Eric Haag Honored with 2018 President's Award

Haag represented Sydni Briggs, whose civil rights case against the Copper Lake School revealed shocking conditions and played a leading role in facility's closure  

December 18, 2018 (Madison) The Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ) is proud to announce that Attorney Eric J. Haag of Middleton has been honored with the 2018 President's Award.  

Eric is a partner at Atterbury, Kammer & Haag, S.C., in Middleton. Eric specializes in plaintiffs' personal injury litigation, but he also handles civil rights claims, medical malpractice, class actions and fire loss cases. 

Eric is a longtime WAJ Member and formerly served on the organization's Board of Directors. 

Eric is best known for representing (with co-counsel Paul Kinne, of Gingras, Cates and Wachs) Sydni Briggs in her lawsuit against the Copper Lake School for Girls. Sydni, then 16, turned on the call light in her room on November 9, 2015. The light would remain on for approximately 24 minutes. When facility staff finally reached the room, they found Sydni with no pulse and unresponsive. Sydni had hanged herself with a tee shirt. Review of the evidence, including surveillance footage, and expert testimony made clear that Sydni had attempted suicide in the final 3-5 minutes of the 24-minute span. The investigation that was sparked by her suicide attempt would reveal many other problems with the school's staffing and administration.

Sydni survived but she emerged with severe brain damage after being in a coma for several months. Her health has improved somewhat, but she is now resigned to a wheelchair, has the cognitive ability of a child, and she will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

Eric's dedication to his clients is a key reason why he earned the 2018 President's Award. As Eric told attendees at the awards presentation, he will continue looking out for Sydni's best interests even though her case has now settled. He has appeared in Rock County Circuit court to stand up for her interests including that Sydni be placed in an appropriate facility and that her affairs are managed by a competent, proactive trustee. 

"I have seen the quality of Eric's work, and of his character, up close," said Heath P. Straka, WAJ President for 2018, "I can say, without hesitation, that he is one of the finest lawyers I've had the privilege of knowing. I knew from the moment he took Sydni's case that she had somebody who would be in her corner seeking justice."

"This is a well-deserved honor for somebody I am proud to call a colleague and a friend," Straka concluded. 

He grew up in Windsor, Wisconsin before obtaining his bachelor's degree from Duke University in 1993. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. He currently lives in Middleton, where he serves as a volunteer firefighter, with his wife, Kristen and their two daughters. His son attends UW-Madison. 

The President's Award is given to an individual or legal team which has best defined WAJ's mission of service. The President's Award honors the work of a member(s) who helps improve our civil justice system, or continues to assure access to the courts for all and the right of trial by jury. 

The award was presented on December 7th at Wisconsin Association for Justice's annual Winter Conference and President's Dinner at the Pfister Hotel. 

The Wisconsin Association for Justice was founded in 1957. As the largest statewide voluntary bar association, WAJ's mission is ensuring a fair and effective civil justice system and the protection of the Constitutional right to a civil jury trial.

High resolution photo available here.

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