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David T. Tirella


About David T. Tirella

David T. Tirella is a senior trial attorney with the law firm of McKeen & Associates in downtown Detroit, Michigan. He has focused his career on high profile complex cases. With over 25 years of experience handling a wide variety of civil and criminal matters, including more than 200 bench and jury trials, David has personally interviewed and/or hired hundreds of expert witnesses for criminal, civil including trucking, auto, aviation, products and premise liability, and medical malpractice cases. David is in rare legal company having successfully won seven figure jury verdicts in three separate areas of the law including auto accident, premise liability and medical malpractice. 

Prior to joining McKeen & Associates in 2015, David focused his practice on medical malpractice and high end personal injury cases throughout Florida. He has successfully resolved personal injury cases, as lead trial attorney or as a key trial team member, in excess of $120 million in settlements and verdicts from 1997 to 2007. Some memorable cases include the following: 

In 2015, after a five-day trial in which David and Parker Stinar, Esq. represented the Plaintiffs in a medical malpractice (wrongful death) case, a Wayne County jury awarded Plaintiffs $3 million. The defense had offered zero dollars to settle the case. 

In 2013, David was asked to review a potential case in which the allegation was a delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Within six months the case settled for in excess of $2 million. 

In 2008, David was asked to "re-expert" a medical malpractice case and assist in fine tuning the medical and legal theory of the case. The case settled for in excess of $6 million. 

In 2007 and 2008, David was asked to re-expert a wrongful death case involving a plane crash resulting to multiple passenger deaths. The case required retaining in excess of 10 expert witnesses and settled some time later for approximately $24 million. 

In 2007, after a six-day trial in which David represented the Plaintiffs, the jury awarded Plaintiffs $4 million in a suit against a local private school for failure to properly supervise students. A confidential settlement was reached after post-trial motions. 

In 2005, a fraudulent physical therapy billing practice action that David and co-plaintiffs filed resulted in a $323 million settlement between HealthSouth Corporation and the federal government. At the time, this settlement was the seventh largest health care qui tam case in United States history. 

In 2004, David Tirella and Matthew Powell tried an auto accident case. The defendant's argument to the jury was the accident was merely a "fender bender" with only $500 in property damage to the vehicles, and only a "Soft Tissue Injury." After 4 days of trial, the jury agreed with the Plaintiff and awarded $1 million in damages. 

In 2002, David played an instrumental role (locating, hiring and preparing plaintiff expert witnesses) in a $29 million settlement with a hospital for a victim who sustained brain damage while in the hospital's care. 

Additionally, David spent a number of years in private practice, handling a range of criminal defense and plaintiff personal injury cases. In one criminal matter covered by the television news program, "20/20", David successfully defended a couple accused of felony child abuse for allegedly torturing and branding their sons with lit cigarettes. David's ability to assemble a comprehensive expert medical team, including a clinical dermatologist, child therapist, adult psychiatrist, and family physician, helped prove to the Court that the marks were actually caused by a rare skin condition. Felony charges were dropped and the couple's children were returned home. 

David also spent a number of years as an Assistant State Attorney for Hillsborough County, prosecuting all levels of crime, ranging from misdemeanor, juvenile, and felony cases including murder. Over time David worked his way through the divisions, culminating as a prosecutor in the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Division. Among other honors, he was selected as a Governor Appointed Special Prosecutor to handle a complex case involving a string of 25 burglaries by a husband and wife team in a neighboring Florida County. 

In addition to his legal work, David is also a consumer and child advocate. His work on behalf of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act (an anti- bullying act for all public schools in Florida) included national media coverage, with appearances on ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS' "The Early Show." His work helped push the bill through both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Governor Charlie Christ signed the bill into law in June 2008. 

David frequently speaks and teaches on a wide variety of legal issues ranging from personal injury, legal education, and expert witnessing. His cases or legal opinions have also appeared on "CNN/Headline News", ABC's "20/20", Associated Press, Tru TV's "In Session", Tru TV's "Open Court with Lisa Bloom", ABC News, MSNBC, Fox 13 TV, WTSP 10 TV, "The Legal Talk Network", WFLA 8 TV. Additionally, his cases or legal opinions have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Associated Press, Miami Herald, Chicago Union Times, Lawyer Weekly, ABA Journal, and the 2nd District Court of Appeals and Florida Supreme Court.

