Joel J. Feller has devoted his entire legal career of more than two decades exclusively to representing the catastrophically injured and their families and has obtained astonishing results in cases involving medical malpractice, defective products, brain and spinal cord injuries, premises liability, construction / workplace injuries, truck accident litigation, birth injuries, and the failure to diagnose cancer.
During his extensive career, Feller has earned an impeccable reputation in the legal community where he is known as an exceptionally skilled litigator whose tenacity has produced not only record-setting, seven- and eight-figure recoveries for his clients but also major policy changes in the delivery of medicine and to public safety.
Feller gained national attention for successfully representing seven sexual assault victims of former football coach Jerry Sandusky in civil litigation against Penn State University. He prominently represented Victims 2, 3, 7, and 10, Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt Sandusky, and other victims. With more clients than any other single firm, Feller and Ross Feller Casey played an integral role in finalizing the $60 million global settlement with Penn State in August 2013 (learn more about the case).
In another highly publicized case, Feller obtained an $18 million settlement from Erie Insurance Exchange in a landmark bad-faith action on behalf of the family of a teenager who sustained serious brain injuries in an auto accident. The case involved the insurer’s refusal to pay on a $100,000 policy. Feller uncovered a pattern of bad-faith conduct by Erie Insurance starting with an inexperienced adjuster all the way up to the senior claims examiner assigned to the accident. The outcome is believed to be the largest such “bad-faith” settlement with an insurer involving an underlying $100,000 policy in Pennsylvania history (read about the case).
In one of his most well-known cases, Feller recovered $6 million for the parents of Mariah Edwards, a 17-year-old girl from Montgomery County who died after a routine tonsillectomy performed at Abington Surgical Center. The recovery in Mitchell v. Abington Surgical Center was the largest settlement involving medical malpractice publicly reported in Pennsylvania in 2012, according to The Legal Intelligencer.
Feller uncovered that after the uncomplicated outpatient surgery, nurses in the post-anesthesia care unit at Abington Surgical Center had given Mariah Edwards Fentanyl, a potent narcotic, and failed to properly monitor her respiratory condition for more than 20 minutes. In that time, her respiratory condition worsened and went unobserved by PACU nurses. As a result, Mariah suffered respiratory arrest and hypoxic brain injury and died 15 days later.
Feller’s work on the case raised awareness of the dangers of post-operative / recovery room care, and was featured in a Special Investigative Report by 6ABC WPVI TV in Philadelphia. In addition to obtaining the record recovery, Feller’s involvement in the case prompted the surgical center to improve patient safety to ensure that the tragedy never happens again. Improvements included requirements: for one-to-one post surgery nurse-to-patient care; that monitors can no longer be muted; and that nurses can no longer close curtains to obstruct the line of site to patients (learn more about the case).
Most recently, Feller recovered $6 million for a girl who was sexually assaulted at a Pennsylvania summer camp.
Feller also has distinguished himself with remarkable results in the highly specialized area of birth injury litigation, with some of the largest recoveries of their kind in the region. Among his most impressive recoveries were for families of children who suffer from cerebral palsy and other brain / neurological injuries, as well as women who were seriously injured during labor and delivery. Feller’s work has resulted in the recovery of more than $100 million for families of injured children in cases involving the delay in delivery, uterine rupture, lack of oxygen, neonatal infections and children born prematurely.
His numerous birth injury cases include a remarkable multimillion recovery for the family of a child who, as a result of medical negligence, was born prematurely with severe injuries including a lung disorder. Feller demonstrated that doctors had failed to offer the mother a simple procedure known as a cervical cerclage, which could have extended the pregnancy and prevented the injuries to her baby. Feller also obtained a multimillion settlement for an infant who suffered brain damage at a community hospital. In that case, Feller proved that a nurse-midwife and two nurses failed to recognize and manage fetal distress during labor. Feller was able to establish that the fetal heart rate monitoring strips were concerning, an indication that an emergency C-section should have been performed earlier.
Feller also has successfully litigated cases in which medical malpractice has led to the wrongful death of women during childbirth. In one case, Feller obtained a $5.5 million settlement in a difficult jurisdiction in Central Pennsylvania for the family of a 23-year-old woman who died after giving birth to her daughter. Feller proved that a team of doctors failed to recognize and treat internal bleeding following the delivery that caused the death.
Recently, Feller recovered $9 million on behalf of a 10-year-old child who is wheelchair bound as a result of pediatric malpractice. Feller showed during the case that doctors had failed to order standard tests after birth that would have determined the newborn suffered from a serious viral infection.
Feller is widely regarded as a leading legal authority in complicated cases involving the failure to diagnose and treat cancer. During his career, he has obtained numerous multimillion recoveries for women who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancer, for men who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis of prostate and other urologic cancers, and for individuals who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of skin, lung, colon, rectal, throat and other oral cancers.
Among his many well-known cases in this area include: a $5.5 million recovery for the family of a women who died of cervical cancer as a result of a misread pap smear; and a $5 million recovery for a 42-year-old woman whose breast cancer was allowed to advance after doctors failed to biopsy a suspicious lump.
Feller has also won impressive legal victories for his clients in premises liability actions, most notably in cases involving drowning.
He has obtained multimillion dollar recoveries for families of children who have drowned in “guarded” pools, including $5.5 million for the family of a 15-year-old boy who drowned in a hotel swimming pool. In that case, Feller proved not only that the single lifeguard was inattentive, but also that the hotel’s policy of having one lifeguard observe the pool and perform other tasks at and away from the pool was dangerous. As a result of the case, the hotel agreed to change its policy regarding positions and duties of lifeguards (read about the case).
Feller’s success in litigating product-liability cases includes crashworthiness cases against the major automobile manufacturers involving rollovers, roof crush, door-latches, seat belts and other occupant protection. One such case Feller litigated resulted in a $30 million recovery for a 10-year-old girl who was paralyzed in an automobile accident as a result of a defective lap belt only restraint system (read about the case).
He secured a $7 million recovery for the family of a truck driver who was involved in a fatal crash. Using state-of-the-art animations, Feller demonstrated that the steering assembly in the tractor trailer was defective and caused an interruption in the driver’s ability to control the vehicle (read about the case).
Originally from Hazleton, Pa., Feller earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland in 1990 and his J.D. from the Widener University School of Law in 1993. He is admitted to practice in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is a member of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and American bar associations and is a member of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey trial lawyers associations. He is also a member of the Trial Lawyers of America.
Feller has lectured at Villanova University Law School and the Temple University Beasley Law School LLM program, is a frequent presenter at continuing legal education programs for attorneys, and serves as a Judge Pro Temp in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Martindale-Hubbell has recognized Feller with a “Preeminent” AV peer rating, the highest possible evaluation.