Roger A. Dreyer, Robert B. Bale and Noemi Nuñez Esparza
Aguirre v. Nissan North America, Inc.
Jose Aguirre came to America seeking a better life. Though undocumented, he worked two jobs, paid taxes for a decade, and supported his fiancée and children, aged 11 months to 9 years. In August 2012, he was driving his 2001 Xterra SUV at 15 mph across his employer’s parking lot when, without warning, it suddenly accelerated. Jose’s efforts to brake the Xterra failed; it hit a concrete ramp, vaulted over a ramp, and submarined under a parked semi-tractor. The impact crushed through the A-pillar and firewall, leaving Jose a quadriplegic at age 28. Past medical costs exceeded $5 million and future medical costs were over $10 million. After spending $1 million on expert investigations, the attorneys found a defect in the gas pedal and adjacent parking brake bracket that could cause the gas pedal arm to entrap on the brake bracket, inducing sudden unintended acceleration. Nissan documented dozens of reports of such accelerations, but because the pedal arm dislodged once the driver pushed the gas pedal, Nissan missed the defect, ignored the reports, and blamed the operators, including Jose. Despite Nissan’s parade of experts and $5 million in defense costs, the trial court found Nissan liable under Consumer Expectation, Risk Benefit, and negligence. The attorneys fought Nissan’s losing appeals for another three years before Nissan paid the verdict. The attorneys were especially motivated by Nissan’s attempts to limit Jose’s economic damages to what his income and medical costs would be in Mexico, his native country. Bob Bale raised the issue to Asm. Lorena Gonzalez at a CAOC board meeting regarding a proposed new evidence code excluding this ancient, unfair practice. CAOC took on this fight and sponsored legislation, and Noemi Esparza championed the code by testifying before the Legislature to support the bill that Gonzalez authored. Evidence Code Section 351.2 became law on January 1, 2017, to the future benefit of literally millions ofCalifornia residents.
Jeremy K. Robinson
Bolger v. Amazon.com, Inc.
Genie E. Harrison
Rehal v. Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company, et al.
Jane Doe v. Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company, et al.
Brian J. Panish, Raymond P. Boucher, Jesse Creed, R. Rex Parris, Gary A. Praglin, Frank M. Pitre, Michael Louis Kelly, Kelly Winter Weil, Mariana Aroditis McConnell, Paul R. Kiesel, Patricia K. Oliver, Devin Bolton, Evan Zucker, Lindsey Bayman, Roland K. Tellis and Cathy B. Kim
Southern California Gas Leak Cases
On October 23, 2015, the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history and one of the largest environmental disasters in California history occurred at one of the natural gas wells located at Southern California Gas Co. and Sempra Energy’s Aliso Canyon Storage Facility near Porter Ranch. Approximately 100,000 tons of toxic chemicals were released into the atmosphere over 118 days, impacting residents, businesses, and properties in the surrounding communities. The smell of the gas could be picked up for miles, with an oily mist falling on neighborhoods. Noxious fumes spilled into the homes of Porter Ranch, making thousands sick with headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, respiratory problems, and nausea, and SoCalGas had no plan for what to do in the event of such an emergency. Los Angeles County’s health department ordered SoCalGas to relocate residents within five miles of the facility and relocate public schools in the neighborhood. More than 8,000 families were forced to evacuate their homes and thousands of students their schools. Tens of thousands of residents and students filed lawsuits, alleging personal injuries from exposure and property damage. The attorneys argued that the blowout was the culmination of decades of mismanagement and failure to maintain proper facility maintenance and operational procedures. In addition to their dereliction of their duty to prevent the blowout, SoCalGas also bungled several efforts to stop the leak, thereby causing the impact of the blowout to last for significantly longer and be more severe than necessary. After nearly $6 million in discovery sanctions against the defendants and their counsel for willfully violating discovery orders and withholding over 180,000 documents from plaintiffs, and after 585 days of depositions of 470 witnesses, SoCalGas and Sempra agreed to settle claims of approximately 35,000 residents six years into the litigation in what is believed to be the largest settlement ever for a natural gas release, with SoCalGas promising it would not pass the cost of the settlement on to its customers.
William D. Shapiro and Brian D. Shapiro
Yaeger v. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, The Regents of the University of California
M. Lawrence Lallande, Arnoldo Casillas, Karina N. Lallandeand Denisse O. Gastélum
Alarcio v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Angel J. Carrazco and Christopher L. Holm
Hindawi v. Value Cars, Inc.
Steven B. Stevens, Thomas M. Dempsey and Daniel E. Selarz
Summer J. v. United States Baseball Federation
In recognition of excellence in trial advocacy and dedication to teaching trial advocacy to fellow lawyers and to the public.
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