$2.6 Million Settlement for Woman Hit by Cement Truck

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

The husband of a California woman who was killed by a speeding cement truck without brakes recovered a $2,592,090 settlement from the cement company and equipment rental company.

San Francisco attorneys Thomas Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm, represented the plaintiff.  Brandi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys and Malloy is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and NTL Top 40 under 40.

The case is Peter Callaham v. Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., Garston Equipment Rental, Inc., Preston Hanford III and James Ennenga, case number 34-2015-00186933 in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

No brakes

On Monday September 22, 2014, at about 4:12 p.m., Theresa Vargo, the wife of Peter Callaham, was making a left turn onto Rough and Ready Road across California State Route 20 in Nevada County, California.

At the same time, a 2003 Kenworth cement truck operated by James Ennenga of Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., and Garston Equipment Rental, Inc. came flying down the hill on State Route 20, its brakes no longer working.

According to the driver James Ennenga about one week before, the same thing happened: he was driving the same cement truck down the same hill, when the brakes stopped working.  That earlier time, however, Ennenga, unable to stop the cement truck as it came down the hill, had a green light and made it through the intersection without impact.

This time, as he came down the hill without any functioning brakes, he entered the intersection on a red light and destroyed the Vargo vehicle, resulting in her death.  Ms. Vargo, the longtime partner of and newly married to plaintiff Peter Callaham and mother of three.

Plaintiff Callaham brought an action for the wrongful death of his longtime partner and wife. During discovery, defendants admitted that at the time of the accident James Ennenga was driving within the course and scope of his employment with Hanford Sand and Gravel Inc. and that the negligence of defendants were the substantial contributing factors to Ms. Vargo’s death.  Defendants successfully precluded the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages as the court found there was an insufficient basis to find malice.

The total available insurance was $3 million from which funds were expended for the toxic scene clean up costs and related expenses. The matter resolved for Plaintiff Callaham for $2,592,090.73, the available policy limits after payment to the three adult children and remedial clean-up costs.

 

NTL member Larry Franklin dies at 80

Larry Franklin, a 10-year member of The National Trial Lawyers described as “legendary,” has died at the age of 80, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. Franklin, who won Kentucky’s largest medical malpractice verdict, died at his home in Cherokee Triangle on Sunday, January 14, after a bout with the flu and a possible heart attack. Franklin was described as “legendary, successful, and generous” and a “bulldog,” and was named Kentucky’s best lawyer in 2006. “There are lawyers who are like Shakespearean actors, but that’s not me,” he once said. “I speak the language of the people. I am from Shively.” You can read more about Franklin and his extraordinary career here. 

http://thefranklinlawgroup.com/

 

18 days till the Trial Lawyers Summit — Have you registered yet?

The 2018 Trial Lawyers Summit in South Beach is just 18 days away, starting on Sunday, February 4. Have you registered and finalized your plans to attend the greatest gathering of trial lawyers in the US? Don’t miss the #1 meeting of the best and most successful legal minds in America!

  • An AMAZING lineup of over 100 of the nation’s top speakers covering the latest trends, new case types and topics.
  • Earn a year’s worth of CLE credits in 4 days (24+ CLE hours & Ethics)
  • Get new referrals! Engage with America’s most influential and respected trial lawyers on major projects of interest.
  • Words of Wisdom from The Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame—Gain insight from top trial lawyers in American history.
  • For the 5th year in a row, The Trial Lawyer magazine has rated the Trial Lawyers Summit the #1 Conference of the Year!

The Trial Lawyers Summit will be February 4-7 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in South Beach, Florida. Don’t wait! Register now and join us for an experience that will be both memorable and valuable!

Denying innocence despite evidence

What do you do when a prosecutor refuses to clear an accused person despite evidence proving their innocence? A cover story at Slate.com examines the effects of “innocence deniers,” prosecutors who aren’t just hindering justice; they’re actually working against it.

