The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) presented its prestigious 2004 Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award to FR attorneys Rick Friedman and Michael White, and to co-counsel Mike Abourezk and Peter Kahana, as well as client Kay Bergonzi, for their effort in bringing justice to thousands of cancer patients.
Kay Bergonzi, a breast cancer survivor and single mother, agreed to be the representative plaintiff in a class action against Central States Health & Life Company of Omaha (CSO) on behalf of all the cancer patients the company had shortchanged, even though she would have gotten more money from an individual lawsuit.
From left to right: attorneys Mike Abourezk, Peter Kahana and Michael White, client Kay Bergonzi and outgoing ATLA President David Casey. Michael White accepted the award for both himself and for Rick Friedman who was unable to attend.
The award reads as follows:
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America hereby confers the Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award upon Michael N. White/Richard H. Friedman.
In recognition of his contribution toward a safer; more just America and his advocacy on behalf of the late Carol Abourezk, lead client Kay Bergonzi, and other cancer patients. He made it his mission to find out how many cancer patients were being cheated by their insurance company, and he succeeded in securing justice for them now and into the future. His perseverance, in the face of overwhelming odds against a major insurance company, is inspirational. His fight for justice will help present and future cancer patients get the support they need in their battle with this deadly disease. His work has sent a clear message about the importance of the civil justice system and its role in securing fairness for all Americans.
July 6, 2004.