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Attorneys of the Year: Barbara Zurek

Meagher & Geer

Each time Barbara Zurek takes on a case she brings her compassion as a nurse, skill as a lawyer, and enthusiasm for defending her health care provider clients. A malpractice attorney for 24 years, Zurek prides herself on her ability to guide clients during an often-traumatic point in their lives.

“So many doctors and nurses and others go into their professions with a philosophy of wanting to help people, and when they are accused of hurting people, it’s much more personal,” says Zurek, who worked as a nurse for 13 years. “I’m still helping people, whether it’s successfully defending someone at trial or helping them reconcile that they have a case that needs to be settled, and it doesn’t make them a bad person.”

Zurek represents the gamut of health care providers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, chiropractors, hospitals and nursing homes. She often calls on her medical knowledge to analyze patients’ records and ask informed questions.

A trial regular, Zurek had a banner year defending clients in high-stakes cases in 2013. In three of the lawsuits, practitioners faced seven-figure claims that far exceeded their insurance coverage. Zurek represented two pediatric surgeons facing negligence charges after a newborn died following surgery for a congenital abdominal-wall defect. She argued that other providers were to blame for not notifying the surgeons when the baby’s condition worsened, which would have allowed them to address complications. Zurek also went three-for-three successfully representing chiropractors, among other victories.

Zurek often provides services pro bono, and she had a particularly sweet win this year for a physician with a restricted license due to a medical condition. She argued that the doctor had followed the restrictions for a decade and would continue to do so with an unrestricted license.

For Zurek, her practice is all about helping medical professionals get through lawsuits successfully. “It’s a hard experience for everyone. It’s stressful and demoralizing to be accused of things, and it’s hard because in some instances people have been hurt. But it’s not always because the provider did something wrong,” she says. “It’s a tricky area of the law.”

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