2017 Auto Torts-Advanced Trial Lawyer college: December 1-2, 2017

Often described as "the best seminar in the region, if not the country," the SCAJ Auto Torts seminar is enjoyed each December in Atlanta, GA by Trial Lawyers from across the south. While the seminar used to focus purely on Auto Torts, throughout the years the seminar has shifted to include topics that are relevant to all Trial Lawyers. The seminar offers members a chance to earn nine CLE credits and experience the best holiday shopping, entertainment and food Atlanta has to offer.

Register Today!

To register for the seminar using a check, please click here to print a pre-registration form. 


2017 Auto Torts Schedule

Friday, December 1, 2017

8:00 am                                  Coffee & Danish Compliments of Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC

9:00 am - 9:45 am               “Selection/Election of Judges” – Justice Costa Pleicones

9:45 am - 10:30 am             “Screening Medical Negligence Cases” – Kathleen L. Nastri

10:30 am - 10:45 am            Coffee Break Compliments of Richardson Patrick Westbrook
                                                 & Brickman, LLC

10:45 am - 11:30 am           Shirt Sleeves & Savants! Using Inexperienced Experts
                                                on Fall Downs– Tom Vesper

11:30 am - 12:15 pm           “Focusing Juries!” ­– Jim Lees

12:15 pm - 1:45 pm              Lunch on Your Own

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm               Obtaining the Full and Fair Value of Your
                                                 Client's Case" 
– Ben C. Brodhead

2:30 pm - 3:15 pm               A Tale of Two Corporate Criminals- What Takata Could
                                                Learn From Volkswagen– Kevin Dean

3:15 pm - 3:30 pm               Coffee Break Compliments of Solomon Law Group, LLC

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm               Structural Causes for Back and Shoulder Pain– Frank Musumeci

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm               Lien on me: The Ethics of Negotiating Payment
                                                of Liens Including Medical Expenses"– Peter Protopapas, Rick
                                                Gleissner, & Chris Moore


Saturday, December 2, 2017

8:00 am                                    Coffee & Danish Compliments of Maxwell Law Firm & McGowan,
                                                   Hood & Felder, LLC

9:00 am - 11:30 am               “Case Framing!” – Mark Mandell

10:30 am - 10:45 am             Coffee Break Compliments of Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger, LLC


2017 Auto Tort Speaker Bios

JUSTICE COSTA M. PLEICONES was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1944. He is the son of Lecha and Mike Pleicones, both deceased.

Justice Pleicones grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, attending its city schools through graduation from Columbia High School in 1961. He then attended Wofford College from which he graduated in 1965 with a degree in English. Following graduation from Wofford, Justice Pleicones attended the University of South Carolina School of Law, from which he received a Juris Doctor degree in 1968.

After law school, Justice Pleicones entered the United States Army, serving both as an enlisted member and as an officer in the Judge Advocate's General Corps, until his release from active duty on March 1, 1973. Justice Pleicones continued his membership in the military until retirement from the United States Army Reserve in March 1999 after more than thirty years of active and reserve service.

Upon leaving active military service, Justice Pleicones entered practice as a public defender for Richland County, South Carolina. Later, while in private practice with Lewis, Babcock, Pleicones and Hawkins, he also served as a part-time municipal judge for the City of Columbia, and as County Attorney for Richland County. In 1991 he was elected Resident Circuit Court Judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit. He served as a circuit judge from July l, 1991, until March 23, 2000, when he was elected as an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court on February 9, 2000. On May 27, 2015, Justice Pleicones was elected as Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Justice Pleicones is admitted to practice before all South Carolina Courts, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services, and the United States Supreme Court. He is frequently called upon as a lecturer in CLE programs conducted by the South Carolina Bar and other professional organizations.

Justice Pleicones married the former Donna Singletary of Lake City, South Carolina in 1965 and they have two daughters and one grandchild. Justice Pleicones is Greek Orthodox.

KATHLEEN NASTRI is a partner with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C. in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She works exclusively on behalf of plaintiffs and focuses her work on medical malpractice of injured patients. She was the first female president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers’ Association, was past co-chair of its Continuing Legal Education Committee, and currently serves on its Board of Governors, Executive and Nominating committees.

Kathleen is currently President of the American Association for Justice, a fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Summit Council, American Board of Trial Advocates and the International Society of Barristers.

