Courthouse Triage

How N. Denise Taylor helped LA County deal with cutbacks

Published in 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers — February 2014

N. Denise Taylor comes from a family of doctors but she was never particularly good at science.

“I like to talk, I like to persuade,” she says. She knew from a young age that law was the right path for her, but she still found a way to connect with the family profession by defending medical professionals like her father.

Taylor has tried or arbitrated more than 150 cases, including a 19-year winning streak in jury trials from 1993 to 2012. In 2006, she co-founded her own medical-malpractice defense firm, Taylor Blessey, which she calls “the best career decision I’ve ever made.”

In 2013, Taylor served as president of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel. Her tenure came at a challenging time for California courts, as the budget crisis spurred significant cutbacks and courthouse and courtroom closures.

But LA County came up with a creative solution: consolidate all personal injury cases into three dedicated courtrooms in downtown LA, where they could be handled more efficiently. As a member of Judge Daniel Buckley’s PI case advisory committee, Taylor along with other bar leaders helped steer the concept. “I gave input on what I thought would work, wouldn’t work; what would be tolerable and not tolerable.” As the restructuring was implemented, Taylor’s work shifted to organizing seminars to educate defense attorneys on how the system is working.

Through it all, she kept busy. She’s been working on a string of challenging, high-profile civil cases such as defending Dr. Lisa Tseng—dubbed “Dr. Feelgood” by the prosecution—who’s been jailed on second-degree murder charges for patient overdose deaths.

“It’s not like I defend big corporations or big companies,” says Taylor. “I defend real people who are being sued by other people—and many times, the only reason is that something bad happened, not because poor medical care was given.”

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