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Winning Strategies in Medical Malpractice With Jonathan Kocienda


Jonathan Kocienda is the Manager of Medical Malpractice Practice Group and Lead Trial Attorney at Connecticut Trial Firm, LLC, a firm known for its significant impact in personal injury law cases, including a record-setting $100 million jury verdict. With over 25 years of experience in litigation, particularly in the area of medical malpractice, Jonathan has managed a wide range of catastrophic injury cases, including those involving paralysis, death, and other severe injuries. His career spans both defense and plaintiff sides in medical malpractice, marking him as a prominent figure in the Connecticut legal arena. Jonathan is not only recognized for his legal expertise but also for his commitment to sharing his knowledge, having lectured nationally on key issues in medical malpractice liability and exposure.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jonathan Kocienda talks about what they concentrate on at the Connecticut Trial Firm
  • The benefits of experiencing both plaintiff and defense cases
  • The differences between mediation and arbitration
  • Medical malpractice law and its unique challenges
  • How the Connecticut Trial Firm finds clients
  • What made Jonathan want to become an attorney?
  • Jonathan’s advice to aspiring attorneys

In this episode…

Navigating the complex world of medical malpractice law requires a unique blend of legal acumen and a deep understanding of the medical field. How does an expert in this niche legal area approach cases that often involve life-altering circumstances?

According to Jonathan Kocienda, a seasoned attorney with over two decades of experience in medical malpractice, the key lies in a profound comprehension of both legal intricacies and medical complexities. He stresses that bridging the gap between detailed medical knowledge and legal strategies is essential for effective case handling. Jonathan highlights the necessity of fully grasping medical procedures and standards to represent clients accurately and compellingly in a legal setting. His methodology involves clarifying complex medical terms and practices within the legal framework, ensuring that clients’ experiences are understood and addressed appropriately in the judicial system.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, Bela Musits speaks with Jonathan Kocienda, Manager of Medical Malpractice Practice Group and Lead Trial Attorney at Connecticut Trial Firm, LLC. They delve into the nuances of medical malpractice law, Jonathan’s transition from defense to plaintiff representation, and the importance of a balanced perspective in legal proceedings. He also highlights the importance of experience in handling complex medical cases and the art of effective client representation in medical law.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.

To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01  

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Bela Musits  0:12  

Hello listeners. Bela Musits, host for this episode of the 15 Minutes Share Your Voice podcast, where we talk with top notch law firms and attorneys about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing. They deliver tailor made services to help your firm, establish its objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign. And to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Today’s podcast guest is attorney Jonathan Kocienda with the Connecticut Trial Firm, LLC. Jonathan is a litigation trial attorney with over 25 years of experience in medical malpractice. He has handled catastrophic injury cases involving paralysis, death, and other serious injuries. He has a proven track record of success in some of the most challenging medical cases. Welcome to the podcast, Jonathan.

Jonathan Kocienda  1:29  

Thank you. Welcome. Thank you for having me.

Bela Musits  1:32  

Sure. So can you tell us a little bit more about the Connecticut Trial Firm?

Jonathan Kocienda  1:37  

Yeah, absolutely. So we’re based out of Glastonbury, but we have a presence throughout all Connecticut. I actually also practice in Massachusetts, primarily Western, but Massachusetts as well. And we are a personal injury law firm, we handle the big some of the biggest complicated medical malpractice as well as personal injury cases. You know, we also handle and represent patient people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, as well as catastrophic construction and other types of accidents, where the injuries are devastating to their family themselves. Also, the small stuff as well, the things that are very deep can be very problematic, but you know, it means something to them, but we, you know, everyone gets equal representation. But the more complicated medical issues, that’s where you need the right now isn’t skills and our firm excels at that.

Bela Musits  2:29  

Excellent. Now, do you predominantly focus on on folks who are injured? Or do you also defend sort of the insurance company or the physician or, you know, on the defense side?

Jonathan Kocienda  2:42  

So right now, and what we do is we’re all plaintiffs, we represent the injured parties. My experience and my background are based on I was first a plaintiff’s attorney, representing the insurer, the injured against hospitals, and doctors and things like that. I did that for roughly five, six years. And then I actually went to the defense side, and I represented hospitals, doctors, a lot of medical professionals. And I did that for almost 18 years. And then I’m now back, I switched back to the plainest firm. And I’m representing again, the catastrophically injured but seriously injured. Patients that, you know, through negligence and through inappropriate non standard care, they get injured, and they have to suffer through the rest of their life or possibly death. And so that’s my background, but the firm represents plaintiffs. So we primarily bring the lawsuits against those who have done wrong and caused the injury.