In an adversarial legal system, it’s natural to presume that prosecutors and defense attorneys are driven by the same goal: to win. They aren’t. In Berger v. United States, decided in 1935, the Supreme Court famously declared that the prosecution’s ultimate goal “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” A prosecutor, the court wrote, “is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer.”

Read more about how innocent lives are affected by prosecutors who insist that, despite the evidence to the contrary, people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes are in fact guilty.

 

Texas Driver with TBI from Auto Crash Recovers $26 Million Settlement

attorney Brent Goudarzi

Plaintiff attorney Brent Goudarzi

A 30-year old house painter who suffered a traumatic brain injury and aortic injury when his car was struck at a Texas intersection by another vehicle that negligently ran a red light has recovered a $26 million settlement.

Bessy Rodriguez filed suit on behalf of herself, her incapacitated husband Jose Lara Sanchez and their two children in connection with the 2010 crash in Mt. Pleasant, TX. The defendants are Jonathan Cunningham, driver of a pickup truck, and his employer Troy Construction, LLC, which owned the truck. It is Case No. 38,742 in 276th Judicial District Court of Titus County, TX.

The plaintiff’s attorney is Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young, LLP in Gilmer, TX. The case involved 34 depositions taken all over the US as well as more than 20 highly contested court hearings prior to the insurance company Berkshire-Hathaway offered is $26 million insurance policy limit, about five weeks before a jury trial.

Extensive injuries

Mr. Lara was transported by ambulance to a local emergency room, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3 and from there, airlifted to a second hospital for more comprehensive evaluation and care.  A CT scan revealed a fracture of the right temporal bone and right-sided epidural hematoma, with underlying subarachnoid hemorrhage.

He underwent an emergent right triple craniotomy, and two days later, underwent endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of the descending thoracic aorta.  For the next three weeks, Lara was weaned off sedation and managed for rib fractures, scapula fracture, left acetabular fracture, bilateral pulmonary contusions and pneumonia.

He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility, where he got aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapies for five months before being discharged home to his family.  Lara continued to receive physical and speech therapies through outpatient rehabilitation. Altogether, he incurred $1.3 million in medical expenses.

While the plaintiffs alleged the need for lifetime medical care and the inability to return to any level of employment, the defendants alleged that a short course of appropriate outpatient therapy at an accredited rehabilitation facility would provide Lara with independence, including the potential to return to driving and return to working. This allegation was supported by surveillance video conducted over the course of multiple days, which showed Mr. Lara walking unassisted and unsupervised outside of his home, engaging in family outings, communicating with neighbors and even assisting with automotive maintenance.

The defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of Lara for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt, which caused his ejection and the right temporal bone fracture, hematoma and hemorrhage and most, if not all, of his residual physical symptoms, which were primarily left-sided (and controlled by the right side of the brain). Had Lara not been ejected, defendants alleged, he would have sustained no brain injury.

The New Year Is Here! Is Your Marketing Strategy in Place?

Harlan Schillinger, Legal Marketing Expert

By Harlan Schillinger.

As a new year is dawning, your marketing plan is yawning. It’s old. It’s tired. What you did in terms of marketing just last year may no longer be relevant — or aggressive enough.

Spin that to the positive, however, and the start of 2018 can be a time of strategic reflection and renewal. Take the pause you had over the holidays and put that energy toward something great — a masterful marketing plan that will carry you though the whole year.

Keep in mind that your competitors may not even have a strategic plan. Over 90% of law firms don’t. Make that your competitive edge — and get busy. Your 2018 marketing plan should be a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines all business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It should describe tactics for accomplishing each specific marketing objective within a set time frame.

The world is changing rapidly, and the best-laid marketing plans for 2018 will be those that quickly measure the failures and successes of last year while seeing farther into the future. Your plan should include historical data, future predictions, current marketing position, a discussion of the target market, and a description of the methods or strategies to achieve your marketing objectives. While a marketing plan should have a formal structure to keep you accountable, it should also be held as an informal, flexible document with room for tweaking as needed.

You know what they say about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So, stop the insanity by looking at your marketing tactics with a whole new perspective. You must ask yourself, where you want to be this year, next year and in five years.

To build a solid plan that’s relevant by today’s standards, you also have to dig in to the really hard questions, especially in the categories of competition, intake, digital analytics and advertising.

COMPETITION

Start by doing a competitive analysis — a deep dive into your market for 2018. If you haven’t looked at what the competition is really executing on in a long time or even since last year, seize the moment.

Your advertising agency can help you assess your toughest competition by evaluating the effectiveness of their chosen marketing and advertising avenues. What are other lawyers in your market doing with traditional advertising, social media, content marketing and more? Just as important, though, is finding out what they’re not doing. Then use your resources to capitalize on that weakness.

If your legal advertising agency hasn’t sat down with you to work on a strategic plan that includes competitive analysis, fire them. Building a vision on knowing who’s doing what in the marketplace should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts for 2018.

INTAKE

When was the last time you took a hard look at your office’s intake department? If you are honest with yourself and really investigate with curiosity what you can be doing better, you will do better. We can always achieve more when we’re willing to look at the hardest parts of our businesses (usually the ones we’re in denial about, like intake).

Start with some simple yet direct inquires:

Do I even have a formal intake procedure?

Start to put the tools in place to make your intake process more consistent, streamlined and accountable.

Do I really know what I’m missing out on when it comes to intake?

If you don’t have a way to track when, where and how your calls come in, you are most certainly missing out on intake.

Have I considered software to help me manage intake?

Research the best system on the market to make the intake process simpler for your office to manage, track and realize ROI. Ask around. Who’s using what? How is it working? What’s new to the market?

Do I know what my true ROI is from all my marketing efforts?

If you’re not accounting for intake costs in your marketing budget, you’re guessing about ROI. You have to understand what each lead costs before you can study your firm’s true ROI.

DIGITAL ANALYTICS

What’s your marketing plan to reach 75 million millennials? With younger audiences living on their screens, it had better include digital marketing. Do you know how millennials act and what you have to do digitally to reach them? That’s where you should start.

Make 2018 your year to get up to speed on all the rich data and analytics you can be tracking through your digital marketing efforts. Your advertising agency can take the lead and be your guide, but don’t forget to advocate for your own marketing plan this year.

Start diving into these questions to steer your digital efforts in the right direction:

  • How often have you even looked at analytics about who’s using your website or social channels or reading your emails and eBooks?
  • How can I start to read and understand my own free reports, such as Google Analytics?
  • What are the most important diagnostic reports really telling me?
  • Can I be leveraging new technology like Google Play Books to get my message out there?
  • Have I embraced social media? How can I jump in yet be strategic?

ADVERTISING

While legal advertising bucks many trends, it doesn’t change the fact that in general the state of advertising has changed in 2018. You can no longer rely solely on the sway of broadcast advertising. Your strategy must be integrated with other forms of marketing to reach more people and new audiences everywhere they are.

To get more informed, you can start to ask the hard questions of your own advertising buyers and vendors.

  • Do you really understand what your advertising agency is doing for you?
  • Have you studied what your agency did in 2017 in order to build an effective plan for 2018?
  • Have you set clear objectives and expectations for this year’s marketing plan?

If this feels like a lot of questions, there’s a reason for that. The only way forward in marketing your law firm in 2018 is to understand where you’ve been — and where you should be headed to remain relevant. Building a gutsy marketing plan starts with asking real, hard questions.


Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,400 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Brooklyn Woman Recovers $18.2 Million for Failure to Diagnose Intestinal Blood Clot

Plaintiff Attorney Steven Miller of Garden City, NY.

Plaintiff Attorney Steven Miller of Garden City, NY.

A jury in New York awarded $18.2 million to a woman who had to have more than 25 surgeries resulting in the loss of her small bowel because doctors failed to diagnose mesenteric ischemia, or inadequate blood flow to the small intestine.

