Tom Kline

In more than four 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. Described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as "one of the nation's most prominent trial lawyers," Kline has achieved hundreds of seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts and settlements. In 2019 alone he achieved jury verdicts of $41 million, $80 million and $8 billion in medical device cases and a prescription pharmaceutical trial. In 2023, he won a $175 million verdict in a Roundup cancer case and followed that in 2024 with a $2.25 billion verdict in another Roundup trial.

As chair of the Plaintiffs Management Committee of the Amtrak 188 multidistrict litigation consolidating all cases in the federal court in Philadelphia, Kline was instrumental in establishing a $265 million settlement program for passengers injured and families of those who died. It is believed to be the largest such settlement in railway history. At the conclusion of the litigation, U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis, who presided, noted in his final opinion that Kline’s leadership in the matter was “exceptional.” Kline currently is chair of the plaintiffs steering committee for the 2016 Hoboken, N.J., train crash and represents the one person killed and a number of the 114 others injured.

The largest verdict of Kline’s career came in 2019 and was also believed to be the largest in Pennsylvania history and among the largest ever in the nation. The $8 billion punitive damages verdict was handed down by a Philadelphia jury against J&J and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Risperdal. The anti-psychotic drug, whose off-label use the drug companies promoted for children, was linked to the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys, known as gynecomastia. (News coverage)

Kline's $2.25 billion verdict in January 2024 included $250 million in compensatory damages and $2 billion in punitive damages against Monsanto Co. for a 49-year-old Pennsylvania man who was diagnosed with cancer after using the company's weed killer Roundup on his property over 20 years. (Read article) Just a few months earlier, Kline won a $175 million verdict — including $150 million in punitive damages — against Monsanto for an 83-year-old Philadelphia man diagnosed with cancer from years of using Roundup. That verdict, also in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, was the first bellwether case among hundreds awaiting trial in the Philadelphia mass tort program over Roundup. (Read article)

In May 2019, Kline won an $80 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson for a Media, Pa., woman injured by a surgically implanted vaginal mesh device. The verdict in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court following a six-week trial included $30 million in compensatory and $50 million in punitive damages, making it the largest compensatory award in the nation to date for a vaginal mesh case. Kline, in his closing speech to the jury, had termed the case “an epic tale of corporate misconduct by an American corporation to put profits before patient safety.” (Read article

Tom Kline at his desk Photo by Eve Zausner

A few months earlier, Kline won a $41 million jury verdict for another Pennsylvania woman for injuries she suffered from three vaginal mesh devices designed and marketed by J&J subsidiary Ethicon Inc. The verdict, which came after a five-week trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, included $25 million in punitive damages. (Read article)

In 2018, Kline obtained the largest-ever settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a child sexual abuse case. The settlement came for the family of Sean McIlmail, a former altar boy who was the victim of abuse over several years by a serial pedophile priest.

In 2017, Kline negotiated a historic settlement for the City of Philadelphia to pay $4.4 million to a take-out food deliveryman who was shot by plainclothes officers who mistook him as a criminal suspect. Not only was the highly publicized settlement a city record and among the largest nationally involving a police incident, it also included new regulations and training protocols for plainclothes police to help prevent such a tragedy in the future. (see News coverage)

Tom Kline has been honored for 21 consecutive years, 2004-2024, as the No. 1 attorney in Pennsylvania by the independent rating service Super Lawyers * — an accomplishment unmatched by any lawyer across the nation — and he has also been selected as a New Jersey Super Lawyer. Kline was chosen by Best Lawyers as the 2019 Philadelphia Medical Malpractice "Lawyer of the Year" and as among the nation's best lawyers since 1995. In 2020, he received the "Best of the Bar" achievement award presented by the Philadelphia Business Journal. He is a member and 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 was the 2016 recipient of the Michael A. Musmanno Award, the highest honor conferred by the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association to the person who best exemplifies “the same high integrity, scholarship, imagination, courage, and concern for human rights” as the late Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice. 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 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." Kline has been 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." And in 2015 Kline was elected to the prestigious American Law Institute, founded in 1923 and considered the leading independent organization working to clarify, modernize and improve the law in the United States. He also was named by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the region's most influential people, including its "Power 100" list for 2018.

