(Los Angeles, CA). Another trial “first” for national law firm Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman last week when a Los Angeles jury returned the verdict. Tried by sibling partners, Tracy and Paul Lewis, this case represents a brother-sister trial duo that defeated plaintiff’s claim for over $2.4 million.
“I love trial work, and love my sister, so when the opportunity arose to try a case together I jumped at the chance,” explained trial attorney Paul Lewis, a partner in the San Diego office of WSHB, “Our lives get so busy with work, family and other obligations, it was truly a pleasure to work together to prepare a compelling narrative for the jury.”
“Growing up, I always knew we would both be lawyers,” said trial lawyer Tracy Lewis, partner at WSHB’s Orange County office. “Working together in an intense trial where we were able to show our litigation and trial skills was exhilarating intellectually as well as a great deal of fun.”
In this admitted liability matter, the jury heard testimony about a plaintiff who was working as a gardener when he was attacked by the dog being walked by WSHB’s client, a dog-walking service. The dog knocked the Plaintiff over causing him to suffer a comminuted open fracture that required surgery with external fixation for about 2 months. Plaintiff’s retained expert opined at deposition that additional surgical intervention was needed, but during the trial, he testified Plaintiff had chronic pain that would last for the rest of his life with no real treatment available.
Prior to the suit being filed, Plaintiff’s counsel made a policy limits demand. WSHB communicated an opening offer of $75,000, but Plaintiff’s counsel refused to attend any mediation and would not come below $965,000 at a court-ordered mandatory settlement conference. Plaintiff asked the jury to award $2.4 million for past and future pain and suffering. After 1 ½ hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $300,000 ($200,000 for past non-economics and $100,000 for future non-economics).
“Unreasonable demands are not unique from the plaintiff side of the equation, but what was unique was the refusal to move off the demand or engaged in any meaningful dialogue about case resolution,” said Tracy. “In that situation, our clients had no choice but to try the case, and they were pleased with the result, particularly against the $2.4 million number blackboarded at trial.”
“It is a rarity to have siblings be partners in a national law firm, even more so for the siblings to try cases to verdict together,” said firmwide managing partner Stewart Reid, “Both Tracy and Paul enjoy strong skill sets in different areas of the law, and the fact they came together and tried successfully this case underscores their litigation prowess and power of persuasion.”