In a speech that encouraged trial lawyers to do more than just get a good result for their clients, Feldman Shepherd co-founding partner Alan M. Feldman accepted the prestigious Judge Learned Hand award from American Jewish Committee (AJC) Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey on Feb. 11, 2020.
Speaking at a tribute dinner to almost 300 people, Feldman, in addition to thanking his family, professional colleagues, friends and “selfless” clients, addressed the scenarios that present the trial lawyer with an opportunity — possibly even a duty — to go beyond obtaining compensation for one’s client to protection of the public from unsafe products with the potential to destroy lives.
Specifically, Feldman cited how Feldman Shepherd has partnered with consumer safety organizations, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and concerned legislators to bring about safety recalls of unstable IKEA dressers that fatally injured small children, Infantino baby slings that compressed the airway of infants causing them to suffocate and toys with tiny, powerful magnets that when ingested by a child, rip through organs and other vital structures to find each other.
“While obtaining financial recompense for our clients is obviously important and our principal concern, it’s also enormously satisfying to contribute to the removal of a dangerous product from the marketplace to help prevent other tragedies,” Feldman said.
Citing four cases he and his team litigated in which toddlers died from IKEA dresser tip-overs, Feldman addressed how, with a client’s informed consent, attorneys can negotiate for changes in a defendant manufacturer’s behavior, such as a design change or an improved warning label. Feldman’s negotiations in the IKEA cases led to IKEA agreeing to only sell chests and dressers in the United States that meet or exceed the performance requirements of the national voluntary safety standard for chests and dressers, which it had not previously been adhering to. IKEA additionally agreed to make contributions totaling $250,000 to three children’s hospitals and an organization devoted to children’s safety with a focus on furniture tip-over prevention and education.
“Having the opportunity to work on these important matters that make a difference for my clients and others has been my privilege and my passion. My deepest thanks to everyone for celebrating this wonderful evening with me tonight,” Feldman said.
AJC Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey presents the Judge Learned Hand Award annually in recognition of outstanding members of the Philadelphia legal community who have distinguished themselves through professional achievement and dedicated community leadership. Judge Hand was a senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1924 to 1951. Widely admired as a dean of American jurists, Judge Hand was renowned for the extensive range of decisions which he rendered in more than 2,000 cases.
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