Over the first two decades of his legal career, Gregory J. Bubalo had developed a solid reputation as a defense-side corporate litigator and medical malpractice defense lawyer. But when Becker Law Office founder Gary Becker asked him to cross over to do plaintiff work in 1999, Bubalo saw a grand opportunity to advance his legal career into an exciting new area. He’s never doubted that decision.
Since joining Becker, Bubalo has racked up an impressive record of major victories for plaintiffs all across the U.S., mostly in complex tort cases involving defective pharmaceuticals.
As lead trial attorney in a 2001 case, he achieved a jury verdict of nearly $17 million for a neurosurgeon who suffered career-ending injuries after slipping and falling in a pool of water in a hospital employee pantry, one of the largest verdicts ever recorded in Indiana.
In 2008, he served as co-counsel in a New Jersey case in which a jury returned a $3-million verdict for a woman who had suffered pulmonary hypertension after taking Pondimin, a fenfluramine anti-obesity drug produced by Wyeth. Bubalo had argued that the defendant company had intentionally concealed from the Food and Drug
Administration (“FDA”) knowledge of the drug’s harmful effects. The jury agreed.
A year later, he was trial counsel in another case against Wyeth in Los Angeles involving a diet drug that caused as a side-effect a young lawyer to suffer the deadly disease from primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH). PPH is a deadly lung disease that is usually fatal. The case was resolved favorably to the parties’ satisfaction during the trial.
In yet another case against Wyeth, Bubalo recorded a $4-million compensatory judgment in 2012 from a Connecticut jury who found that the defendant company had “misrepresented the risks and benefits of Prempro” to a physician who had treated his client, a woman who had suffered breast cancer as a result. The Connecticut Court in this case as recently as August 5, 2013 added an award against Wyeth of $1,769,932.04, based on Plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees and costs. Thus, the total judgment amounted to $5,769,932.04.
Bubalo graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Illinois College and magna cum laude from Indiana University School of Law.
After getting his J.D. in 1980, he joined the firm of Greenbaum, Doll & McDonald in Louisville, Kentucky, and then the firm of Ogden, Newell & Welch, becoming partner there and focusing his practice largely on defending physicians in medical-malpractice cases. In one of those cases, he defended a psychiatrist who had given Prozac to patient Joseph Wesbecker, who walked into his workplace in 1989, shot and killed eight colleagues while wounding 12 others before killing himself. Bubalo’s defense was successful, as a judge ruled that the psychiatrist could not have foreseen the massacre; but the trial was also important to Bubalo because one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in that case was Kenneth L. Sales. The two men began a long-standing professional relationship that has culminated in Sales joining Bubalo in the practice of law in 2013.
In 1995, Bubalo became ‘of counsel’ at the Ogden firm when he became Vice President and General Counsel for Paradigm Insurance Co and President of its subsidiary, Universal Fire and Casualty Co. He continued in those roles until he joined the Becker Law Office in 1999, becoming its Assistant Managing Partner as well as serving as its lead trial attorney on complicated cases.
After Becker retired in 2004, he created his own firm, Bubalo Goode Sales & Cronen, to continue concentrating mostly on plaintiff’s personal-injury cases.
Reflecting on his career as an attorney who has handled numerous high-profile cases for both the defense and plaintiff, Bubalo says he believes that both have been fulfilling in their own ways.
“Being a defense lawyer is not heartless and it’s certainly honorable,” he says. “But you don’t get the same impact that you do when you change somebody’s life as a plaintiff lawyer.”
“I’m very blessed to be able to help my clients financially recover from their severe injuries, but at the same time have an interesting and challenging job. It’s a wonderful combination of doing good work and interesting work at the same time.”
For one thing, he points out, the medical landscape is always changing—and with the change, unfortunately, comes the possibilities of injury and illness from products when they’re not thoroughly tested or properly used. Recently, for instance, Bubalo and his colleagues have been taking an increasing number of cases involving patients who have suffered side effects from the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft that is used during spinal fusion surgery.
Bubalo has long been active in generously sharing his deep knowledge with other lawyers as a frequent speaker at seminars and other gatherings. He’s also on the Board of Governors of the Kentucky Justice Association.
He is a passionate bicyclist in his spare time, but also snow skis and jogs. He and his wife are members of the United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.