Plaintiff Marianna Zielinska, a 49-year old homemaker, lived in Brooklyn with her husband Edward Sapkowski in 2008 when she presented three times to defendant Lutheran Medical Center with signs and symptoms of mesenteric ischemia.

She was discharged twice with a diagnosis of gastritis/enteritis. On her third presentation she was taken to surgery and eventually found to have portal vein thrombosis.

Zielinska has lost the majority of her small bowel leaving her with short bowel syndrome, which requires her to be on a limited diet, causes her to defecate shortly after a meal and left her with significant abdominal scarring and loss of tissue.

Attorney Steven Miller of  Miller, Montiel & Strano, PC, in Garden City, NY, represented the plaintiff. He is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys. The case is Zielinska v. Lutheran Medical Center et. al., Case Number 22686/10, New York Supreme Court, Kings County.

The verdict amount was $ 18.2 million, including $7 million past pain and suffering, $10 million future pain & suffering and $ 1.2 million past medical expenses.

Lutheran Medical Center settled for an undisclosed sum prior to the verdict. The verdict was rendered against surgeon Corneliu T. Volpe, M.D., who has offices in Brooklyn, NY and was called in during Ms. Zielinska’s second presentation at Lutheran Medical Center from June 13-21, 2008 for surgical consultation. The claim against him was that he misread an abdominal CT that showed evidence of portal vein thrombosis (clot) and ischemic (lack of blood supply) small bowel, hence failure to diagnose.

Further claims were that on her initial presentation at the hospital on June 8, 2008, Zielinska’s blood work and radiology studies indicating mesenteric ischemia were not appreciated and she was sent home with a diagnosis of uterine myoma (benign growth) that did not explain her symptoms.

On her third presentation on June 28, 2008, ischemic bowel was appreciated, she was taken to surgery during which portions of her bowel fell apart, she was admitted until February 26, 2009. During the admission over 20 surgical procedures were performed upon her. After her discharge, she had 4 additional hospitalizations and 4 additional surgeries.

Family of Construction Worker Killed in Fall from Balcony Recovers $7.5 Million

law news, legal news, verdict, settlementThe family an Illinois electrician obtained a $7.5 million settlement after he was killed while installing lighting on a balcony at an apartment complex, and fell after another worker left a guardrail unsecured.

Scott Liszkiewicz, age 50, was installing light fixtures on a second-floor balcony of a maintenance building of the Prairie View Apartments in Bellwood, Illinois, which were undergoing renovations on Nov. 18, 2014, when another construction worker removed the balcony’s rail in order to install siding.  The worker went to lunch instead of immediately reattaching the rail, which appeared to be secured.  

Liszkiewicz suffered head and spinal cord injuries in the two-story fall and died three weeks later.

“It was obvious from the beginning that Scott’s wife Angie was determined to do what she could do to ease his excruciating pain of his catastrophic injuries all the while knowing it was only matter of time until he would pass in the hospital and not in his home.  My heart went out to her and their son Nicholas. We were determined to make sure the two of them would be taken care of to the best of our abilities,” said Philip Corboy, Jr., a Partner at Corboy & Demetrio in Chicago, which represents the estate.

The lawsuit named as defendants, CRG Residential, LLC, a Carmel, Indiana subcontractor; and CRG’s subcontractor RC Schwartz, which was hired to remove and replace siding.  In addition, Urban Innovations owned the project site and retained CRG Residential as its general contractor.

“This senseless tragedy, exemplified by a triad of construction site blunders, took away the life of a loving husband, father and breadwinner.  Miscommunications and sloppy work practices between the two defendants produced this fatality, which was clearly avoidable,” said Corboy & Demetrio Partner Edward G. Willer, who along with William T. Gibbs, also represented the estate.

The case is Angela Liszkiewicz, Administrator of Estate of Scott Liszkiewicz v. CRG Residential, LLC, Chris R.C. Schwartz doing business as RC Construction, Case No. 15C4088, in U.S. Northern District Court. Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. approved the settlement on Dec. 12, 2017.