GBW Attorneys Assist in Middle School Mock Trials
GB&W’s Christine Spagnoli is one of the premier speakers at The Donald L. Galine Sonoma Travel Seminar which takes place March 8th-10th, 2019 at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. The seminar is organized by Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), CAOC College of Trial Arts, and Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association.
CAOC Past President Christine Spagnoli will be speaking on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 4:45 p.m. on new techniques and strategies for examining defense expert witnesses in light of the holding in People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal. 4th 665. In that case, the California Supreme Court overturned its prior authority permitting an expert to rely on case-specific hearsay. Under Sanchez, experts may no longer testify about opinions based on “case-specific out-of-court statements,” without independent competent proof of those case-specific facts. Ms. Spagnoli will address some of the new obstacles that plaintiff attorneys face in collecting and presenting admissible evidence to a jury.
The seminar features a keynote lunch on Saturday March 9, 2019 with the Honorable Steve K. Austin, a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge who will provide insight and advice on case handling from a judicial perspective.
Link to more information: https://www.caoc.org/index.cfm?pg=events&evAction=showDetail&eid=65656
At 4:30 a.m. on February 1, 2016, Plaintiff Marie Coronel and her cameraman were sent by her studio, KGTV Chanel 10 News, to prepare a news report on the aftermath of a severe storm that had passed through San Diego the previous day. Arriving at the Quest Property, Plaintiff found four very large, downed eucalyptus trees. While preparing for the 5:00 a.m. news report, a fifth eucalyptus tree fell on her, causing severe injuries.
Discovery revealed that the HOA knew the dangers posed by trees on its property.
On April 17, 2015, Defendant was transporting produce in a tractor trailer combination on the 210 freeway in Sylmar, California, when Defendant’s vehicle lost control and veered to the right, down a grass embankment and down the Paxton St. freeway offramp. Tragically, the truck struck and killed Jorge Louis Garcia and injured multiple other bystanders. Mr. Garcia was survived by his wife Brenda Rodriguez, and their four children.
The trucking company did not have adequate insurance to cover the multiple claims against it. However, utilizing the law requiring that multiple other motor carriers in the chain of distribution had a non-delegable duty to transport the subject load safely, GB&W was able to obtain a full recovery in this tragedy for the Rodriguez family.
Partner Geoff Wells became the most recent recipient of the American Board of Trial Advocates’ Lee B. Wenzel Civility Award. He received the prestigious accolade late last month at the annual President’s Dinner Dance for the Los Angeles Chapter of ABOTA. The award honors attorneys who “elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.”
The organization also celebrated bestowal of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Louis “Duke” DeHass and inaugurating the incoming chapter president, Robert A. Morgenstern.
“Geoff embraces the hallmark of being an ABOTA member,” said Morgenstern who has known Geoff for three decades and had first-hand experience going head-to-head with Geoff on the defense side. “He treats his opponents with dignity, civility, and respect,” added Morgenstern.
Fellow GB&W partner Bruce Broillet, (and former ABOTA Civility Award honoree), gave a speech introducing Geoff at the event. He told the crowd it’s important for attorneys to understand civility is a strength, not a weakness. “When lawyers are decent towards each other they can do a better job of resolving conflict and getting to a conclusion which is in the best interest of the parties who are represented by the lawyers,” said Bruce.
The award is named after the late Lee B. Wenzel who Bruce worked with earlier in his career at Morgan, Wenzel and McNicholas. “Lee exemplified the qualities of an excellent trial lawyer who was also civil towards his opponents and the court,” said Bruce who believes Lee would have been very pleased with Geoff being named in his honor.
“I always try to accommodate the other side, as long as I don’t surrender my client’s best interests, said Geoff Wells. “I think it’s important to maintain a positive level of communication with my opponent because, in the end, that will help get to a resolution of the case which is ultimately what the client wants,” said Geoff.
“It’s easier to resolve disputes when you’re dealing with other ABOTA members and Geoff’s that type of guy,” said Morgenstern.
“A prime example of Geoff’s civility is that he gets referred clients from defense attorneys who respect him even after a rough and tumble fight,” added Bruce.
ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
GB&W is honored to have received an award for its volunteer work with middle school students who are learning about the civil justice system. Team Prime Time, an after school program in Los Angeles recognized four attorneys with the firm who provided valuable insight, leadership and guidance to youngsters who spent more than two months preparing for a mock trial. Attorneys Tim Wheeler , Geoff Wells, Christian Nickerson and Molly McKibben contributed the most pro bono hours of any law firm by giving 6th -8th graders advice on the order of witnesses, direct and cross examination, closing arguments and the evidence code. For the past eight years, Team Prime Time has offered a 10-week after school course to students at Palms and Emerson Middle Schools to give kids a better understanding of civil law and the process of a jury trial.
The Los Angeles youth program, Team Prime Time, presented Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP with an award on Tuesday for its volunteer work with middle school students. Four attorneys with the firm provided valuable insight, leadership and guidance to youngsters who are learning about the civil justice system.
