Emily Swanson is no stranger to getting underestimated. Whether she gets mistaken for a legal secretary or runs into assumptions that she practices in a less hard-nosed area of law than litigation, she said the types of sexist treatment she’s faced have certainly been hurtful. But she’s also learned to turn opponents sleeping on her into an advantage. Her opponents shouldn’t then be surprised, she said, when she wallops them in cases.
“Fine, think what you want of me, underestimate me. Do what you want,” Swanson said. “But underestimate me and don’t expect me to come out of nowhere and kick your butt up and down all through court.”
And Swanson, who practices at Lasater & Martin largely in liability and insurance bad faith defense, is making noise with her work. She recently litigated a case involving collateral sources, which in personal injury law prohibits payments from an independent source, such as an insurance company, to an injured person from reducing the amount of damages recoverable by the person from a defendant.
But under state workers’ compensation law, health care providers can’t recover more than what the workers’ compensation fee schedule allows. Swanson explained in her case, she argued the plaintiff couldn’t claim more under the collateral source rules because of the limits of the workers’ compensation fee schedule. As a result, the plaintiff’s claimed damages were reduced by more than $250,000 and the reduction forced a settlement.