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David M. Harney

David M. Harney
Status: Deceased

(1924 - 1998)

Dave Harney was a soft-spoken man equipped with a sour wit, a powerful memory, and theatrically bushy eyebrows that, when arched, served as exclamation points.

Dave brought the first medical malpractice lawsuit in Los Angeles County on behalf of an African American family who's baby who was sent home sick from the hospital. The family tried to readmit him, but the hospital balked because they determined that the father, a jailhouse cook, lacked the required $100 cash deposit. The baby died en route to another hospital. At trial, the hospital's expert testified that the baby would have died anyway. Dave asked him only one questions: "Are you God?" The doctor hesitated, and it was in that moment that the hospital lost the case.

Spanning a career of fifty years, Dave achieved pinnacle after pinnacle of success, both in the courtroom and by acclaim from his peers. In the courtroom, he triumphed by obtaining verdicts that were both trailblazing as well as those that were in the millions and tens of millions of dollars. Dave never made apologies for being a lawyer. His mission was to sue sloppy manufacturers and errant doctors. He was on to the Corvair before Nader. When in 1975 the insurance industry and allies journeyed to Sacramento to - er - "invest in tort reform," the legislation they commissioned was called the "anti-Harney bill."

In 1983, a physicians trade journal named Dave the best plaintiff's medical malpractice lawyer in the United States, based primarily on a poll of defense lawyers. Through his career, Dave was involved in medical-legal teaching and authored a legal treatise entitled 'Medical Malpractice'. first published by the Allen Smith Co. in 1973.
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