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Officers and Directors

Our officers and directors were carefully chosen because of their knowledge, experience and commitment to vigorously and compassionately represent the victims of traumatic brain injury. With over 1.4 million individuals sustaining a traumatic brain injury each year, TBI is a public health crisis.

Unfortunately, along with the physical, mental and emotional devastation of such an injury, another crisis has developed as a consequence.  That is, the inability of the injured person and their family to cope with the staggering legal and medical consequences of this invisible injury. The American Academy of Brain Injury Attorneys is compromised of the top 100 brain injury lawyers in America.  Membership is limited to skilled attorneys who must only represent the interests of the victims of brain trauma and do not represent defendants or their insurance carriers. The association’s membership is by invitation only and requires vigorous screening and a commitment to brain injury advocacy, brain injury education and brain injury prevention.

President:  Michael V. Kaplen, Esq.

Michael Kaplen, Esq.

Michael V. Kaplen is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School where he teaches a course in traumatic brain injury law. He served for seven years as Chairperson of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and nine years as president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State.  He is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and Vice President of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.  He is past Chairperson of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Automobile, Highway and Premise Liability Section.  He is Past Chair of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group. He served as the Co-Chair of the Tort Section of the New York County Lawyer’s Association.  He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Public Justice.   Michael has been an adjunct professor of law teaching courses in trial practice and medical malpractice at St. John’s University School of Law and is Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Graduate School of Psychology, Touro College and a guest lecturer in brain injury at The George Washington University School of Higher Education.

He serves as a legal consultant to BrainLine. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and is also board certified by the American Board of Professional Liability attorneys in the field of medical malpractice. He has been selected as a New York Super Lawyerand one of the top 100 trial lawyers in New York State by the National Association of Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Melvin M. Belli Society. Mr. Kaplen’s legal practice focuses primarily on representing persons with a traumatic brain injury caused by vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and other forms of negligence.  His summations on traumatic brain injury have been published in the Matthew Bender, Art of Advocacy Series.  He has lectured throughout the country on effective advocacy in representing persons with a brain injury.

First Vice President:  Shana De Caro, Esq.

Shana De Caro, Esq.

Shana De Caro is the Chair of the American Association for Justice, Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group and serves as secretary of the American Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association. She is also the Secretary and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Civil Justice Foundation and an elected Fellow of the Melvin Belli Society. Shana is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, a legal consultant to BrainLine and Amicus Counsel to the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. She serves as Editor of the New York Academy of Trial Lawyers, monthly legal update, is a member of the Professional Liability Section of the American Association for Justice and is an active participant in the Birth Trauma Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice and the Nursing Home Litigation Group. She has served as a member of the Medical Malpractice Review Panels in New York State and is a former law secretary to a Justice of the Supreme Court, Kings County.

Shana is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing her practice on representing victims of traumatic brain injury and other catastrophic injuries. She has been selected for inclusion in Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in American Law and named one of the top 100 trial lawyers in New York by the National Trial Lawyers Association was elected an Elite Lawyer and selected as a New York Super Lawyer.

Second Vice President:  Stephen M. Smith, Esq.

Stephen M. Smith, Esq.

Stephen Smith is the past president of the Virginia Brain Injury Association and past chair of the Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. He is the only attorney from Virginia to ever be awarded Diplomate status by the American Board of Trial Advocates and serves as a board member for Public Justice and the Melvin M. Belli Society. He is listed in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member; Who’s Who in American Law; Law Dragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America; Washington Post “DC’s Best Lawyers” and is a Graduate of Marquette University, College of Health Sciences, in Neuro Anatomical Dissection of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord.

Secretary:  James Vititoe, Esq.

James Vititoe, Esq.

James Vititoe is a member of the Executive Board of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice and a Trustee of the Civil Justice Foundation. He has served on the Board of Directors of Public Justice. In 2010, Jim and his legal team were one of eight finalists for the very distinguished award of Consumer Attorney of the Year awarded by CAOC [Consumer Attorneys of California]. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 Jim has been awarded the status of a Southern California Super Lawyer.

Treasurer:  Michael Kessler, Esq.

Michael Kessler, Esq.

Michael Kessler was a member of the Law Review and graduated from Albany Law School in 1972.  He is a partner in the firm of Rosenblum, Ronan, Kessler and Sarachan in Albany, New York and formerly served Counsel to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  Mr. Kessler limits his practice to representing catastrophically injured plaintiffs and he was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® and New York Superlawyers.® He is Board Certified in Medical Malpractice by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and was selected as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers” by the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is Chair, elect of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association for Justice and past member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. Mr. Kessler has given Grand Rounds for the Ob/Gyn Department at Albany Medical Center Hospital.  He has been invited to lecture on a number of topics at the Albany Law School, and for The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) now American Association for Justice (AAJ), North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS), New York State Bar Association, (NYSBA), New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYTSLA), Brain Injury Association (BIA), Brain Injury Society of New York State (BIANYS) and Capital District Trial Lawyers. Mr. Kessler is admitted to practice in New York and Pennsylvania. He is a Diplomate of the National College of Advocacy and is a member of American Association for Justice and serves as a Vice President of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was elected to the House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association and as a Director of the Capital Region Affiliate of New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

Parliamentarian: Thomas Dempsey, Esq.

Thomas Dempsey, Esq.

Thomas Dempsey serves as an officer of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice and has served as President of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. He served as president of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angelis. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice and a member of the Board of Directors of the Melvin M. Belli Society. He served as  President of Consumer Attorney Association of Los Angeles, received its Ted Horn Memorial Award, and has twice been its Trial Lawyer of the Year nominee. He was Vice-President of Consumer Attorneys of California and received its Outstanding Chapter President award. He has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates since 1978 and is a member of United States Supreme Court Bar, as well as, the California Bar. He is a former adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School. Tom was an adjunct professor of law at Whittier College of Law and  a professor at Southwestern University School of Law.

Contact Us

For further information on how the American Academy of Brain Injury Lawyers  can assist you or your family member, contact our President, Michael V. Kaplen toll free at 1 866 BRAIN LAW (1 866 272 4652) or by email:  michael@brainlaw.com