The verdicts and settlements we have achieved for our clients include:
We have extensive experience in asbestos law and mesothelioma litigation. In 1984 Gary Drummond and David Gifford were defense counsel in California’s first multi-plaintiff trial against suppliers of raw asbestos fiber. The plaintiffs were Fiberboard plant workers. The unanimous defense verdict was appealed by plaintiffs; we handled the appeal and the judgments were affirmed.
Since then the firm has tried many asbestos cases to verdict including many high risk cases in which plaintiffs were dying from mesothelioma, the hallmark asbestos cancer.
In one case, we defended a suit alleging the wrongful death of an auto mechanic from lung cancer. Our successful substantial factor defense compared asbestos exposure to plaintiff from re-arcing replacement brake linings (on one to two brake jobs per week for twelve years) to other exposure to asbestos as a shipyard welder and additional toxic exposure from smoking cigarettes. We obtained a defense verdict for sole defendant Moog Automotive, Inc., which was the successor to Wagner Electric Corporation, the company that supplied the replacement brake linings.
We have also tried several group cases with favorable results, including plaintiff verdicts that were substantially offset by prior settlements.
We obtained a defense verdict for our client, an electric motor rewinder, in the case of a young restaurant worker who sustained traumatic amputation of four fingers in a motorized meat grinder. Plaintiff alleged our client installed the motor on the grinder without adequate safeguards. During cross-examination at trial plaintiff admitted for the first time that another employee activated the grinder while plaintiff cleaned it.
We secured a favorable settlement within primary limits for our client, a manufacturer of above ground pools, in a case involving a young husband and father who was left a paraplegic after diving into one of defendant’s pools. Plaintiff claimed defendant failed to adequately warn of the dangers of diving into a pool that was less than four feet deep. Our investigators discovered that plaintiff’s parents had obtained the used pool from friends. The friends testified that they provided the parents with the manufacturer’s product manual, which gave warning about diving, but the parents had failed to provide the manual to the plaintiff. Cross-examination of plaintiff and his best friend revealed plaintiff constructed a diving platform, both had been drinking and engaged in a “diving contest” at the time of the incident. The settlement was less than $1 million.
We represented Aluma-Systems USA, Inc. before the Santa Clara Valley Water District in a matter concerning leaking underground storage tanks. As a result, our client obtained compliance and was released by the agency from potential responsibility for remediation to the affected sites.
We obtained a voluntary dismissal for our client Burke Concrete, a designer and seller of pick point hardware used in the erection of a 100-ton concrete tilt-up construction panel. The panel fell during installation, resulting in a leg-off injury to a worker. Plaintiff alleged our client’s hardware failed. Our combination of discovery, investigation and expert testimony indicated the injury was due to a cable that snapped during installation striking plaintiff with enough force to sever his leg.
We achieved an excellent settlement at trial for our client, a general contractor/developer of a housing tract near Watsonville, California. Plaintiff alleged that subsidence-related defects to the houses were caused by faulty construction. Our defense included taking the jury on a tour of the site. We successfully showed that subsidence may have been caused by the effects of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
We represented pharmaceutical companies in the DES market share liability litigation arising out of the California Supreme Court opinion in Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories, 26 Cal.3d 588 (1980) and a series of San Francisco Superior Court general orders governing the conduct of discovery and evidentiary issues at trial. Approximately eighty cases were consolidated for purposes of determining market shares.
While working with two of the major drug companies to establish the market itself, we focused our attention on the proof needed for our clients' individual percentage allocations of the overall market.
In cooperation with some twenty other defendants, we jointly retained an econometrician, established a document depository, and created a computer program to generate our data. By the time of trial, the group had been reduced to our client and two other defendants, and the court ultimately accepted the market we had anticipated and the market shares proposed by our expert.
We defend liability suits against state and local government agencies including school districts, state parks and fairgrounds, public utilities and police departments.
In a nationally-reported case we brought a successful motion for summary judgment on behalf of Mt. Diablo Unified School District when students sued school officials after being sent home from a school band tour of Germany for drinking, which was in violation of the school’s zero tolerance policy. The judgment was affirmed on appeal by the California Supreme Court and the plaintiffs’ parents were ordered to pay the school district $80,000 in defense costs and attorneys fees.
We represented a manufacturer of playground equipment that had been used without incident in more than 500 schoolyards. A seven-year-old girl playing on the equipment at recess had fallen from the monkey bars and landed on all fours, unhurt. Distracted by the whistle signaling the end of recess, the girl stood up and struck her head on the underside of the bars, sustaining a fractured skull. She had surgery and made a full recovery. The girl’s parents sued our self-insured client. The client has a strong commitment to the safety of its equipment and declined to settle the case. We worked with the client’s technical staff as well as our own experts, including a consultant who had authored nationally-recognized safety standards regarding playground equipment. We tried the case before a retired judge and obtained a defense verdict.
We obtained a defense verdict for a residential landlord in a trip-and-fall case involving a 77-year-old woman with a hip replacement who fractured her hip and required a second replacement. Plaintiff claimed that her injury resulted from tripping over a defective threshold at the front door of her apartment. Although the plaintiff generated considerable sympathy with the jury, we prevailed because we proved that she had been encouraged to sue by a cab driver who also worked as a “runner” for plaintiff’s attorney. We demolished the cab driver’s credibility in cross-examination and shed doubt that plaintiff had been injured by tripping over the threshold.
Our client, an employee of a Bay Area location of a national retail chain, was raped at gunpoint by a disgruntled former employee. Although the Labor Code bars civil suits against the employer, Ms. Gifford argued the employee had a civil right to be free from violence in the workplace. She also established that the employer did nothing to protect her and other employees although they knew the former employee had already robbed two of their stores in the area and was a threat. The employer defendant settled for six-figures on the eve of hearing on summary judgment based upon the Labor Code bar.
Our client, a worker experienced with industrial printer-slotters, had his hand pulled beneath the guard in front of the in-rolling nip point which fed corrugated sheets through the printer-slotter to create notched and printed boxes. Two years of investigation revealed other similar accidents culminating in the remarkable discovery of the original design engineer’s deposition testimony lodged in a Louisiana state court. The design engineer testified (more than twenty years prior to this lawsuit) that the guard was a “toe” guard and not designed to keep hands from being drawn into the feed rolls. The case settled for policy limits just before federal court trial.
Our client, an 87-year-old woman hit by a car in a parking lot, suffered a broken shoulder and wrist. Liability was clear and we obtained a $300,000 settlement from the motorist’s insurer. However, Medicare had paid for our client’s medical bills and had a lien against the settlement for $250,000. We retained a consultant with experience in negotiating settlements with Medicare and arranged for the lien to be settled for just $24,000. Our client was able to keep more of the settlement, which she needed to take care of herself and her ailing husband.
The verdicts and settlements described in this section are a representative sample Please direct inquires to David Gifford at 925.944.5550 or email email@example.com.