Kathleen M. O'Donnell

 
Kathleen M. O’Donnell
Location: 327 Gorham Street, Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
Phone: (978) 221-5333
Fax: (978) 221-5320
Email: Kathy@kcolaw.com
For over thirty years, Kathy O’Donnell has been an advocate for consumers both in and out of the courtroom. She concentrates her practice in all aspects of serious personal injury litigation, including construction site accidents, medical malpractice, automobile collisions, liquor liability, premises liability, and falls on snow and ice. She also represents people in their worker’s compensation cases. A trial attorney with a proven record of success in the courtroom, her advocacy skills draw on her commitment to making a difference for her clients and the community at large. Kathy works for people – not for corporations. She has taken on insurance companies, big businesses, cities, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

A frequent lecturer and published writer, Kathy has held executive and leadership positions with major legal associations in Massachusetts. She is past President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, and the Greater Lowell Bar Association. She was listed by the Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly in 1995 as one of the top ten lawyers in Massachusetts and in 1997 as one of the twenty-five most influential lawyers in Massachusetts between 1972 and 1997. The National Law Journal also named her one of the twelve most influential lawyers in Massachusetts in 2000. In 1996 and 1997 the American Association of Justice (an organization with 60,000 members) awarded her the prestigious Weidemann Wysocki Citation of Excellence for her commitment to the civil justice system. She has been listed by Boston Magazine as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer since 2004 in the category of Best of Boston Personal Injury. Kathy was the first female member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and she has been listed consistently in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in the East. Kathy’s peers have given her the highest rating established by Martindale Hubbell’s Legal Directory. This rating is only given to lawyers and law firms which are considered to have a very high to pre-eminent legal ability and who are thought to embrace very high professional standards.

Lawyers and law firms from throughout the country seek Kathy’s advice on cases they are handling and on trial and insurance issues. Kathy has been asked to speak to Congress and to numerous state legislatures about auto insurance issues and about the impact changes to automobile laws will have on consumers and on people hurt in automobile collisions.

Kathy has been involved in many community activities and after September 11, 2001 she led the effort of the Massachusetts Bar Association to ensure that civil rights and civil liberties would not be curtailed in the aftermath of the attack and she worked with other organizations in urging citizens throughout the Commonwealth to adopt a resolution opposing those parts of the U.S.A. Patriot Act and related Federal Executive Orders which curtailed civil rights and civil liberties. During her tenure at the Massachusetts Bar Association, Kathy urged that organization to file an Amicus Brief in the Goodridge case (the decision of the highest Court in Massachusetts which recognized the legality of same-sex marriage) and, as MBA President, she appointed a task force to ensure that all laws impacted by that decision were changed.

