CRESTVIEW HILLS - Mark Modlin
recently walked into a court hearing on the nation's first class-action lawsuit against abusive priests with an awkward gait that threatened to topple his
body swayed dangerously as he
grappled to sit down in a chair near Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley.The plaintiffs hired Modlin to consult them in the emotionally charged case.
A golf-cart wreck that nearly decapitated Modlin
in 1987 is the reason for Modlin's lack of balance, but it has not kept the 49-year-old Ludlow native from becoming one of the area's top trial consultants.
Honored in December by the Northern Kentucky Bar Association
for helping improve the local justice system, he
has been involved in more than $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements and worked on 3,700 cases the past 20 years.
The cases include getting clear titles for homeowners caught in the middle of the collapse of one of the area's largest homebuilders, helping negotiate a $100 million settlement with one of four defendants in a class action by a Cincinnati physicians' group alleging health maintenance organization price-fixing, and one of the largest jury verdicts ever handed down in Bowling Green, Ky., for a girl who crashed into a garbage truck."If you mention the name Mark Modlin to a trial attorney in Greater Cincinnati, they will know him," said attorney Paul Schachter of Fort Mitchell.
Lawyers like Schachter, who uses Modlin's
services in jury selection or mediation, will go to his
Crestview Hills wheelchair-accessible town home in the morning, help dress Modlin and drive him to the courthouse.The golf-cart wreck, and a subsequent car crash in 1999, has left Modlin with a serious spine injury that makes it difficult for him to do daily tasks.
Before a series of seven surgeries stabilized Modlin's spine, about 100 people, mostly lawyers, took care of him.They had a formal schedule where someone stayed with Modlin
every night for about three years.Many slept on the living room floor near a couch where Modlin
prefers to sleep.Senior Judge Stan Billingsley of Carrollton recalled spending such a night in a letter nominating Modlin to be an Olympic torch bearer in 2002.
carried the Olympic torch that year on Fountain Square.A publisher used a picture of Modlin
running with the torch for the back cover of a book written on the flame's journey across the United States.
Attorney Bob Sanders of Covington said Modlin
is good at consulting and mediating personal injury and medical malpractice suits because he
can identify with the injured.He
knows what resources they need to live as productively as possible, Sanders said, and he
can explain it to lawyers.
is a walking encyclopedia of what people need to put their lives back together after an accident," Sanders said.
placed a small, holographic bust of his
17-year-old son next to his
couch to motivate him to get up when he
awakes and can't feel his
The bust was a gift from his
During a recent interview, Modlin
, dressed in sweatpants and a blue UK turtleneck, grimaced as he
reached down and pulled off one of his
...Although Modlin isn't an attorney, he has been an adjunct professor of law at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law since 1996.Modlin, a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and Xavier University, became the youngest faculty member at Northern in 1981 when he was appointed as an instructor of social sciences.He
was also the first NKU graduate to be appointed to the faculty.Modlin
work ethic to his
upbringing in Ludlow.
"It was a good place to grow up," said Modlin
, who, despite his
financial successes, fashions himself as the working class's man. "It wasn't rich in terms of financial things but it was rich in terms of love, friends and relationships.My mom and dad were both born and raised there.The values that I learned as a kid help me be successful as an adult."Modlin
doesn't like to talk about the $1.2 million he
collected after the golf-cart wreck because he
believes some people are jealous.He
said those people think he
got all his
money from suing the golf course when, in reality, it came from working hard.
said much of his
focus now is deciding whether to have another spinal cord surgery.He
has gone across the county for consultations with the nation's best surgeons.
"My condition is deteriorating again," he