Media Archives 
Estate of woman who died at southfield physical rehabilitation center gets $3 million in lawsuit , Oakland Press 2015 
Zero Tolerance in Today's Schools, The Stream 2014 
Diagnostic mistakes common, yet ignored, Tampa Bay Times 2013 
East Bay baseball coach Colome resigns, TBO.com 2013 
Fla girl was bullied for months before suicide, Miami Herald 2013 
Family of Port Orange women killed in crash upset driver only gets ticket, News-Journal 2013 
Mean girls: Florida girl bullied for months before suicide, newstelegram.com 2013 
Fla bullying case raises questions for parents, Associated Press 2013 
Browning will make bullying a priority, Sun coast News 2012 
Suicide case raises question: Is Bully Law tough enough? TBO.com 2012 
Parents: Bullying put son through ‘pure hell' before suicide try, TBO.com 2012 
Hospital, Doctor fight You Tube video Critical of Care, Fox Tampa Bay 2011 
Widow of Prominent Tampa Bay Businessman Sues Hospital, Tampa Bay Times 2011 
Wreck Victim Outraged DUI Charge Dropped Against Driver, Tampa Tribune 2011 
Retiree charged in 33-year-old case of rape in Manatee, Bradenton.com 2011 
Casey Anthony Murder Trial- Post Verdict, HLN 2011 
Casey Anthony Murder Trial, In Sessions HLN 2011 
Addressing Cyberbullying in Higher Education, College Planning & Management 2010 
Port St. Lucie girl's suicide points up frustration with lack of laws as bullying grows, The Palm Beach Post 2010 
When is bullying a crime? Suicide magnifies legal puzzle, Palm Beach Post 2010 
Board Clears Doctor in $1M Case, Health News Florida 2009 
Former Wildlife Officer Convicted, TBO.com 2009 
Former wildlife officer's DUI charge reduced, TBO.com 2009 
Rape accusation against Walker Middle School students shock those who know them, St. Petersburg Times 2009 
Attorney: Delayed Penalties Soften Florida Bullying Law, The Tampa Tribune 2009 
Survey: Most Children Bullied, Parents Say, USA TODAY 2009 
Web suicide ‘a modern version of what we've had for centuries, St. Pete Times 2008 
Father sues Pentecostal Church over son's murder, The Apostolic Report 2008 
News Roll: Florida Passes Tough Anti-Bullying Law, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee 2008 
Bullying Migrates from School to Courtroom, Chicago Sun-Times 2008 
Bully Bill Florida Senate - Criminal Justice Committee 2008 
Parents of gay murder victim to testify for tough Florida anti-bullying law, LGBT News 2008 
Bullying Bill in Florida, Miami Herald 2008 
Bully Bill Florida House of Representatives- School Safety Committee 2008 
Rosa Murder Trial, In Sessions Tru TV 2008 
Rosa Murder Trial, Open Court with Lisa Bloom TruTV 2008 
Father Sues Over Son's Murder, Tampa TV Fox News 2008 
Award in bullying case is slashed, St. Petersburg Times 2007 
Big bully! Playground incident results in $4M verdict against school for failing to supervise, All Business 2007 
Boy awarded $4 million after arm broken by bully, Tallahassee.com 2007 
Bullying costs school $4M, ACLU 2007 
Bullying costs school $4M, St. Petersburg Times 2007 
Jury Awards $4 Million to Boy Injured In Game at School, The Tampa Tribune 2007 
Fla. Jury Awards $4M to Boy Hurt by Bully? Jeff Ward Radio Show 2007 
Hospital Sued Over Death of Minor, The Tampa Tribune Pasco County 2005 
Over $300 Million Settlement from CJF Qui Tam, Tampa Law Firm.com 2002 
Man's painful back injury turns into a federal case, St. Petersburg Times 2002 
Judge Tosses Out Suit Against Doctor, St. Petersburg Times 1998 
Family Rebuilding After Abuse Claims, Sarasota Herald-Tribune 1994

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, National Board of Trial Advocacy , 2006
  • Board Certified Civil Pretrial Practice , National Board of Trial Advocacy , 2012

Bar Admissions

  • Florida, 1989
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, 1990
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit, 1994
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2007
  • Michigan, 2015
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, 2015


  • Cumberland College of Tennessee School of Law, Lebanon, Tennessee
    • J.D. - 1989
    • Honors: Member, Cumberland Trial Advocacy Board
  • Florida State University
    • B.S. - 1986

Published Works

  • Case Law Update: The Four Ps of Expert Witness Selection , The Practical Lawyer 2013
  • Editorial- Bully Law The Florida Bar News 2008
  • Jeff’s Law- Forward written and published in Bully Beware! by Dr. Matteson 2008
  • A Paralegal's Role in Expert Witness Selection
  • The National Paralegal Reporter 2007
  • Winning Strategies: the 4 Ps of Expert Witness Selection , The Florida Bar Journal 2006


