HPY Successfully Defends Appeal of Trial Verdict
July 26, 2013 (Los Angeles, CA) – In January 2012, Claire Weglarz obtained a favorable verdict for her client in a personal injury mesothelioma case pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court (Keeney, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al.). The Plaintiff had served in the Navy for 20 years before working at a sugar manufacturing plant for another 17 years. After 14 days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs that assigned only 12% liability to Hawkins Parnell & Young’s client, 70% to the Navy, 13% to the Plaintiff’s employer, and 5% to the Plaintiff himself.
On appeal, Plaintiffs challenged the jury’s allocation to the Navy, the employer, and the Plaintiff. They argued that HPY’s client should be held 100% liable because there was insufficient evidence for the jury to apportion liability to the other parties and entities. Essentially, Plaintiffs argued that a defendant must present specific evidence "quantifying" or "qualifying" a joint tortfeasor’s contribution to the Plaintiff’s injury.
Finding substantial evidence to support the jury’s allocation of fault, the California Court of Appeal (2nd District) affirmed the trial verdict in its entirety, issuing an opinion less than a week after oral argument. The court held that it is not incumbent on a defendant "to produce evidence –– expert or otherwise –– quantifying precise percentages of liability."
Claire Weglarz and Rob Gilbreath assisted on the appellate briefing. Barry Schirm argued the appeal.