• Tom Kline Shanin Specter Andrew Stern Lee Balefsky David Caputo Andrew Youman Amy Guth Charles Becker Michael Smerconish Lisa Dagostino Donald Matusow
    Garabet Zakeosian Michelle Tiger Dominic Guerrini Michael Trunk Regan Safier Geary Yeisley Kila Baldwin David Williams David Inscho James Waldenberger Suzanne dePillis
    Christine Clarke Braden Lepisto Elizabeth Crawford Kristen Sipala Mark Polin Barry Magen Tracie Palmer Gilbert Shelsby Robert Leoni Paulette Francois Ruth Yang
  • $109 Million
    Largest Verdict in a Personal Injury case
    in Pennsylvania history
    Read More...

  • $100 Million
    Medical Malpractice
    Largest-ever compensatory verdict
    Read More...

  • $153 Million
    Then-second largest Product
    Liability verdict in U.S. history
    Read More...

  • $38.2 Million
    Delaware County
    Auto Accident Verdict
    Read More...

  • $36.4 Million
    Workplace Injury
    Largest single-victim fatality settlement
    Read More...

  • $51 Million
    Premises Liability/
    Civil Rights verdict
    Read More...

Tom Kline

en Español

 

In more than three decades of practicing personal injury law, Thomas R. Kline has forged an incomparable record of courtroom victories — some with remarkable results against seemingly incredible odds. Beginning with a jury verdict of $5.1 million in the early 1980s, Kline has since achieved scores of seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts and settlements. As a result, he has received a litany of accolades and recognition, including his position as past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates, described by The Washington Post as "a select group of 100 of the nation's most celebrated trial lawyers."

Kline also has been honored for 10 consecutive years, 2004-2013, as the No. 1 attorney in Pennsylvania by the independent rating service Super Lawyers, an accomplishment unmatched by any lawyer across the nation. He was also chosen by Best Lawyers as its Philadelphia Medical Malpractice "Lawyer of the Year" for 2013 and as among the nation's best lawyers every year since 1995. And, of the more than 1.2 million lawyers in the United States, Kline was named as among “The 500 Leading Lawyers in America” and the leading personal injury plaintiffs' lawyer in Pennsylvania by the independent review organization Lawdragon, which describes Kline as an "ever influential and zealous advocate." Lawdragon previously featured Kline as "one of Philadelphia's legendary litigators." 
  
Kline is named to the National Law Journal's "Winning Hall of Fame" as one of fewer than 100 lawyers selected for compiling “significant bench or jury trial verdicts and who has a record of success over many years.” And he was referred to by the Editorial Board of the The Philadelphia Inquirer as "the high-powered plaintiffs' attorney... who has won a number of eight-figure awards for clients injured or killed due to negligence or incompetence by businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit health-care providers." In 2014, Kline was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by The Legal Intelligencer, a recognition representing "the figures who have helped to shape the law in Pennsylvania ... and who have had a distinct impact on the legal profession in the state." Kline is the recipient of the 2014 United Cerebral Palsy Life Without Limits Award.

Yet Kline, a former sixth grade school teacher from Hazleton, Pa., counts among his greatest honors the letters of thanks he has received from people and families he has represented, clients who suffered severe injuries or the loss of a loved one, clients for whom he was able to obtain a measure of justice. One of them was Linda McAlister, the mother of a baby rendered an invalid for life because of a hospital medication error in 1991 and for whom Kline obtained a substantial settlement. Twenty years later she wrote:

 Tom,  please always remember that, because of you we were able to spend every day with Johnathan. We were able to take him to any doctor anywhere. Had the money to take the very best of care of him. We are forever grateful. When having a bad day, know that and feel proud.
                                                                                            Love, Linda

Kline has appeared on more than 1,000 television news programs and every major national TV network, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, ESPN, MSNBC and shows such as World News Tonight, Nightline, the Today show, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360 and Piers Morgan Tonight. He has been featured or quoted in hundreds more newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek and People.

In a cover story, the Philadelphia Daily News summarized Kline’s career in a profile titled "Wheels of Justice: The lawyer who beat SEPTA," an article in which Kline was described as "the Babe Ruth of personal injury litigation." The newspaper story followed the celebrated Hall v. SEPTA case, which resulted in a $51 million verdict for a four-year-old boy whose foot was torn off in a subway escalator. The 1999 case against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority also resulted in Kline's selection by The National Law Journal as among "Ten of America's Top Litigators." 