  • Adjunct Professor of Law , Stetson University College of Law Gulfport, Florida , 2008 - Present
  • Expert Witnesses: From Selection to Presentation , Advanced Expert Witnesses- LLM Advocacy Program
  • Adjunct Professor of Law-Medical Malpractice , Thomas M. Cooley Law School Tampa, Florida , 2014 - Present
  • Adjunct Instructor-Torts & Personal Injury , University of Miami, Paralegal Program Tampa, Florida , 2004 - 2008
  • Adjunct Instructor-Criminal Law and Procedure , American Institute for Paralegals Tampa, Florida , 1995 - Present
  • First Do No Harm, USF Medical School AMA Chapter Luncheon 2015
  • Daubert and Expert Witnesses, Stetson University College of Law 2014
  • Effective Trial Prep & Use of Experts, National Seminar 2014
  • Expert Witness: The Initial Phone Call, SEAK Orlando, Florida 2014
  • Fla Stat. 766.102, Medical Jurisprudence, Stetson College of Law 2014
  • Professionalism in the Law, Thomas Cooley Law School (Tampa) 2014
  • Fla Stat. 766.102, Medical Jurisprudence, Stetson College of Law 2013
  • Voir Dire, Trial Advocacy Class, Stetson University College of Law 2012
  • Medical Experts, Physical Examination Class, Stetson College of Law 2012
  • How to Handle Trick Questions, SEAK Naples, Florida 2011
  • Expert Witnessing, St. Petersburg Paralegal Association 2010
  • Trial Advocacy Class, Stetson University College of Law 2010
  • Closing Arguments, Stetson University College of Law 2009
  • The Impact of Bullying, Florida Matters University of South Florida 2009
  • Selection of Experts, Trial Skills Excellence in Advocacy Workshop 2009
  • What is a 4P Expert Witness? Stetson University College of Law 2008
  • Litigation Skills for Legal Staff in Florida 2008
  • Direct and Cross of Expert Witnesses, Lawyer Lecture, Stetson Law 2008
  • American Judicial System, University of South Florida- Criminology, 2008
  • Auto Claims and Trials: Winning, Defending and Understanding Coverage 2008
  • 17th Annual National Expert Witness Conference, Massachusetts 2008
  • Cyber Bullying & The Law, International Cyber Bullying Confer., New York 2008
  • Prosecuting and Defending Catastrophic Injury Cases 2008
  • Direct and Cross Examination of Expert Witnesses, Stetson College of Law 2008
  • Expert Witness Selection, American Assoc. for Paralegal Ed, Maryland 2007
  • The Importance of Expert Witnessing, Stetson University College of Law 2007
  • Accident Litigation 2007
  • Litigation Skills for Legal Staff in Florida 2005
  • Presenting Soft Tissue Injury Cases 2004
  • Litigation Skills for Legal Staff in Florida 2004
  • Making Sense of Medical Cases in Florida: A Paralegal's Guide
  • Litigation Skills for Legal Staff in Florida 2003

Honors and Awards

  • Selected as one of “Tampa’s Top Rated Lawyers” published in Legal Leaders for medical malpractice, 2012 - 2015
  • 5 Years of Dedicated Service Award- given by Stetson College of Law for teaching, 2013 - Present
  • Nationally selected for inclusion in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, 2012 - 2015
  • 10 AVVO Legal Rating, 2013 - 2015
  • Selected in '09 as one of Florida “Star Search Lawyers” published in Florida Super Lawyers under PI and medical malpractice
  • AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell, 2001 - 2015
  • Master rated, Tampa Bay Inn of Court, 2003 - 2006
  • The Florida Bar Grievance Committee 13-D, 1998 - 2001
  • Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 2000
  • Florida Governor Appointed Special Prosecutor, 1991 - Present
  • Court Appointed Special Assistant Public Defender, 1994 - 1995
  • Who's Who in America Law Schools
  • Who's who in American Law
  • Who's Who in America
  • Invited to give testimony in support of Florida House of Representatives HB669 - School Safety Anti Bullying Bill, March 25th, 2008
  • Invited to give testimony in support of Florida Senate SB790 - Criminal Justice Committee, April 18th, 2008

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Michigan Association for Justice , 2015 - Present
  • American Association for Justice , 2015 - Present
  • Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association , 2007 - 2010
  • Florida Justice Association, 2003 - 2009