$31.6 Million Dollar Verdict for a Traumatic Brain Injury
Nick was brought in as lead trial counsel approximately 2 months prior to the trial date. Up to this point, there was not a penny of an offer on the table by the defense. From the outset of the case, Plaintiffs’ counsel Daniel Rodriguez, repeatedly offered to settle the case for policy limits of $10 million, each time rejected by the insurance company Fireman’s Fund.
Trial was continued to January on motion by the defense. Stuart Suppowit of Jackson & Wallace along with Charles Custer and Jewel Basse of Gordon & Reese were defense counsel. After Nick Rowley came into the case as trial counsel, finally, after 25 months of ignoring the plaintiffs’ willingness to settle for policy limits, the insurer offered to settle for policy limits. Having handled multiple open policy cases it was Nick’s position that “the ‘settle for the policy’ train left the station”. At the time of trial, the employer of Mr. Torres was dismissed for half the policy limits ($5m).
Rocio Landeros, age 16, was an unlicensed Hispanic driver from Arvin, CA, which is in Bakersfield, CA. Both of her parents are unable to speak English and are from Mexico. She was driving through farm country outside of Bakersfield, on her way to the movies, when she was struck by a migrant farm worker Mr. Torres. Mr. Torres ran a stop sign, and was proven to be intoxicated. Rocio was seriously injured and although, at the time of trial, she was back in high school reading at the 11th grade level. The defense was that she had a remarkable recovery.
Nick was lead trial counsel for plaintiff Landeros: he did the voir dire, the opening statement, the cross exams of all the defense experts, the direct of the Plaintiff and most of the plaintiff experts, and closing argument and rebuttal. He secured a verdict of $31.6 million from a jury in a conservative California county, and obtained the largest verdict in the history of the county for a single plaintiff by over 23 million dollars. $23M in non-economic damages were awarded. All post trial motions have concluded, the Judge, Sidney Chapin, refused to reduce the verdict and denied every motion by the defense. Now, Mike Bidart is representing the defendant in the Insurance Company Bad Faith Case.
Rowley characterized the verdict as the fruits of his unique method: “Win with truth and love”. Nick spent much time getting to know Ms. Landeros and her family in their home, attending school with her and truly connecting and caring as a family member would. This is the approach Nick takes with all of this cases, He gets personally involved with his clients lives. Caring is Contagious.
(An article about this case was written entitled “’Truth and Love’ Key to $31.6 Million Verdict Against California Drunk Driver”, written by Sylvia Hsieh, published in the February 2010 Issue of Lawyers USA, page 12.) This verdict was the direct result of the insurance company’s obstinate conduct and brazen assumption that it could arbitrarily withhold policy limits on a meritorious claim until the very last minute. Insurance companies should take one clear message from this verdict: they cannot bully well-deserving plaintiffs.