On Sept. 7, 2022, Kline gave a $50 million gift to his alma mater, Duquesne University School of Law, which was renamed in his honor as the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University. (Newspaper coverage, TV coverage, Duquesne University Magazine coverage)

In 2014, Kline announced a $50 million personal gift to the law school at Drexel University, now named the Thomas R. Kline School of Law. The donation included the former Beneficial Savings Fund Society building in Center City, which is now the Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy. (See News coverage) In 2012, Kline and partner Shanin Specter made a large gift to the Penn Carey Law School, which named its newly constructed courtroom the Kline & Specter Courtroom. (Watch dedication ceremony)

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

His efforts have produced not only large verdicts and settlements but also many safety improvements. For one, his representation of the family of a Penn State student who was a victim of hazing resulted in a substantial settlement and also a comprehensive reform package to make Greek life safer at campuses across the nation and to discourage hazing in general. He worked with legislators in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to help enact laws — named for the late Penn State student, Timothy Piazza — that increase the criminal penalties against hazing.


Inner Circle



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 titled "Wheels of Justice: The lawyer who beat SEPTA," the Philadelphia Daily News described Kline 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 skill in a courtroom, particularly his examination of witnesses and his moving opening and closing arguments. More than anything, he is known for getting results. Most recently, in 2015, he won a bellwether case against the maker of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, which has been linked to the growth of female breasts in boys and male adolescents. Kline obtained a $2.5 million award for a young Alabama man in the first case to go to verdict among thousands filed against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. He is liaison counsel in the coordinated Philadelphia Risperdal litigation.

In another major case, Kline in 2013 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 paraplegic. (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.
  • 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.

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).

Kline, along with Nadeem Bezar and Emily Marks, filed suit against the owner/operator and management company of a Northeast Philadelphia motel on behalf of teenage girl who was enslaved there and forced to perform sexual acts with men over a nearly two-year period. The March 2017 lawsuit was the first filed under Pennsylvania’s 2014 human trafficking statute. (news coverage)

As he did innumerable 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.

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 was 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 benefited.

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 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. He went on to work as law clerk to Pennsylvania Supreme Court for Justice Thomas W. Pomeroy. Later, in 2008, Kline received Duquesne’s Distinguished Alumni Award (see more) and in 2019 was inducted as a member of the Century Club of Distinguished Duquesne University Alumni, the highest honor bestowed on graduates. (Watch video)

Kline's private legal 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 (See Dalkon Shield). 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 the Kline School of Law at Drexel University. In April 2017, Kline was the moderator at a spirited Philadelphia District Attorney Candidates’ Forum held at a packed auditorium at the Kline School of Law. (Watch the debate) He delivered the keynote address at the Bench-Bar & Annual Conference sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association in Atlantic City in October 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 2011 and 2014. (more ...)

Kline is a frequent lecturer at law schools, medical schools and continuing legal education programs. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he taught "Introduction to Trial Advocacy," and he 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." Along with Chip Becker and Shanin Specter, he authored a chapter about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and medical malpractice in the book titled "The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania -- Life and Law in the Commonwealth, 1684-2017." (Read the chapter

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 rated AV-Preeminent by 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, serves as chair of the Board of Advisors of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Drexel University. Kline previously served as 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). In October 2020 he wrote an article published by the Philadelphia Business Journal titled "Sixers superfan Tom Kline: Why the hiring of Doc Rivers is the right move at the right time." (Read the article) He is also a recreational squash player and continues to bowl since his teenage years as a league bowler.

Tom Kline in the news:


Most Notable Cases News Coverage:

The Cozzolino 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

Tom Kline In The News 

TV/Radio/Newspaper Coverage (2012-2024)

(click here for newspaper articles)


Television/Radio Coverage:


Newspaper/Print Coverage:


^ Back To The Top