Texas Oil Worker Hit by 18-Wheeler Recovers $40M

Adam Blake, Donald Kidd and Jim Perdue of Perdue & Kidd of Houston, TX.

A Texas jury in DeWitt County rendered a verdict in favor of Lloyd Kulik, 37, a Yorktown resident, in a civil lawsuit brought against Stallion Production Services.

Kulik is a lifelong oil services worker. The jury awarded Kulik $40,145,909.07 in damages after the oilfield company’s 18-wheeler took a left turn into his passing truck, crashing into his Dodge pickup, and causing a five rollover wreck that left life-altering injuries.

Kulik suffered a burst fracture to his cervical spine that left him a quadriplegic who is cared for by his mother. This record-breaking verdict is the largest in DeWitt County history.

He was represented by Don Kidd, Jim Perdue, Jr. and Adam Blake of the law firm Perdue & Kidd from Houston and Ray Reese, Errol John Dietze and Johnny Dietze of the Dietze & Reese law firm of Cuero. Kidd said “We have been honored to have the opportunity to represent Kulik. We believe justice has been served and we look forward to seeing this judgment help  Kulik finally get much needed medical care and assistance for his injuries caused by this reckless 18- wheeler. This brave jury told these oil field companies they do not own the roadways of Texas.”

New Trial Ordered For Nevada Death Row Inmate

John M. Watson, 79, was granted a new trial in his death penalty case.

Las Vegas Judge Michelle Leavitt granted post-conviction relief to death row inmate John M. Watson, age 79. Judge Leavitt ordered that Watson’s conviction and death sentence are overturned and that Watson must receive a new trial. The ruling resulted from trial counsel’s unauthorized concession of guilt on Watson’s behalf during closing argument.

Watson had maintained his innocence throughout his 2010 trial. Watson, a longtime California resident and schoolteacher, was accused of kidnapping and murdering his wife, who disappeared in 2006. A Las Vegas jury sentenced Watson to death in 2010. In post-conviction filings, Watson alleged among other claims that his trial lawyer conceded guilt to the murder charge without Watson’s advance knowledge or permission.

“The United States Supreme Court and Nevada Supreme Court have long held that
the accused exclusively decides the objectives of the defense in criminal
prosecutions,” said Watson’s Las Vegas attorney, Jamie Resch. “Trial counsel
disregarded that important constitutional right when he informed the jury his client
was guilty of murder even though Mr. Watson had maintained his innocence. Mr.
Watson appreciates the court’s recognition of this error and looks forward to a fair,
constitutionally-compliant trial.”

For more detail, read the Order granting writ of habas corpus.

Mr. Resch is a member of the National Trial Lawyers. Resch Law, PLLC d/b/a Conviction Solutions is a Las Vegas law firm which handles criminal appeal and post-conviction cases. This is the second death sentence the firm has overturned in the last year. Last June, the firm helped inmate Frederick Mendoza, age 71, reach a deal with prosecutors to reduce his death sentence to life in prison without parole.

Book Review: ‘Kick-Ass Closings’ Gives Trial Lawyers the Tools to Win Cases

Kick-Ass Closings book

Kick-Ass Closings: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life

Filled with closing argument gems, compelling quotations, and helpful charts, the new book Kick-Ass Closings: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life gives lawyers the firepower to deliver convincing closing arguments with minimal prep time.

Created by best-selling author and criminal defense lawyer Michael S. Waddington, Kick-Ass Closings is 475 pages of successful closing arguments by prominent trial lawyers who actually try cases and win.

Kick-Ass Closings is a guide to giving the best closing argument of your life,” Waddington says. “The book is really designed for criminal defense attorneys, law students, and people who do mock trials. It is packed with snippets of actual closing arguments that I have used, as well as arguments from some of the most high-profile trials in the past 50 years.”

The book is available in a print and Kindle version, exclusively on Amazon.com.

Waddington, a member of The National Trial Lawyers, is a founder of Gonzalez & Waddington, LLC, a defense law firm in Evans, Georgia. He has provided consultation services to CNN Investigative Reports, “60 Minutes,” Katie Couric of Yahoo News, ABC’s “Nightline,” the BBC, German Public Television, CNN, CBS, and the TV series “The Good Wife.”

Key Nuggets

The massive book contains the key nuggets from 310 closing arguments from legendary lawyers and high-profile trials such as Johnnie Cochran representing O.J. Simpson, Jose Baez representing Casey Anthony, and Thomas Mesereau representing Michael Jackson.

