Each month, we like to feature one of our attorneys to help you get to know our team better. We recently sat down with attorney Melissa H. Nafash to talk about her background in the legal field and what she is currently working on.
What led you to a legal career?
At a young age, I decided to be a lawyer when I grew up. It was between that and becoming a doctor (I dreamt big!), and I didn’t have an appetite for blood or needles (still don’t). Interestingly, I now practice in a space where law and medicine are combined, and I thoroughly enjoy the medicinal nature of my cases as much as I like litigating them. Beyond my childhood dream of becoming a lawyer, two core characteristics that led me to a legal career are my love for helping people — especially those in need — and being a rule follower. There are few things I find more rewarding than a satisfied client, many of whom stay in contact years after their case is resolved. I also take great pleasure in holding medical device and drug manufacturers responsible for not following the rules.
What has been your most interesting or memorable case and why?
I consider Thorpe v. Davol, Inc. and C.R. Bard, Inc. to be the foundation of my legal career. It was a Composix Kugel Hernia Mesh case that was tried in Rhode Island’s Federal District Court in 2010. I was in my second year of practicing law at that time and a member of the trial team. I had been working on the Composix Kugel Hernia Mesh litigation for a couple of years at that point, having also been a member of the trial team for the first Composix Kugel Hernia Mesh case in Rhode Island’s Federal Court. In both cases, I learned so much on a daily basis, worked under brilliant legal minds, became truly inspired by the area of law in which I found myself and didn’t sleep at all! In the Thorpe case, however, unbeknownst to even me at the onset, I had completely invested myself in the clients. By the time we got to trial, I knew the documents and testimony perfectly, but I also knew everything about the family and their struggle through the injuries sustained by the hernia mesh. I empathized deeply with their suffering. I laughed with them, and I cried for them. I felt every moment of that trial with both my heart and my mind. To this day, strategies I employ in my cases are informed by what I learned during those years at trial, and I still remain in contact with the Thorpe family. In fact, I’m a proud recipient of the photo from their eldest daughter’s recent wedding.
The Thorpe trial was a win all around. The jury found for the Thorpes and awarded them $1.5 million, other plaintiffs nationwide got satisfaction in a victory over a company that caused their injuries, a tired trial team felt triumphant, and I, in my second year of practicing in a profession filled with hundreds of different practices, had found where I belong.
What litigation are you currently working on?
I am right back where I started! I am currently focused on several litigations against hernia mesh manufacturers, including Davol, Inc. and C.R. Bard Inc., Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, and Atrium Medical Corp. With respect to the Davol, Inc. and C.R. Bard, Inc. litigation, I am part of the leadership team developing the liability story and preparing the cases for trial — the never-ending mountain of work that I so enjoy immersing myself in!
What are one or two things about you that most people don’t know?
This is a difficult question, because I’m an open book and very talkative! However, I am currently looking for places to take horseback riding lessons and piano lessons (a pastime I miss). I’d rather spend hours listening to an 80-year-old reminisce about life and life’s lessons than almost anything else. The only thing I enjoy more is every second I spend with my child. While I’m ambitious and will always strive for the next level of success, my greatest accomplishment will always be my amazing and brilliant son, Brayden.