The Attorneys of Miller Lathrop Are On Mission to Protect the Public 7/11/17 07/12/17 1:12:40 PM
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Matthew A. Lathrop (left) and Matthew G. Miller have found their calling making the world safer for all of us.
The Attorneys of Miller Lathrop
Are On Mission to Protect the Public
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
Nestled into the tree-lined area just north of 92nd and West Dodge sits a law firm that is managed by two life-long Omaha residents – Matthew G. Miller and Matthew A. Lathrop.
And, while they are about as nice a duo as you will find, they are among the go-to firms for people involved in personal injury lawsuits.
The two both grew up in Omaha and both graduated from the Creighton University School of Law. They bring a combined half-century of experience in dealing with personal injury cases.
His first year following graduation from law school, Lathrop worked as a clerk for Judge John T. Grant of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
“Following that I worked for Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop in Omaha,” he said. “Practiced for 15 years doing almost exclusively plaintiff’s personal injury trial work.”
In 2007 he opened the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, his own private practice, and continued to specialize in personal injury trial work.
“In November 2015, Matt Miller and I merged our practices to form Miller Lathrop,” he said, pointing out there is no “&.”
Graduating about the same time from Creighton Law School as Lathrop, Miller has spent the last 28 years specializing in plaintiff’s personal injury trial work.
“I was lucky to get a job clerking, then working for Warren Schrempp, handling plaintiff’s personal injury cases,” Miller said. That led Miller to a job with Gross & Welch where he handled insurance defense files. From those experiences he said he came to feel he was working for the wrong side.
“I then had the privilege of learning how to serve as a mediator under my father’s (John Miller) tutelage,” Miller said. “Over the course of my career I’ve had the great fortune to learn at the feet of some of Omaha’s best trial lawyers who were all kind enough to share their wisdom with me.”
Those included Schrempp, Terry Salerno, Gene Welch, Larry Welch, Tom (now Judge) Otepka, Dave Woodke and his father.
“All have been professors to me.”
Lathrop pointed out he always has worked in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury law.
“My brother Steve Lathrop and Gordy Hauptman were significant influences and mentors for me,” he stated.
As for Miller, he pointed to his father who spent a career fighting for the rights of injured plaintiffs who were almost without exception “the underdog.”
“My focus in representing plaintiffs in personal injury matters is a humble attempt to follow in his footsteps,” Miller explained.
With a similar focus, the partners mirror each other’s work.
“I handle trucking cases, automobile negligence, hotel and amusement park liability, government negligence, catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims,” Lathrop stated.
The firm’s direction is an excellent fit for the partners. Lathrop said he loves trial work.
“I love the strategy of the courtroom and the high-stakes but – usually – fair fight of the adversarial system,” he said. “More than all of this, however, there is no greater reward than – with Matt Miller – working every day, for all of our clients, to enforce the safety rules that are designed to protect all of us and prevent injury and death. “
For Lathrop, it doesn’t matter if he’s in the courtroom, mediation or even negotiations.
“Staying focused on the accountability of people who break the rules and making our clients whole is what drives me every day,” he emphasized.
The partners feel that the commitment of everyone in their office, from the front desk to the corner office, to do everything possible for their clients.
The goal is: “To hold accountable anyone who chooses to break safety rules, which in turn results in greater community safety.
“We have a very unique focus not just on helping our clients, but in doing so, preventing future harm and making the community safer.”
The firm does not lack for challenges in its work. Lathrop said these days companies, doctors, drivers and businesses seem to give lip-service to safety, but are far more focused on how to generate profits.
“When they are asked whose job is it to write safety rules and enforce them, they will say, ‘It’s everybody’s job.’ Which of course, means that it is nobody’s job,” Lathrop stated. “These people, when asked about the safety rules that govern what they do, cannot cite any.”
He elaborated: “Their response is always, ‘It depends.’ This distorted world-view is all around us, and changing that is what our firm is all about.”
Lathrop agreed that there are a lot of “rules” in our daily lives that may be silly, onerous or even meaningless, but the safety rules are what protect everyone.
“Following safety rules is never subject to ‘interpretation;’ it should never ‘depend’ on the situation,” he emphasized.
Lathrop and Miller find their practice to be highly rewarding.
“It is a given that our clients come to us because something horrible has happened to them or a loved one,” Miller said. “Having endured something that threatens to change their world, and that of their loved ones, in a very negative way, these people then find themselves in an adversarial legal system that places the burden of protecting their rights, seeking adequate justice for the wrongs inflicted, squarely on their shoulders.”
He called it “a great honor” when clients trust the firm with the responsibility of looking out for and protecting their lives and futures.
“The relationships we develop with our clients frequently result in ongoing friendships long after their cases are resolved,” Miller stated. “As I see it, our work allows me to meet many, many wonderful people I would not otherwise have met.”
In concurring Lathrop said, “Time and again, our clients thank us for working for them. When they come to our firm they are injured, fearful and feel very vulnerable.”
The Miller Lathrop firm stands with them, educates them on the process and helps them stand up for themselves.
“There is a sense of empowerment that we can see,” Lathrop emphasized. “They are no longer victims, but advocates for their own recovery and, when we are really clicking, they become empowered to advocate for the safety of everyone in our community.”
They have many success stories to share, including successfully helping a man who was paralyzed after diving into a hotel pool that was negligently maintained and poorly marked; the driver and a client’s own underinsured motorist carrier were sued and held accountable for a car wreck that injured a woman; and their work on behalf of a 97-year-old retired teacher who fell and broke her hip due to a discount retailer that left an empty pallet on the sales floor.
That resulted in changes in store policy that made it safer for everyone, they recalled.
Looking to the future, the two partners feel they are at a point in their careers when they can choose which cases to take and which ones to try and their mission is clear.
“In our year together we have found a similar enthusiasm about those cases that are about so much more than an isolated fall or rear-end collision,” Lathrop said. “We want to try cases that will make a difference in the community.”
The firm wants to pursue people and business that endanger everyone, through the tort system, and hold them accountable.
Lathrop said, they then can be held accountable: “Change their behavior and deter others from decisions that make us all less safe.”
Protecting the public, that’s their job.