It also includes closings from renowned lawyers like Mark Geragos, Eric Romano, Mark O’Mara, Gerry Spence, Timothy Bilecki, Dean Strang, Barry Scheck, Timothy Bilecki, James A.H. Bell, Brian Bieber, Cheney Mason, Robert Casale, Jerome Buting and more.

“It’s not the entire closing argument from the trial, because that would not be helpful to the readers. We picked out the nuggets. For example, in the OJ Simpson case, I looked at Barry Scheck giving OJ’s closing argument, and I picked out specific portions that I thought were very well-delivered and it could help drive a point home,” Waddington says.

Waddington himself tries more than 20 felony cases to a verdict every year, which allowed him to see recurring patterns – ranging from an incompetent investigation, a corrupt police officer or a cynical prosecutor.

“I decided to create a concise manual for lawyers who don’t have the experience and don’t have the ability to go through hundreds of trials,” he says. “Attorneys can go to Kick-Ass Closings to figure out how to explain reasonable doubt, for example. In the book, there are about 25 different ways to explain that to the jury from different lawyers in different cases.”

Criminal defense lawyer and author Michael Waddington.

Criminal defense lawyer and author Michael Waddington.

The greatest closing arguments

The book opens with a 10-step template followed by many of the greatest closing arguments. Attorneys can tailor the template to fit their fact pattern, and add or remove portions that apply.

The closing arguments cover topics like circumstantial evidence, attacking the prosecution, witnesses who lie, cops & investigators, defenses for specific rimes, and shutting down the rebuttal.

One brief example is by Clarence Darrow from The People v. Henry Sweet: “You people are not lawyers. You do not know how hard it was to make them admit the truth. It is harder to pull the truth out of a reluctant witness than to listen to them lie.” Another is Johnnie Cochran in The People v. OJ Simpson: “You can’t trust the message. You can’t trust the messengers.”

“We have a section on types of defenses — everything from self-defense to arguing abandonment. For example, I used an example of Mark O’Mara’s closing where he describes self-defense in the Zimmerman case, which was a very controversial case where he won a full acquittal. But you get the insight into what he argued and what other people argued,” Waddington said.

Pithy Quotes and Charts

Kick-Ass Closings features 20 pages of pithy quotes and parables, ranging from “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to John Adams who said in 1770, “It is more important that innocence be protected than that the guilty be punished.”

The book includes Waddington’s own favorite quote, “Physical, forensic, and scientific evidence does not lie, people do,” which he used in US v. Montece.

There are several charts that depict difficult concepts in a clearly visible way. One that explains the Levels of Proof as a stairstep beginning with “no evidence” and leading up to “reasonable doubt” – each of which equals a not guilty verdict.

Waddington’s book is an encyclopedia of pungent closings that can be looked up with a detailed table of contents. If you are an attorney who tries a criminal case, whether it’s your first case or your 300th, you can benefit from this book. It should be on every lawyer’s bookshelf.

Watch Michael Waddington in a short video on YouTube: https://goo.gl/Eu3mwq

Passenger Who Survived Crash of Flight 2431 Files Suit Against Aeromexico

Corboy & Demetrio filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Nestor Martinez, a passenger on Aeromexico Flight 2431, which crashed after an attempted take-off in a heavy storm including severe wind, rain, and hail, on July 31, 2018, in Durango, Mexico. The aircraft, en route to Mexico City, hit the ground a few hundred yards from the runway of the General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport.

Martinez, 43, a teacher and resident of Northlake, IL, was returning home from a family vacation. He was seated in 15 C, next to the man who took the video looking out the window that captured the crash.

Aeroméxico Flight 2431 was carrying 99 passengers and four crew members when it went down in northern Mexico and burst into flames. Remarkably, no one was killed. Officials say at least 80 passengers were injured and 49 were hospitalized

“You can take off in bad weather, but you have to do it properly, and we will certainly be looking at that aspect of this crash,” said Corboy & Demetrio Co-founder Thomas A. Demetrio, who along with Managing Partner Robert J. Bingle and Partners Daniel S. Kirschner and Francis Patrick Murphy,  represents Mr. Martinez.

“Passengers thought the plane would explode any minute. They were terrified,” Bingle said. He added, “The firm will begin its investigation into what factor the weather played in the crash.”

The firm has extensive experience in major airline disaster lawsuits, particularly crashes in severe weather conditions, including American Eagle Flight 4184 that crashed near Roselawn, Indiana in 1994, killing all 68 passengers, and the helicopter crash that killed rock star Stevie Ray Vaughan and other band members in 1990.

“While weather is often a factor in many plane crashes, it is not necessarily a cause of the crash,” added Kirschner. “Rather, the issue is often how the airline monitored the weather in its preflight preparations, and then corrected for it during takeoff or fight,” Kirschner explained.

The case is Nestor Martinez v. Aeromexico, Cook Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 2018L8321.

Corboy & Demetrio represents individuals and their families in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. The firm has acquired more than $4 billion in settlements and verdicts and has attained over 600 of them in excess of $1 million.

Teen Secures $25.3 Million Verdict in California Molestation Case

Attorney John C. Taylor

Attorney John C. Taylor

A Los Angeles jury returned a $25.3 million verdict on behalf of S.W., a victim of sexual abuse against his former supervisor and coach, Scott Durzo, and the Westerly School in Long Beach, California. Durzo abused Plaintiff for three years prior to becoming an employee of the Westerly School, where Durzo was permitted to bring S.W., a 15-year-old home-study student, onto the Westerly campus for the school day.

Los Angeles attorneys John C. Taylor and Natalie Weatherford of Taylor & Ring tried the case.

Although a Westerly employee suspected a “sexual relationship” between the 43-year-old Durzo and S.W., she failed to report her suspicions to anyone despite her mandated reporting duties. When S.W. was in his early 20s, he gained the courage to finally tell his father about the abuse, who then reported it to the Seal Beach Police Department. The police immediately began an investigation, during which Durzo admitted to the abuse, he was then arrested and ultimately tried on 20 felony counts in January 2018.

Attorney Natalie Weatherford

Attorney Natalie Weatherford

“The Westerly School failed to follow its duty to protect and ensure the safety of all its students. The school had several opportunities to end the abuse against S.W., but the administration was ineffective in training its staff to follow the correct protocol and report inappropriate behavior,” said lead counsel John C. Taylor, partner with Taylor & Ring. “Unfortunately, S.W. has undergone tremendous emotional stress for many years and his ability to lead a normal life was ruined by Durzo. S.W.’s doctors and family are extremely concerned for his well-being.”

Behavior changed

In 2000, when S.W. was eight years old, he first met Scott Durzo while attending his summer sports camp, and continued to attend every summer without incident, getting to know and trust Durzo. Through the next several years, Durzo began to groom S.W. by paying special attention to him and acting as his mentor and friend. Eventually, Durzo’s behavior began to shift from mentor to flirtatious and sexual.

Durzo, who was in his 40s, was hired by Westerly School of Long Beach in 2008 as the director of the after-school program and as a supervisor. Durzo began to bring S.W., who was enrolled in home-study classes, with him to the school to use the school’s facilities and do his home-study work. By virtue of his position at Westerly, Durzo had unlimited access to S.W. and the abuse steadily escalated over the ensuing four years.

At the beginning of the 2008/2009 school year, a female Westerly employee suspected a “sexual relationship” between Durzo and S.W., but she did not report the suspected abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS), law enforcement or to anyone at the school. Durzo fired the employee shortly after her suspicions arose and Durzo was allowed to continue, unhindered, in his daily abuse of S.W.

The abuse ended at the conclusion of the 2008/2009 school year when S.W. stopped attending Westerly. Despite his efforts, S.W. struggled tremendously with the abuse and its aftermath, and attempted to take his life on two occasions. In 2014, when in his early twenties, he gained the courage to report the abuse to his father, who then reported it to the police and an investigation began immediately. Durzo admitted to the abuse and was arrested and ultimately tried on 20 felony counts in January 2018.

Taylor & Ring, an award-winning Los Angeles-based trial law firm, represents plaintiffs across California in high-impact personal injury, wrongful death, and sexual assault, abuse and harassment matters.

Watch the Recording of “How to Get New Business from Your In-Person Marketing”

business developmentWhat: Watch the video recording of the webinar, “How to Get New Business from Your In-Person Marketing”

Who: presented by Larry Bodine, the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers website and Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist of LawLytics.

Why: You will discover:

  • Top business-generating techniques of rainmakers.
  • Getting quality contacts at social functions.
  • Networking with a purpose.
  • Easily connecting with people.
  • Your 30-second commercial.
  • Creating a crowd where everybody knows your name.
  • Getting referrals from clients.
  • Getting referrals from professionals.
  • Being active in an organization.
  • How to get on the Board of Directors.
  • How public speaking generates new business.
  • Follow-up faux pas.

Watch the recording at:  https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/8873050430818621707

Learn from an expert

Are you marketing more these days and getting less in return? Then you are the perfect attorney to watch our free webinar that reveals the most effective in-person marketing techniques that reliably produce new business.

Many attorneys are frustrated because they devote effort and money to grow their law firms, and they get the feeling that some or all of it is wasted. For answers, you’ll want to hear from attorney Larry Bodine.

Larry, who is the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers website and Sr. Legal Marketing Strategist of LawLytics, has been advising lawyers on business development since the 1990s. He will cover the face-to-face methods that reliably produce new files and new clients.

In-person marketing is essential to growing a law firm. Larry will present the best of tried-and-true plus shiny-and-new business development techniques that will work for you.

We’ll cover where clients come from, the 4 tactics that rainmakers use to get new business, networking with a purpose, elements of a 30-second commercial and getting referrals.

Larry Bodine

Larry Bodine

About our presenter:

Larry Bodine is a marketing writer and editor who helps law firms get more customers and generate more revenue with content marketing. An attorney, journalist and marketer, he brings the skills to business messaging that produce results.

He is the Editor of The National Trial lawyers website and Editor of the soon-to-be launched News.law website

Bodine is the Senior Legal Marketing Strategist for LawLytics, the #1 choice for websites for small law firms.

Recent projects include:

  • Law Tigers association of motorcycle attorneys: 28-page
    downloadable e-book on niche marketing
    , and two email marketing
    campaigns with 10 messages per campaign.
  • LawLytics Legal Marketing Suite: Developed the web strategy for a local Maryland law firm to become the national source of information about Taxotere mass tort litigation. see https://www.gilmanbedigian.com/taxotere
  • Mass Tort Nexus: wrote daily blog posts for an educational company about product liability cases involving dangerous drugs and medical devices. See https://goo.gl/RwKnsi
  • Larry Bodine Marketing Blog: author of a legal marketing blog for more than 15 years on business development for attorneys. https://www.larrybodine.com/blog
  • Lawyers.com: served as editor-in-chief of consumer website for LexisNexis for three years.

Since he launched his consulting practice in 2000, Larry has advised more than 250 law firms — as large as a 3,000-lawyer global law firm and as small as a husband-wife litigation boutique – on their business development strategies and tactics, and Web
sites. For more information, see www.LarryBodine.com. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.


Texas Hospital Hit with $43M Negligence Verdict after Patient Abandoned by Suspended Doctor

Plaintiff attorney Reid Martin

Plaintiff attorney Reid Martin

A jury has awarded a $43.32 million verdict against Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors, finding the hospital grossly negligent in its retention and supervision of a doctor on probation whose improper care led to a patient’s complete loss of his quality of life and ability to provide for his family.

In reaching the gross negligence verdict, jurors agreed that the hospital had put its patients in extreme risk by allowing Dr. Gary Boyd despite being on probation with the Texas Medical Board. Pursuant to the hospital’s bylaws and policies, the hospital privileges of a doctor on probation are automatically suspended.

Lawyers from Tyler-based Martin Walker PC argued the hospital’s bylaws should have prevented Dr. Boyd from treating 61-year-old Billy Pierce when he was admitted with stomach pain and vomiting in April 2014. Jurors heard testimony that Dr. Boyd erroneously diagnosed Mr. Pierce with an anatomical abnormality he said would make surgery to remove bile duct stones impossible.

Abandoned by doctor

Mr. Pierce was in a medically induced coma for more than a month during which time he was effectively abandoned by Dr. Boyd and the hospital, the Martin Walker trial team argued. When the hospital finally sought a second opinion, the new doctor rejected Dr. Boyd’s diagnosis and performed surgery without complication.

“Hospitals have a supreme duty to provide safe and effective care to patients, and that duty must come before everything else,” said Martin Walker attorney Reid Martin, who along with name partner Jack Walker and attorney Marisa Schouten represented Mr. Pierce. “By allowing a dangerous doctor, who had lost his hospital privileges to continue to treat patients, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”

Dr. Boyd was put on probation in June 2013 after the Texas Medical Board found glaring deficiencies in his treatment of a patient in a case similar to Mr. Pierce’s. In that matter, the medical board found that Dr. Boyd failed to adequately document the patient’s records, inaccurately diagnosed the patient, and performed medically unnecessary procedures. For example, the board found that Dr. Boyd had inaccurately described the location of a patient’s ulcer and claimed that he had performed multiple biopsies to test for cancer when he had not.

The jury verdict included $18.57 million for past and future pain, anguish, loss of earning capacity, and medical care and expenses. The jury found that the hospital was 90 percent liable for the damages, while Dr. Boyd was 10 percent liable. With the gross negligence finding, the jury ordered $25 million in exemplary damages, finding that the hospital’s conduct involved an extreme risk of potential harm to others.

The case is Billy Pierce v East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C in the 241st District Court in Smith County.

Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability.