She has lectured extensively on personal injury and medical malpractice at local and national seminars. She received her law degree from the University of Connecticut, School of Law, graduating cum laude, in 1986.

TOM VESPER is a NJ Certified Civil Trial Attorney; undergraduate at Villanova University (B.A., cum laude), legal education at Rutgers-Camden University (J.D. 1973) where he was writer and member of Law Review; served with US Marine Corps Reserve from 1969 to 1991; certified as a UCMJ 27(b) Trial Counsel and Defense Counsel by the Secretary of the Navy; retired as CWO4, and as of 1991 was the only Warrant Officer in US Naval Services to try a general court martial. 

Past President of NJ Chapter of The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now NJAJ); Diplomat and Sustaining Member of Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now AAJ), Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL), a founding member of Trial Lawyers For Public Justice (now PJ), founding member and Executive Director of The Aletheia Institute, and selected by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America. 

Partner in Atlantic City, NJ firm WESTMORELAND, VESPER, QUATTRONE & BEERS Tom concentrates on personal injury and wrongful death cases; his jury trial and litigation experience includes: commercial trucking & bus crashes, negligence, professional negligence, premises liability, “resort torts,” and product liability.

Certified as Civil Trial Advocate by National Board of Trial Advocacy (1980) & NJ Supreme Court (1981), Tom is a frequent guest lecturer for NJ-ICLE, ATLA (now AAJ), state TLA's, AJs, bar associations and law schools; faculty & past trustee of National College of Advocacy, he has published over 200 articles and 44 books or chapters - recently he and his “Cuz Dominic” Vesper wrote A Cookbook for Trial Lawyers (Thomson Reuters 2014), his book of quotations, Uncle Anthony's Unabridged Analogies, 3d Ed. (Thomson Reuters (2014); AConsortium@ Chapter for AAJ=s Litigating Tort Cases. He has written & lectured on Wrongful Death, Truck/Bus Accident Reconstruction, Discovery, Case Evaluation, Settlement, Trial Techniques, Professional Liability, & both of “TOM’S NOTEBOOKS” – ICLE-NJ and AAJ Trial Notebook and Deposition Notebook.

In 2014 Tom received NJ State Bar’s Alfred C. Clapp Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to continuing legal education; 2017 APITLA (Association of Interstate Trial Lawyers of America) 1st Annual Creative Speaking Award “for tireless advocacy for injury victims”

JAMES B. LEES JR. is a nationally recognized trial attorney and communications consultant, Jim Lees owns and operates Hunt & Lees law firm in Charleston, WV where he continues to practice and litigate cases throughout the United States, as well as provide communication consulting services to attorneys and businesses both nationally and internationally.  Mr. Lees is a 1977 graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law and is a former Deputy District Attorney in Pittsburgh, PA where he successfully prosecuted 44 first degree murder cases and 6 death penalty cases.  Litigating both civil and criminal cases in private practice throughout the United States since 1984, Mr. Lees has now tried over 250 jury trials to verdict.

Mr. Lees, together with Alabama Attorney Greg Cusimano, created the five-part DVD series “Commanding the Courtroom”, the quintessential “how-to” video series for litigation and case development strategies (available through the American Association for Justice).

Mr. Lees now consults frequently throughout North America on persuasive communications for attorneys, businesses, and political candidates.  A frequent lecturer on the use of psychology and persuasion Mr. Lees has lectured in over 30 states throughout the United States, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.  In addition, he conducts focus groups to help formulate strategic persuasion plans for various clients and has personally conducted over 1200 focus groups over the past ten plus years.

Jim Lees has appeared as a guest on ABC Television’s Good Morning America, anchored a state-wide radio talk show, taught persuasion techniques at Harvard Law School and written a monthly newspaper column for a state-wide newspaper. 

BEN C. BRODHEAD is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and has handled significant personal injury litigation for nearly twenty years.  After graduating from Harvard, Ben was employed in the corporate litigation department of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and worked on complex business litigation matters for several Fortune 500 companies.  In 1998, Ben decided to open his own firm dedicated to representing victims of severe personal injury and wrongful death. Brodhead Law, LLC, is now a successful personal injury firm that is known for aggressively litigating tractor-trailer collisions, auto collisions, and products liability cases.  Since 1998, Ben has successfully litigated hundreds of serious personal injury cases across the country and has recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for his clients.  Ben has been recognized as a Georgia Super Lawyer consecutively for the last ten years.  Ben is a native of Georgia and resides in Atlanta.

