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Jury Rejects $1.4 Million+ Demand by Plaintiff: 12-0 Verdict for Defense

November 20, 2015

In a case involving the claims of a motorcycle rider suffering major lower leg injuries, including multiple open fractures, a 12-person jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Defendant Alicia Nunez after deliberating for just a few hours.  WSHB attorneys David S. Webster and Summit S. Dhillon lead a legal team representing Ms. Nunez in a 7-day trial which was completed to judgment in September 2015, with a final Satisfaction of Judgment entered on November 10, 2015.

On February 1, 2014, Plaintiff Deonte Griggs was involved in a motor vehicle accident when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck driven by Jesus Arriola.  As a result of the collision and subsequent slide, Mr. Griggs suffered open fractures to his right leg requiring multiple surgeries, tearing in both his knee ligaments, and permanent scarring and disfigurement.  Deposition testimony revealed that at the time of the accident, Mr. Arriola was performing a task related to the renovation of a rental property owned by his mother, Ms. Nunez.  As a result, Plaintiff sued Ms. Nunez, arguing that as the “principal” to her son’s “agent,” she was vicariously liable for the damages caused by Mr. Arriola at the time of the collision.

Prior to submitting the case to the jury, WSHB attorneys Webster and Dhillon argued that Plaintiff’s proposed jury instructions on voluntary employment were subject to a Motion for Non-Suit made on behalf of their client at the close of evidence.  The Honorable Bret D. Hilman agreed and indicated he would grant the Motion for Non-Suit as to the voluntary employment theory, at which time Plaintiff’s counsel voluntarily dropped the requested voluntary employment theory of liability and corresponding jury instruction.

Ultimately, the jury concluded that Mr. Arriola was partially responsible for the collision and, therefore, a proportion of Plaintiff’s damages.  However, they also unanimously concluded that Plaintiff did not establish an agency relationship between Mr. Arriola and Ms. Nunez.  Following the verdict, Plaintiff’s counsel threatened to appeal the decision unless Ms. Nunez paid $10,000.00 to resolve the case.  After some discussion and argument, Plaintiff accepted the jury’s verdict and waived his right to appeal in exchange for a waiver of costs, stemming from a prior Section 998 Offer to Compromise from Ms. Nunez to Plaintiff in the amount of $50,000.00.

“This was a big win for our client and our firm, given the potential exposure and seriousness of the injuries,” said Dhillon, an attorney in WSHB’s Fresno Office. “David [Webster] was able to come in and provide our team with invaluable experience and leadership, and together we are glad we were able to obtain a perfect result for the client.”

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