Our legal system is the envy of the free world. Sure it has its flaws, but for the most part the ideals of the founding fathers remain true. However, California’s courts are severely congested and delays are quite common.
In this case, the Defendant refused to admit fault and refused to take responsibility for its actions. In turn, the Plaintiff refused to cave in, and instead stood firm on his principles. The courthouse is where this battle will end, and both parties will have to wait 5 years for a courtroom to become available.
Darryl (not his real name) was injured while delivering pallets and product to a warehouse. Most of the events leading up to the injury are captured on the warehouse surveillance video with one exception — namely, Darryl is on the back side of the pallets and therefore not visible in the video. The video showed Darryl walking around the pallet checking the delivered items against the delivery manifest. The video showed a warehouse employee backing up a truck without looking and hitting the pallet, and the video showed the pallet moving 3 to 4 feet from the impact. As a matter of deduction, anyone on the back side of the pallet, standing within 3 to 4 feet, would be struck by the pallet. Darryl was struck and injured.
Darryl notified the warehouse of the incident. The warehouse should take care of Darryl. But after a warehouse supervisor saw the video, he saw an opportunity to cover his own bottom and to point the finger at the victim. Realizing that Darryl is not shown in the video, the supervisor then stated that he was a direct eye witness standing a few feet from Darryl, and that Darryl was four or more feet away from the pallet such that the pallet very lightly touched Darryl. Darryl could not believe his ears as this supervisor, accusing Darryl of fraud, was in fact lying about the incident. There were no eye witnesses. And thus the battle began.
Darryl contacted our law firm to assist with this claim. Settlement was attempted, but the warehouse refused. A lawsuit was filed but the warehouse denied all responsibility. Depositions were taken and the supervisor testified that Darryl was barely tapped by the pallet and that it is an insult for Darryl to bring this claim. In short, the supervisor testified that Darryl is a lowly liar.
During trial the warehouse supervisor again testified about eye-witnessing Darryl being ever so lightly tapped. Again, insinuating that Darryl is fabricating this story. And although the supervisor had reviewed the video of the incident, what the supervisor should have reviewed was the entire video. My office and Darryl spent hours combing through the video, frame by frame, and although it was a grainy picture and of low resolution, we were able to conclude that the supervisor was NOT standing next to Darryl and in fact had no view of Darryl.
At trial, the supervisor was impeached with his own video and the court was less than happy with the supervisor’s “story.” The court found in favor of Darryl and justice was done, although it took five years.
People quip that “you can sue for anything in this country,” but what is often forgotten is the quip that “you can lie and deny about anything in this country.” In the end, when the matter is laid bare before the court the hope is that justice will be served and that the finger-pointing, fault-denying, blame-everyone-else supervisors will be held accountable.
Good job, Darryl, for sticking to your principles!
Waiting for your trial date? Waiting years for your trial date? California’s courts are overburden with criminal matters. Every meth lab, every robbery, and every ID theft is a criminal matter. The “right to a speedy trial” applies to criminal matters, but in contrast the “right to a trial” applies to civil trials – the word “speedy” is missing. This means criminal matters get priority when going to trial while civil matters get postponed – too many criminals and not enough courtrooms.
1. Jasmine (not her real name) was scheduled for trial. The criminal matters took precedence and Jasmine was told to come back in a few months.
2. A few months later… Jasmine appeared for trial, but again the criminal matters took precedence and Jasmine was told to come back in a few months.
3. A few months later… Jasmine appeared for trial, but again the criminal matters took precedence and Jasmine was told to come back in a few months.
4. A few months later… Jasmine appeared for trial, but again the criminal matters took precedence and Jasmine was told to come back in a few months.
5. A few months later… Jasmine appeared for trial, but again the criminal matters took precedence and Jasmine was told to come back in a few months.
6. Finally, Jasmine appeared for trial and this time a courtroom was available. Trial started in October 2015 for a claim arising in March 2012.
The trial ended well for Jasmine and she was glad that I stuck with her for those 6 times in court. But not every attorney will stick it out. Not every attorney will show up to court 6 times, or spend the money 6 times or prepare for trial…
When you decide to hire an attorney, make sure that he or she will be there for you 3-1/2 years later and that he or she will be there for you all 6 times.
This “…new agent; …please resubmit” process was repeated until Mary had enough. She contacted me and we met to discuss her case. I explained that this process of repeatedly transferring the file to another agent and losing Mary’s requests is common. It’s how they play the game. Mary then told me her story and we devised a course of action.
Trial began, and the insurer had no shame in using all of their dirty tricks. They accused Mary of everything: That she wasn’t injured, that her medical care was not proper, that her time missed from work was suspicious, and finally they accused Mary of causing this rear-end accident by arguing that although she was stopped at an intersection she must have hit the other car. The jury was not impressed.
After deliberating over a couple days, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mary for an amount which included, to the penny, each item of damage incurred by Mary – approximately $73,000.
Editorial Moment: Mary was an awesome client. She knew that she was right, that the insurer’s offer of $500 was an insult, and that a jury would do the right thing. Mary believed in the right to a jury trial – guaranteed through the 7th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This right to a jury comes under attack every year by tort reformers, with few of these “reformers” ever admitting that they’re funded by the very same type of insurance companies which tried to abuse Mary. Is Mary supposed to take the $500 – take it or leave it? Does Mary have any options?
What these reformers never offer is an alternative — without a jury, what is your alternative? I invite these wannabe reformers to tell me what they have to offer that’s better than Thomas Jefferson’s 7th Amendment.