KEVIN R. DEAN focuses his litigation efforts on catastrophic injury, products liability, and wrongful death cases, Kevin Dean represents victims and families affected by hazardous consumer products, occupational and industrial accidents, fires, premise injuries and other incidents of negligence.

Kevin currently represents people allegedly harmed by defective Takata airbags, Volkswagen's diesel emissions fraud, and GM’s misconduct regarding its defective vehicles in In re General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation. He has litigated numerous vehicle defect cases, including against "the Big Three" automotive manufacturers in cases involving defective brakes, door locks, door latches, seat belts and roll overs. He served as trial co-counsel in Guzman v. Ford (2001), the first case brought to trial regarding a defective outside door latch handle, as well as in the vehicle rollover case Hayward v. Ford (2005). He was also a member of the plaintiffs’ litigation team in the defective seat belt case, Malone v. General Motors Corporation (1998) prior to joining Motley Rice.

He served as lead plaintiffs’ counsel in In re Charleston Firefighter Litigation, a wrongful death and negligence case against Sofa Super Store, contractors and multiple furniture manufacturers on behalf of the families of the nine firefighters lost in the June 2007 warehouse fire in Charleston, S.C.

Since the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, Kevin has been helping people and businesses pursuing litigation, as well as those needing help filing and negotiating their claims. He served as a member of the oil spill MDL's GCCF Jurisdiction & Court Oversight Workgroup and works with victims on claims through the programs established by the two settlements reached with BP.

Kevin's experience also includes the health insurance fraud and post-claims underwriting case Clark v. Security Life Insurance Company, the largest civil RICO case in Georgia history, and Wiggins v. Parsons Nursery, one of the largest environmental and health contamination cases in South Carolina. Kevin also served as a County Commissioner on the Early County Georgia Board of Commissioners and still holds the honor of having been the youngest elected commissioner in county history.

Kevin frequently appears in local and national broadcast and print media discussing legal matters of workplace safety, fire prevention and other products liability, as well as specific casework and efforts for changes and improvements in various industries. Recognized as an AV® rated attorney Martindale-Hubbell®, Kevin co-authored “Dangerous Doors and Loose Latches,” published in Trial Magazine (2004) for the American Association for Justice, and authored “The Right to Jury Trial in ERISA Civil Enforcement Actions” published in The American Journal of Trial Advocacy (1989).

FRANK MUSUMECI is a Senior Strength Training Specialist, Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer and Biomechanical Consultant. Frank began his career working with Dr. Charles Virgin as team physical therapist for the Miami Dolphins in 1987 through 1990 and then became the Director the Sport Clinic from 1990 through December 2013. Frank developed and implemented biomechanical musculoskeletal assessments in 2004 and has been utilizing this technique for the past 10 years and continues to do so.

Frank conducts ongoing lectures on biomechanics and the aging process of the musculoskeletal system at The Oasis Institute working closely with Dr. Munoz and his team. The goal is to develop orthopedic prevention strategies based on people’s posture, past and current medical histories, injuries and personal goals.

Frank’s belief is “you cannot completely resolve a biomechanical problem with a chemical solution” Pathological biomechanics must be addressed for good long-term outcomes and continued success of pain management and body mobility.

PETER PROTOPAPAS is a partner in Rikard & Protopapas, LLC in Columbia, South Carolina.  Peter’s practice consists mostly of business litigation, professional malpractice including legal malpractice and financial advisor malpractice, and ethics’ defense for lawyers and judges.   The most enjoyable part of his practice is representing lawyers and helping them navigate their ethical responsibilities. 

Peter conducted his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts where he received a B.A. in 1992. In 1994, he graduated from the University of Florida with his M.A. degree. In 2000, he graduated from the University Of South Carolina School Of Law where he earned honors such as the Order of Coif and the Order of the Wig and Robe. When not working, Peter spends his time with his wife, Lindsay and their children, Paul, Sophia, Jimmy and Irini Grace.

