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Catastrophic/Personal Injury - Representative Experience

  • Issues
  • Venue
  • Client Type
  • Lawyers
  • Full Description
  • Result
  • Catastrophic Injury; Negligence
  • Individual
  • Dennis J. Ward
  • The plaintiff, a 34 year old, fell over 25 feet striking, in part, his head. The fall was through a roof that had deteriorated because of lack of maintenance. There were four defendants and each defendant blamed each and every other defendant. Medical evidence indicated brain damage, and the plaintiff could no longer work in any position of significance.

  • The case settled eight days into trial. Our client did not pay any monies towards the settlement of $5 million. We obtained indemnity through a contract and an additional insured endorsement. In addition, we obtained reimbursement for our client of in excess of $250,000 in attorney fees and costs.
     

  • Wrongful Death
  • San Mateo County Superior Court
  • Defendant Commuter Rail Line
  • Dennis J. Ward
  • The decedent was struck by a commuter rail line at a crossing. The decedent’s parents sued for wrongful death, alleging among other things that the crossing was dangerous and improperly protected. After limited discovery, we were able to convince the plaintiffs' attorney that (1) the case was not one of liability and (2) client would not pay anything but a nominal amount to resolve.

  • The clients were dismissed in exchange for payment of $3,750.00. Had the case not resolved, litigation costs would have been over $125,000 to $150,000.

  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant Individual
  • Dennis J. Ward
  • The plaintiff claimed multiple fractures to her spine (compression fractures), resulting from an automobile accident involving our client. Diagnostic studies confirmed the compression fractures, but the issue was whether the subject accident was the cause. Trial testimony included significant medical evidence.

  • In an interesting trial result, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $30,000. The settlement offer prior to trial was $150,000, against a demand of $800,000.

  • Personal Injury; Mold
  • Defendant Apartment Complex Owner
  • Dennis J. Ward
  • Twenty-seven tenants of the defendant's apartment complex sued for personal injury and other damages resulting from exposure to mold. The medical claims ranged from transitory respiratory problems to allegations that the mold exposure caused asthma and other permanent respiratory conditions. We were able to convince the plaintiffs' attorneys to submit the matter to binding arbitration and to obtain a stipulation waiving punitive damages.

  • After collecting evidence for seven weeks, the arbitration began and settlement discussions were entered into. The case settled for less than the authority given. The client did not pay any money out of pocket toward the settlement.

  • Fertilizer, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Wrongful Death, Ammonium Nitrate
  • San Francisco Superior Court
  • Defendant Fertilizer Broker
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • The plaintiffs, in a wrongful death suit in which one of the defendants was our client, were the family of a deceased fertilizer worker and claimed the decedent contracted Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from exposure to fertilizers, including granular and liquid ammonium nitrate.

  • The plaintiffs' initial demand to all defendants was $2.4 million, with our client being a target defendant.  We reached a settlement with the plaintiffs for approximately 15% of the amount initially demanded from our client.

  • Breast Implant; Personal Injury; Wrongful Death; Cancer; Causation; Autoimmune Deficiency
  • Defendant Global Technology Manufacturer
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Worked as national trial counsel with a team of attorneys assembled nationwide to defend a leading technology & medical products manufacturer in pharmaceutical litigation involving silicon gel breast implants. We served as trial counsel and retained and prepared scientific and medical experts as well as assisted in preparing a punitive damage defense for the company.

  • Mold, Tenants, Trust, Personal Injury, Property Damage
  • Monterey County Superior Court
  • Defendant Property Owner / Landlord
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • The plaintiffs, a family including two young children, alleged they suffered personal injuries and property damage as a result of mold in the apartment they rented from our client.  The plaintiff had over 100 photographs showing extensive mold throughout the apartment.

  • Through the investigations of our expert consultants and a private investigator, including locating and interviewing prior tenants, we were able to assemble a large amount of evidence indicating that the mold came about as a result of the living habits of the plaintiffs.  We then successfully convinced the plaintiffs' attorney of this fact, and reached a settlement well below our authority and well below nuisance value.

  • Personal Injury
  • Defendants Multiple Industry Companies
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Served as Western Regional trial counsel and manager of all cases west of the Mississippi for a corporate defendant in an Asbestos litigation matter. Represented and continue to represent defendants in cases claiming personal injury from benzene exposure.

  • EPA, Toxic Tort
  • Defendant
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Analyzed the impact of the EPA regulatory case on pending toxic tort cases or threatened toxic tort cases filed arising from 11 separate EPA Superfund sites located throughout the country for a national client. The plaintiffs in these cases were alleging personal injuries and property damage as well as requesting medical monitoring because of air and water contamination from underground plumes and landfills containing chlorinated solvents as well as other contaminants.

  • Personal Injury; Property Damage
  • Louisiana State Court
  • Defendant
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Defended a client in property damage cases in which 435 plaintiffs sued alleging personal injuries, wrongful death and decline in property value due to groundwater contamination arising from a landfill in Louisiana. The case has been pending for 10 years in Louisiana State Court. We were retained as trial counsel 6 weeks before the trial.

  • The case was dismissed when we disqualified plaintiffs' causation expert.

  • Breach of Contract
  • Judicial Arbitration & Mediation Services
  • Defendant Provider of Telephone, Cable Television and High Speed Internet Service
  • John A. Koeppel
  • Defended a provider of telephone, cable television and high speed internet services in a commercial litigation action involving an alleged breach of contract that provided for the construction of a broad band telecommunications network in the Bay Area. Counsel for the parties met to agree on mediation issues, and then participated in extended negotiations during mediation. Upon failure to resolve the case at mediation, counsel negotiated strict limits to discovery, briefing and arbitration time. This action went to binding arbitration over a two week period.

  • The award was 80% less than the contractor's last settlement demand.

  • Scaffold; General Contractor; Swing Stage Scaffold
  • California Superior Court, County of San Francisco
  • Defendant General Contractor
  • John G. Dooling
  • Defended a general contractor in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff was injured while walking on a sidewalk in a commercial district of San Francisco when she was hit by a wood plank that fell from the canopy of a scaffold 20 feet above. The plank was part of the canopy, but was dislodged when the employees of the sub-contractor that supplied a swing stage scaffold (akin to a window washer's rig) were moving the swing stage from one drop to the next, hitting the plank with one of the swing stage's casters. The plaintiff suffered a fractured clavicle and a T8 burst fracture, and filed suit against the property manager, the scaffolding subcontractor, the swing stage scaffolding subcontractor and our client,  seeking damages far in excess of $1 million.

  • The matter settled shortly before trial, with our client contributing less than one-third of the settlement amount.

  • Was the Client's Taping Tool Defective? Was the Tool the Cause of Plaintiff's Injuries?
  • Defendant Manufacturer of Drywall Taping Tools
  • Kevin P. Cody
  • Defended a manufacturer of drywall taping tools in a suit in which the plaintiff, a drywall worker, suffered a career-disabling back injury when he slipped and fell while working on a job site.  The plaintiff alleged that our client's taping tool was defective in that its poor design allowed excessive amounts of drywall mud to leak from the tool, and caused him to slip and fall, injuring his back which required multiple surgeries to repair. Our client argued that the tool was not defective and that the plaintiff's poor technique in applying the drywall mud allowed excessive mud to drip onto the floor.
     

  • After settlement negotiations were unsuccessful, the matter was tried to a jury and the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
     

  • Was the Client Negligent in the Maintenance of an Apartment Building he Owned?
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant Apartment Owner
  • Kevin P. Cody
  • Defended an apartment owner in a matter in which the plaintiff, a very sympathetic minor, claimed that the third degree burns she suffered on both hands and both feet were the result of our client's negligence in the maintenance of his property.  Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that our client, rather than buy more water heaters or a water heater with greater capacity, turned the setting on the single water heater that served the apartment complex up to a dangerously high temperature which resulted in her third degree burns when exposed to the water in a bathtub. Our client denied the plaintiff's allegations and maintained that the plaintiff's injuries were solely the result of the plaintiff's mother's neglect in caring for the plaintiff. 
     

  • Our client offered $100,000 to settle.  However, due to the plaintiff's $1,000,000 demand the matter was tried, in December just before Christmas, to a jury.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the client.
     

