A Passion for Litigation: Julie Braman Kane, J.D. '93, Changing Lives – and Society – for the Better

Julie Braman Kane, B.A. '90, J.D. '93, sadly remembers Amanda Slavin, a nurse who was the victim of surgical malpractice and pharmaceutical negligence. “She was brilliant, talented, and an athlete who had everything going for her,” said Kane, a partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, a Coral Gables litigation firm. “She and I became true friends, and it was devastating to watch as she became debilitated and finally lost her life.”
Picture of Julie Braman Kane, B.A. '90, J.D. '93

Julie Braman Kane, B.A. '90, J.D. '93

In 2003, Slavin underwent surgery for a spinal fluid leak and was mistakenly injected with a dye. During the procedure, the neurosurgeon injected a dye called methylene blue. However, neither the hospital nor McKesson Medication Management LLC, which ran the pharmacy, provided Food and Drug Administration-required information or training that methylene blue should not be injected during spinal procedures. In 2009, a Miami-Dade County jury awarded $38 million in compensatory damages to Slavin, represented by Kane and her partner Joseph J. Kalbac, Jr.

“From devastating personal tragedies come opportunities to make society a little better.”

Not long after the verdict in favor of her client, Kane was getting a haircut at a local salon when a man came up to her, saying her recognized her from the TV news. He told Kane that he was on the board of a hospital. After hearing about Slavin’s case, the board held a meeting and changed its procedures regarding the storage of methylene blue to prevent a similar case from happening in the future. “It was just a passing comment in a hair salon, but it showed how we can make a difference,” Kane said.

Becoming a ’Cane

Kane grew up in Houston but formed connections with the University of Miami at an early age through her aunt and uncle, Kathy and Barth Green, M.D., professor emeritus and former chairperson of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the UM Miller School of Medicine, co-founder of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and co-founder of Project Medishare for Haiti. “My uncle is the greatest humanitarian I know,” Kane said. “I admire his values and commitment to others.”

As a teen, Kane spent summers in Miami with her uncle, aunt, and cousins and enrolled at UM after graduation from high school. “I planned to become a doctor and started medical school in my senior year,” she said. “But I realized that was not where I belonged.” She decided on law school, and after earning her bachelor’s degree in English magna cum laude with a minor in chemistry, she was offered a Dean’s Scholarship at Miami Law. “It was the best career decision in my life,” she said. “There is simply no place like the ‘U.’”

At Miami Law, Kane soon found her passion was litigation. “I took part in the Litigation Skills Program, and it was spectacular for me,” said Kane. “I loved the research, the discovery process, and the idea of courtroom work. It was a transformative time in my life.”

Joining Her Firm

Kane took a big step toward a career in litigation in 1991 when she took a summer clerkship at Colson after her first year in law school. “Bill Colson and Mike Eidson took me under their wings and made sure that even a summer clerk like me knew the most important thing was the client,” she said. “Being able to care for the people we are helping transformed my view of plaintiffs’ law.”

After passing the bar and joining the firm, Kane remembers talking with Eidson about the positive impact of advocacy for plaintiffs killed or injured through others’ negligence. “I listened closely since Mike had handled the first Ford Pinto lawsuit back in the 1970s,” she said.

Thirty years later, Kane is still at the firm, still helping clients achieve justice. She has been involved in many other safety-related products liability and medical malpractice cases, including a current matter involving motor home tires.

“At the end of a case, if we are successful, we change lives,” said Kane. “There is nothing better than helping someone who was in horrific circumstances and changing their lives through our hard work and efforts.”

A partner in the firm since 1999, Kane has secured many multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements in personal injury cases. Her practice includes commercial litigation, multidistrict litigation, and class action work, including data breach litigation.

Kane is a voracious reader who spends plenty of preparation time on her cases, reading statutes and rulebooks, along with learning the facts of each case. “While I love getting into the courtroom, most of the time we don’t get there because of the work we do on the front end,” she said.

In February 2020, Kane moderated a panel on “Navigating the Modern Trial: Technology-Enhanced Trial Presentations,” for the Florida Association of Women Lawyers. A month later, courtroom trials ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Kane said the firm’s attorneys didn’t miss a beat. “For us, the transition to working remotely was seamless,” she said. “Rather than traveling extensively for my cases, as I have done for years, I can now make those connections on my laptop.”

A Champion of Civil Justice

Kane’s commitment to protecting the right to trial by jury is evident in her more than 20 years of service with the American Association for Justice, the world’s most extensive trial bar. A champion of civil justice, she recently served as president of the AAJ and has chaired its National Finance Council, Products Liability Section, Women’s Caucus, and Diversity Task Force.

In 2012, Kane initiated and chaired the AAJ’s Voter Protection Action Committee, a 50-state program to protect the rights of American citizens whose access to the polls was otherwise restricted and ensure their ballots were counted. She is incredibly proud of what VPAC has accomplished and will accomplish. “State by state, laws attacking voters’ constitutional rights are creeping through legislatures,” Kane said. “Our democracy depends on lawyers to protect those rights. VPAC and AAJ will keep working as long as voters’ rights are under assault.”

Through the years, the AAJ has honored Kane with its prestigious Distinguished Service Award, Howard Twiggs Commitment to Justice Award; Marie Lambert Award for leadership; and Joe Tonahill Award for legal excellence. In addition to her national service with AAJ, Kane has served as a trustee and co-chair of the National College of Advocates, on the board of directors for the Florida Justice Association, as a commissioner on the Florida Elections Commission, and as president of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers.

In 2021, Kane was honored with the Florida Justice Association's (FJA) Al J. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award.

A Balanced Life

When not practicing law, Kane enjoys spending time with her husband Jeffrey Kane, a dentist in North Miami Beach, their three children, and two rescue dogs. “We have plenty of friends who are lawyers,” she added. “It’s a pleasure being around professionals who love what we do.”

A double ‘Cane, Kane has maintained strong connections to Miami Law through the years. In 2010, Miami Law honored her with the Alumni Leadership Award, given to attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their careers and serve as role models for the next generation. She was honored again in 2017 with the Law Alumni Achievement Award and the Florida Justice Association’s B.J. Masterson award, which honors an attorney epitomizing ethical professionalism in his or her career of practicing law.

Kane now serves as president of the Law Alumni Association and is on the 2021 Homecoming Committee. “When everything shut down last year, many students lost their jobs, and summer positions disappeared,” she said. “Our alumni organized a massive outreach, hiring students and funding fellowships. I am so proud of our alumni for doing our part to get today’s students to a position to become transformative members of the law community.”

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