  Tom Kline during the Sandusky trial                                        

 

 

Kline is known for his expertise in a courtroom, particularly his examination of witnesses and his moving opening and closing arguments. More than anything, he is known for getting results. In his most recent case, in December 2013, he won a $42.9 million verdict -- one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history – for a child born with cerebral palsy after she received substandard medical treatment at a Philadelphia hospital. (News coverage) A month earlier, he won an $11.6 million settlement for a former University of Pennsylvania student who fell through a raised skylight/ventilation opening at an off-campus residence and was rendered a parplegic. (News coverage) Among a few of Kline's other better-known cases are:

  • A $33.1 million jury award by a Lehigh County jury in Welteroth v. Spectrascan to the estate of a woman late diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • The Sears case in which $15.2 million was awarded to a child who suffered brain injury during heart surgery.
  • The Borkowski case in which a jury awarded $15 million to a Downs Syndrome child injured during heart surgery.
  • A $19 million verdict for a baby born with disabilities in a drug product liability case. (Read more)
  • A $10.5 million settlement for the family of a teenager killed while being restrained at a treatment center. (Leach)   
  • A $6 million verdict, the largest medical-malpractice verdict in Indiana County, in the Chichy case for a baby injured during delivery.
  • A Montgomery County jury’s multi-million dollar verdict for the estate of a woman who died of breast cancer after a doctor misread her mammogram. The Lackman case was featured on ABC's Nightline.
  • A $40.5 million settlement for six people killed and others injured in an explosion and fire at the Village Green apartment complex in Hatboro, Pa
  • The $36.4 million settlement with Motiva Enterprises for the death of a worker in an oil refinery explosion. The settlement was believed to be the largest-ever in the nation for a single worker death.
  • A $29.6 million settlement for three women who were killed and others who were injured in the collapse of Pier 34 on the Delaware River, a case in which Kline was co-lead counsel.
  • A $10 million agreement in the highly publicized Cozzolino case in which a kindergarten student was killed when a lunch table collapsed on him in the school cafeteria.
  • The Keen case, in which Kline won an $18.5 million jury verdict for a 12-year-old girl who suffered heart damage due to a medical error.
  • A $14 million verdict, reportedly the largest-ever in Bucks County, Pa., for teenager Ashley Zauflik, whose leg was amputated after she was run over by a school bus.
  Tom Kline at his desk         Photo by Eve Zausner

Kline has prominently represented Victim No. 5 in the Pennsylvania State University child sexual abuse matter and has become a national spokesman for the victims, appearing in numerous newspaper stories and featured in television coverage that has reached a cumulative audience of more than 100 million. (View coverage)

The Sandusky case was not Kline's first in the arena of protecting victims of child sexual abuse. In 2011, he obtained a settlement against an unlicensed psychotherapist who had sex with a teenage patient. The agreement came with a mandated public admission and apology in open court by the Allentown therapist. The settlement with two of the therapist’s employers was for $1.8 million but the actual payment was expected to reach as much as $3.8 million pending further litigation with insurance companies. (See The Thatcher Case).

As he did inumerable times since his first seven-figure verdict in the early 1980s, Kline in 2013 reached one of the largest verdicts for an undocumented worker in obtaining a $5 million award for a man crushed to death by a collapsing excavation site. (Arana

In 2010, he secured a $5.2 million jury verdict for the family of a Philadelphia woman who developed internal bleeding following a routine procedure and died after doctors failed to treat the condition in time. (See The Sacks Case)

In the same year, Kline obtained the $10.5 million settlement in the federal case of a teenager who died at a Tennessee treatment center after he was placed in a restraint hold. The case was one of many civil rights cases handled by Kline, who currently represents the family of a young girl victimized in a highly publicized kidnap and sexual assault case in Philadelphia after she was abducted from her school. (See Abduction Case) Kline also advocated publicly for improved school policies and procedures in testimony before City Council regarding the case.

Kline appeared previously before Council's Public Health and Human Services Committee in 2010 concerning the case of Joaquin Rivera, who died -- and was robbed -- while he waited for assistance at a hospital emergency room. Kline represented the Rivera family and obtained a confidential settlement in the civil case. (Rivera)    

In 2009, Kline achieved a $3.2 million settlement for the husband of a Wayne County woman who was killed when her car struck a piece of farming equipment that broke loose from an oncoming truck. The settlement was believed to be the largest ever in the rural northeastern Pennsylvania county. (See Curtis)

In 2008, Kline won a $5.5 million jury verdict for the family of an 18-year-old man fatally shot while working as a parking lot attendant at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital had failed to improve safety and security after an armed robbery at the same exit booth only 12 days earlier. (See Palmer) After the case, Kline publicly sought to improve safety in parking facilities both in the region and nationally. 

In addition to his full catastrophic injury practice, Kline has been, as stated by The Wall Street Journal, a “key player” in the litigation over Vioxx, the pain medication removed from the market in late 2004. He is a member of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee directing the federal MDL proceedings against Merck & Co. Kline took the testimony of top Merck executives and independent scientists which became key evidence at trial in numerous multi-million dollar awards against Merck and helped lead to a $4.85 billion settlement in which hundreds of Kline & Specter clients will benefit.

Tom Kline grew up in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region, son of a dress factory manager, and graduated from Albright College, where he has been honored with the school's Distinguished Alumni award. Kline began his professional career not as a lawyer but as a middle school teacher, teaching sixth grade social studies. He attended Lehigh University, where he earned a master's degree in American History and completed all of the Ph.D. course work and examinations. Kline then attended Duquesne University School of Law, where he graduated with the school's Distinguished Student Award and just this year received its Distinguished Alumni Award (see more). He went on to work as law clerk to Pennsylvania Supreme Court for Justice Thomas W. Pomeroy.

