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Post Office Box 277010, Sacramento, California 95827-7010


916-817-2900 916-817-2900

Jury Trials

JAMES R. DONAHUE

Mr. Donahue has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) since 1999. He has tried  cases to juries in 13 different Northern California counties. Below is a representative list of first chair jury trials conducted by Mr. Donahue. In addition, he has handled numerous court trials and binding arbitrations, including declaratory relief and UM matters on behalf of insurance clients.

CASE / VENUE: Smith v. LaRondelle / Napa County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Trespass / Cutting of Trees

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff alleged that defendants trespassed onto their property and cut down a number of trees. Jury agreed with defense claim that plaintiffs had “consented” to the cutting by failing to timely object.

CASE / VENUE: Weaver v. Bishop / Napa County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Negligent Diversion of Stream

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff and defendant were adjoining property owners on the opposite side of a stream in Napa. Plaintiff was an insurance company suing in subrogation in the name of its insureds. Plaintiff contended that defendants had caused the course of the stream to change by the fact they placed riprap and other bank enhancements on their side, causing the undermining of plaintiffs stream bank, slightly down stream, and resulted in expensive gabion cage enhancements to plaintiff’s bank, at the expense of the first party carrier. The jury accepted defendant’s position that the improvements on defendant’s bank were reasonable to protect defendant’s property, and that plaintiff’s insured had a similar duty to make reasonable improvement to protect their own bank. This case  went up on appeal, and the defense verdict was upheld in a published opinion. (Weaver v. Bishop (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 1351).

CASE / VENUE: Mello v. Pool Well / Glenn County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Fall from Rigging Equipment

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was an independent well service contractor. He fell while climbing a well rig, and suffered fracture injuries. He claimed that the rig was poorly maintained by the defendant owner, who failed to warn plaintiff that the rigging had been excessively greased. The jury rejected plaintiff’s claim that defendant was negligent in the maintenance of the rig, and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Browne v. Stiles / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Pharmacy Malpractice / Wrongful Death

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiffs were the heirs of an elderly decedent. They sued decedent’s primary treating doctor and the pharmacist. Mr. Donahue represented the pharmacist. Plaintiff’s alleged that decedent had overdosed on prednisone medication prescribed by the doctor, and dispensed by the pharmacist. Plaintiff was supposed to be prescribed 5 mg tablets of prednisone. Instead, she was given 50 mg tablets, which she took three (3) times per day. The tenfold overdose resulted in death. The jury returned a verdict against the doctor, but a defense verdict against the pharmacist.

CASE / VENUE: Panos v. Shuttlesworth / Solano County Superior Court<

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict

 TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Alleged Molestation

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff and defendant were neighbors during plaintiff’s childhood. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had molested her on several occasions during her pre-teen years. Plaintiff did not bring the claims to anyone’s attention until she filed the lawsuit at age 19. Defendant adamantly denied any inappropriate contact with plaintiff. The jury rejected plaintiff’s claim on credibility grounds and entered a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: THE VERDICT:

Jones v. Knoll / Sacramento County Superior Court Defense Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was assisting defendant with cleaning defendant’s garage. In the process of cleaning some clutter, plaintiff reached behind some boxes to pick up an object. As she picked up a bundle of clutter, her finger became entrapped in a tree pruner that was lying on the garage floor, but out of her sight. As she raised the bundle, the pruner blade closed, nearly severing plaintiff’s middle finger. The jury rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant was negligent in failing to warn her of the presence of the tree pruner, or that it constituted a dangerous condition of the premises.

CASE / VENUE: Nichols v. Krause / El Dorado Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $6,200 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Dog Bite

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff alleged she was visiting defendant when she was bitten by defendant’s Rottweiler. The dog bit plaintiff on her left forearm and buttock. Plaintiff claimed residual neurologic injuries. She alleged wage loss of $15,000 and medical expenses of $4,664. Defendant admitted liability for the dog bite, but disputed damages. Plaintiff requested a verdict of $90,000. Defendant suggested $8,700. The jury returned a verdict in the sum of $6,200.