  • Was the Client Negligent in the Operation of its Extensive Conveyor Belt System? Did the Client Breach a Non-Delegable Duty Owed to Plaintiff?
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant National Delivery┬áProvider
  • Kevin P. Cody
  • Defended a national delivery provider in a matter in which the plaintiff, a maintenance worker, sued contending that our client was negligent in the operation of its conveyor belt system used to sort packages.  As a result, while the plaintiff was cleaning a belt he expected would not be in operation, the belt was activated and the plaintiff's foot was crushed in one of the large rollers that moved the belt. Our client maintained it was not negligent as the system was equipped with warning devices and the plaintiff's injury was solely the result of the plaintiff's employer failing to properly train the plaintiff.

  • After multiple attempts to settle the matter, it was tried to a jury and the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
     

  • Improper Management
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant Health Organization
  • Dennis J. Ward
  • The plaintiffs, parents of a 28 year old male, sued a federated organization made up of local and national organizations in voluntary association claiming that improper management of its premises resulted in the drowning of their son. Their son drowned in a Jacuzzi/spa, which had deficient warnings.

  • The case was tried for 14 days, resulting in a defense verdict.

  • pedestrian, parking lot, inadequate lighting, accident, brain injury
  • NYS Supreme Court, Rockland County
  • Shopping Center Owner/Retailer
  • Scott W. Bermack
  • Won a defense verdict on behalf of a Rockland County (NY) shopping center owner blamed for a pedestrian knockdown accident in the parking lot.  The pedestrian, who allegedly suffered from a traumatic brain injury in addition to numerous orthopedic injuries, claimed inadequate lighting and traffic control was to blame.  After establishing to the satisfaction of the jury that the accident was entirely the fault of the pedestrian, a defense verdict was returned in favor of our client and the driver of the vehicle. 

  • Defense verdict following two weeks trial.

  • Transportation; Personal Injury
  • Los Angeles Superior Court - Central District
  • Transportation Company
  • Tim M. Agajanian
  • Represented a national transportation company in a personal injury action after an employee struck a dock worker and caused severe injury

  • The matter was amicably resolved on terms favorable to our client

  • Premises Liability; Respondeat Superior; Vehicular Negligence
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Defended a ranch owner from a multi-million dollar wrongful death action arising from an alleged employee’s collision with a motorcyclist during the purported scope of the worker’s employment.

  • Successfully obtained summary judgment for the ranch owner. The court concluded that the worker, even if deemed an employee of the ranch owner, was not operating his vehicle within the scope of his employment, thereby precluding liability under a respondeat superior theory.

  • Personal Injury; Construction
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court; Unlimited Jurisdiction
  • Defendant Manufacturer
  • John A. Koeppel
  • Defended a manufacturer in a case involving a permanent brain injury to a 40-year old chemical engineer who was working on site, at our client's plant, to install a new food processing line. The plaintiff fell approximately 10 feet to a concrete floor, striking his head. The plaintiffs included the victim, his employer and the employer's workers compensation carrier. The plaintiff also sued the steel fabricator responsible for the construction of the platform.  To prepare for the trial, safety, economic and medical experts were retained. In addition, a mediator began to meet with the defendants at regular intervals to monitor the process of discovery, analyze prospective settlement negotiations and ensure the proper scheduling of a trial.

  • Our client paid 20% of a multi-million settlement.

  • Statutory interpretation, construction defect
  • California Court of Appeal
  • Non-Profit Group
  • Terry Anastassiou, Dennis J. Ward
  • Appeal of judgment on jury defense verdict for client in suit by man who drowned in health club hot tub.  Issues included detailed statutory and regulatory analysis and causation in context of stipulated negligence per se.  

  • Judgment for client affirmed in published decision clarifying applicable regulations.
    Andres v. Mid-Peninsula YMCA (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 85

  • Minor; wrongful death; standing
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court/Second District Court of Appeal
  • Automotive Parts
  • Stephan A. Barber
  • Plaintiff, a minor orphan, moved into the residence of his aunt and uncle after his mother died in 1999.  In 2002, the uncle, a carburetor mechanic, was killed by a flying piece of shrapnel from a radiator fan manufactured by the Defendants' predecessor.  The Plaintiff sued for wrongful death, claiming that he was dependent upon the decedent for at least 50% of his support  in the six months preceding the death, thereby allegedly giving him standing under CCP section 377.60(c).  During the depositions of Plaintiff and the aunt, Defendants learned that the Plaintiff began receiving Social Security survivor benefits one year after his natural mother's death.  The Plaintiff and his aunt claimed that the Social Security benefits were saved for later use and that the decedent paid for all of the Plaintiff's housing and support.  After a bench trial, the trial court ruled that Plaintiff did not have standing to sue for wrongful death because he failed to prove that he had received at least 50% of his support from the decedent.  The Plaintiff appealed.  

