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$15M Verdict Against Property Management Company for DUI Accident

Attorney Bruce Broillet of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles jury found property management company First Service Residential California, LLC responsible for the acts of an employee who drove intoxicated resulting in a serious car accident. The accident caused a severe injury to the right arm of 49-year-old Tomislav George, leading to almost 30 surgeries in the past four years.

On Wednesday, the jury returned a $15 million verdict with a finding of 20% comparative fault against Mr. George, producing a net verdict of $12 million.

The two-car accident happened in Pasadena, CA on the 134 freeway on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2013. George contended the driver, Lance Sandman, was in the course and scope of his job as a property manager for the upscale Pasadena condominium complex, the Prado. George was on the board of the Prado Homeowner's Association. George contended that Sandman took George to an Irish bar to scout ideas for a St. Patrick's Day Party to be held the following year at the Prado.

Sandman became intoxicated at the bar and proceeded to drive George home when the accident happened. The defendant claimed that this was simply a social event of two men drinking on St. Patrick's Day and was not related to business. The defendant claimed that George had also become intoxicated and should not have ridden in the car with Sandman.  The defendant denied that the visit to the bar was in any way related to business, and further claimed that Sandman's actions were not in the course and scope of his employment.

DUI conviction

Sandman had been convicted of driving under the influence six months after being hired by First Service in 2007, and had not told his employer about the conviction. George's attorney produced evidence that Sandman should have been registered in a DMV "Pull Program" long before the date of the accident. The Pull Program provides to an employer an employee's driving record. If he had been placed in the Pull Program, First Service would have been made aware that Sandman had been convicted of a DUI and would have taken action to either terminate him or restrict his driving privileges for the company well before the date of this incident.

At trial, lead trial plaintiff attorney Bruce Broillet, with the law firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, argued that Sandman was in the course and scope of his employment and that the company was negligent.

"When a company knows it can be held financially liable for its failures or the failures of its employees, it will be motivated to keep everyone's safety a high priority," said Broillet.

The plaintiff's legal team included Bruce Broillet, Alan Van Gelder and Taylor Rayfield with Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, which is a Santa Monica plaintiffs' firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured consumers across California to improve public safety and demand accountability.

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