Celebrating Orange County’s Top Gun Trial Lawyers

Honoring five deserving lawyers for their exceptional trial advocacy skills

Vincent D. Howard
2016 October

November nineteenth is right around the corner, and for OCTLA that means celebrating our “Top Gun” award winners.

Our annual Top Gun winners possess the type of trial acumen that not only displays their courage and commitment to their clients, but also demonstrates exceptional skill, ability, preparation, and professionalism. It is these qualities that have allowed each of these attorneys to acquire an outstanding result for their very deserving clients. The results are not based solely on the size of the verdict, but weigh a multitude of factors such as the length of the trial, complexity of liability or damages, as well as the impact the result may have on society. Results can include jury verdicts, arbitration awards, and bench trial awards.

This year we honor five very deserving lawyers for their exceptional trial advocacy skills:

  • H. Gavin Long (Bisnar | Chase) is OCTLA’s 2016 Top Gun Personal Injury Trial Lawyer of the Year. He is being honored for his $3 million jury verdict in August of 2015 in Joseph Butenhoff v. Rae Ann Bautista. This was an auto versus pedestrian case where the investigating officer concluded Mr. Butenhoff was 100 percent at fault. Mr. Butenhoff’s injuries were disputed since he was back to work doing heavy labor, climbing towers and driving a company truck. Allstate insurance made no offer until two months before trial when they tendered the $100,000 policy limits. All economic damages were waived, and the case proceeded to trial solely on non-economic damages.
  • Daniel Hodes (Hodes Milman Liebeck, LLP) is OCTLA’s 2016 Top Gun Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyer of the Year. He is being honored for two significant medical malpractice binding arbitration awards. First, Hodes obtained a $1,100,000.00 binding arbitration award against a major health care organization in a case involving the cardiac death of 52-year-old Donald Kirsnis. After a series of blunders by the hospital, nurses, and physicians, during which time Mr. Kirsnis’ condition was never properly diagnosed or treated, Mr. Kirsnis succumbed to a heart attack. The arbitrator found that “the failure to treat Don Kirsnis within the standard of care was a system wide failure within the health care organization.”

Hodes also obtained a binding arbitration award of $770,057  in a case involving a decompressive lumbar laminectomy, which is a surgery performed hundreds of times a day in the United States. Injury to the cauda equina, a surgical catastrophe, is practically unheard of during this procedure. During this standard surgery, two surgeons caused permanent injury to plaintiff’s sacral nerves, which control bowel, bladder and sexual function.  Plaintiff made a CCP 998 offer of $450,000, which was rejected by the defendants. 

  • Gregory Bentley (Bentley & More, LLP) is OCTLA’s 2016 Top Gun Products Liability Trial Lawyer of the Year. He is being honored for his trial verdict in the seminal case Ries v. Behnam Zolghadr d/b/a VapCigs, et al., involving the explosion of an e-cigarette product that caused severe burn injuries to his client. The verdict was the first of its kind against an electronic cigarette distributor/wholesaler in the United States. After hearing of the product’s catastrophic failure, the jury rendered a $1,900,000.00 verdict against the electronic cigarette’s distributor, VapCigs; its wholesaler, Cartons 2 Go; and the store at which the product was purchased, Tobacco Expo. Presently, Bentley continues to develop this area of the law and has been retained in numerous cases throughout the country relating to e-cigarette product failures and explosions.
  • William Shapiro (The Law Offices of William Shapiro) is OCTLA’s 2016 Top Gun Government Liability Trial Lawyer of the Year. He is being honored for his exceptional trial skills in the very hard fought case of Alechman v. City of Redlands. The Alechman case was a wrongful death trial resulting in a multimillion-dollar jury verdict rendered against the city after over four years of total denial that a roadway was in a dangerous condition. At Shapiro’s urging, the City also removed the dangerous object from the side of the road after trial.
  • Robert T. Simon (Simon Law Group) will receive OCTLA’s 2016 Top Gun Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for Distinguished Achievement. He is being honored for his body of work over the last twelve months. Since 2012, Simon has tried over 30 cases to verdict as lead trial counsel, winning them all, with verdicts totaling over $60,000,000.00. Simon continues to set the bar high and obtain outstanding results that are beyond the ordinary. In the past year, Simon obtained jury verdicts totaling over $44,000,000, trying nine cases, and winning eight with one hung jury, which resulted in a large settlement.

Our entire OCTLA family commends the remarkable work of these five outstanding trial lawyers. These attorneys are, without a doubt, “Top Gun” worthy award recipients and the OC could not be more proud!  Come out and celebrate their achievements at the annual awards dinner on November 19 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach.  www.octla.org

For further reading:

Orange County Trial Lawyers support Veterans Legal Institute

Vincent D. Howard Vincent D. Howard

Vincent D. Howard is the managing shareholder of Vincent Law, Anaheim.  His practice focuses on individual cases and mass torts involving personal injury and consumer protection. His experience in these areas stems from his work at Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos, where he handled high-profile mass tort litigation and pharmaceutical injury cases against such companies as Wal-mart, Merck  and Halliburton.  He is a graduate of the University of Nevada-Reno and received his J.D. at Western State College of Law, where he was a Dean's Scholar.

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