For the past eight years, Team Prime Time has offered a 10-week after school course to 6th , 7th and 8th grade students at Palms and Emerson Middle Schools to give the kids a better understanding of civil law and the process of a jury trial. The students prepared for a mock trial with the help of a law student from Loyola Law School. The law student wrote a fictional case and helped the students prepare to take the case to trial.
Local attorneys offered guidance on the order of witnesses, direct and cross examination, closing arguments and the evidence code. The program concluded yesterday in the “Final Trial” which was held in a Loyola law school courtroom and presided over by the Honorable Suzanne H. Segal, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Central District of California. Palms won this year’s mock trial, obtaining its fourth victory. Each school has won three times before.
“The goal is to help teach the next generation about the importance of our judicial system and the role it plays as an equalizer in our society,” said GB&W attorney Christian Nickerson. Attorneys Tim Wheeler, Geoff Wells and Molly McKibben also volunteered their time. “When I see their excitement, it reinforces why I love the law,” said McKibben who has participated in the program for the past three years. “It’s really fun to see the kids’ curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about things we as practicing lawyers often take for granted,” added
Attorneys from about a dozen local law firms donate their time to work with the students. GB&W contributed more pro bono hours than any other firm, and was recognized with an award. “It’s a great honor for our firm to receive this recognition. It really reflects how we feel about our community and wanting to give back,” said Nickerson.
Written on Behalf of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
After nearly a year at the helm of the Legal Staff Support Group for the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), veteran GB&W legal assistant Sheri Dempsey is reflecting on the growth her team has achieved. “We definitely exceeded our goals,” said Dempsey who credits the successful seminars for the increase in interest. The group tripled its attendance at the annual CAALA Vegas Convention from 50 participants in years past to 150 attendants in 2018.
The four-person team, which Dempsey chairs, is responsible for organizing four local seminars a year. The discussion on ‘how to prepare a minor’s compromise petition’ had the most interest and drew the biggest crowd. “Anytime an attorney settles a case on behalf of a minor it’s a complicated and costly application process,” said Dempsey. “It requires specific expertise because the courts can easily reject the application if there’s a simple mistake.”
Paralegals and support staff are the backbone of every thriving law firm and need to have the most updated information on procedures and processes to assist attorneys in meeting filing deadlines. According to Dempsey, one of the most pressing issues that support staffers will face in the upcoming year is mandatory e-filing. While submitting documents online means less paperwork, there are more pitfalls if you don’t know your way around the program. The team has already lined up the Los Angeles Superior Court e-filing Supervising Clerk as a guest speaker at an upcoming event in March.
The informational gatherings are a supportive environment for staffers to ask questions, get advice and vent frustrations. “Many attorneys have expressed interest in attending these seminars, but we want to keep these groups exclusive to support staff, so they have a safe space to learn new information,” Dempsey said. One of the topics that she wants to address in the upcoming year is workplace sexual harassment. Like all industries confronting this problem in the post #MeToo era, law firms are not immune to harassment and gender discrimination.
Dempsey says the biggest challenge for the group is finding compelling topics that appeal to a wide range of experience levels for staffers at different types of law firms. “Some plaintiff firms only focus on pre-litigation work and for others, all they do is go to trial,” explained Dempsey who is busy planning the agenda for the final year of her two-year leadership tenure.
The key to keeping attendance growing is to have dynamic topics at the seminars and encourage more law firms to send their support staff members to the annual CAALA Convention. “There’s always something new to learn whether you’re a first-year paralegal or long-time legal assistant.” Dempsey says the best part of getting involved is the networking and socializing which makes learning more fun. “This experience has been very rewarding, I’m always learning something new”.
GB&W’s former clients share their story of heartbreak and hope on The TODAY Show after their car collided with a Los Angeles Metro Bus. Attorney Geoff Wells obtained a $7.5 million settlement on behalf of the plaintiff who suffered life-threatening injuries.
NEW PORT RICHEY, FL — As co-lead trial counsel, Christine Spagnoli obtained a $25.9 million jury verdict against Ford Motor Company and the First Baptist Church of New Port Richey for the wrongful death of a 44-year-old wife and mother of four.
Michalanne Salliotte died on February 21, 2014 when a church van full of people heading to a youth camp in Georgia crashed in North Florida. Two people, including Salliotte, died and eight other people suffered injuries. While heading north on Interstate 75 in Lake City, the tread separated from the left rear tire, causing the 2002 E-350 Ford to rollover, ejecting four people.
Salliotte’s surviving husband, Jeff, and their four children sued Ford for defectively designing its vehicle with an extra row of seats without dual rear tires, making the van unstable and susceptible to loss of control.
Michalanne, who was unbelted, was ejected in the rollover. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the seatbelts were defectively designed and were inaccessible because the buckles fell under the bench seats. The attorneys also argued that the First Baptist Church negligently maintained the van and had a responsibility to ensure that the seatbelts were accessible to van occupants.
On March 15, 2018, a Pasco County Florida jury returned the verdict against the defendants, determining that Ford put the E350 Passenger Van on the market with faulty seat belts and a defective rear-wheel bustleback design.
The plaintiffs’ legal team included Frank Melton and Richard Newsome with Newsome Melton Law Firm in Orlando, FL and Christine Spagnoli with the Santa Monica, CA plaintiff’s firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP.