February 22nd, 2018|
A $25 million verdict against automotive giant Nissan North America over faulty brakes in passenger vehicles was named the third most impressive plaintiff verdict in 2017 by Courtroom View Network (CVN), a news organization that webcasts high-stakes civil trials.
The news organization covered a variety of litigation to compile its Top 10 list, including product liability trials, medical malpractice trials, and complex commercial trials. The verdicts were not ranked solely by amount awarded. The news group also took into consideration the facts of each case, parties and attorneys involved, and the potential broader impact of the verdict.
The No. 3 plaintiff verdict involved the case of Hilario Cruz and Solomon Mathenge, who took Nissan North America to court in June over claims the company’s faulty brakes caused a car crash that killed three people. A Los Angeles, California jury awarded them a headline-grabbing $25 million verdict.
Cory Watson attorneys Jerome Tapley, Ryan Lutz, Brett Turnbull and Adam Pittman led the trial team representing plaintiffs. Others included Paul Kiesel, Steven Archer and Bryan Garcia of Kiesel Law LLP, Kirk Wolden of Carter Wolden, as well as attorneys Claudia C. Bohorquez and Vicki I. Sarmiento.
The impressive verdict came after Nissan settled a class action involving claims concerning the same brake defect in 2014, offering compensation to the owners of more than 250,000 Nissan-built Armadas, Titans and Infiniti QX56 models. Cory Watson attorneys Jerome Tapley and Ryan Lutz were Class Counsel in that case.
“Why it made the list:
When plaintiff Hilario Cruz first filed a lawsuit over the vehicular collision that took the life of his two children and their mother, he sued the driver of the Infiniti SUV that slammed into their car, 74-year-old Solomon Mathenge. Mathenge was later charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Mathenge maintained that the brakes on his vehicle failed, and after prosecutors learned that the same defect Mathenge alleged also served as the basis for a class action lawsuit against Nissan, which manufactures the Infiniti line, they dropped the charges. Cruz then sued Nissan with Mathenge as a co-plaintiff.
The litigation culminated in a month-long trial this summer in Los Angeles that featured the unusual circumstance of both sides involved in a two-vehicle collision suing an automobile manufacturer together at the same trial.
Nissan defended the case vigorously, claiming Mathenge caused the crash by hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake and bringing in a team of trial aces from the powerhouse firm Bowman & Brooke. Despite that top shelf defense effort, the jury awarded $14 million to Cruz, $7.4 million to one of his surviving daughters, and $3.5 million to Mathenge.”
Congratulations to Brett Turnbull, Jerome Tapley, Ryan Lutz, Adam Pittman and the rest of the trial team! To view the entire list, as well as video from the Hilario Cruz, et al. v. Nissan North America proceedings, click here.