$2.6 Million Settlement for Woman Hit by Cement Truck

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Thomas Brandi of San Francisco

The husband of a California woman who was killed by a speeding cement truck without brakes recovered a $2,592,090 settlement from the cement company and equipment rental company.

San Francisco attorneys Thomas Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm, represented the plaintiff.  Brandi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys and Malloy is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and NTL Top 40 under 40.

The case is Peter Callaham v. Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., Garston Equipment Rental, Inc., Preston Hanford III and James Ennenga, case number 34-2015-00186933 in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

Plaintiff Attorney Brian J. Malloy of San Francisco

No brakes

On Monday September 22, 2014, at about 4:12 p.m., Theresa Vargo, the wife of Peter Callaham, was making a left turn onto Rough and Ready Road across California State Route 20 in Nevada County, California.

At the same time, a 2003 Kenworth cement truck operated by James Ennenga of Hanford Ready-Mix, Inc., Hanford Sand and Gravel, Inc., and Garston Equipment Rental, Inc. came flying down the hill on State Route 20, its brakes no longer working.

According to the driver James Ennenga about one week before, the same thing happened: he was driving the same cement truck down the same hill, when the brakes stopped working.  That earlier time, however, Ennenga, unable to stop the cement truck as it came down the hill, had a green light and made it through the intersection without impact.

This time, as he came down the hill without any functioning brakes, he entered the intersection on a red light and destroyed the Vargo vehicle, resulting in her death.  Ms. Vargo, the longtime partner of and newly married to plaintiff Peter Callaham and mother of three.

Plaintiff Callaham brought an action for the wrongful death of his longtime partner and wife. During discovery, defendants admitted that at the time of the accident James Ennenga was driving within the course and scope of his employment with Hanford Sand and Gravel Inc. and that the negligence of defendants were the substantial contributing factors to Ms. Vargo’s death.  Defendants successfully precluded the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages as the court found there was an insufficient basis to find malice.

The total available insurance was $3 million from which funds were expended for the toxic scene clean up costs and related expenses. The matter resolved for Plaintiff Callaham for $2,592,090.73, the available policy limits after payment to the three adult children and remedial clean-up costs.


Texas Driver with TBI from Auto Crash Recovers $26 Million Settlement

attorney Brent Goudarzi

Plaintiff attorney Brent Goudarzi

A 30-year old house painter who suffered a traumatic brain injury and aortic injury when his car was struck at a Texas intersection by another vehicle that negligently ran a red light has recovered a $26 million settlement.

Bessy Rodriguez filed suit on behalf of herself, her incapacitated husband Jose Lara Sanchez and their two children in connection with the 2010 crash in Mt. Pleasant, TX. The defendants are Jonathan Cunningham, driver of a pickup truck, and his employer Troy Construction, LLC, which owned the truck. It is Case No. 38,742 in 276th Judicial District Court of Titus County, TX.

The plaintiff’s attorney is Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young, LLP in Gilmer, TX. The case involved 34 depositions taken all over the US as well as more than 20 highly contested court hearings prior to the insurance company Berkshire-Hathaway offered is $26 million insurance policy limit, about five weeks before a jury trial.

Extensive injuries

Mr. Lara was transported by ambulance to a local emergency room, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3 and from there, airlifted to a second hospital for more comprehensive evaluation and care.  A CT scan revealed a fracture of the right temporal bone and right-sided epidural hematoma, with underlying subarachnoid hemorrhage.

He underwent an emergent right triple craniotomy, and two days later, underwent endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of the descending thoracic aorta.  For the next three weeks, Lara was weaned off sedation and managed for rib fractures, scapula fracture, left acetabular fracture, bilateral pulmonary contusions and pneumonia.

He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility, where he got aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapies for five months before being discharged home to his family.  Lara continued to receive physical and speech therapies through outpatient rehabilitation. Altogether, he incurred $1.3 million in medical expenses.

While the plaintiffs alleged the need for lifetime medical care and the inability to return to any level of employment, the defendants alleged that a short course of appropriate outpatient therapy at an accredited rehabilitation facility would provide Lara with independence, including the potential to return to driving and return to working. This allegation was supported by surveillance video conducted over the course of multiple days, which showed Mr. Lara walking unassisted and unsupervised outside of his home, engaging in family outings, communicating with neighbors and even assisting with automotive maintenance.

The defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of Lara for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt, which caused his ejection and the right temporal bone fracture, hematoma and hemorrhage and most, if not all, of his residual physical symptoms, which were primarily left-sided (and controlled by the right side of the brain). Had Lara not been ejected, defendants alleged, he would have sustained no brain injury.