Kline's private legal career quickly blossomed, first at The Beasley Firm in Philadelphia and later, when he joined forces with Shanin Specter to open their own firm in 1995.

In the early 1980s Kline won a $5.1 million verdict against the makers of the Dalkon Shield, at the time the largest compensatory verdict in the United States against the maker of the defective birth control device. Later, in an epic legal struggle that spanned 16 years against a drug manufacturer, Kline won multi-million dollar punitive damage awards twice against Merrell Dow for its manufacture and sale of a prescription drug. (See Blum.)

Kline has been a prolific teacher of continuing Legal Education. Recent CLE's include: “A Conversation with Tom Kline,” a major event at the PaTLA July 2011 annual meeting, and his program “Tom Kline’s Real World in the Courtroom: Real Testimony, Real Trials" at Drexel University. He delivered the keynote address at the Bench-Bar & Annual Conference sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association in Atlantic City in October 2011. Atlantic City in 2011. Kline starred in the latest version of his Trial as Theatre series, this one titled "Bob Dylan: Music, Lyrics and the Law" and performed at the Wilma Theater, in November 2011. (more ...)

Kline is a frequent lecturer at law schools, medical schools and continuing legal education programs. He currently is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he teaches "Introduction to Trial Advocacy," and has taught classes at many institutions from Temple University Beasley School of Law to Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. In 2013, he delivered the Edward J. Ross Memorial Lecture in Litigation at Temple Law School. Kline has taught complex litigation at The National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., and addressed the Conference of State Trial Judges at its annual meeting in 2010 and 2013 on Medical Malpractice. Kline has been featured in the acclaimed Masters on Trial seminar. And he is the producer, director, writer and performer in the acclaimed one-man show "Trial As Theatre (TM)" as well as The Modern Trial and Tom Kline on Technology. Kline is the author of "Robert C. Grier: Jacksonian Unionist" and is the author of numerous other published articles. He wrote an Op-Ed piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Immunity Is Bad Medicine."

Kline served U.S. Senators Specter, Heinz, Santorum and Casey on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the United States District Court for federal courts in Pennsylvania from 1989 through 2011. The 14-member citizen merit selection panel has screened applicants for the federal bench and made recommendations to the two senators from Pennsylvania, who in turn recommended candidates to the President of the United States. Kline served as Chairman of the Eastern District panel from 1998 to 2010. As of 2011, every active member of the USDC ED Pa. was screened and recommended by the Commission. (read article)

Kline is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New York. He is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and other federal courts.

Kline is listed in Best Lawyers in America and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He is AV-rated in Martindale-Hubbell and is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, which limits membership to 500 attorneys in the United States recommended by their peers and trial judges for outstanding skills and abilities as well as character and integrity. Kline was also selected for the 2007 edition of the World's Leading Product Liability Lawyers. Kline has earned respect across many divides. Even the U. S. Chamber of Commerce lists Kline as one of the most "highly respected plaintiff's lawyers" in their October 2013 report "The New Lawsuit Ecosystem." 

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and serves as chair of the Board of Advisors of the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Drexel University. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania public radio station. In 2014, Kline was honored by United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with its Life Without Limits Award.

Kline is an avid Philadelphia sports fan who is often found behind home plate at Phillies games (read the article) and courtside at Sixers games (read the articles: 1, 2). He is also a recreational squash player and continues to bowl since his teenage years as a league bowler.

 

Tom Kline on TV and Radio

The Cozzolini Case -  Child killed when school table collapses 

The Davis Motiva Case - Worker dies in refinery explosion

The Ebel Case - Doctor dies as result of care by colleagues

The Eskin Case - Radio host settles defamation suit

The Hall V. SEPTA Case - Tot's foot torn off in subway escalator

The Lackman Case - Negligence found in breast cancer case

The Leach Case - Negligence found after death at facility

The Little Case - Settlement reached in boxers death

The Palmer Case - Jury award in parking lot shooting

The Pier 34 Case - Pier collapse kills three, injures dozens

The Rivera Case - Man dies in Philadelphia ER waiting room waiting for care

The Ryan Case - Penn student dies after wrong diagnosis

The Seidel Case - Prison death case settled for $4 million

The Slaughter Case - Boy drowns in pool at summer camp

The Thatcher Case - Settlement reached in psychotherapist sex case

The Village Green Case - Six killed in explosion at apartment complex

The Welteroth Case - Record $33.1 million verdict in breast cancer case

The Wilkerson Case -  A woman died when ride pavilion collapsed

The Zauflik Case - Teen badly injured in "runaway bus" accident

 

View all TV coverage of Tom Kline cases

 

Most recent TV/Radio appearances (2012-2014)

 

 

Newspaper/Print Coverage:

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To contact Tom Kline, email him at

 

 

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