Bela Musits  3:40  

Yeah, I can imagine that having experienced on sort of both sides of the table is really important, because you sort of understand how both sides work. And you can use that to your advantage sort of speak?

Jonathan Kocienda  3:53  

Absolutely. Well, you know, it’s there’s, there’s multiple facets to why there’s a benefit in medical malpractice, and particularly in Connecticut, the Connecticut medical malpractice bar, both the plaintiffs bar and the defense bar are very small. This is a very specialized area, you really, you know, you don’t go to medical school, but you learn a lot about medicine, and how the industry works and how medic medicine is delivered to patients. And so there’s benefit knowing all the defense counsel who I’ve worked with and known for years, right, and my reputation there is very good. It’s it’s stellar reputation. So dealing with them, they know who they’re dealing with, I can I can deal with them. But also, being on the plaintiff side, I know what it’s like to be a patient, I’ve represented patients, so I also see it through their side. And I can cut through the cut to the chase and cut through the mock, so to speak, and really be able to see both points of view.

Bela Musits  4:46  

Right, right. Now, what percentage of these cases sort of go to trial versus are settled, you know, outside?

Jonathan Kocienda  4:54  

Yeah, so I can speak mostly in Connecticut that I’d say roughly 90 to 95 percent of medical malpractice cases are settled before often on the courthouse steps. But before an actual trial is underway, sometimes you begin to panel and panel, the jury, but 90 to 95% are settled beforehand. And you know, about five, or maybe even less are actually tried to verdict.

Bela Musits  5:19  

Yeah. Now, do you also do the trials as well? Because I think yes, that becomes even more specialized. I would imagine.

Jonathan Kocienda  5:26  

So that’s exactly right. So, you know, some attorneys will make a distinction between a litigator and a trial attorney, and litigators, often, loosely defined as someone who works up the case has but never actually goes into the courtroom with a jury and tries a case. Without a doubt. We are trial attorneys here at Connecticut trial firm, which is hence our name. It’s really as there’s a such a push to settle cases, there’s such a push by the judiciary and to settle cases that, you know, the art of trying a case that skill is starting to slip away a little bit. And we pride ourselves on being able to do that. My background, and my experience is absolutely trying cases. And you know, medical malpractice cases are some of the largest two, sometimes three weeks of evidence, a lot of witnesses, a lot of complicated terms. Putting that in front of a jury presenting that as a trial. That’s no mean feat. And yeah, so I do try cases, we also litigate the cases, we do everything, not nuts, the bolts. Yeah.

Bela Musits  6:28  

So if you’re litigating a case, and once you come to an agreement, both sides come to an agreement, does that then need to be approved by the court?

Jonathan Kocienda  6:36  

Not in Connecticut? No. Connecticut does not require that, that there’ll be a court approval of a settlement. The parties have to agree now, if there’s a dispute after the terms are met, and all of a sudden someone wants to change the terms or back out of agreement, then yes, the court would get in and maybe have to enforce that agreement. But that’s that’s very rare. And there’s no court involvement. Once there’s an agreement, they’re very happy to get the case off their docket and move on.

Bela Musits  7:03  

Super, just mediation come into play here.

Jonathan Kocienda  7:07  

Yeah, so having done this for well, practice law, for almost 30 years, we’ve been doing this for almost 2025 years, mediations become very prominent, or it used to just be pick up the phone, and you talk to the other side, either via the attorney or the the adjuster, the claim rep or the or the representative of the hospital itself. But now, almost always cases in medical malpractice, go to mediation. And that’s just I think, the general trend throughout all litigation and trial work throughout the country. But medical malpractice is very much a gray step. So mediation is very much part of what we do. And that’s itself its own art form.

Bela Musits  7:43  

Yeah, what’s the difference between mediation and arbitration.

Jonathan Kocienda  7:47  

So mediation is essentially an informal discussion, often with a mediator. So the mediator is a third party who does have a stake in the case, and tries to get the parties to see enough of each other’s case and a value of the case that they can agree to settlement. Okay. And you really don’t debate the facts to the evidence to too much in those mediations. And it’s there’s no evidence presented. And it’s very informal. An arbitration is essentially a trial outside of the courtroom, and often without a jury where you have one, or maybe three arbiters who sit in judgment as if they were the judge, sometimes there they are ex judges, and they hear evidence, they hear witness testimony, and they actually make a judgment on the merits of the case based on that evidence, and they come up with a ruling, and the parties agree by contract to abide by that and follow it.

Bela Musits  8:42  

Now, is arbitration ever used in these types of cases?

