Matt’s Column – May 2011

So the idea was to replace “Civil Jury Verdicts” with “Bar Soap”. Not going to happen. We still get reports on jury verdicts, so occasionally let’s have a stand- alone verdicts column. Okay? Otherwise, as with this one, we will combine the columns.

Lots of rumors and some facts about lawyers on the move. It seems these hard economic times in the legal business are causing many lawyers to branch out on their own by leaving firms and partners. I need to confirm some of the moves, so you will have to wait until next time. Keeps you all in a state of anticipation.

Matt Guichard

Having nothing to do with hard economic times, we are pleased to report Cecily Barday, Matt Gray, Stephen Kostka, Geoff Robinson and Barbara Schussman have joined Perkins Coie’s Environment, Energy & Resources practice, in the San Francisco office. Reportedly they will add 110 plus years of experience to the firm. I really didn’t think Geoff was that old.

Andy Schwartz of Casper, Meadows Schwartz & Cook has received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell. Did you know that only two percent of all lawyers in the world are rated AV through Martindale Hubbell? An AV rating is preeminent status with the highest ethical rating. Congratulations Andy. I also understand Andy is fairly recent member of ABOTA. Another very impressive by invitation only legal organization.

Speaking of good stories, I have been meaning to write an article about Maurice Moyal. As you know, he passed away some time ago. I handled many cases with Maurice on the other side when I was a DA. The two Frenchmen as he liked to say. I thought I knew him well, but learned much about him at the celebration of his life. Isn’t that always the way? It takes someone’s passing for us to appreciate who that person really was. I last saw him at his retirement party. He was in a wheelchair and obviously in poor health. He brightened when I spoke with him, and we shared some funny stories from days gone by.

Maurice Moyal was born into a Jewish family in Morocco. He fled his home as a teenager and traveled to Paris. He fled Paris when the Nazis entered Paris. He came to the United States speaking Arabic and French. In short order he learned English. He joined the military. He rose through the ranks and retired not so many years ago as a colonel. All the while he continued a quite remarkable career on the civilian side. He earned a degree at Cal, then a masters and a PhD in accounting. He was one of the “Originals” at JFK Law School , class of 1970, and was named Alumni of the Year in 2007. A truly remarkable man and quite a local character in our legal community. His life is a story of great perseverance, hard work and success.

Steven Cavalli provided an interesting jury verdict out of Yolo County. You know Yolo, Woodland is the county seat, and UC Davis is also there. The case entitled Jacobs v Pacific Transportation et al , No. PM06-1710 was tried before the Honorable David Reed. Steven Cavalli of Oakland tried the case for the Plaintiff. Richard Alley of Sacramento and Robert Salley of Sherman Oaks represented the respective Defendants. The case involved a motor vehicle accident. The defense admitted liability for the accident, but contested the nature and extent of the injuries. A CCP 998 demand was made for the balance of the policy limits of $924,500. An offer of $250,000 was made. The jury returned a verdict of $1,503,476.84. It is reportedly the largest personal injury verdict in Yolo County history. Interestingly the case settled after verdict for $1,750,000.

Keep those cards and letters coming, and be sure to report your jury verdicts, wherever they might be.

— Matthew P. Guichard is a principal in Guichard, Teng & Portello, APC. Please send case information to: 1800 Sutter Street, Suite 730, Concord, CA 94520 or contact him at 925.459.8440 or

Filed Under: Bar Soap

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