Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima
Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima


The professional team at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima
Joseph W. Shea The Third


Joe is one of the most successful and experienced trial attorneys in the Midwest. Over the past several decades, Joe recovered record breaking verdicts in several local counties for victims of medical malpractice and their families – including verdicts of $8.3 million in Hamilton County, $6.5 million in Butler County, and $5.4 million in the Eastern District of Kentucky Federal Court in Kenton County. In two of these three listed cases, other attorneys and law firms declined to pursue the matter because they did not believe they could win the case. In most of Joe’s cases, favorable settlements are reached to help families cope with lifelong injury and loss.  Joe is also called upon at times by the Ohio Attorney General (OAG) over the past decade. When he is called in by the OAG, it is to represent the state of Ohio as lead counsel in complicated litigation matters under the designation of “Special Counsel to the OAG”. In the past decade he recovered more than $6.5M in just two cases alone.  

Based on his advocacy for his clients and their families, Joe has numerous accolades including listings in the following publications: “Leading Lawyer” by Cincy Magazine each year for more than a decade, Best Lawyers in America in fields of Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice each year for more than two decades, “Best Lawyers in the Tristate” by Cincinnati Business Courier each year for more than a decade, and Ohio Super Lawyers “Top 50 Cincinnati and/or Top 100 Ohio” more 20 times since the designation began. Joe also received the Ohio State Bar Association’s Ritter Award, which is given annually to only one of Ohio's 50,000 lawyers or alternatively to one law-related organization for the accomplishment of the highest degree of professionalism, ethics, and contribution to the legal profession.

Joe and his wife have three children and in his spare time he enjoys boating on the Great Lakes and road biking.


  • Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Highland Heights, Kentucky
    • J.D. - 1974
    • Honors: Selected by the Dean as the student to represent his law school at the ABA Convention, 1975, 1976
    • Honors: National Moot Court
    • Honors: Class President - All Years
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
    • B.A. - 1969
    • Major: Philosophy

Bar Admission

  • Ohio, 1974
  • Kentucky, 1999
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio, 1975
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Kentucky, 2000
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 1979
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit, 2023
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1984

Published Works

  • Author, Ohio Evidence Manual, Ohio Rules of Evidence with Analysis, Casemaker Print Publishing, 2005, 2008, 2011
  • Author, Shea's Ohio Civil Trial Practice with Forms, Harrison Publishing Company, 1984
  • Author, Terminology Guide for the Reporting of Civil Litigation, American Board of Trial Advocates, 1996
  • Contributing Author, "Sample Testimony" (Contributing Author), Wrongful Death in Ohio (1982-2008), Anderson Publishing Company
  • Contributing Author, "Investigation of Witnesses and Statements" (Contributing Author), Civil Litigation in Ohio, Ohio Legal Center Institute of the State Bar Association, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994-2000, 2002, 2006, 2009
  • How to Inherit More Than Your Cousin, 2023

Honors And Awards

  • Ohio Super Lawyer, 2004 - 2020
  • Ohio Super Lawyer listed top Cincinnati 50 or Top Ohio 100 over 20 times.
  • America’s Top 100 Medical Malpractice listing, America’s Top 100 LLC
  • Professional Achievement Award, Northern Kentucky University, 1998
  • Who's Who Among Students in Colleges and Universities, 1972 - 1974
  • Who's Who Among Outstanding Americans
  • Who's Who in Emerging Leaders in America
  • Salmon P. Chase College of Law Outstanding Alumni, 2009
  • Sole Resipiant of The Ritter Award, Ohio State Bar Association, 2008
  • Martindale-Hubbell Preeminent Rating by Peer Voting Every Year Since 1995
  • Alumni of the Month, University of Cincinnati McMicken College Arts and Sciences, 2008 "Leading Lawyer," Cincy Magazine, 2005 - 2020
  • "Leading Lawyer," Cincy Magazine, 2005 - Present
  • "Best Lawyers in America," Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury, 1995 - Present

Classes & Seminars

  • Faculty Member, Litigation Forum, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 1981-1982, 1983, 1984
  • "Masters in Trial" (Mock Jury Trial), ABOTA, Kansas City, Kansas, 1992
  • "Masters in Trial" (Mock Jury Trial), ABOTA, Columbus, Ohio, 1993 - 1994

Professional Associations

  • Supreme Court of Ohio, Member, Board of Bar Examiners, 1984 - 1989
  • Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, Supreme Court of Ohio, Chief Bar Examination Examiner, 1989 - 1990
  • Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, Special Re-Appointment as Supreme Court Examiner, 1991
  • Ohio State Bar Association, Chairman, Ethical Advertising, Marketing and Solicitation Committee, 2008 - 2009
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, National Certification Examiner for specialty “Civil Litigation”, 1984 – 1987, 1991, 1994, 1997 2001, 2003
  • Governor's (Ohio) Insurance Task Force, 1984 - 1986
  • American Inns of Court, Master, Potter Stewart Chapter, 1993 - 1998
  • American Inns of Court, Emeritus Master, Potter Stewart Chapter, 1998 - Present
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Member, 1999 - Present
  • American Board Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Advocate, 1989 - Present
  • American Board Trial Advocates, National Board of Directors, 1989 - Present
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy, Diplomat, 1984 - Current
  • American Board of Trial Advocacy (ABOTA), Cincinnati Chapter Elected as Chapter's Representative, 1989 - Present
  • ABOTA Cincinnati Chapter Secretary, 1989 - Present
  • OAJ (Youngest President Ever Elected in Academy History), President, 1981 - 1982
  • OAJ, Board of Governors, 1979 - 1998
  • Indian Hill Schools Booster Board, President, 1997 - 1998
  • National Board of Specialty Certification, Nationwide Bar Examiner, 1990 - 2009