In 1993 I felt called to start my own law firm and no longer work for other attorneys. I established The Law Office of Steven A. Denny, P.C., [LOSAD] and rented a tiny office in the back of a larger firm which was run by friends of mine who graciously let me set up in their empty space. Three years earlier I had first encountered The Merton Prayer and had made it a daily part of my connecting to God.
I literally had “no idea where I was going” while feeling confident that God had led me into this venture. I certainly “could not see where that road was leading” and “could not know for certain where that road would end.” A step of faith? Absolutely. Naïve optimism? Also absolutely. Confidence fueled by parents who had embedded the “you-can-do-whatever-you-set-your-mind-to” principle in me from childhood? Again, absolutely. I felt called to a “ministry” of legal representation where each client gave me a chance to help them obtain a fair and appropriate compensation for their injuries. I calculate that for every medical malpractice case I have accepted over the years I have turned down between 25 and 50 people who asked me to represent them.
And now, nearly 30 years later, LOSAD is still alive and helping “the little guy” receive justice from those who harmed them. At the bottom of my firm’s letterhead are these words, “Striving for Justice in an Imperfect World,” and when I began my new firm there were very few income producing cases; somehow, perhaps understandably, being a former minister turned lawyer resulted in many pro bono cases which pulled at my heart strings but were not covering LOSAD’s overhead expenses. And then I went to a fund raising event for a local ministry where I listened to an amazing speaker, a pediatric neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins who just one year earlier had published his memoir titled “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” The next day I bought the book and read it in two days, marveling at the role God had played in Carson’s life.
One week later I received a call from a woman whose 15-year-old daughter had just died after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor. The grieving parents brought me over 500 pages of medical records and the picture I saw horrified me. The surgical team “closed” their procedure and then the doctor noticed that one sponge was “unaccounted for” which meant it was left inside the young girl’s skull. The surgical team reopened the girl’s brain and searched in vain for the missing sponge and in so doing put her into a coma which led to death soon thereafter. This case required a pediatric neurosurgeon as my expert in order to obtain “the keys to the courthouse door” since Illinois law required a “Certificate of Merit” to be obtained from a neutral doctor before a civil lawsuit could be filed.
I called Johns Hopkins and spoke with a secretary in Carson’s office, asking her if he ever worked with a lawyer in a medical malrpactice case, to which she said, “rarely, but if he feels there was egregious negligence, then yes, occasionally.” Literally a half hour later my phone rang and this is what I heard, “This is Ben Carson, can I help you?” After regaining my surprised composure, I told him what had happened, he said making the correct sponge-count before closing the surgical site is basic surgery protocol, he would be happy to be my expert for this case, he asked me to send him the records, two weeks later he signed the “Certificate of Merit”, eight weeks later the hospital attorney settled the case for a very large amount (which covered LOSAD overhead for several years!), and my journey on this road has never wavered thereafter.
Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear [the LORD]. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” This verse is my favorite Mertonian verse of all the ones cited in my book which support the words of The Merton Prayer. May you hear that soft voice of the Holy Spirit this week as you make choices of which “way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.”
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One thought on ““This is Ben Carson, Can I Help You?””
I never knew you had ever interacted with Ben Carson. What a great guy! What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.