RICHARD R. GLEISSNER was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1990, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1991. In 1998, the State of South Carolina's Supreme Court certified him as specialist in Bankruptcy and Debtor-Creditor Law and he continues to be certified in this area of specialization. In law school, Mr. Gleissner was awarded membership in the Order of Wig and Robe and the Order of the Coif. Mr. Gleissner is a member of the American Bar Association, the South Carolina Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association. In 2007, Mr. Gleissner taught Commercial Law and Bankruptcy at the Charleston School of Law. He currently practices with the Gleissner Law Firm, LLC which he also started in 2007. Mr. Gleissner regularly lectures and gives seminars on various aspects of Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Law for the South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Association, the South Carolina Bar, the National Judicial College, Lorman Educational Services, and Strafford Educational Services.

CHRIS MOORE is an attorney with Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brickman, LLC.  His practice involves litigation of a wide range of disputes including those involving catastrophic personal injury, class actions, products liability, medical malpractice, and insurance bad faith.

Born and raised in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Moore studied political science at North Carolina State University. He attended the Charleston School of Law and began clerking for RPWB in the summer after his second year. In October 2008, he became an associate at the firm.

Moore is an avid tennis player and golfer. He briefly worked as an assistant golf pro in Raleigh before pursuing a career in the law. He and his wife, Mary Wallace, live in Columbia with their children DeBerry and Baker.

MARK MANDELL practices law at Mandell, Schwartz & Boisclair, Ltd, in Providence, Rhode Island. He specializes in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, medical negligence, dram shop and products liability cases. He is triple Board Certified, nationally.  His certifications are in the areas of Civil Trials, Civil Pretrial and Medical Negligence Litigation.  Mr. Mandell is currently listed in "The Best Lawyers in America." He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates. Mr. Mandell is a past president of American Association for Justice, Rhode Island Trial Lawyers Association, and the Rhode Island Bar Association.  He is the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of the Roger Williams University School of Law.  He has more million dollar verdicts and verdicts of over $10,000,000 than any other lawyer in Rhode Island history.  Most recently, he obtained the largest verdict and judgment in a medical negligence trial in Rhode Island history.  The judgment was for $31,500,000.  He has 5 trial results of over $10,000,000.


Auto Torts Seminar Room & Registration Procedures - Directive From the SCAJ Board of Governors

SCAJ has always had an open block policy, allowing members of the state bars the ability to make their reservations within our block at the Ritz Carlton/Buckhead, as needed.  Over the years, due to the Southeastern Conference Championship football game, this has become a problem in that guests would reserve multiple (in some instances up to six) rooms within the SCAJ Block.  The Ritz Carlton’s cancellation policy allows a guest to cancel anytime until noon on the date of arrival.  Over the past two years the final teams qualifying for this Championship have been decided within six days of our seminar, creating a huge deficit in our contracted block due to the cancelations.  With such short notice, neither SCAJ nor the Ritz Carlton have been able to fill these room vacancies, thus activating the attrition penalty clause of our contract.  Due to last minute cancelations over the past two years, SCAJ has incurred and paid attrition penalties totaling in excess of $30,000.00.  Therefore the SCAJ Board of Governors has enacted the following procedures with regard to the Auto Torts Seminar room reservations and seminar registration.


  1. Hotel reservations, at the Ritz Carlton/Buckhead, within the SCAJ Block, will be made only through the SCAJ Office.  The hotel will no longer directly accept reservations, within our block.
  2. Each registrant/guest will be allowed to reserve only one room within the SCAJ Block.  Under special circumstances, the SCAJ Board may allow exceptions to this rule on a case by case basis.
  3. A fifty percent (50%) non-refundable deposit for each room reservation will be collected by SCAJ at the time the reservation is made.  This deposit will be transferred to the Ritz Carlton upon guest’s arrival at the hotel.
    Should the registrant/guest cancel with sufficient notice to SCAJ, and SCAJ is able to fill the reservation, this fee may be refunded.
  4. Each room reservation will be confirmed only after the guest has registered for the Auto Torts seminar.
  5. Cancellation of the Seminar Registration will automatically cancel the room reservation(s) and SCAJ will attempt to fill that reservation with another guest.

The SCAJ Board of Governors apologizes for any personal inconvenience this may cause, and are in the sincere hope you will understand this action was a necessary precaution in order to protect the finances of your Association.



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The South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) was founded over 50 years ago by a small group of trial lawyers. Since then, our mission has been to serve our members and those we are sworn to protect.  We work to uphold and defend the constitutions of our state and nation. We fight tirelessly to protect the rights of the individual; to seek justice through open and fair courtrooms; to resist unjust laws; to support policies that hold wrongdoers accountable; to strengthen the civil justice system through education; and to uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in the legal profession.

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