CASE / VENUE: Krone v. Youmans / Yolo County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Trip and Fall

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff tripped and fell in defendant’s store in Davis when she failed to see an unmarked change in elevation of 3 ½ inches. Plaintiff sustained a fracture to the right proximal humerus. The jury accepted defendant’s contention that the condition was open and obvious, and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Kinnick v. Smith / El Dorado County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Trip and Fall

CASE SYNOPSIS:

This was a “friendly” lawsuit involving a family member suing another family member over a trip and fall incident at defendant’s premises. Plaintiff was visiting her daughter at the daughter’s residence. Plaintiff alleged that her daughter had coiled a hose over a walkway she had just walked over about one (1) hour earlier. The mother was unaware the hose had been placed on the walkway in the interim. When she left the residence, she tripped over the coiled hose, causing her to fall and fracture her right femur and right radius. The jury accepted defendant’s contention that the hose was an open and obvious condition, even though it had been placed on the walkway just minutes before plaintiff exited the residence.

CASE / VENUE: Zastrow v. Ivey / El Dorado County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Real Estate Fraud / Misrepresentation

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiffs purchased a residence from defendants in El Dorado Hills, near Folsom Lake. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to disclose the fact there was a sewage lift pumping station located approximately 600 feet behind the back fence. After moving in, plaintiffs detected the odor of sewage on hot days, and depending upon wind direction. Plaintiffs sued defendants alleging that the presence of the lift station was a material issue that should have been disclosed during the course of the purchase. Defendants contended that they had no obligation to disclose the lift station, and also stated that they had not smelled any odors from the station while they resided at the home. Further, defendants argued that plaintiff’s agent was aware of the station, so that knowledge was imputed to plaintiffs. The jury agreed that plaintiffs would have been on notice of the lift station by virtue of their agent’s knowledge, and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Trivitt v. Searle / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Premises Liability

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a 13 year old student who was attending a party at defendants’ residence. Plaintiff was jumping on the defendants’ trampoline with two (2) other children at the same time. Plaintiff caught an awkward bounce while the other children were jumping, and came down on her arm, suffering a compound fracture of the forearm. Plaintiff alleged that defendants were negligent by failing to properly supervise, and for permitting two (2) or more persons to jump at the same time in contradiction to the warning labels on the trampoline. Defendants disputed negligence and contended that plaintiff assumed the risk of her injuries. The jury agreed that defendants had acted reasonably, and that plaintiff assumed the risk.

CASE / VENUE: Spencer v. Sylvestri / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a customer visiting defendant’s store. She went to the rear of the premises to use the restroom. As she did, she encountered an unmarked five (5) inch step down, and fell, injuring her neck and back. Defendant disputed that the step constituted a dangerous condition, and that it was open and obvious. The jury agreed.

CASE / VENUE: Bunn v. Schunk / Placer County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Assault

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff alleged that she was injured when defendant confronted her in a parking lot in a road rage incident, tore the ski rack off the top of her car, and began beating her vehicle with the rack. Plaintiff alleged that defendant smashed out the back window of her car with the ski rack and struck her on the head with the rack. Plaintiff alleged she was in fear for her life, and that defendant was threatening to kill her. Defendant admitted that he pulled the ski rack off the top of plaintiff’s car and struck the back window, accidentally breaking it. He denied that he touched plaintiff, or inflicted any injuries upon her person. Plaintiff sued in intentional tort only, and dismissed the negligence claim. In closing, defendant admitted that he was negligent, but denied that his conduct rose to intentional tort. The jury agreed and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Coleman v. Bickler / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Dismissal after 7 days of trial TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises liability / Neck Fracture from Pool Dive

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was visiting defendant’s residence. Plaintiff and defendant were sitting in an elevated built in spa. The spa was located above the shallow end of the pool. Plaintiff and defendant had been drinking alcohol. At one point, defendant got up from the spa and dove into the pool. Plaintiff observed this, and followed suit several minutes later. When plaintiff dove, his head struck the bottom of the shallow end of the pool. Plaintiff sustained a fracture of the cervical spine, with resultant paralysis to his upper extremity. Plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to warn him that the spa was located above the shallow end, and also failed to warn him that he would have to perform a very shallow surface type dive to avoid injury. Defendant denied any negligence or dangerous condition and contended that the depth of the pool was open and obvious. Also, that

Plaintiff assumed the risk of his injuries. The case was dismissed by plaintiff on the 7th day of trial, just prior to commencement of closing arguments.

