Meet this year’s impressive TOP GUN honorees
OCTLA is excited to announce the recipients of its 2018 Top Gun Awards.
Keith Bruno, partner at Carpenter Zuckerman & Rowley, is being honored as a Top Gun winner for Personal Injury for his verdict in Godoy v. Watson. This case involved a 13-year-old African-American child who lost his father when the defendant ran over him with his truck. The father, who was riding his bike to a local store at the time of the incident, was unemployed and on criminal probation. The defense attempted to use these facts to show the decedent’s life had no value, and held firm throughout litigation that the decedent was 100 percent at fault based on the lies of the defendant and defense experts. After a thorough investigation and aggressive discovery, Mr. Bruno proceeded to jury trial and was able to expose the lies and cover-up by the defense witnesses and experts. A Torrance jury returned a verdict of $11,500,000 for the decedent’s family.
Angel Carrazco is being honored for his trial in the civil-rights case Estate of Manuel Diaz v. City of Anaheim, involving excessive use of force and other related claims in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man. During the trial in Federal Court, Mr. Carrazco’s motion to bifurcate liability from compensatory and punitive damages was denied, allowing the defense to introduce improper evidence and expert testimony of gang membership and activities; photographs of Diaz’s gang tattoos, of him throwing gang signs and holding guns; and toxicology evidence of methamphetamine at the time Diaz was shot. The improper admission of this evidence resulted in a defense verdict which was appealed to the 9th Circuit. The 9th Circuit reversed, concluding that the trial court erred in failing to bifurcate liability from compensatory damages where graphic and prejudicial evidence about the victim has no relevance to the liability issue. The case was tried again, resulting in a verdict of $200,000 plus attorney fees.
Sevy Fisher is the recipient of the Young Gun award, which is given to a less-than-10-year attorney who displays a consistent desire to try cases to conclusion, regardless of outcome. Mr. Fisher’s most recent verdict results include a $14.6M verdict against notable trial lawyer Doug Cullins; the Pebley case upheld on appeal and denied hearing by the Supreme Court resulting in $4.4M verdict; a $3.7M verdict against Veatch Carlson’s top trial attorney, Robert Mackey; a $4.2M verdict against Sean “FX” O’Doherty; and a $2.5M verdict against the County of Orange. Mr. Fisher is a trial attorney at the Simon Law Group.
Arash Homampour is being honored for his trial verdict in the products-liability case of Shinedling, et al. v. Sunbeam Products, Inc. This case, tried before Judge Cormac Carney in the United States District Court, Western Division (Orange County), involved a defective heater that caused a fire in Kenneth and Amy Shinedling’s bedroom while they were sleeping. Mrs. Shinedling ultimately died from the fire. Mr. Shinedling, on behalf of himself and three daughters, sued Sunbeam, alleging defective warning and negligent design. The Defendant denied the heater was defective in design or warning and denied the defect caused the decedent’s death. The defendant’s top offer at a judicial settlement conference was $5,000. The Jury returned a verdict of $58,650,000 and Judge Carney affirmed the verdict in full. Sunbeam then appealed the verdict to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals where the verdict was affirmed.
Ms. Janice Mulligan is being honored for her medical-malpractice trial verdict in Eberhardt v. Anaheim Regional Medical Center. After Anaheim Regional was sold to a for-profit chain, the new owners gutted its education department, stopped monitoring the nurses, and failed to enforce key safety policies. As a result, the hospital’s nurses were ill-equipped to recognize complications following thyroid surgery, and plaintiff’s husband bled into his airway and died as nurses watched. The morning after the $5.5 million verdict, Ms. Mulligan’s client went to visit her husband’s grave. There, she found twelve silk butterflies with a note reading, “With love and respect, the jury.”
An accomplished and prolific litigator, OCTLA Hall of Fame inductee Frank Barbaro has tried well over 100 personal injury cases to verdict, counting more than 25 million dollar and multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements. His legal accomplishments include landmark decisions in products liability (Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 556) and dangerous condition of public property (Genrich v. Cal. (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 221).
But, Mr. Barbaro’s legacy to Orange County bench and bar transcends the courtroom. In 1978, he founded the bipartisan Committee to Preserve a Responsible Judiciary (CPRJ), which he has chaired from its inception. CPRJ is dedicated to preserving judicial independence by protecting members of the Orange County judiciary from election challenges and supporting exceptional candidates for open judicial seats. Since 2011, Mr. Barbaro has served on the Governor’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee for Orange County by appointment by Governor Jerry Brown. He produced “The Jury,” a movie used throughout California courts to educate jurors on the trial process. Throughout his career, Mr. Barbaro has also served as a mentor and inspiration to many within the legal community. OCTLA is honored to welcome Frank Barbaro as the newest member of the OCTLA Hall of Fame.
Please join us on December 1, 2018, at the South Coast Plaza Westin Hotel for OCTLA’s annual Top Gun Awards Dinner and Charity Auction to congratulate and recognize these worthy individuals.
Geraldine Ly, the new president of OCTLA, practices at the Law Offices of Geraldine Ly in Santa Ana. Her practice emphasizes workers’ compensation and personal injury law. She frequently handles cases that have an overlap between workers’ comp and personal injury law.
Copyright © 2021 by the author.
For reprint permission, contact the publisher: Advocate Magazine