Monday, July 23, 2012

It Might be a Million Dollar Case

Tony Vitz, TLC 99' Grad & Faculty Member. 7/19/2012

     What is a person’s job worth, especially in this economy? When Walter was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), he knew he was in jeopardy of losing his job as a car salesman even though he was the top salesman in the company. This arrest was not only about Walter and his job, it was about his ability to support his wife and their (3) children. There was no doubt that a conviction for this type of offense would mean termination of his employment and a major detour in this family’s life path.

     Walter trusted the breath test and the officer to get it right, but he and the jury found out that the officer and the machine were on a different team and it wasn’t a team for Justice. Walter’s breath specimen produced an alcohol concentration result of .149 on the Intoxilyzer 5000 about an hour and twenty minutes after the officer stopped him. (A .08 or higher is considered intoxicated) Walter admitted to (7) drinks and that “maybe he had two too many”. His field sobriety tests weren’t too bad, but he hopped a bit to retain his balance and wasn’t able to stand in place with one foot in front of the other. The bottom line is that Walter’s actions on the video could be explained and they were not the result of being intoxicated.

     We always want to know how another lawyer won a big case. We get questions like, “How did you overcome the presumption of intoxication?” or “Who was your expert?” and others. I can share some of how we won this one, but there isn’t any one reason. Many lawyers don’t understand what it takes to win. We go into the courtroom with the culmination of life experiences that we use. It is caring about our clients, and being genuine that make the difference, not how much law or science we know. I think trials are like football games. While they aren’t games at all to most of us, every inch can be the difference. Momentum is also very important. We’ve got to grab it and keep it as much as we can until the trial is over. We begin with ourselves in jury selection.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Betrayal of our client by the insurance company

Tom Metier, '94 Grad. Trial Lawyers College List Serve, 6/14/2012.

Warriors and Grad II'ers,

            Pleased to report that Mike Chaloupka (TLC '11) and I obtained a verdict against Auto Owners Insurance last Friday evening.

Gary was hit on Christmas day, 2006, while driving a full size Chevy GMC pickup.  SUV blew through a stop light and T-boned him on the driver's side.  Gary suffered 6 broken ribs and a torn labrum of the left shoulder which required arthroscopic surgery repair in April, 2007, followed by some PT.   Ribs completely healed.  No future medicals.  No past or future wage loss.  Medicals were $30,000, including the three day stay in the hospital immediately after the crash for pain management of the broken ribs.

Farmer's had the liability policy and paid $50,000 policy limits w/in the first year.  Gary had UIM coverage through Auto Owners of $500,000.  Auto Owners was given a medical release by Gary, but not a list of medical providers. In September, 2007  Auto Owners used the medical release to obtain the medical records contained in Farmer's adjuster file. Auto Owners never requested any medical records using the release at any time thereafter, electing instead to continue to try to place the burden of obtaining bills and records on Gary by writing a letter every 3 to 6 months asking for updated information and records/bills.  Gary never responded, completely confident that his insurance company, Auto Owners, would obtain all such records and information and be updated and ready to make an offer to him when he notified Auto Owners he was ready to settle.  After all, that is what they promised, wasn't it?

Auto Owners failed to investigate, evaluate and make an offer to Gary, forcing client to hire attorneys and file suit on December 22, 2009 (three days before the statute of limitations ran).

The jury found my client not guilty in 7 minutes!

Shannon Smith - 2011.2' Grad. TLC List Serve, 7/20/2012.

I'm on fire, so thankful for TLC and have to report!!!!
I am happy to report I got a 7 minute not guilty verdict this morning on a child criminal sexual conduct case in Detroit, Michigan!  Our Michigan group helped me on this case -- thanks to Marj, Cheryl, Keeley, Josh, Ian, JConline, Barton, Rhonda.....and anyone I unintentionally forgot!!!

Facts:  Elise, one of the cutest 9 year olds I've ever seen was sleeping over at the client's house.  Client's wife allowed the child to sleep in the client's bed.  He was asleep with his son who was 4.  In the middle of the night, Clark goes into his room, gets in bed and spoons the person next to him.  Realizes it's not his wife and tells the girl to go sleep with her dad.

She goes into her dad's room and reports "Clark touched me."  The conversation snowballs into allegations that Clark put his hands down her pajama pants and rubbed her privates.  The dad came out of the room and punched Clark.  Clark keeps saying, I'm sorry I touched your daughter, I thought it was my wife.  Forensic interview, 8 days later, she says the same story.  Exam three months later, same story.  At trial, same story. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Twelve brave citizens of Harris County, Texas had the courage to find my client; Ranulfo Castro, not guilty of the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child

Emily Detoto, TLC ’01 Grad. July 11, 2012

Ranulfo Castro was living with one woman but seeing another woman who had three daughters.  He had three grown children of his own.  He knew it was wrong to be living with one woman, while seeing another, but that didn't make him a child molester.  He worked two jobs: one as a landscaper and another as a mechanic.  He worked these jobs to support himself, his common law wife, his children, and his girlfriend and her children. 

Ranulfo met the mother of the girl who would eventually accuse him of sexually assaulting her over a month's time, because he was working on her car.  Her name was Sandra.  Sandra and Ranulfo hit it off and she began sharing personal stories about herself, and the two began speaking almost daily.  About two weeks after Sandra and Ranulfo met, Ranulfo learned that Sandra was engaged to another man, and that she was going to move, along with her children and this man, to Seguin, Texas, a small town outside of San Antonio.  Ranulfo said goodbye to Sandra and didn't expect to hear from her again.  But a short time later, he received a call from Sandra, telling him that the relationship with this man didn't work out.  Sandra asked Ranulfo if he would please drive all the way to Seguin to retrieve her and her children because they had no money and no way to make it back to Houston.  Ranulfo agreed, and he drove all the way to Seguin, Texas to pick up Sandra and her daughters, and helped them get an apartment, and eventually began supporting Sandra and her family.  He paid their rent, bought them food, clothing, and became like a father figure to the family.