Orange County, CA - [August, 29, 2023] – WSHB, a leading national law firm, is pleased to announce the successful dismissal of its client in a high-profile wrongful death lawsuit following a two-week trial. The case involved a tragic collision on the 91 freeway, which resulted in the death of a young driver. WSHB's strategic defense team effectively navigated the complex legal landscape, leading to a favorable outcome.
The lawsuit, filed against WSHB's client as a cross-defendant, alleged negligence in failing to provide the driver with a ride home after dismissing him from work for violating the company's strict no drug or alcohol policy. However, crucial evidence presented during trial revealed that the decedent driver was heavily intoxicated at the time of the accident, with a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit in California. Additionally, the driver tested positive for cocaine and cocaine metabolites. Eyewitness accounts confirmed that the decedent was swerving across multiple lanes before colliding with an empty tanker truck parked on the freeway shoulder.
Prior to the trial, WSHB extended a 998 offer to compromise for $25,000, which was rejected. During the trial, WSHB strategically filed a motion for nonsuit and directed verdict, resulting in the dismissal of WSHB's client by the cross-complainant for a waiver of costs just before closing arguments.
“Justice prevailed ultimately in this matter, and the key evidence we elicited during the course of the trial underscored that our client did not belong in this matter,” said lead trial lawyer Greg Amundson. Amundson, a veteran trial lawyer with over 100 cases to verdict stated, “While the facts of the case are unfortunate, it is important to note that responsibility for this accident rested primarily with the plaintiff.”
The jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, with the net amount of damages awarded totaling $708,000. However, the jury assigned 65% of the fault to the deceased driver for his intoxication and drug use, with the remaining 35% attributed to the trucking company and driver for the collision. Importantly, the jury found our client/employer negligent for allowing the driver to leave the workplace after detecting alcohol on his breath, but did not hold them liable for causing the accident.
"Our team is pleased with the outcome of this challenging case," said Stewart Reid, firmwide managing partner of WSHB. "The evidence presented during trial clearly demonstrated the responsibility of the deceased driver for his tragic actions. We are proud to have successfully defended our client and secured a dismissal before the jury rendered a verdict."
WSHB extends its gratitude to partner Greg Amundson and senior counsel Anthony Ortiz for their exceptional work on this case. Additionally, the firm acknowledges the invaluable contributions of Clarissa Martinez and Mai Nguyen in the Orange County office, whose dedication helped bring this complex case to a successful conclusion.
About Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman
Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman offers world-class representation for clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 corporations, with an emphasis on small to middle market firms. We offer services across a comprehensive range of practice areas. By combining decades of experience and in-depth legal knowledge with innovative management and the use of technology, we anticipate problems, seize opportunities and get cases resolved. At WSHB, excellence in trial advocacy is a hallmark of our success. With a record that speaks for itself, we have consistently achieved exceptional results in the courtroom securing victory after victory for our clients. From business and transactional matters to the toughest commercial and civil litigation, WSHB delivers the resources and experience of a large firm while maintaining outstanding, personal client service. All focused on one goal: the best possible outcomes of our client’s legal matters. Contact us and discover how WSHB can protect your interests.