Civil Jury Verdicts: June 2014

GuichardNow that’s more like it: Attorneys are actually reporting jury verdicts to me. Although I must confess, I did chase down a couple of them myself.

As we discussed some time ago, our courts have been severely impacted by the state budget problems. Locally it means trials are taking place in half days and not every day of the week. I spoke with a friend recently who reported a 32-day jury trial, which normally would have been a 10-day trial. Goodness!

Wald v. Petrossian, Case No. MSC 12-01549 was tried before the Hon. George Spanos. Scott Sumner represented Plaintiff and David Sidran represented Defendant.

The case involved a rear-end accident with admitted liability, but hotly contested medical causation (isn’t that always the case nowadays?). Plaintiff was driving a 1922 Model T and stopped behind traffic. The Model T was hit by a cargo van. Plaintiff had undocumented earnings loss from restoration of classic cars. Plaintiff claimed back injury.

Defendant (by State Farm) offered CCP 998 of $25,000.01. Plaintiff demanded policy limits of $250,000, and prior to trial, offered to accept $200,000.

The jury returned a 9-3 verdict of $100,000 in past non-economic damages and $225,000 in future non-economic damages. Sounds like a gross verdict of $325,000 to me. That $200,000 pretrial offer to settle must look pretty good now.

At any rate, the reported trial schedule was from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day; reportedly a real hardship in trying a case, but folks, get used to it, as that is our new reality.

Minter v. Galios (San Pablo Police Department) USDC Case No. C12-02905 was tried in Federal Court in San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. It appears the Plaintiffs were the children of the decedent and they appeared In Pro Per. Noah G. Belchman of the McNamara firm represented the police department, and Edi M. O. Faal and Renee L. Campbell represented Defendant Officer Mark Galios.

The case involved claims of excessive force, as Officer Galios shot and killed the decedent during a violent struggle.

The jury returned a defense verdict. On the verdict form, the jury found that the decedent pointed a gun at Officer Galios, and that Officer Galios did not violate the decedent’s 14th Amendment rights.

Arnold v. Padrah, Case No. C12-02895, was tried before the Hon. Steven Austin. Clyde Long represented Plaintiffs. Defendants appeared In Pro Per. Dewey Wheeler appeared in defense of the cross-complaint filed by Defendants against Plaintiffs.

Because of the limited time allocated to actual trial time (the case was tried in half days and not every day of the week), the trial took an agonizingly slow 32 days just to get to the liability verdict. The punitive damages portion was still going at press time. The jury found in Plaintiffs’ favor and confirmed a prescriptive easement for ingress and egress and for recreational purposes. Plaintiffs presented a 12-minute edited video clip from security cameras showing Defendants destroying improvements in the easement area. The jury found liability for trespass, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and awarded $68,000 for those claims. The jury also found malice warranting an award of punitive damages against both Defendants. A total defense verdict on the cross-complaint.

We will keep you posted on the punitive damages aspects of the case. Sounds like appearing at trial with punitive damages allegations is not for the faint hearted, nor more importantly for Pro Per Defendants. Anyone disagree?

I can always count on my friend Will Kronenberg to report his many jury verdicts. Take note, folks. It’s not that difficult to report those verdicts and settlements to me by email. Will just reported two verdicts to me.

Haynes v. Pak was tried before the Hon. Joseph Di Loreto in Los Angeles Superior Court. Plaintiff was represented by Michael Piazza of Los Angeles. Will Kronenberg of Oakland represented Defendant U.S. Metro Group, Inc.

The case stemmed from a car versus motorcycle collision in which Plaintiff suffered severe diffuse axonal shear injuries (traumatic brain injury), resulting in, among other things, an inability to walk, feed himself, or talk.

Plaintiff asked the jury to award $100 million in damages against the four Defendants. The liability of U.S. Metro, on an agency theory was the centerpiece of the jury deliberations, and after several notes from the jury, the judge took the unusual step of giving further instructions and allowing second closing arguments on the  fourth day of deliberations.

The jury returned a defense verdict for U.S. Metro and awarded $16,715,647 to Plaintiff from the other three Defendants.

King v. LAJ Trucking was tried before the Hon. John G. Evans in Palm Springs (Riverside Superior Court). Plaintiffs’ counsel was Michael Alder and Steve McElroy of LA and Ciro Sapetto of Indio. Defense counsel was none other than Will Kronenberg of Oakland (I bet Will has a lot of frequent flyer miles).

The case involved the death of an individual in a truck versus motorcycle accident. The Plaintiffs asked for a jury verdict in the aggregate of $30,000,000. The jury awarded $750,000, reduced to $525,000 for the comparative fault of decedent.

Please keep those civil verdict/settlement emails coming to me at mguichard@gtplawyers.com.

Filed Under: Bar SoapSpotlight

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