Phy v. Daniels Chapel of the Roses
On April 18, 2016, plaintiff Virginia Phy, then 71 years old, was terminated from her employment as a document specialist with Daniels Chapel of the Roses, after 13 years of employment. Daniels Chapel of the Roses is a funeral home in Santa Rosa. Brian Gearinger served as co-counsel with Michelle Neuman, Esq. for Plaintiff Virginia Phy, and they obtained a verdict of $312,892 on behalf of their client. Please see the attached Special Verdict Form.
Plaintiff filed suit for age and gender discrimination under FEHA, wrongful termination in violation of public policy and failure to prevent discrimination under FEHA. Prior to trial, she dismissed all claims except for her claim for age discrimination under FEHA.
Much of the trial centered on credibility. Plaintiff’s only direct evidence of age discrimination was the comment made by the owner during the termination meeting that “we are going with younger people.” Both the owner, and her daughter-in-law who was present during the meeting, denied that the comment was made. Speaking with the jury after the trial, the jury simply believed the Plaintiff over the two defense witnesses. During the trial, Defense counsel painted the Plaintiff as a foul mouthed, insubordinate, lazy employee. This narrative did not correspond with either the Plaintiff’s employment history or her presentation during the multiple times she testified and further damaged the credibility of the defendant at trial. Plaintiff did not seek treatment for her emotional distress and presented as a strong, independent and self-sufficient woman which is likely the reason for the jury’s relatively small emotional distress award. Prior to trial, counsel for Plaintiff held a mock trial like focus group. This invaluable tool helped to streamline and focus the claims and arguments at trial. Based on the results, Plaintiff dismissed her gender plus age claim and instead pursued age only. Motions in limine and thoroughly briefed evidentiary objections were crucial in preventing the Defendant from arguing that older males in dissimilar job positions were comparators to the Plaintiff.
Plaintiff’s last demand prior to trial was $250,000, inclusive of fees and costs. Defendant made a CCP 998 offer of $40,100 in June 2017, inclusive of fees and costs.
The jury found for plaintiff and awarded her $312,892, which included $115,031 for past lost earnings, $112,861 for future lost earnings, and $85,000 past loss for pain and suffering. Pending Plaintiff’s filing of a petition for attorneys’ fees under FEHA, the matter settled in a non-confidential settlement for $606,423.48.
Prichard v. Handy
This was a binding arbitration pursuant to the terms of a Residential Purchase Agreement. We represented the seller. After removing all contingencies, the buyer attempted to manufacture a right to cancel the Purchase Agreement by demanding an amended disclosure due to dirt in the pool, among other reasons. The seller successfully contended that the dirt was not a “material” condition requiring an amended disclosure. The arbitrator awarded the seller the return of the $68,000 escrow deposit, $164,636.49 in attorney’s fees and $43,679.07. Please see the Final Award and Ruling on Attorney’s Fees. (Binding Arbitration before the Honorable John A. Flaherty (Ret.) of JAMS)
Estate of Gertrude Daley v. Ronald Daley
This was a declaratory relief action brought by the Administrator of the Estate of Gertrude C. Daley regarding the parties’ rights to real property located in San Francisco. The parties were the heirs of Gertrude C. Daley and John Tom and Sandy Tom. We represented the Toms, who had entered into a written contract with Administrator to purchase the property at a probate sale for $456,789, subject to confirmation of the sale by the Probate Court. Five days before the confirmation hearing, however, two of the beneficiaries of the estate filed bogus liens premised upon previously invalidated “notices of gift” encumbering the property, clouding title and preventing the Administrator from transferring clear title to the property to the Toms.
Because of the clouded title, the Probate Court never signed a written order confirming the sale. As a result, the condition precedent (court confirmation of the sale) was not satisfied and the sale remained pending. Because the property had appreciated in value to $1.1 million, the beneficiaries asked the Court to undo the Contract and confirmation so that they keep the property for themselves or sell it to someone else at a higher price. After a three-week bench trial before the Honorable Tomar Mason, the Court enforced the contract and confirmed the sale to the Toms. Please see the Court’s Statement of Decision. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Nahigian v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which Plaintiff accused Defendant San Francisco Police Officer Santos of wrongful arrest and battery. Plaintiff’s moving van was double parked on Fillmore Street when Officer Santos directed Plaintiff to move the van. Plaintiff responded by swearing at Officer Santos. When Officer Santos asked Plaintiff to produce identification, Plaintiff attempted to leave the scene. Officer Santos arrested Plaintiff. While in the back of the patrol car, Plaintiff threatened Officer Santos by stating among other things, “I’ll have your house by the time that I am through with you.” The twelve-person jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Officer Santos. Plaintiff paid the City and County of San Francisco $12,344 in costs after trial. Please see the Judgment on Special Verdict. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Butler v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which Plaintiff sued a San Francisco Municipal Railway Bus Operator for negligence. Plaintiff was a pedestrian who was struck by a bus while in a crosswalk at the intersection of Lyon and Lombard Streets. Plaintiff was dragged underneath the bus more than one-half way through the intersection before the bus stopped. Fortunately, Plaintiff suffered only a broken clavicle as well as soft tissue injuries. Defendant Bus Operator admitted liability; therefore, the trial was limited to the issue of Plaintiff’s damages. After the jury was selected, Plaintiff rejected a settlement offer of $110,000. The jury awarded Plaintiff $96,428.76. Please see the Judgment on Verdict in Open Court. