MARK R. MCKENNA
Mark R. McKenna was born and raised in Chicago. His father, a union boilermaker, died in 1980 from cancer related to on-the-job asbestos exposure. His great-grandfather was a founder of the Brotherhood of Railroad Workers in Chicago.
Mr. McKenna represents plaintiffs in all areas of personal injury law, including medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, automobile and trucking negligence, product liability, construction negligence, and sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America.
Mr. McKenna has long represented families whose lives are altered, in some cases forever altered, due to neglect or abuse of powerful entities. He has also been the voice in the legal justice system for children who fall victim to abuse. For many of the families and individuals Mr. McKenna works with, he is not only their attorney, he is their sounding board and their advocate. He has sought and has successfully won not only quantitative compensation in the form of damages totalling over $130,000,000 to date, but also vindication for years of denial and neglect of the victims.
Mr. McKenna has been a trial lawyer since 1994, when he began working with Chris Hurley as an associate. In 2004 he became a partner with Hurley McKenna & Mertz. During his two-year internship at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago prior to law school, Mr. McKenna found his calling to serve clients who were up against large corporations, insurance companies, and the medical industry.
He has extensive trial experience in the Illinois state courts, and state and federal courts throughout the United States, including Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, Ohio and Maryland.
In 2012, Mr. McKenna was elected by his fellow trial lawyers to the Board of Managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. McKenna has also been selected as a “Super Lawyer” by the Super Lawyers rating service.
Mark McKenna & Evan Smola: We Worry About the Case for You
Fighting for a Veteran Injured on the Job
Early in my career Chris Hurley and I went to trial in federal court against a major Chicago hospital. Our client had worked for the hospital for many years as a security guard. When he became injured trying to apprehend a violent individual at the hospital, he filed a workers’ compensation claim, as he had every right to do under Illinois law. However, the hospital’s management immediately—and wrongfully—fired this injured worker. Prior to the trial, the hospital never admitted their fault, and never made a settlement offer. The hospital’s attorneys did, however, treat our client’s allegations with disdain, and at every opportunity during the trial argued to the jury that our client was fired because he was no longer needed, and that he was “lazy.” Our client, a man who had risked his life for his country in the Vietnam War, was anything but lazy. Chris and I felt that this wrongful firing was not a rare event at the hospital—large corporations often fire people who file legitimate workers’ compensation claims in order to scare other injured employees from reporting their injuries. During the trial, we tracked down a former HR employee of the hospital and called her to testify at trial. This witness admitted on the stand that she had in fact been ordered by hospital management to fire injured workers--like our client—to avoid paying for their injuries and to intimidate other employees. We won the case, and the jury awarded our client nearly $800,000. While over the years the verdicts we get for our clients have become larger and larger, I always think of that case as an example of how we are committed to giving injured people a fighting chance against corporations and institutions that act unfairly and illegally.
Standing up for Victims of Sexual Abuse
I am proud to represent more than 30 victims of abuse who attended Leo High School, Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High School in the Chicago area. These victims will share in a settlement of $16,500,000 to be paid to 400 victims of abuse nationwide, as a result of sexual or physical abuse by an Irish Christian Brother or at a school run by the Irish Christian Brothers. The settlement is vindication for our clients and others, since for years the Irish Christian Brothers denied any wrongdoing. The settlement acknowledges their role in decades of children being sexual abused at Catholic schools across the country.
Changing the Law to Require Hospital Responsibility
One of my most memorable cases involved an issue that had never been addressed in Illinois courts—whether a hospital could be held responsible for negligently credentialing a doctor. Our client went to a local hospital for what she thought was a routine procedure by a podiatrist--removal of a bunion. The hospital granted the podiatrist credentials to perform the surgical procedure without making sure the podiatrist was properly trained to do it—in fact, he was not under the hospital’s own written standards. Our client developed a severe foot infection, and had to have a portion of her foot amputated. She had loved her job as a surgical nurse, but the amputation forced her to prematurely retire. The podiatrist did not carry anywhere close to the insurance coverage that would properly compensate our client for her losses. The hospital refused to accept any responsibility for the mistakes of the podiatrist, even though it made money by billing our client for the use of the hospital’s facilities during the negligent surgery. The hospital never offered to settle our client’s case. We took the hospital to trial, and won a $7,775,668.02 jury verdict for our client. We fought to defend the jury’s verdict after the hospital appealed, and won a great victory when we convinced the Illinois Appellate Court to recognize a cause of action against a hospital for negligent credentialing, in Frigo v. Silver Cross Hospital, 377 Ill.App.3d 43, 876 N.E.2d 697 (1st Dist. 2007). I think of this case when others say the law can’t change to help the victims of negligence---the law can change when we are willing to fight for it to change.
Board of Managers, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
I am honored by my selection to the Board of Managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. The members of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association fight to ensure all citizens get equal footing in the courtroom, even when taking on the most powerful interests. We see to it that those who harm consumers, other individuals, or even their own employees, are held accountable. The Board of Managers of ITLA is composed of the finest trial lawyers of not just Illinois, but the nation. I am greatly honored to be part of ITLA and its managing body.