Written by The Business Journal Staff
Daniel O. Jamison
Chair, Health Law Section
Dowling, Aaron & Keeler Attorneys at Law
B. A. 1974 University of California at Berkeley; J.D. 1977 University of California at Davis King Hall School of Law
Wife: Debra S. Jamison. Daughter: Holly E. Jamison. Dog: wonderful Golden Lab.
How long have you been with Dowling, Aaron & Keeler?
Six plus years. DAK is a great place to work because of its emphasis on excellent client service in a friendly work environment.
What encouraged you to practice this type of law, Daniel?
I was trained in the late 1970s and early 1980s by James K. Barnum, a highly regarded trial attorney who had an extensive hospital and healthcare practice. I assisted him in a variety of contexts (medical malpractice defense, hospital v. government regarding indigent care, hospital v. doctor, and more) and represented Fresno Community Hospital, Madera Community Hospital, and other healthcare providers. My practice grew from there. It is very rewarding to deliver legal services to help healthcare providers deliver high quality patient care to patients.
What are your primary responsibilities as Chair of your firm’s Health Law Section, Daniel?
I keep the section informed of significant health law developments and am our primary liaison with other healthcare attorneys through the California Society for Healthcare Attorneys and the American Health Lawyers Association. With section members the caliber of Richard Aaron, Don Fischbach, John Ganahl, and Nathan Powell, my job as Chair is easy. This industry must comply with highly complex, healthcare-specific regulations governing licensing, relations between physicians and hospitals and health plans, indigent medical care, HIPAA, etc. I apply my experience with complex issues affecting the healthcare industry, which comes from representing hospitals and other healthcare providers throughout the Central Valley for 25 years before I started with DAK, and serving in the late 1990s as outside General Counsel for Community Medical Centers, which had over 5,000 employees at that time.
Why do you think that attorneys often get a bad rap, Daniel?
I laughed when Muhammad Ali once said that lawyers will be in the courtroom yelling at each other, “You’re a liar! No, You’re a liar!” and then later be in the cafeteria sipping coffee with each other, exchanging pleasantries. People often have difficulty understanding that it is an attorney’s professional duty, within the bounds of ethics, the law and common sense, to vigorously fight for his/her client’s side in a dispute. This duty extends to all clients, even the scorned. Sometimes the client’s position calls for arguments that people may view as a stretch, but while lawyers can offer their professional judgment as to a client’s chances, one never knows what a judge or jury will ultimately accept or rule. While I have rarely, if ever, heard lawyers call each other liars in court, it can get heated and that sometimes can be implied. Lawyers are trained for this verbal combat, but it does not mean they take it personally and step into the ring outside the courtroom. Like any other calling, lawyers have their “bad apples.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job, Daniel? The most difficult?
DAK has a very rich and diverse practice, with offices in Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. Seeking and obtaining practical solutions to complex problems is very rewarding and at the same time, is the most difficult part of my job.
Is there one case in particular that stands out, Daniel?
In the early 1980s, I briefed and argued Turpin v. Sortini, a historical case in the California Supreme Court. This was about whether a child with a hereditary disability could claim that she would have been better off never having been born. Her parents alleged that a healthcare provider failed to diagnose an alleged hereditary defect in an older sibling, and had they known about this, they would not have conceived another child. California law had been that the younger child could sue for extensive money damages for “pain and suffering,” and for the lifetime cost of caring for the defect. Although the Supreme Court was then quite liberal, our case established that because of the difficulty in saying the child would have been better off never having been born, only the cost of caring for the defect could be recovered if negligence were proven.
What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it, Daniel?
When I was 14, I was a busboy at Big Sur Lodge in the summer. When I applied, my Dad told me to state that I was interested in working hard. My aimless boyhood ended when I learned the value of that commitment. This was a fantastic experience. The young staff was housed in an old house trailer, without a door, high up on the mountainside. One night, a raccoon came in and briefly looked around, but I had to trap and dispatch the mouse that jumped on me in the middle of the night from atop an adjacent 6 foot high locker.
What do you do when not practicing law, Daniel?
I enjoy reading historical biographies and history in general. I am fascinated with how great people dealt with great problems. I have been doing kickboxing and other aerobics for many years. Old guys rule!
Do you have a favorite quotation, Daniel?
“Logical method and form flatter that longing for certainty and for repose which is in every human mind. But certainty generally is an illusion and repose is not the destiny of man.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes.