Law360 (June 9, 2022, 2:56 PM EDT) — Kristina Infante of Podhurst Orseck PA achieved millions of dollars in settlements for victims of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting and is currently representing victims of the Boeing 737 Max crashes, earning her a spot among the trial attorneys under age 40 honored by Law360 as Rising Stars.
THE BIGGEST CASE OF HER CAREER:
Infante was lead counsel for 40 victims of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting in a negligence lawsuit against the FBI. The case alleged that FBI tip line employees acted negligently and in violation of FBI protocol when they failed to alert the FBI Miami Field Office to tips regarding the shooter.
“We litigated the case for three years, and it took a lot of discovery, and we did a lot of work to preserve all of the factual records to show that there was liability on the part of the government,” Infante said. “We succeeded and got a case settled for the Parkland families in November 2021.”
The U.S. Department of Justice ultimately agreed to pay the victims $127.5 million.
“We really had to convince the court that this case was distinct from the average case. There were special circumstances and qualities about it that gave rise to liability,” Infante said. “It was sort of a yearslong struggle to get there.”
THE MOST INTERESTING CASE SHE’S WORKED ON LATELY:
Infante is working on an ongoing case helping to represent victims of the Boeing 737 Max plane crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. She argues that, in Boeing’s haste to compete with Airbus, the company started shifting its attention to profit over safety a few decades ago, ultimately leading to the unsafe Boeing 737 Max taking flight.
“As we’ve been going through litigation and developing the discovery and getting more internal communications and emails, we’ve just learned so much about that story from inside Boeing,” Infante said.
In her role helping the plaintiffs, she’s also fighting against Boeing’s deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government. That agreement resolved a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group. In exchange, Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion.
“It was worse than negligence. It rises to a higher level than that, and so another part of the case that we’ve been spending a lot of our time on is that Boeing entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States government,” Infante said. “That’s something that the victims that we represent in the tragedy have tried to challenge, because they didn’t get a say in that. The victims of crimes, they didn’t get a say in how Boeing was prosecuted in the case.”
“It’s a case that has morphed into lots of different things that stretched us in interesting directions that is not a typical court case or typical type of litigation that I do on the civil side because, as part of our representation of the victims, we’re also representing them in this fight to challenge the deferred prosecution agreement,” she added.
HER PROUDEST MOMENT AS AN ATTORNEY:
Infante said her proudest moment as an attorney was helping the Parkland families receive a settlement.
“It was a case that very few people thought could succeed and very few people believed in,” she said. “When I began litigating that case, I was new at my firm. I was a pretty young lawyer when I took the case on and took leadership over it. I believed in it and I worked very hard at it for so long.”
“These Parkland families have meant so much to me. My clients mean so much to me, and I was just so honored to finally have some justice for them in the case and to have accountability on the part of the FBI and achieve the result that we did,” she added.
WHAT MOTIVATES HER:
Infante said she feels fortunate to do the type of work that she does. She noted that her clients have often suffered great, unexpected and horribly tragic losses.
“You have to be dogged, and you have to be a little bit obsessed, and I think that the thing that gets you up every day and gives you that kind of spark, that determination, is fighting for clients that you care about so much,” she said. “You want to be able to do something for them to make their lives a little bit better and to help them to pick up the pieces of their lives that were changed by whatever the event is that brought me into their lives.”
— As told to Madison Arnold