Jonathan Kocienda  8:46  

Very rarely. I think both sides both defensive plaintiff both agree that they’d rather have a jury of peers in the general population, hearing the case. Although there are a few arbitrations where sometimes everyone kind of agrees this is not one that needs to go to a jury. And there’s benefits to that there’s a lot of benefits, it’s cheaper to get with the only state in the union that has individual who idea for jury selection. So in federal court, state court, you see have a panel and you pick your jury within a day or two. In Connecticut, it can take up to a week, almost sometimes two, three, I’ve picked the jury in a month, because you you meet individually without any other jurors with the other counsel, and you talk to them and you go through and then you can pick or choose and they may be not on the party on the jury because their bias is is a cause issue. That’s a very slow process and defense counsel of being paid hourly for that. Counsel aren’t getting paid at all for that it doesn’t add value to the case, although it does help with the jury. So yeah, there’s a lot of benefits arbitration, you avoid the jury selection and you can be cheaper and then also, you cut to the chase, you know, the usually the arbitrator hitters aware of a lot of the nuances, you don’t have to spend as much background witnesses can get testify, sometimes in half, or you know, 75% of the time. And then you also have the benefit of scheduling intermittently, you know, you can have a couple of days of arbitration, and then you might resume the arbitration a month from later, when calendars and schedules allow for it, it can take a little longer that way, but the convenience of the attorneys as well as the witnesses, most of the witnesses are doctors and medical providers that are doing medical care to take them out of that and you don’t want to harm to patients, you don’t want to put patients out that are relying on those clinicians. So all told, sometimes arbitration is just convenient and cheaper for everybody involved. But most times it’s not. It’s a rarity.

Bela Musits  10:43  

Yeah, yeah. Now, tell me, I mean, we’ve talked it in sort of general terms. But this strikes me as a very competitive space, sort of in the legal profession, there’s a lot of law firms. You know, we all see the advertising on TV or podcast, where people are promoting what sets you guys apart. So what sets us apart?

Jonathan Kocienda  11:07  

Medical malpractice is not a you can’t just pick up a medical malpractice case and know what to do. There’s specific procedures and laws. And just the case law is developed about medical malpractice. And all the nuances are something that you don’t you can’t just pick up. Because you’ve tried cases, you could be the best trial attorney for some cases, but medical malpractice, and the integration of medicine and the science complication of medicine into how law works, and then presenting that to the jury. None of that is really something you can just pick up a book and read it and understand it, you need experience and practice. And that’s what sets us apart essentially, is me I don’t want to be bragging, you know, big bragger. But you know, what sets us apart with medical malpractice is that I have 25 years in the industry, both plants and hence, working 18 years in with doctors and hospitals intricately, very, very intimately, knowing how things are done. And then just the years I’ve experienced in studying and learning about medicine, all that put together allows me to be able to present and understand and really be efficient, but really represent the clients very well. People who say they want to do medical malpractice, but don’t practice mount malpractice. They’re walking through a landmine. And they may not even know what they’re missing at the end of the day.

Bela Musits  12:28  

Yeah. So as a firm, how do you guys find a client’s?

Jonathan Kocienda  12:35  

So a couple different ways. We certainly have, we have an internet presence. So there’s, you know, typical advertising, like any firm, a lot of word of mouth, and referrals. So there’s a lot of attorneys out there who have clients for lots of reasons, anywhere from real estate, family law, other types of personal injury that know that they couldn’t and should not be handling malpractice cases. So they refer them to those who do. And that’s where we get a lot of cases. But we get plenty of calls as well, I think by the end of the year, we’ll probably get close to 1000 or more a while. The vast majority are not actual cases that we would take but but there’s just a lot of people out there and in the more formalized and commercialized medicine becomes I think the more people get a little frustrated and unhappy with medicine and the way it’s delivered and their experiences. And so people just are asking a lot more than they used to.

Bela Musits  13:33  

Yeah. And how big is the firm?

Jonathan Kocienda  13:39  

It’s hard to keep track. He had quite frankly, it, I’d have to look to see what we’re up to. But we’re up to almost I think 10 now attorneys.

Bela Musits  13:47  

Got it. Yeah, that’s a good size firm.

Jonathan Kocienda  13:50  

Yeah, eight to 10, I think is where we are somewhere around there.

Bela Musits  13:53  

Yeah. And so let me switch gears a little bit. What made what made you become an attorney, let’s go all the way back to you know, you decide I’m gonna go to law school, what was sort of the thinking process and the motivation, motivation that that took you there.