  • Judgment for the Defendants in the trial court.  Judgment for Defendants affirmed by a unanimous Second District Court of Appeal.

  • Employment; accident; death; negligence; respondeat superior
  • Alameda County Superior Court/First District Court of Appeal
  • Drug Manufacturing
  • Stephan A. Barber
  • Plaintiffs' decedent was killed in a rear-end automobile collision on the San Mateo Bay Bridge in December, 2012.  The driver of the Plaintiffs' decedent's vehicle was also injured.  The collision was caused by the negligence of the Co-Defendant who claimed that he was on his way to his workplace to perform employment-related tasks on his regularly scheduled day off.  The employer claimed that the employee was not acting in the course and scope of his employment by virtue of the "going and coming" doctrine.  The Plaintiffs alleged that the "special errand" exception applied to place the employee in the course and scope of his employment, thereby making his employer vicariously liable for his tortuous conduct.  The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied on procedural grounds.  After conducting further discovery, the employer filed a second motion for summary judgment.  The Plaintiffs and the employee opposed the motion.  After oral argument, the trial court took the matter under submission for almost two months and ultimately granted the motion.  Plaintiffs appealed. 

  • Summary judgment granted in favor of the employer on the course and scope of employment issue.  Plaintiffs' appeal is pending in the First District Court of Appeal.

  • Negligence; "completed and accepted"; construction; contractor
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant, Construction
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Defended a contractor in a personal injury action involving a vehicle that collided with a guardrail improperly installed on a California State Highway, resulting in catastrophic injuries to the vehicle's passengers.

  • Successfully obtained summary judgment for one of the contractor's alleged to have improperly installed the guardrail. Under the "completed and accepted" work doctrine, a contractor is insulated from liability where its work has been performed pursuant to plans and specifications of a third party, and that work has been accepted by the owner of the project. 

  • Personal Injury; General Contractor's Affirmative Conduct
  • Santa Clara County Superior Court
  • Defendant General Contractor
  • Julian Pardo de Zela
  • Defended a general contractor in a personal injury action whereby the plaintiff employee of the subcontractor alleged that injuries sustained were due to the general contractor's affirmative conduct.

  • Successfully obtained complete summary judgment on behalf of the general contractor under the Privette v. Superior Court line of cases.

  • Personal Injury; Toxic Tort
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Defendant Municipality
  • Currently defending a municipality in a personal injury and property damage matter composed of six coordinated cases involving 1,138 plaintiffs. Our client is one of two defendants accused of being the cause of the alleged harm. The matter involves, among other accusations, contamination of drinking water resources in the Pomona region of Southern California.

  • The matter currently is in litigation. Following extensive motions, the Superior Court dismissed 26 of the plaintiff’s 28 courses of action against our client. Recently, the court ruled in favor of our client and dismissed the entire case. The plaintiffs have appealed.

  • Valley Fever; cocci fungal spores; cocci meningitis; disseminated cocci; grading; excavation
  • Madera County Superior Court
  • Construction Contractor
  • Stephan A. Barber
  • Plaintiff was an ecologist working for an environmental consulting firm in Berkeley, CA retained by the Madera Irrigation District.  Plaintiff's employer contracted with defendant contractor to construct vernal pools at the Madera Ranch in Summer, 2011.  Vernal pools are temporary habitats for certain species of animals and were constructed to take the place of habitats that were being destroyed by a water storage project.  Plaintiff alleged she was exposed to airborne cocci fungal spores in the soil where the pools were constructed and that defendant was negligent in the manner in which it constructed the pools and how it controlled dust from its grading and excavation activities.  Plaintiff claimed that this exposure caused her to contract a very serious case of "Valley Fever" or Coccidioidomycosis.  Plaintiff claimed through her physicians that she had disseminated cocci with fungal infections in her lungs and cocci meningitis, that she was disabled from her employment,  and that she would need to continue taking antifungal medications indefinitely and have multiple follow up blood tests and lumbar punctures.

