2016 was a busy year for MCAQ. It was so busy we forgot to report some of our noteworthy successes on behalf of our clients. Here is a recap of the year:
January 2016 started out great with a jury verdict in favor of a municipal utility client in a case alleging power theft and breach of contract. Stephanie L. Quinn and Mariel Covarrubias tried the case to a Sacramento County jury. Representing the plaintiff, Ms. Quinn and Ms. Covarrubias successfully established that the defendants were responsible for damages arising out of the unlawful diversion of power from a home in Sacramento County that was used to grow marijuana. The trial lasted 7 days.
In February 2016, Douglas Alliston and Suzanne M. Nicholson obtained summary judgment against the California Insurance Guarantee Association in a case where CIGA had declined to pay the obligations of an insolvent insurer once the insurer was discharged in its liquidation proceeding. Ms. Nicholson, a certified appellate specialist, is currently defending against CIGA’s appeal.
The firm had another trial success in March 2016. We received a statement of decision and judgment on a residential real estate case in which the plaintiff sued our clients alleging nondisclosure of defects in a high-end Granite Bay residential property sold to the plaintiff. In the closing brief the plaintiff claimed damages of $1,659,000. The trial of that case began on August 5, 2015 and concluded nineteen days later on August 24, 2015. The judge ruled in our client’s favor on all causes of action and thereafter entered judgments directing the plaintiff to pay $59,000 in costs and $371,000 in attorney fees. Both of those judgments were paid in full in August 2016. Mark A. Campbell was lead trial counsel in the case.
In the Spring, Mark A. Campbell and Mariel Covarrubias obtained dismissals for a foreign company and one of its directors, in a case alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and breach of contract. They successfully argued that the California court did not have personal jurisdiction over the defendants on a motion to quash service of the summons. The case was venued in Ventura County.
In July, Stephanie L. Quinn and Raymond Tuason obtained a victory in a Federal Employers’ Liability Act case on behalf of a railroad company. The case was brought by a railroad employee who alleged she suffered a career ending back injury as a result of her employer’s negligence. The court granted our motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case. The court found that as a matter of law, the plaintiff could not establish that the employer was negligent or that its negligence was the cause of her injuries. The case was venued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The firm had two other noteworthy summary judgment victories in 2016 in cases handled by George E. Murphy and Suzanne M. Nicholson. One involved a contract dispute over who was responsible to pay medical expenses incurred by employees of the other party. Mr. Murphy and Ms. Nicholson also obtained summary judgment plus attorneys’ fees for an owner of commercial property based on breach of contract.
November brought another trial victory for the firm. Stephanie L. Quinn and Mariel Covarrubias obtained a defense verdict in a 12 day jury trial in Placer County Superior Court. The firm represented a railroad company who was being sued by a locomotive engineer for violations of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, the Locomotive Inspection Act, and various federal regulations. After deliberating less than two hours, the jury returned a verdict for our client on all causes of action.
Mariel Covarrubias, who has been with the firm since 2012, was also selected by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in 2016.
In addition to trial victories, our attorneys have been successful in resolving cases short of trial. This past year, George E. Murphy was successful in obtaining a six figure settlement in a personal injury case on behalf of a client. Susan A. DeNardo, in our employment group, has strategically handled employment law cases in front of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Fair Employment and Housing, bringing about resolutions for our clients that allowed them to avoid the grave expense involved in litigating employment law cases in California.
One of our firm’s specialties is insurance coverage disputes. 2016 brought successes in this arena as well. George E. Murphy was successful in persuading multiple insurance companies to provide coverage to our clients in cases where the carriers had originally denied coverage, leaving their insureds out in the cold. In representing a large apartment complex, we convinced an insurance company to provide coverage for our client whose property sustained significant damage when a large truck spilled gallons of oil on pavement throughout the complex. The insurance company originally denied coverage, but ended up paying substantial sums to repair the damage.
We also represented a real estate broker and were successful in convincing the broker’s insurance company to assume our client’s defense in a lawsuit alleging breach of contractual and legal duties in the context of a real estate transaction. The insurer originally denied any coverage obligations, but ended up paying to settle the case on behalf of our client. In representing a commercial tenant and business owner who sustained significant water damage to his premises and inventory, we convinced the landlord’s insurer to pay for damages suffered by our client, after the insurer originally refused to pay any amounts for repair.
The firm ended the year on a high note. In December, our appellate team, George E. Murphy and Suzanne M. Nicholson, obtained a huge victory on behalf of a municipal client in a case alleging that the City of Atwater was liable for the dangerous condition of an intersection where a pedestrian was killed by a motorist. The California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District issued a published opinion, overturning a $3.2 million dollar jury verdict from Merced County. The Court of Appeal determined that the design immunity defense immunized the City from liability for any dangerous condition of the intersection. The decision in Gonzalez, et al. v. City of Atwater, can be found here: Gonzalez, et al. v. City of Atwater Decision