Joel J. Feller has dedicated his entire legal career of nearly three decades to exclusively representing and fighting for catastrophically and fatally injured individuals and their families.
Feller’s tireless advocacy and commitment to his clients has resulted in nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements in complex catastrophic injury cases involving medical malpractice, brain and spinal cord injuries, amputations, defective products, premises liability, motor vehicle accidents, and sexual and physical abuse.
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 brought about major policy improvements in the delivery of medicine and to public-safety.
Feller is widely regarded as a leading legal authority in the highly specialized area of birth injury and neonatal litigation, with some of the largest recoveries of their kind in the region. Among his most impressive victories were on behalf of families of infants and children who suffered devastating injuries, such as brain damage, paralysis, and death during the labor and delivery process or the neonatal period, as well as on behalf of women who were seriously injured in childbirth.
Feller’s work on birth injury cases alone has resulted in the recovery of more than $200 million for families of injured children. Some of his major victories involve cases where Feller demonstrated that:
He also obtained remarkable recoveries for families of children who, as a result of medical negligence, were born prematurely with severe injuries. In multiple cases, Feller demonstrated that doctors had failed to offer the mother a simple procedure known as cervical cerclage, which could have extended the pregnancy and prevented the injuries to their babies.
Feller also has unparalleled experience and success in representing children and adults who suffer neurologic injuries, such as paralysis, amputations, and fatal injuries, as a result of the failure to timely diagnose and treat infections, including meningitis.
In a recent case, Feller obtained an extraordinary recovery, $16 million, for the family of an infant who suffered brain damage after physicians failed to timely diagnose and treat a bacterial respiratory infection, pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
Feller also recovered $9 million for the family of a child who is now wheelchair-bound as a result of an untreated viral infection. Feller proved that the child was born with abnormal signs and symptoms of an infection, yet the pediatrician failed to perform any diagnostic workup, including blood work. Feller demonstrated that blood work would have revealed the treatable infection before it was allowed to destroy the child’s spine. In another recent case, Feller recovered $5 million in a wrongful death action filed on behalf of the family of a 65-year-old Montgomery County man who died from an infection following routine back surgery, a laminectomy. Feller established that the infection, due to medical negligence, was allowed to worsen and progress to meningitis.
Feller is known for his unwavering representation of his clients and has a proven record of successfully litigating some of the most complex cases against healthcare providers, hospitals, manufacturers, insurance companies, as well as large and powerful institutions and corporations.
Recently, Feller obtained an astounding $15 million settlement on behalf of a 7-year-old boy who suffered a brain injury during surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor. While the defendant doctors claimed the injury was an unavoidable consequence of the difficult surgery, Feller proved otherwise. After analyzing voluminous medical records and taking exhaustive depositions, Feller uncovered that the neurosurgeon and anesthesiologist failed to properly manage blood flow to the child’s brain during surgery, which caused severe hypoxic brain damage.
In another recent case, Feller recovered $12 million for a Philadelphia man who suffered permanent neurological injuries due to the failure of doctors in an Intensive Care Unit to monitor and treat his low blood pressure.
In another complex case, Feller obtained a $10.9 million recovery for a young woman who suffered neurologic injuries during brain surgery to treat a genetic condition called Arteriovenous Malformation. Feller demonstrated that the surgeon failed to appropriately use imaging to guide his surgery, resulting in excessive intrusion into areas of the brain and irreversible damage.
Feller gained national attention for successfully representing nine sexual assault victims of former football coach Jerry Sandusky in civil litigation against Penn State University. 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.
Feller’s work in the area of fighting for victims of childhood physical and sexual abuse is unmatched. He has successfully litigated civil abuse cases and won numerous multimillion-dollar recoveries totaling more than $50 million for sexual and physical assault victims.
Recent recoveries include $9 million on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was sexually abused, $6 million on behalf of a 15-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted at a Pennsylvania summer camp, and, most recently, $5 million on behalf of a 30-year-old woman who was sexually abused by Stephen Shaffer, a science teacher at Somerset Area public school when she was 14.
In that case, Feller uncovered during discovery that there were concerns about Shaffer’s inappropriate behavior toward female students for years before he abused the student. The lawsuit, which was filed in Federal Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleged administrators at the Somerset district failed to prevent Shaffer from physically and mentally abusing the student.
Feller has also been instrumental in protecting and establishing the legal rights of pediatric patients. Among his most notable accomplishments in this area is a significant legal victory in K.H. v. Kumar, et al, 122 A.2d 1080 (Pa. Super. 2015), a case involving an infant who had been repeatedly abused, causing injuries that went unreported to child protective services by treating physicians.
Due to the physicians’ negligent medical treatment and failure to report, the abuse was never investigated and the child was never removed from the abusive environment. Tragically, the infant continued to be abused, ultimately resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury. Feller successfully argued the case before the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which ruled that physicians could be held civilly liable for medical malpractice and resulting damages to pediatric patients when they fail to recognize and/or report medical signs and symptoms that are suspicious for child abuse. Feller secured a confidential settlement on behalf of the brain-injured child.