CASE / VENUE: Guppy v. Gaston / Placer County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Slip and Fall on Ice

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was visiting defendant’s residence in Lake Tahoe in winter. He had been attending a social event at the residence. On his way out to return to his vehicle, defendant slipped and fell on some icy steps leading from defendant’s walkway. Plaintiff alleged that defendants failed to provide adequate lighting, maintain the steps with appropriate snowmelt, or provide adequate warning. Defendant disputed negligence, or that plaintiff fell where he claimed. Defendant contended that ice on the steps was a natural condition of Tahoe in the winter, and that defendant was well aware of that fact. The jury agreed that there was no dangerous condition of the premises.

CASE / VENUE: Hasting v. Kossick / El Dorado County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Defamation

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff operated a janitorial service in El Dorado County. Defendant owned a business in a shopping center that was serviced by plaintiff’s company. Defendant arrived at his store one morning to find the door ajar, and inventory missing. Defendant reported the loss to the Sheriff. Plaintiff alleged that defendant accused him of stealing the inventory, and reporting that falsehood to the Sheriff, as well as other persons in the center. Plaintiff alleged that he lost numerous accounts as a result of the allegation of theft. Defendant denied that he accused plaintiff of stealing. At most, he accused plaintiff of leaving the store premises unlocked. Defendant contended that any statements he made were privileged in any event. The jury agreed that defendant’s statements, if any, were privileged and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Fines v. Montemayor / Yolo County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Fall from Roof

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was asked by defendant to perform some roof repairs to a shed on defendant’s property. Plaintiff alleged that defendant provided him with a ladder that had a defective rung, but failed to point out the problem with the ladder to plaintiff. While climbing the ladder with a roll of roofing felt, plaintiff fell and sustained a fractured arm. Defendant

disputed liability and contended that any deficiencies in the ladder were open and obvious to the user. Further, defendant had rarely, if ever, used the ladder and had no better knowledge of its condition than did plaintiff.

CASE / VENUE: Wood v. Baccus / Calaveras County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Horse on Roadway

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was driving his vehicle at night on a rural roadway in Calaveras County. He was traveling the speed limit at approximately 55 mph when he suddenly encountered a horse standing on the roadway. He struck the horse head-on, with minimal time to brake or react. Plaintiff alleged significant neck and back injuries from the collision with the 1,200 lb animal. Defendant was the owner of the horse. The animal had escaped defendant’s corral sometime that evening. The horse had been kept in a corral with good fencing and a proper gate. There was no evidence as to how the horse had escaped the corral. Defendant argued that the horse either jumped the corral fence, or some unknown third party allowed it out of its pasture. The jury concluded there was no evidence that defendant maintained an inadequate corral, or was otherwise negligent, and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Clayton v. Monson / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Neck Fracture from Pool Dive

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was attending a pool party at a rental property owned by defendant. During the course of the party, plaintiff dove into the pool and struck his head on the bottom, fracturing his cervical spine. As a result, plaintiff sustained significant neurologic injuries to his brachial plexus. Plaintiff contended that defendant was negligent for renting a house with a pool and failing to post depth markings or signs warning that the pool was too shallow for safe diving. Defendant denied negligence, or that the pool was a dangerous condition of the premises. The depth of the pool was open and obvious, and did not require markings or signage. The jury agreed.

CASE / VENUE: Ruiz v. Gordon / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $6,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Motor Vehicle Accident / Rear Ender

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was rear ended by defendant’s vehicle. Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries and claimed miscellaneous therapy and chiropractic care. Plaintiff’s special damages were approximately $4,500. Plaintiff requested a verdict of $25,000. Defendant offered $5,000 pretrial, and suggested an award of $1,500 at trial. The jury returned a verdict of $6,000.