  • The jury found in a 10-2 verdict that Clark Bros. was not negligent.

  • Were the Clients Negligent in Their Supervision of a Construction Project? Was the Clients' Negligence the Cause of Plaintiff's Injuries? Was Plaintiff's Injury the Result of a "Peculiar Risk"? What Were the Extent of Plaintiff's Damages?
  • Orange County Superior Court
  • Defendant Engineering Firm and Contractor
  • Kevin P. Cody
  • The plaintiff sustained life-threatening internal injuries when a water truck went out of control careening down a hill and struck the plaintiff's vehicle broadside. The plaintiff alleged that our clients, a project engineering firm and construction firm, were negligent in instructing the water truck driver to fill up with water at the top of a hill rather than at a location not requiring the heavily-loaded truck to descend a steep hill.  The plaintiff also alleged that the reason the hill-top location was selected is that our clients were illegally drawing water without a permit. Our clients argued that the accident was the result of the water truck driver's failure to properly operate the truck and/or the failure of the driver's employers to train him in the operation of the truck.
     

  • After settling with the truck driver and his employer and after multiple settlement conferences in which the total offer to plaintiff was $2,000,000, the matter was tried to a jury and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was awarded in excess of $3,000,000. 
     

  • TCE; PCE; Wrongful Death; Property Damage; Personal Injury
  • Defendant Corporation
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Represented a corporate defendant in a mass tort case in Southern California where a large number of plaintiffs sued for personal injury, property damage, wrongful death and requested medical monitoring due to underground TCE, PCE contamination. Allegations of vapor intrusion in homes causing risk of cancer, fear of cancer, decline in property values and request for medical monitoring were filed in separate lawsuits as well.

  • Personal Injury
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Defendant Manufacturer
  • Currently represent one of several dozen defendants accused of contributing to contamination of drinking water aquifers in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California in a personal injury and property damage matter that is composed of six consolidated cases involving several thousand plaintiffs.

     

  • The matter is currently in litigation, and will go to trial in 2005.

  • Personal Injury; Wrongful Death
  • San Francisco County Superior Court
  • Defendant Ground Transportation Service
  • John A. Koeppel
  • Defended a ground transportation service in an action involving a high speed auto accident involving two pedestrians in inclement weather. The case included a wrongful death action and a personal injury action for an individual who suffered a brain injury and disabling, crushing injuries to his legs. Our firm was retained six weeks before trial, after expert disclosure. Review of medical records indicated both pedestrians were under the influence. Working with an accident reconstruction expert and photographic reconstruction expert, the defense visually recreated the scene of the accident under comparable rain conditions. We also unilaterally disclosed and deposed a toxicologist regarding the intoxication issue. The plaintiffs' demand totaled $10,000,000, representing our primary and excess limits. At mediation, our experts narrated the film reconstructing the accident and we highlighted the deposition testimony of our toxicologist.

  • The action eventually settled for approximately 20% of the original demand.

  • Brain Injury, Earning Capacity, Post Concussion Syndrome, PTSD
  • Los Angeles County, Central District
  • Plaster and Paint Contractor
  • Tim M. Agajanian, Pascale Gagnon, Alan J. Hart
  • Plaintiff was injured when a plank of our client scaffolding inexplicably dislodged and fell on her head while she waited for her car after exiting from the restaurant where she had just had dinner.  The scaffolding had been erected to the establishment located next door to that where Plaintiff had been and had been left up at the end of the day upon the request of a representative of the owner of the restaurants, i.e., that where work was being performed and that where Plaintiff had been.

    Plaintiff claimed that she suffered a traumatic brain injury with ongoing and permanent symptoms preventing her to return to her premorbid occupation -- she was a licensed attorney, albeit unemployed since passing the bar, who was studying for her real estate license and planning the opening of a juice bar.  She claimed in excess of $5 million in economic damages, including loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, past and future medical specials.  

  • Settled for $650,000 three days before trial.