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Home / 2012 Leaders in the Law / No task too great for End

No task too great for End

J. Michael End doesn’t wilt in the face of daunting, yet worthwhile tasks.

The 65-year-old Milwaukee lawyer has completed 35 marathons, and occasionally runs a course that includes seven hills.

That same commitment holds true in the courtroom. The law of averages dictates that lawyers who try cases will lose about half of them. End is a plaintiffs’ medical malpractice attorney, a practice area in which he’s fighting much tougher odds.

He cites statistics from Physician Insurers Association of America, which found that in 2010, plaintiffs nationwide only won 6.6 percent of medical malpractice cases that went to trial.

At the same time, scholarly medical journals concluded last year that more than a million patients in the U.S. died or were injured because of medical negligence.

Closer to home, in 2010, of the 26 med mal cases tried, plaintiffs prevailed in just two.

“Once in a while you win in front of a jury that understands and does the right thing. But that’s few and far between,” End said. “There are a lot of very talented lawyers in Wisconsin who’ve gotten out of med mal because it’s become so incredibly difficult, time-consuming and expensive.”

But he’s not getting out anytime soon, and one name expresses why End remains: Shay Maurin.

Maurin was 5 years old when she died because her healthcare providers’ failure to diagnose juvenile diabetes. A Washington County jury awarded her estate $3,050,000, but a cap in place at the time reduced the recovery to $300,000. The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed, but two years later reversed significant portions of the decision.

Currently, he’s preparing for another showdown in the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding the application of the Collateral Source Rule in Weborg v. Jenny.

End’s client brought a wrongful death claim against a cardiologist who failed to diagnose her husband’s coronary artery disease before his death at age 42.

They lost at trial because the court admitted evidence of the widow’s life insurance proceeds and monthly Social Security payments, which End believes was irrelevant and prejudicial. The Court of Appeals affirmed, but End is undeterred.

He’s also busy advocating on behalf of the Wisconsin

Association for Justice as its immediate past-president, fighting tort reform.

Lynn Laufenberg, another Milwaukee area plaintiffs’ lawyer and former WAJ president, said End “defies the negative ‘trial lawyer’ stereotype.”

“Where the stereotype says ‘self-promoting’ and ‘brash,’

Mike is humble and gracious,” he said. “Where the stereotype says ‘greedy’ and ‘self-centered,’ Mike thinks only of the needs of his clients and the integrity of the civil justice system.”

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