CASE / VENUE: Johnson v. Stube / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Trip and Fall on Defective Stair

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a tenant at defendant’s apartment complex. Plaintiff was walking down a set of cement stairs with a laundry basket in her arms. She claimed that as she was descending the stairs, the nose of one of the concrete stairs broke off, causing her to fall down several steps. Plaintiff claimed neck, back and hip injuries, and an injury to the disc at L5-S1. Defendant contended that he completed numerous repairs to the complex and the stairs in the months prior to plaintiff’s fall. He had recently inspected the stairs and found them to be in good condition. It was not predictable that the stair nose would crack and break at the time of plaintiff’s fall. The jury agreed that there was no notice of a dangerous or defective condition, and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Seaman v. Bernard / Solano County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Hung Jury TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Motor Vehicle Accident / Sideswipe on a Curve

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was operating his vehicle on a downhill, curvy, rural roadway. Defendant was traveling in the uphill direction at the same time. Plaintiff alleged that defendant crossed the center line on a curve, and sideswiped plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that a Silastic plastic plate in his skull was displaced as a result of the accident, leading to a skull surgery to replace and reposition the plate. Defendant contended that plaintiff was the one who crossed the center line, and caused the sideswipe to occur. The jury could not agree on fault, and a mistrial was declared.

CASE / VENUE: Holochuck v. Gemignani / Solano Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Motor Vehicle Accident / Rear Ender

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was rear ended by defendant. Plaintiff alleged soft tissue injuries to the neck and back. Defendant admitted fault for the accident, but contended that the impact was minimal and insufficient to cause any injuries or damages. The jury agreed that the impact generated extremely minimal forces, and rejected plaintiff’s claims based on lack of causation.

CASE / VENUE: Hessing v. DeBlois / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $12,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Negligence / Pencil to Eye

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff and defendant were grammar school classmates. During class, defendant threw a pencil across his desk. The sharpened pencil struck plaintiff in the eye, puncturing the globe. Defendant contended that the throwing of the pencil was not negligent under the standard of care applicable to a minor. Further, that plaintiff’s damages were overstated. Plaintiff requested $60,000. Defendant had issued a 998 offer of $17,500.

CASE / VENUE: Hecker v. Dewey / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Dismissed after 5 days of trial TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Wrongful Death of 16 year old

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Decedent was the 16 year old son of Plaintiffs. He was killed while assisting a miner with opening the entrance of a gold mine in Sierra County. The mine was owned by defendant, and had been leased to the miner. The mine had not been actively worked for 15 years, and the entrance was closed and blocked with dirt and debris. On the date of the accident, decedent and the miner were operating a tractor to clear the rock and debris blocking the entrance. As that was occurring, the roof of the mine collapsed, burying the boy and the miner under tons of rock and debris. Plaintiffs alleged that the mine entrance was improperly constructed and maintained, and that the timbers supporting the roof of the mine were inadequate, rotted, and poorly maintained. Defendant contended that the mine was leased in its “as is” condition, and that it was known to be in poor shape, and needed a new entrance. Defendant contended that the excavation work was being performed improperly, and without adequate shoring, and that the miner and decedent had assumed the risk of injuries and death by the manner in which they were performing the work. Plaintiffs dismissed the case following 5 days of trial, and just before closing arguments.

CASE / VENUE: Williams v. Bucci & Sports Fever / Nevada County Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Products Liability / Loss of Eye

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff purchased a pair of sunglasses from Sports Fever in Nevada City. Plaintiff was allegedly told by the sales clerk that the glasses were “good for sporting activities.” He was playing a round of disk golf, when a disk struck him in the eye. The blow caused the sunglasses to shatter, injecting shards of glass into the globe of his eye. As a result, he suffered a total detachment of the retina, and blindness. The prognosis was that the eye would be removed. Prior to trial, defendant Bucci, and Plaintiff entered into a Mary Carter Agreement, which guaranteed a verdict against Sports Fever in the sum of

$400,000. Mr. Donahue represented Sports Fever at trial, and convinced the jury that the glasses were not defective, and functioned as expected. Had plaintiff wanted to play a potentially high impact sport while wearing sunglasses, he should have purchased shatterproof polycarbonate glasses. The jury returned a defense verdict as to Bucci and Sports Fever. Nevertheless, co-defendant Bucci paid plaintiff $400,000, which was the guarantee under the Mary Carter.

