Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Excellence in Civil Litigation
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Section Chairs

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Workers' Comp

Sonia Das Sturm

Sonia Das Sturm has been defending worker’s compensation claims throughout the State of Indiana for over eighteen years. In 2015, Sonia joined the law firm of Inman & Fitzgibbons, Ltd., a defense firm focused on providing high quality worker’s compensation legal services. Inman & Fitzgibbons proudly represents employers in worker’s compensation cases in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Missouri.  Sonia has experience advising clients and litigating disputes arising before the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board, including compensability, calculation of average weekly wage, entitlement to temporary total disability or temporary partial disability, offsets to benefits due, permanent partial impairment, permanent total disability, medical treatment, medical causation, apportionment of liability, bad faith or lack of diligence, statute of limitations, employee vs independent contractor, affirmative defenses (including intoxication, self-inflicted injury, failure to utilize a safety device, and failure to follow employer’s posted rules), as well as provider fee claims. She guides employers and insurance adjusters on compliance with the requirements of the Worker’s Compensation Act, mediates settlements, tries claims in formal hearings, makes argument on reviews to the Full Board, and handles all aspects of any appeals.  Sonia also has experience litigating worker’s compensation issues in civil courts, including the exclusive remedy defense, threshold questions (employee vs independent contractor, secondary liability), and coverage. She is a frequent author and speaker on worker’s compensation topics.  She also represents defendants in other civil disputes.


Trial Tactics

Charles Smith

Charley Smith has represented numerous entities, including insurers, governmental entities and corporations, in state and federal court. He practices in the areas of insurance coverage, real estate and construction matters, trucking liability and personal injury actions, including catastrophic injury and wrongful death matters.  Mr. Smith is a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, serving on the Litigation Section’s executive committee, having chaired the committee in 2017. Mr. Smith has presented at continuing education seminars on premises liability, use of experts at trial, determining damages, mediation strategy, and third-party liability. Mr. Smith is an active member of Cross & Crown Lutheran Church, serves as a volunteer and volunteer recruiter for Second Helpings, and as a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana’s Big Growth team.  Mr. Smith is an avid reader, cyclist, triathlete, and masters swimmer.  Mr. Smith has testified at the Indiana State Senate in opposition to a proposed amendment to Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act that had the potential to drastically increase the exposure defendants in personal injury cases faced.

Employment Law

Lucy Bednarek

Lucy Bednarek is Of Counsel with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. She defends employers and management in a wide array of litigation matters with a particular emphasis on employment and civil rights litigation. She has extensive jury trial experience in both state and federal court. In 2015, Lucy was awarded the Trial Lawyer Excellence Award from Law Bulletin Publishing for Outstanding Defense Verdict in a Civil Rights Case against a $13 million jury demand. Lucy is licensed in Indiana, Illinois and the District of Columbia. She is also an active member of the DRI. Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Lucy was a litigation partner at a Chicago law firm and defended municipalities and school districts throughout Illinois and the surrounding areas in civil rights, employment, and tort litigation. 

Insurance Coverage

Justin Curtis

Justin Curtis is a litigation attorney with the law firm of HeplerBroom. Mr. Curtis concentrates his practice on first and third-party insurance defense and insurance coverage actions, representing insurance companies from the investigation of a claim through litigation. He has extensive experience in insurance fraud and bad faith litigation. Mr. Curtis has filed and effectively prosecuted numerous affirmative litigation actions on behalf of his insurance company clients.  Apart from insurance defense and coverage, Mr. Curtis has extensive litigation experience in a variety of fields, including professional liability, construction and education law. He is licensed to practice in Indiana, Illinois and United States District Courts in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.

Health Law Litigation

Heather Gilbert

Heather T. Gilbert is partner in the firm’s Merrillville and Indianapolis offices. She concentrates her practice in civil litigation, with an emphasis on medical negligence, construction, and transportation.

Heather defends health care practitioners and organizations in medical negligence cases. She also represents clients in complex construction, correctional healthcare, employment, products liability, insurance coverage litigation, premises liability, transportation and wrongful death matters. Heather continues to maintain an aggressive motion practice, has obtained numerous pretrial dismissals for her clients and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for the Indiana Court of Appeals.  

Prior to joining Cassiday Schade, Heather worked as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, where she represented the City and its employees in personal injury cases. Her work included successfully drafting and arguing several motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment, as well as serving as lead counsel at numerous arbitrations and jury trials in Cook County. Heather also worked for a Chicago law firm where she focused her practice on medical negligence, with an emphasis on hospital liability and handled cases involving a wide range of medical specialties.  While in law school, Heather served as an extern for the Honorable Kenneth F. Ripple of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She was also a member of the Student Bar Association and served as Executive Articles Editor for Health Matrix: Journal of Law and Medicine.  Heather is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, Chicagoland Healthcare Risk Management Society, Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, Indiana State Bar Association, Porter County Bar Association and the Women Lawyers’ Association of Indiana.

Business Litigation

Ian Goodman

Ian is a business and insurance litigator with trial experience beyond his years. He understands that the most effective way to represent clients is to invest time in building close-knit, long-term relationships with them. Regardless of the nature or size of a client, Ian’s approach is to first determine what the client wants to achieve; next, identify options; and then create and execute a plan of attack.

Product Liability

Jazzmin Gordon

Jazzmin Gordon is a member of the firm's Product Liability Practice Group. She focuses her practice in manufacturing matters, toxic tort, and personal injury. Jazzmin’s experience includes defending domestic and international companies in product litigation matters, including:

  • Serving as national counsel for a major engine manufacturer in mass tort litigation
  • Serving as national counsel for a large medical device company in product liability matters
  • Defense of product manufacturers against product defect claims, warnings claims, and complex multiparty toxic exposure claims

In addition to her product liability work, Jazzmin has extensive experience representing clients in the automotive industry. Specifically, she provides counsel to a large motor vehicle manufacturing company regarding distribution network operating standards, policies, and regulations. Jazzmin also defends companies in general business litigation matters.

Jazzmin is active in the firm’s pro bono program, successfully representing clients in settlement conferences before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Construction Law

Barath Raman

An associate in Lewis Wagner's litigation group, Barath S. Raman’s practice area includes the defense of personal injury, product liability, construction accident and defect, and environmental insurance coverage cases.  Before law school, utilizing his B.S. from Purdue University in Construction Engineering, Barath worked as a Field Engineer for Mass Electric Construction Company.  In connection with the light rail mass transit expansion project in Houston, Texas, Barath coordinated with and drafted contracts for sub-contractors; and, he also served as the project’s Environmental Compliance Manager.  Mass Electric later asked Barath to serve as its Conduit & Utilities Field Engineer in Los Angeles, California for the I-405 Highway Expansion Project, where Barath edited civil engineering drawings to reflect as-built installations and coordinated with the various trades on work schedules, procurement of materials, and safety compliance.  Barath embarked on his legal career in 2011 by enrolling at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he hoped to leverage his engineering background to develop a law practice including construction and environmental law. Prior to joining the Firm in 2014, Barath worked as a summer associate for Lewis Wagner and the Marion County Public Defender Agency in the Major Felony and Appeals Divisions. He performed legal research and assisted in the preparation of numerous court documents for various jury trials. Barath earned his J.D. cum laude from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he served as the President of the Student Bar Association.