Featured Alumnus: Brendan Faulkner ’91
Last week, alumnus Brendan Faulkner ’91 returned to the Avon Old Farms School campus to share an important message with current students: a message about the dangers of distracted driving. A danger Faulkner sees come to life day after day in his career as an attorney and partner at RisCassi & Davis, P.C.
“I’d estimate that 50 percent of the clients we represent are the victims of an injury that resulted from a car accident,” he shares. “I have focused more on medical malpractice and product liability cases in recent years, but as a whole, the firm sees a lot of distracted driving cases. My goal is to help make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drunk driving.”
After graduating from Avon in 1991, Faulkner matriculated to Hobart College and then attended UConn’s School of Law. He graduated with his law degree in 1998, and began his career clerking for a federal judge in Hartford. Over the course of his career, he represented large corporations but he found a passion in defending the victim, just as his father has done in his career at Faulkner & Graves.
“It’s amazing that our democracy entitles the personal injury victim, an individual, to stand on equal footing with large corporations in the courtroom. At RisCassi & Davis, we will only ever represent the victim.”
In his web bio for RisCassi & Davis, Faulkner shares that he is a co-author of the Connecticut Trial Evidence Notebook, and his articles concerning the civil justice system are frequently published in the Connecticut Law Tribune and elsewhere. He is an active member of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice. Faulkner is committed to providing zealous representation to his clients in their pursuit of justice.
Faulkner’s slide presentation came to life when he shared with students that he, too, has personal experience with being the victim of carelessness or recklessness. While he was not injured in a motor vehicle accident, he was the victim of a careless doctor at John Dempsey Hospital who failed to diagnose bacterial endocarditis the first two times he visited the emergency room, and instead sent him home with a diagnosis of a ‘man cold.’ By the time he returned to that emergency department for a third time, Faulkner was on his deathbed and underwent a leg amputation to save his life. After 46 days in the intensive care unit, he was able to begin the long journey of rehab.
“During that time, I gained a whole new perspective,” he shares. “I had become the victim of a doctor who did not care enough about the patient in front of him to listen to my concerns or to run any tests. He was distracted. And I thought to myself, have I, too, been distracted at times?”
His answer was yes. Earlier, in 2017, Faulkner recalled being in the audience as a colleague spoke about distracted driving and how it took the life of his 18-year-old-daughter who was hit by a car while using a crosswalk. Faulkner had promised to share the EndDistractedDriving.org presentation with as many highschoolers that he could, but had only completed one presentation between 2017 and his accident in January of 2020.
“As I went through my rehab, I was learning personally the real struggle an individual and their family endures when they are the victim of carelessness or recklessness. I vowed to get in front of students as soon as I could, and my presence here today is me doing that.”
In the talk, Faulkner emphasized that distracted driving isn’t just a teen issue—he himself knew that he had driven distracted before, but thought his lack of any accidents meant he was a good driver. He shared that he now knows that’s the wrong attitude.
“No one here wants to bear the burden of harming another or taking a life because of an accident. And, we all know that drunk driving is bad and would never get in a car with a driver under the influence. But, what we don’t talk about is how just as a drunk driver is four times more likely to get into a car crash, a distracted driver—whether that’s loud music, friends in the car, a phone call, texting, a GPS—is also four times as likely to get into an accident. I’m here to ask you men to not drive distracted yourself and to also call out your brothers when they’re driving distracted.”
In addition to giving this presentation to students at Avon in December, Faulkner plans to return after the holidays to continue the conversation. He is also returning in January to teach a pre-law crash course during Intersession, which offers courses on topics outside of the traditional curriculum, but nonetheless relevant and centered on the REAL learning model. Intersession extends the classroom and opens the academic schedule to allow students and faculty to explore a topic of interest in greater detail with an experiential component since field trips and project-based learning feature prominently in the courses. Faulkner’s plans for the week-long course include mock pre-law college interviews, hearing a lecture from a UConn law professor, and sitting in on evidence presentation for a trial at the Hartford Superior Court.
If you're an alumnus who would like to get involved at Avon, please reach out as Brendan Faulkner did.