C V N   D I S C O V E R Y

Ed Ricci and Matt Schwencke on the Approach That Won $4.9M Med Mal Verdict

Searcy Denney attorneys outline the keys that win them settlement offer-beating verdicts.

In 2018, Searcy Denney's Ed Ricci and Matt Schwencke made headlines with a $4.9 million verdict for a Florida man forced to have his leg amputated after suffering a blood clot. The award far surpassed the defense's $15,000 settlement offer, and was named one of CVN's top plaintiff's verdicts of the year.

In an in-depth discussion on the case, Ricci and Schwencke outline the techniques they think connect with juries and win the verdicts that beat settlement offers.

The discussion uses video of the trial to break down their courtroom approach, across nearly every phase of trial. You'll learn effective techniques for cross-exam, how to powerfully incorporate demonstratives into your opening, and more.

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Ricci and Schwencke Detail $4.9M Med Mal Win

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Edward Ricci

A shareholder at Florida legal powerhouse Searcy Denney, Ed Ricci has won a slate of high-value cases. A member of the Florida Justice Association, Ricci has been highlighted in The Best Lawyers in America annually since 2012. His notable trials include a $4.5 million verdict for a man whose leg was amputated after suffering a blood clot.


Matthew Schwencke

A shareholder at Searcy Denney, Matt Schwencke has earned a range of honors, including inclusion in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40, membership in the invitation-only American Board of Trial Advocates, and induction into the Florida Verdicts Hall of Fame. Schwencke's notable trials include a $4.5 million medical malpractice verdict for a patient whose leg was amputated following a blood clot and a $12 million verdict for the death of of a child hit by a car as he was bicycling.



Topics Ed Ricci and Matt Schwencke Discusses

Click each topic below to skip directly to the discussion. 


Ed Ricci and Matt Schwencke talk about the covid's impact on their practices and their thoughts on trial experiments during the pandemic. 

What you'll learn:

  • The pair's thoughts on trial alternatives, such as remote jury trials, as an answer to covid-related court shutdowns. 
  • The impact of covid and court closures on case progression..

Quotable moment:

[It] certainly puts our clients in a poor position because the threat of trial is often the factor in getting cases resolved, so it does make things harder. — Ricci on the pandemic's potential impact on cases.  

Case background

The two lawyers discuss the case's background, involving a patient forced to have his leg amputated after suffering a blood clot. They also discuss their approach to requesting damages in light of the trial jurisdiction's reputation for handing down relatively low awards.  

What you'll learn:

  • How they assessed the case's strengths and weaknesses going into trial.
  • How to read a jury before deciding on how to approach a damage request.

Quotable moment:

We were comfortable with our jury, but we thought, you know, it is still this county, let’s not give them a number, let’s let them come up with a number.. — Schwencke on deciding against specifying a damage number, in light of the jurisdiction's reputation for handing down relatively small damage awards.

Educating jurors

The pair detail how they balance introducing complex medical terminology to jurors without overwhelming them.

What you'll learn:

  • How to break down confusing medical terms.  
  • Using demonstratives to teach a jury.

Quotable moment:

I think the traditional approach of just going with an ELMO or a couple of poster boards... is not as effective as it used to be. — Ricci on the importance of using a range of demonstratives. 

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Cross-examining the defendant physician

The two attorneys discuss Ricci's cross-exam of the defendant physician in the case. 

What you'll learn:

  • How to effectively cross-examine a well-prepared expert. 
  • The importance of impeaching a defendant physician's credibility in a medical malpractice case.  

Quotable moment:

We made the deliberate decision that I might ask some questions from the depo just to… establish a few important points, but beyond that, I wanted to go off-script so to speak and really ask him questions from the records that he could not refute. — Ricci on his approach to cross-examining the defendant physician.  

Friends and family damages witnesses

Schwencke discusses his questioning of the plaintiff and his family to build a successful damages claim. 

What you'll learn:

  • Eliciting personal stories from a plaintiff's friends and family that will resonate with jurors.    
  • How to prepare a strong line of questioning.  

Quotable moment:

You’ve got to really listen to what your damages witnesses are telling and you just have to let them tell their story. — Schwencke on questioning damages witnesses. 

Life care planner testimony

Schwencke details his questioning of the life care planner and his thoughts on keeping jurors engaged during life care planning testimony. 

What you'll learn: 

  • The importance of life care planning testimony to a case.
  • How to present life care planning testimony without losing jurors' interest.

Quotable moment:

It’s a necessary "evil" of your case. — Schwencke on the sometimes dry, numbers-intensive testimony inherent in a life care plan.

Medical experts and medical evidence

Ricci and Schwencke break down testimony from their medical experts and discuss the best ways to prep an expert for trial.

What you'll learn:

  • How best to approach questioning a medical expert.
  • How to sufficiently prepare your expert without them appearing rehearsed on the witness stand.

Quotable moment:

You don’t want to come across as rehearsed but at the same time you want to make sure that they’re prepared, so that’s a delicate balance. — Ricci on preparing experts for trial. 

Next Steps

CVN offers hours of video on the topics Ricci and Schwencke discuss. Here's where to head next in our library. 

Watch the full trial: Gray v. Iakovidis.

Watch CVN's trial coverage of:

Ed Ricci

Matt Schwencke

Learn about the 10 must-watch medical malpractice cases that led to plaintiff's verdicts CVN's library.