NEW YORK – Greek-American Eleni Coffinas was named New Yorker of the Week by AMNY on April 13 for her efforts as an attorney “fighting for her clients’ rights for decades.”
“As part of NYC-based firm Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo since 1993, Coffinas leads one of the firm’s medical malpractice units and has fought for and won numerous high-profile and high-dollar amount settlements,” AMNY reported, adding that “some of those settlements include a $31 million verdict, the largest of its kind in New York, in a matter involving a failure to diagnose breast cancer as well as a $61.66 million verdict on behalf of a baby who suffered brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation during delivery.”
Coffinas told AMNY that “I was following in the family business when I decided to become a lawyer,” noting “that her father was a judge in Brooklyn and both her older and younger sisters are also lawyers.”
“We grew-up thinking [law] was the only career that was out there and that there were no other options,” Coffinas told AMNY.
She “graduated from Brooklyn Law School and has been recognized in New York magazine and Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top lawyers in New York,” AMNY reported, adding that “during the first 10 years of her career, Coffinas was a trial lawyer, focusing on medical malpractice and general personal injury work.”
“An example might be a housing project where someone gets hurt in a common area,” she told AMNY and “explained that her work as a trial lawyer was the best training to become a medical malpractice lawyer because it taught her how to ‘try a case and not get stuck under the weight of volumes of medical records.’”
“It taught me how to really find what’s important… how to put a case together without drowning under all the paper,” Coffinas told AMNY.
She added “that while she still finds trial work the most interesting part of her job, the most fulfilling is helping give people relief that they desperately need,” AMNY reported.
“When you can get that person money, in lieu of being able to restore their health… the fight for justice and their health is really gratifying,” she told AMNY, adding that it “helps them to know that somebody is on their side or that a jury agreed with them in holding people accountable.”
“Many of Coffinas’ clients have various degrees of cancer, even some who are at near-terminal stages,” AMNY reported.
“There’s definitely a social worker-type aspect to the job, where I’ll ask people how they’re doing during chemotherapy and tell them we’re rooting for you and that you’re inspiring,” Coffinas told AMNY, adding that “every client is their own unique individual and we go on the journey with them. When the case is settled, that’s where satisfaction comes in.”
The “moment of relief by compensating people to help ease some of that pain,” gives the most satisfaction Coffinas told AMNY. “How do you give a future to kids who’ve lost their mother during childbirth? The money really can make a difference in those scenarios.”
“Asked about healthcare system changes she would like to see, Coffinas said people should have equal access to quality healthcare,” AMNY reported.
“It’s a very unequal system that needs to be changed. Money versus no money. Poorest versus richest neighborhoods… there’s so much unfairness,” she told AMNY.
“While Coffinas admitted her free time is devoted to her daughter, her husband, and dog, she managed to become a certified yoga instructor in 2016,” AMNY reported.
“I always wanted to do it. Yoga helps me to become calm, learn something new and give me perspective, especially since I don’t have a calm job,” Coffinas told AMNY.