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Bingham v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which Plaintiff sued a San Francisco Municipal Railway Bus Operator for negligence. Plaintiff was a bicyclist was attempted to pass a MUNI bus on the right hand side while on Post Street between Gough and Franklin Streets. The bus ran over Plaintiff’s foot resulting in a broken ankle. The jury found the Defendant Bus Operator negligent; however, the jury further determined that such negligence did not cause Plaintiff’s injuries. Please see the Judgment on Special Verdict. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Chan v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which Plaintiff sued a San Francisco Municipal Railway Bus Operator for negligence. Plaintiff was an elderly man who was crossing the street at 20th Avenue and Irving Street when he walked into the side of bus operating on the MUNI 29 Sunset line. The bus was turning left from 20th Avenue onto Irving Street when Plaintiff made contact with the driver’s side of the bus approximately midway between the front and rear tires. Plaintiff sustained minor soft tissue injuries but attempted to inflate his claim by alleging cognitive impairment. The records of Plaintiff’s treating internist, however, revealed notes indicating age-related dementia. At trial, Plaintiff dropped his claim of cognitive impairment, although the City and County of San Francisco incurred the substantial expense of a neurological examination during discovery. The jury determined that neither the San Francisco Municipal Railway nor the Bus Operator were negligent. Please see the Special Verdict. Plaintiff paid the City and County of San Francisco $12,617.87 in costs after trial. Please see the Cost Bill. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Bice v. Dempsey
This was a case in which Plaintiff was beaten up in the County Jail. Plaintiff was arrested following a traffic stop for making an illegal left turn from Market Street. The rental car which Plaintiff was driving had been reported stolen. (Plaintiff had kept the car for several months after his last payment.) When Plaintiff did not post bail, he was housed in the minimum security level group cell at the County Jail. While making rounds, a Sheriff’s Deputy noticed Plaintiff in the corner of the cell acting in a peculiar manner. The Deputy investigated and determined that Plaintiff was injured. Plaintiff had been beaten up by fellow inmates. Plaintiff sued the two deputies assigned to oversee the group cell, the Lieutenant who was the shift supervisor and the Chief Deputy who was in charge of the County Jail. Plaintiff sued the four employees of the Sheriff’s Office for negligence and intentional torts and sought punitive damages against them.
During trial, Plaintiff asserted that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder with resulting anger outbursts that he alleged did not occur prior to the beating in the County Jail. This allowed Defendants to introduce testimony regarding Plaintiff’s previous anger outbursts, including an incident when Plaintiff assaulted a female employee of the property management company for Plaintiff’s apartment. The jury found one of the Defendants negligent but determined that such negligence did not cause Plaintiff’s injuries. The jury also ruled in favor of the Defendants regarding the claims for intentional torts. Please see the Judgment on Special Verdict. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Murphy v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which a female San Francisco Police Officer accidentally cut off a male bicyclist while responding to a call to provide back up for a fellow officer. The bicyclist injured his shoulder when he fell off of his bicycle, and he further claimed that the officer was rude and intimidating immediately following the accident. Prior to trial, the City of San Francisco admitted that the officer was negligent in causing the accident and therefore liable for the bicyclist’s damages. The officer, however, contested the bicyclist’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The bicyclist’s final demand prior to trial was $100,000. The jury rendered an award of $42,391.11. Please see the Judgment on General Verdict. During the trial, the Court granted the officer’s motion for a nonsuit as to the bicyclist’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Please see the Order and Judgment Granting Nonsuit. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Draper v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which Plaintiff, who was a female passenger on a MUNI bus, was assaulted by another female passenger. Plaintiff, who was 14-years old at the time, was slashed on the face with a razor blade. The assailant had been kicked off a MUNI bus that Plaintiff had been riding on for making threats; however, the operator did not call Central Control pursuant to MUNI policy. Plaintiff transferred to another bus, and the assailant boarded the same bus a short time later. The second operator had no knowledge of the previous incident involving the assailant. The assailant then confronted Plaintiff and slapped while she had a razor in her hand. The jury determined that the first operator was negligent for not calling Central Control; however, the jury also determined that such negligence did not cause Plaintiff’s injuries. Please see the Judgment on Special Verdict. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Manley v. City and County of San Francisco
This was a case in which twisted her ankle in a pothole in the crosswalk at Mason and Ellis Streets. Plaintiff was an actress who was on her way to an audition. Plaintiff alleged that the pothole – which was several inches deep – was a dangerous condition of pubic property. The jury determined that the pothole was not a dangerous condition. Please see the Special Verdict. (San Francisco Superior Court)
Quick vs. McFarland Energy
We served as second chair to lead trial counsel for defendant oil producer in personal injury lawsuit arising from an injury to service contractor’s employee at oil/gas production facility in Los Angeles. We obtained a defense verdict after a seven day trial. Please see the jury verdict summary. (Los Angeles Superior Court)