CASE / VENUE: Harvey v. Schatz / San Joaquin County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Diversion of Surface Water / Crop Damage

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff and defendant were neighboring cherry farmers in San Joaquin County. Plaintiff alleged that defendant’s property was flooding, so defendant made a cut in a berm between the properties, and allowed water to drain into plaintiff’s lower cherry orchard. Plaintiff alleged that the standing water in his orchard caused a phythopthra infestation of his orchard, resulting in the loss of several acres of cherry trees. Defendant contended that plaintiff had performed improper leveling of his own property, and had trespassed onto defendant’s property and added to the height of the berm. Defendant contended that he merely made a cut to bring the berm back to its original height. The jury agreed that defendant had not made any material changes to the berm, and issued a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Luster v. Conidaris / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Negligence / Failure to Control Horse

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a horse trainer. He owned and trained horses at the Sacramento Equestrian Center. Defendant’s horse was in the stall next to one of plaintiff’s horses. Defendant’s agent was leading the horse from its stall while plaintiff was standing close by. As the horse was being led from its stall, it reared and kicked plaintiff in the face. Defendants disputed liability and contended that the horse’s behavior was unpredictable, and that plaintiff had assumed the risk of his injuries by standing too close to an animal that was being removed from its stall. The jury agreed and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Brown v. Woodlief / Calaveras County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: False Arrest / Malicious Prosecution

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was the neighbor of Defendants in a rural area of Calaveras County. Plaintiff alleged that defendant drove at him with his vehicle on their shared private road, and tried to run him over. He also alleged that defendants falsely accused him of committing many crimes, and had him arrested on several occasions, with no probable cause. Defendants disputed plaintiff’s claims, and asserted that defendant was continuously harassing them and making threats. Plaintiff denied any acts of harassment, and contended that defendants were merely trying to force him to move from the neighborhood. At trial, defendants played numerous video tapes documenting plaintiff’s acts of harassment and swearing toward defendants. The jury returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Yazel v. Dykes / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Wrongful Death of Infant at Day Care / SIDS

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiffs placed their 4 ½ month old baby in defendant’s home day care. During the morning, the child was placed down for a nap in a porta crib in a back bedroom of defendant’s residence. The child was placed down on his stomach to nap, and fell asleep. After two (2) hours, defendant entered the room to check on the baby. She found him nonresponsive and not breathing. She administered CPR to no avail. Paramedics arrived, and were unable to revive the baby. The baby’s death was characterized by the coroner as SIDS. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant was negligent for placing the baby on his stomach, and for leaving him unattended for two (2) hours to nap. Defendant contended that the baby’s distress could not have been anticipated by anyone. There were no signs of any issues with the child that morning, and the porta crib was completely appropriate for placing the baby down to nap. Further, placing the child on his stomach was not negligence, or a substantial factor in causing a SIDS death. Leaving the child to nap for two (2) hours was entirely within the standard of care. The jury agreed that the baby’s death was an entirely unforeseeable tragedy, and that the day care provider had met the standard of care.

CASE / VENUE: Podva v. Dendon / Tehama County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $700,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Mortuary Malpractice / Cremation of Wrong Body

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiffs were the four (4) adult children of decedent father. Decedent’s body was handled by defendant mortuary. Plaintiffs requested a burial, without embalming. Defendant mistakenly arranged for cremation of the body. Plaintiffs alleged that cremation was against their father’s wishes and religious beliefs. Plaintiff’s alleged that defendant tried to hide the fact of the cremation, by placing the cremains in an urn, and then placing the urn in a coffin for burial. Once the truth of the cremation was discovered, plaintiffs alleged they suffered extreme mental distress and ongoing nightmares. Defendant admitted liability for the cremation. Defendant denied that it tried to cover up the error, and stated that the use of a coffin was at the request of one of the family members who was informed of the cremation. Plaintiffs asked for an award of $1 Million each. Defendant suggested an award of $50,000 to $100,000 to each plaintiff. The jury returned a verdict of $175,000 to each of the 4 plaintiffs for a total verdict of $700,000.

CASE / VENUE: McMurray v. Bryan / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $80,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Negligence / Failure to Control Horse

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a tenant in a home located on defendant’s acreage. Defendant owned stalls and corral space that he rented to horse owners. Plaintiff was standing next to a fence of the corral. One of the horses kept on defendant’s property walked toward plaintiff and broke the top rails of the corral fence. The horse reached over the fence and bit plaintiff on the thumb. The horse then reared up, and lifted plaintiff off the ground by the thumb. The thumb gave way, and became detached from plaintiffs hand, stripping the tendon from her forearm to the elbow. Plaintiff alleged that defendant was aware that the horse had dangerous propensities, and further alleged that the corral fence was not adequate, and failed to retain the animal. Defendant contended that he had no knowledge of any dangerous propensities on the part of the horse, and that the corral fence met the standards of a good and sturdy fence. If a 1,200 pound horse wants to break through a fence, it will do so. Defendant alleged that plaintiff was comparatively negligent for placing her hand too close to the horse and for standing in close proximity to the animal. The jury found negligence and awarded $400,000 in damages. The jury assessed 80% comparative negligence for a net award of $80,000. Defendant had posted a 998 for

$100,000 prior to trial, and recovered costs.