Jonathan Kocienda  14:09  

So, you know, as I talked to, my son is now in college trying to figure out what he wants to do. I’m a unique person in the sense that my path was very different for most people because I knew what I wanted to do very young age. I actually knew I wanted to be a medical malpractice attorney at a very young age. Wow. My neighbor across the street who I grew up with her father was an attorney. And so I’ve learned a little bit about law and a little bit about what he was doing. And it was interesting wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do. My mother was emergency room nurse for 30 something years and worked in case management before she retired. And so medicine always intrigued me. I also had uncles who was orthopedic surgeon and different things. But one thing I learned early on was medicine. Interesting as it was short term. There’s a lot of repetitiveness, you see the same types of things. I didn’t want to do that and somewhere along way around high school, I realized those two might, they can merge together. And I realized that would be perfect medical malpractice and learn what it was like and what it was about. So I kind of really knew I wanted to do that before I even got into college. So it was really a combination of my neighbor who I respected a great deal or her father, and my mother and other family members, that kind of just everything coalesced into wanting to do that. And so that’s why I became a lawyer, but it wasn’t just become a lawyer was become a malpractice lawyer.

Bela Musits  15:28  

Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I had lots of sort of ideas of what I wanted to be when I was young. And I went down a particular path. And I can specifically recall, there was a moment in time after I had been working as an engineer for a number of years. I said, gosh, am I glad I made this decision to become an engineer. It’s really working well for me. Did you have a moment like that?

Jonathan Kocienda  15:54  

Yeah, actually, yes, I’ve had multiple where it’s, you know, reaffirming of my my decision. I’ll be honest with there’s been a few where I’ve been like, what did I do this for? Why? I everyone has those moments as well. So to be here, this wasn’t like, I never doubted myself. But yeah, there were definitely I’d say the first moment I had where that actually occurred was when I was representing a patient actually, it was years ago. And the it was devastating. The family was just devastated. It was nothing they did wrong. It was no contribute. It was just bad. Even the defendants they completely agreed malpractice occurred. The real issue was value of the case. Yeah, there were a couple of holdouts. But But when that was all over, and I realized we were able to change the life of that family for that, or injured and it was a child who can now have a lifelong care what they went through. And I realized that if they didn’t have that, how different their life would be, that’s when I realized I’m doing the right thing. It’s maybe in a microscope, microcosmic way rather than, you know, the whole world. But the difference that made is just something, it’s selfish. But the feeling you get is just it’s enormous. So that kind of made me realize what I wanted to do.

Bela Musits  17:13  

Yeah, that must be super rewarding, you know, both emotionally, personal satisfaction, etc. Yeah, that’s great, right? So if there’s a, if there’s a young budding attorney out there listening to this podcast, what advice would you give them?

Jonathan Kocienda  17:29  

Some advice I would give hands down. And I’ve given this many, many times to young associates and is Be curious, want to learn not just legal procedure or rules of evidence, but want to learn the subject matter? The best advice I got was from a partner way back when I was brand new, I was taking a deposition of a doctor’s matter of fact, it was a motor vehicle accident, and he you know, we’re getting ready. And he’s trying to explain things. And he said, one of the best things you can do in a deposition is just ask all the questions that you’re curious about, they don’t always have to be related specifically to the case. It’s an opportunity to educate yourself and answer your own questions that you might have and get explanations. And that can open up the world. And I’ve done that ever since. And so my recommendation is Be curious, want to just absorb everything and learn. You never know where some of that goes down the road for your case, another case, or just your life? And it makes life a lot more interesting. If you’re curious about what you’re learning about, rather than just going through the steps.

Bela Musits  18:31  

Yeah, yeah, that’s great life advice and career advice.

Jonathan Kocienda  18:34  

Exactly. Makes it makes practicing law a lot better.

Bela Musits  18:37  

Yeah. Yeah. So I’m going to start wrapping this up, Jonathan. So where can our listeners find more? Find out more about you and law firm?

Jonathan Kocienda  18:46  

So you can find more about me. So you can start with our website? cttrialfirm.com. I’m on YouTube. I’m in LinkedIn. I’ve done a lot of presentations over the years over the past 25 years, I have pretty good internet presence. If you Google my name, you I’ll pop up in various locations. And and certainly contacting me directly through my website, through the website or through my email is perfect way to do it, too. And my email is jak@ctttrial firm.com. Same as the website.

Bela Musits  19:21  

Great, great, we will make sure all that information is in the show notes. So Jonathan, my last question is there’s something that I have not asked you that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Jonathan Kocienda  19:32  

No, no, there actually isn’t the only thing I guess my parting with final statement would be the lock can be extremely rewarding if you approach it with the right way. If it’s not in its drudge work, and I’ve met plenty of them. Plenty of attorneys who feel that way. Don’t do it. Find that you can do that. But you’d be surprised if you’re open minded how rewarding law can be representing people who really need the help and cannot get themselves navigated through the legal stuff.

Bela Musits  20:00  

That’s great, great advice than a great way to wrap up this podcast. So Jonathan, thank you so much for being a wonderful guest. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Jonathan Kocienda  20:10  

Likewise, it was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for having me.

Outro  20:15  

Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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