SELECTED CASES
  • Crane worker injured when jib of crane pinned him to the boom. Third-party and worker’s compensation settlements exceeded $1 million for this worker and his family.
  • Electrocution cases. Recovered for an individual struck by lightning while working on top of a steel building during a thunderstorm. Also, recovered for an electrician injured when he touched a live wire on a construction site.
  • Successfully brought a claim against a ski area when a teenager fell from a chairlift and broke her hip.
  • Medical Malpractice Cases. Recovered for an individual when a doctor failed to see a growth on a routine x-ray of the client’s knee. Recovered for the wrongful death of the mother of five children who did not receive proper medical treatment while a prisoner at MCI-Framingham.
  • Award for a person injured in automobile collision who was subsequently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
  • Verdict in excess of insurance policy limits of $100,000.00 when no offer had been made in a rear-end collision resulting in a TMJ injury.
  • Settlement of a closed-head injury/traumatic brain injury case for $900,000.00 when there was no evidence of head trauma.
  • Resolution of injury aspect of case when a defective propane gas stove caused a sailboat to be destroyed completely.
  • Recovered for an injured railroad worker when equipment he was operating was rear ended by a piece of equipment operated by a co-worker.
  • Recovered for an individual who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit by a truck when the driver claimed he lost control because of a sudden medical emergency. Several law firms rejected this case. Attorney O’Donnell started suit and, through discovery, learned the driver had several prior collisions when he lost consciousness while driving.
  • Since Massachusetts Courts changed the standard for recovering for falls on snow and ice Attorney O’Donnell has represented successfully several people injured because of falls on snow and ice.
EDUCATION
  • J.D., Suffolk University Law School, 1980
  • B.A., Wheaton College, 1977
  • Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree, Wheaton College, 2007
BAR ADMISSIONS
  • Massachusetts, 1981
  • United States District Court, Massachusetts, 1982
  • United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, 1982
RECOGNITION
  • Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers keynote speaker at 2006 annual dinner.
  • Boston Magazine Super Lawyer – recognized as a top personal injury lawyer every year since 2004. Also recognized as one of the 50 top women lawyers in New England and in Massachusetts.
  • National Law Journal – named one of the twelve most influential lawyers in Massachusetts, 2000.
  • Greater Lowell Bar Association – Lawyer of the Year Award, 1992.
  • Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys – Distinguished Service Award, 1994.
  • American Association of Justice Service Award – 1996 and 1997.
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly – 1995: named one of the top ten lawyers of the year; 1997: named one of the twenty-five most influential lawyers in Massachusetts between 1972 and 1997.
  • Essex County Bar Association – honored as one of leading woman lawyers in the state, April, 1997.
  • Supreme Judicial Court Appointment to Committee on Lawyer Advertising, 1997 to 1999 and the Committee examining mandatory fee arbitration, 2011-2012.
  • Who’s Who in America, 2006 to 2013.
  • Who’s Who in American Law, 2005 to 2013.
  • Who’s Who of American Women, 2006 to 2013.
  • Who’s Who in the East, 2006 to 2013.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
  • Greater Lowell Rape Crisis Services – member of the Board of Directors, 1990 to 1994.
  • Greater Lowell Pastoral Counseling Services – member of the Board of Directors, 1989 to 1994.
  • Sohier Park Committee, York, Maine:
    Member: 1989 to 1993
    Chair: 1992 to 1993
  • Lowell Catholic High School Board of Directors, 1997 to 1999.
  • Massachusetts Community Legal Education Board of Directors, 1998 to 2005.
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
(representative not complete)
  • Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee – presentation on automobile insurance, May and August, 1997.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures – presentation on automobile insurance, April, 1998.
  • Institute for International Research – Auto Managed Care Forum, June 1998 and July, 2000.
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Center for Consumer Affairs: Auto Accident Compensation Project Auto Choice Policy Debate: October, 1998, New Orleans, Louisiana. Other participants: Peter Kinzler and Daniel Miller.
  • Perspectives on Federal Auto Choice Reform Legislation: January, 1999, Washington, D.C. Other participants: Peter Kinzler, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Joseph Libermann, U.S. Representative Dick Armey, U.S. Representative Jim Moran, Andrew Tobias, Michael Horowitz, Frank Clemente, J. Robert Hunter, Stephen Carroll, Michael Miller, Daniel Miller, Professor George Priest, and Professor Jerry O’Connell.
  • Auto Insurance Reform Debate: November, 1999, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Iowa Trial Lawyers: November, 1997, Presentation at Annual Convention.
  • National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives: Presentation at Annual Legislative Conference in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998.
  • Roscoe Pound Foundation – presentation on juror bias in low-impact collisions, January, 2000.
  • American Association of Justice; National College of Advocates; Presentation: Different approaches in trying low impact collisions resulting in connective tissue injuries, February 17, 2000.
  • Auto Insurance Report, National Conference, 2000: Presented the Lawyers’ perspective on auto insurance to two hundred and fifty insurance executives; Newport Beach, California; April, 2000.
  • Vermont Trial Lawyers: Presentation on Juror Bias; July, 2001.
  • National Conference of Insurance Legislators – Presentation on Rising Auto Insurance Costs, San Francisco, California, November, 2002.
  • American Association of Justice, Massachusetts Bar Association, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys: frequent lecturer on trial skills, insurance issues and recent developments in the law.
Many of you probably remember the old commercial for a hair replacement company where the owner says “I’m not only the President of Hairclub for Men but I’m also a client.” I not only represent injured people but I am a member of the group of people hurt because someone didn’t do what she was supposed to do.

In 1979 a car rear ended my Volkswagen Beetle as I was going north on Route 93 in Stoneham. The driver’s seat broke from the impact and I was thrown around in my car. When I woke up at the scene, a Doctor asked me if I could move my toes. I couldn’t. I told him my back hurt, my right arm hurt, and inside felt all jumbled up. An ambulance initially took me to a local hospital but I was soon transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. X-rays showed: a shattered right humerous, multiple broken ribs, and two exploded lumbar vertebrae. A CT scan showed pieces of the vertebrae were touching the spinal cord. It was unclear what damage had been done to the spinal cord.

I received in-patient care for over three months. The physical pain was muted by medication but the loss of independence and privacy was devastating. After my discharge, I had physical and occupational therapy for months. I resumed my normal activities after another six months. I still have back pain every day.

This experience of being injured because someone wasn’t paying attention while he was driving has been invaluable to me in my thirty years of practicing law and in my daily life. I do not talk on the phone while I am driving because I understand that even one second of inattentiveness can alter someone else’s life. I understand what my clients go through when they are injured in any way. Even a back or neck strain can affect a person’s ability to enjoy life fully. I understand the indignity of not being self-sufficient and independent. I understand the frustration in not being able to work and to support yourself.

It is important to hold people accountable for their mistakes. No one intends to rear end someone. It happens all the time because people aren’t paying attention or they are distracted while driving. Doctor’s don’t intend to hurt their patients. Sometimes they do injure them because what they are doing has become too routine or because they were thinking about something else at the time they were treating that patient. Contractors don’t intend for their employees at work to get hurt on the job. Sometimes workers get hurt because the general contractor wanted to rush a certain part of the job and safety rules weren’t followed. No one intends for these injuries to happen but someone is hurt and her life is disrupted. The wrongdoer or negligent person must be held accountable for two reasons. First, the injured person must be compensated. Second, the wrongdoer and those around her must learn from the mistake so it won’t happen again.

Throughout my career I’ve represented injured people. I’ve also worked with legislatures throughout the country to make sure the right of an injured person to recover is not taken away. My experience as an injured person helped me to understand what my clients are going through. That experience also convinced me it’s important to hold negligent people responsible for their actions.
 
 
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