CASE / VENUE: Finch v. Geritz / Tuolumne County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Dog Bite

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a resident in a condominium complex. Defendants owned a unit next door to plaintiff. Defendants rented their unit to a family with a dog. Plaintiff and her dog were attacked by defendant’s tenant’s dog. Plaintiff alleged that the dog had attacked her dog before, and that defendants were aware of the dangerous propensities of their tenant’s dog. Defendant’s denied liability on the basis that they had no knowledge of the presence of the tenant’s dog, and that it had been moved onto the property without their knowledge and consent. The jury agreed and issued a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Songer v. St. Helena / Napa County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Defamation / Wrongful Termination

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a teacher in the St. Helena School District. She alleged that defendant defamed her by making comments about her sexual orientation. Defendant was a member of the school board. A decision was made by the school board to terminate

Plaintiff’s teaching positon for performance reasons. Plaintiff contended that she was fired due to her perceived sexual orientation, and that defendant made false comments about her in news reports. Defendant denied that plaintiff was fired for any reason other than her performance, and further denied making any defamatory statements. The jury agreed that the evidence confirmed that plaintiff’s job performance was poor, and that the firing was justified for that reason. The jury rejected plaintiff’s claim of defamation.

CASE / VENUE: Weycker v. Weycker / Amador Superior Court

THE VERDICT: Defense Verdict TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue

CATEGORY: Premises Liability / Injury to Tree Trimmer

CASE SYNOPSIS:

This was a “friendly” lawsuit between family members. Plaintiff was cutting a branch from an oak tree on his father’s property. He was doing the work at the request and direction of his father. As he cut a branch, it kicked back, and knocked him from his position in the tree. He fell into the crotch of the tree, and sustained a burst fracture of T- 12 and compression fractures of T-11 and L-1. Plaintiff contended that his father was instructing him on how and where to make the cuts, and provided all the tools and equipment. Defendant contended that plaintiff climbed the tree on his own accord, and made his own decisions on how to perform the cuts to the limb that kicked back. The jury concluded that plaintiff was the sole cause of his own injuries and returned a defense verdict.

CASE / VENUE: Wilson v. Simone / El Dorado County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $748,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Dog Bite / RSD/CRPS

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Plaintiff was a flooring subcontractor working at a job site. Defendant was the general contractor on the job. Defendant brought his dog to the work site. Plaintiff was petting defendant’s dog when it snapped at him, and bit him on the right dominant hand and wrist. The bite punctured the wrist capsule. Plaintiff sustained infection to the wound, and injury to the median nerve. Plaintiff alleged residuals to his wrist and hand in the form of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. He alleged that he could no longer use his right hand in his profession, and was forced to quit working as a floor installer. He alleged past and future medical expenses of $560,000 and past and future wage loss at $600,000. Defendant admitted liability for the dog bite, but disputed that plaintiff had CRPS. Defendant contended that plaintiff had a nerve injury from the dog bite that would regenerate over time, and return to normal. Defendant made a pretrial offer of $455,000 by 998. Plaintiff demanded $900,000 by 998. The verdict was in between, at $748,000

CASE / VENUE: Waterman v. Norton / Sacramento County Superior Court

THE VERDICT: $400,000 Verdict

TRIAL ATTORNEY: James R. Donahue CATEGORY: Motor Vehicle Collision

CASE SYNOPSIS:

Mr. Donahue represented the plaintiff in this case Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck at an intersection when defendant ran a red light. The impact caused an injury to plaintiff’s knee and resulted in a meniscus repair. Plaintiff’s physician opined that plaintiff would like likely require a total knee replacement in the future. Defendant admitted liability, but disputed whether plaintiff would need a total knee replacement. Plaintiff’s past and future special damages were stated at $165,000. The jury accepted the testimony that plaintiff would eventually undergo a total knee replacement, and awarded