A proven record of extraordinary results in all types of catastrophic injury cases makes Joel J. Feller one of the preeminent trial attorneys in Pennsylvania and the nation.
In another highly publicized case, Feller obtained an $18 million settlement from Erie Insurance Exchange in a landmark bad-faith insurance 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 up to the senior claims examiner assigned to the accident. Feller’s work resulted in what is believed to be the largest such “bad-faith” settlement involving an underlying $100,000 policy in Pennsylvania history.
Feller also has won remarkable recoveries for his clients in premises liability actions, including pool drownings and injuries at recreational facilities. Recently, Feller won an $11 million recovery against a recreational facility on behalf of a 17-year-old boy injured while jumping on a trampoline.
One particular focus of Feller’s practice is product liability litigation against machine/equipment manufacturers and major automakers. Feller has successfully litigated cases involving rollovers, crashworthiness, defects to door latches, and seat belts.
One case resulted in a $30 million recovery for a girl who was paralyzed in an automobile accident as a result of a defective lap-belt-only restraint system. Feller secured a $7 million recovery for the family of a truck driver who was involved in a fatal crash. By conducting extensive discovery into the manufacturer’s design specifications and testing, Feller uncovered that the steering assembly in the tractor-trailer was defective and caused an interruption in the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
Throughout his distinguished legal career, Feller has secured numerous extraordinary verdicts and settlements in cases involving the delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar recoveries for his clients that include women who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancer, men who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate and other urologic cancers and individuals who have suffered a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of skin, lung, colon, 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 woman who died of cervical cancer as a result of a misread pap smear, and a $5 million recovery for a woman whose breast cancer was allowed to advance after doctors failed to biopsy a suspicious lump.
Beyond winning exceptional financial compensation for his clients, Feller’s cases have brought about significant public-safety improvements.
One such case involved Mariah Edwards, a 17-year-old girl from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, who died tragically after a routine tonsillectomy at Abington Surgical Center. In the case that drew national media attention, Feller uncovered that after the uncomplicated outpatient surgery, nurses in the post-anesthesia care unit had given Mariah 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 nurses. As a result, Mariah suffered respiratory arrest and hypoxic brain injury and later died.
Feller recovered $6 million for Mariah’s parents in what became the largest settlement involving medical malpractice publicly reported in Pennsylvania that year, according to The Legal Intelligencer. 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 steadfast pursuit of the facts compelled 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 sight to patients.
In another case, Feller represented the family of a 15-year-old boy who drowned in a hotel swimming pool. Feller demonstrated that the teen went unnoticed at the bottom of the pool by the on-duty lifeguard for 10 minutes. By the time he was observed, he had suffered fatal brain damage. Feller proved not only that a single lifeguard was inattentive but that the hotel’s policy of having one lifeguard observe the pool and perform other tasks was dangerous. In addition to securing an astonishing confidential settlement for the child’s family, the hotel agreed to change its policy regarding the positioning and duties of lifeguards.
Originally from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Feller earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees, and his J.D. from the Widener University School of Law. 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.
For years, Feller has been involved in philanthropic work. His latest endowment marked the largest ever received by the University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and established the Joel and Kim Feller Advising and Career Center.
“In our case, Joel knew exactly what was going to happen, legally, even before it happened. We put our daughter’s life in his hands and Joel far surpassed any expectations that we could ever have imagined.” — Ginger D’Amico
“Joel Feller was wonderful. It really mattered that he treated us like real people, not just another case. He had genuine compassion for us. We had complete faith in him and trusted everything he was doing. And that trust was rewarded in the end. We couldn’t be happier. We really can’t thank Joel enough for everything he did for our family and for our son. He was simply the best.” — Samantha Pritchard
“Joel Feller was very caring and sensitive. He was almost like part of the family for two years. From the beginning, he was up front about our limitations in the case, but when he said he was going to do something, he got it done.” — Mary Zganjer
“If we took this case, these allegations, to any other attorney, they would have thought we were crazy. Joel Feller never treated us like we were crazy. He was always sympathetic and very passionate about the case. He was more a friend than he was an attorney.” — Janmarie Cannon
“Joel Feller was just a great lawyer. He worked nonstop for us and put in extremely long hours to get us the outcome we received. The outcome was fabulous. Joel fought for my child and, because of that, it really will make a difference in his quality of life.” — Lesle Taylor
“I remember at trial being very impressed with Joel Feller’s ability to put into practice his vast legal knowledge and how he was able to counteract what the other lawyers were saying and trying to do. He became like family and treated us like family. I was very impressed with his ability to get Olivia what she deserves. Her quality of life has vastly improved since the outcome.” — Pam Hathaway
“I was impressed from the day I first walked into their building. It's almost intimidating because I am a regular, middle-class person, but I definitely felt like I was in the right place. Joel Feller really made it feel like he was working for you. In fact, Joel told me several times that he was my employee.” — Karen Schaefer