a lot of. lawyers and general personal injury lawyers, medical malpractice lawyers were reliving trauma right every day for a career. And so we’re subjected to these microtraumas and it affects us. Absolutely. And I’m so I think close in my current life state with having little children that it does, it’s very exhausting. And so I have to focus a lot on movement exercise. Even if it’s a walk at the end of the day, getting light and sun can be difficult to do in Boston, but even if it’s 15 to 20 minutes a day of direct sunlight on my skin in some capacity that is extremely helpful. And then meditating and participating in things that bring you joy, I think are so important. And then the last thing that I think is really. Beneficial is journaling. So if there’s a situation that I find extremely difficult, like there was a deposition that I did when I was 37 weeks pregnant. And it was a situation where it was a loss of a baby right. A full-term baby that, they lost the baby. After that, I was extremely upset obviously after a five-hour deposition discussing that and being about to give birth myself. You have to journal, you have to get that out on paper or talk to somebody else about it.

Sonya Palmer

Marlie may not look like a typical medical malpractice litigator, but she fights – day in and day out – having created the practice that suits her lifestyle. Know that your needs are valid. And as the legal landscape shifts, identify if your needs are being met. Are there places where you can make changes to better fit your life and still be a tenacious advocate? If you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘no’. A big thank you to Marlie for sharing her story and unbelievable insights with us today.

You’ve been listening to LawHER with, me, Sonya Palmer. If you found this content insightful, inspiring, or just made you smile, please share this episode with the trailblazer in your life. For more about Marlie Willer check out our show notes. While you’re there, please leave us a review or a five-star rating. It really goes a long way for others to discover the show. I’ll see you next week on LawHER where we’ll shed light on how another of the brightest and boldest women in the legal industry climbed to the top of her field.

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