The following cases are descriptions of actual lawsuits in which Thomas Lewellyn represented the plaintiff. They are described in order to illustrate Mr. Lewellyn’s experience and success in representing injured clients. The results are not meant to be predictive of the values of other similar cases as each case must be evaluated on the facts and laws which are unique to that case.
$3,250,000 settlement for plaintiff arising out of multi-vehicle automobile accident, Dean v Spivey. John Dean, a sixty-five year old retiree was driving on Highway 880 when a vehicle driven by one of the defendant’s lost control of his car in the rain causing several vehicles to collide. The CHP reported this driver to be the primary cause of the accident, however, he only carried insurance limits of $100,000. In this massive pile-up Dean’s automobile was struck by a tractor trailer causing Mr. Dean to sustain incomplete quadriplegia. The insurance company for the tractor trailer represented under oath that there was only one million dollars of coverage on the subject vehicle. Mr. Lewellyn subpoenaed the trucking company’s insurance broker’s records and discovered that the defendant failed to disclose an additional $3,000,000 in coverage. After numerous depositions the case was settled with all defendants for $3,250,000.
Co-counsel, Rucker v Regents of the University of California, settlement for $2,250,000. Harold Rucker was a member of the Cal Berkeley track team who participated in the triple jump. The team was coached by Olympic track coach Irv Hunt. At the time of Mr. Rucker’s injury, Coach Hunt allowed hammer throwers to practice their event while other track team members ran around the track and practiced on a nearby triple jump runway. An errant throw by a hammer thrower resulted in Mr. Rucker being struck in the head and sustaining permanent brain damage. Plaintiff alleged that the track coach was negligent for allowing the hammer throwers to practice at the same time that other track team members were within range of the throwers. The University contended that the plaintiff was aware of the dangers involved, was aware the hammer throwers were practicing in the area, and assumed the risk of injury by not paying attention while the hammer throwers practiced their event. The University filed for a writ of mandate with the appellate courts seeking a holding that plaintiff’s claim was barred as a matter of law under the assumption of risk doctrine. The appellate court rejected this contention and the California Supreme Court further refused to grant the University the relief it sought. The University has since changed its policy so that other track members are not practicing anywhere in the vicinity of hammer throwers while they are on the field.
$1,184,580.00 in cash and future payments in Noonan v Medina et al. Patrick Noonan, age 35, was a pedestrian in the Mission District in San Francisco when he observed an older woman having difficulties in at nearby gas station. The woman had inadvertently driven her car up on to a cement island on the premises of the gas station. As she struggled to drive her car off the island, she received no help from the gas station attendants. Observing this situation from across the street, Mr. Noonan acting as a Good Samaritan, crossed the street to lend assistance to the woman. During the course of attempting to help her, she accelerated her vehicle causing it to strike Mr. Noonan. He sustained serious injuries to his leg resulting in amputation of the limb at the knee. The driver of the vehicle contributed her insurance policy limits of $100,000.00. The balance of the settlement came from the company operating the gas station, on the theory that it had a duty to protect third party’s from dangerous activities occurring on its premises.
$224,685 jury verdict in Conrad v Central Concrete Supply Company following a four week trial. Bill Conrad, a self-employed building contractor was involved in an automobile accident when the defendant’s cement truck collided with the back of Bill’s pick up truck at a speed of approximately 15 m.p.h. As a result of the accident, he sustained numerous injuries the most serious of which were psychological in nature. The defense hired experts including a neuropsychologist and neurologist to testify that the plaintiff was exaggerating his claim. The credibility of these witnesses were undermined at trial, when Mr. Lewellyn demonstrated that the neuropsychologist misinterpreted data from his own tests, misrepresented the nature of the tests he performed, and failed to administer the tests according to well accepted medical protocols.
Battram v Doe Hospital, confidential settlement resulting in lifetime payments to cover costs of convalescent care for woman who received substandard medical treatment following an out patient surgery. Plaintiff, was admitted to the defendant hospital to have laser surgery performed to remove an old tattoo on her arm. During the procedure she was administered Versed, a light sedative. After awaking from the procedure, she announced to hospital personnel she wished to drive herself home. Staff nurses advised her she had to wait for her husband to drive her home and made attempts to contact him. In the meantime, there was a shift change. The evening shift nurses failed to monitor the patient and she voluntarily left the hospital unattended. While driving home on highway 580, she lost consciousness and drove into the rear of a parked tractor trailer at a speed of 55 m.p.h. As a result of the collision, she sustained permanent brain damage.
Attorney for plaintiff in Gonzales v Owens Coming Glass. Alice Gonzales was a lab worker in a fruit packing plant who used sulfuric acid to test the sorbic acid content of various fruit products. The sulfuric acid was bottled in a standard glass container. While working in the lab, Alice dropped a two and a half liter container of sulfuric acid which broke and spilled on the floor. Alice slipped into the acid, causing serious chemical burns to her upper torso and leg. Mr. Lewellyn filed suit against the chemical manufacturer claiming the product was unsafely packaged. Use of a safer container such as a vinyl coated bottle which would not have ruptured upon dropping would have prevented these serious injuries. The case was settled on the first day of trial for the sum of $276,000. Vinyl coated bottles are now commonly used in the chemical industry to prevent these types of injuries.
Co-Counsel in Schiffer v Kimco Hotel, et al, resulting in $475,000 settlement for hotel guest who fell down a stairway during a smoke alert and sustained a herniated cervical disk. The plaintiff was a patron of the Prescott Hotel when a fire started in the hotel’s chimney flue. Although no fire intruded into the building, smoke detectors activated necessitating the evacuation of the guests. During the evacuation, plaintiff fell down a stairway because smoke impaired his vision. Discovery revealed that due to the design of the flue, it could not be properly cleaned and creosote built up unnecessarily in the flue. The hotel had been warned of this by the chimney sweepers, but failed to take remedial action. After suit was completed, the hotel converted the fireplace to gas to prevent this dangerous condition from recurring.
Trial attorney for trumpeter Eddie Gale in Gale v National Railroad resulting in $115,000 plaintiffs’ verdict. Mr. Gale is a nationally known jazz musician who was riding an Amtrak train back to New York for the Jazz Times Festival when his train collided with another train on the track causing him to sustain a bulging lumbar disc. Amtrak contended that Mr. Gale sustained only minor back strains in the subject accident. Mr. Gale had retained four prior law firms before coming to Mr. Lewellyn, none of which were able to obtain a settlement offer in excess of $40,000. On the eve of trial, Amtrak made their final offer of $70,000. Mr. Lewellyn refused to settle the case for his client unless Amtrak agreed to pay $100,000. The jury verdict vindicated plaintiff’s demand.
Trial attorney, co-counsel, Anderson v Yellow Cab, plaintiff’s jury verdict $141,000. Elizabeth Anderson was a passenger in a taxi-cab which struck the rear of another vehicle. Ms. Anderson had a twelve year history of back problems which preceded the subject accident including two prior back surgeries. She was recovering from the second of these surgeries and had been on disability for many years when the subject accident occurred. Following this accident, she was caused to undergo a third back surgery. The defendant contended that all of Ms. Anderson’s problems and the need for the third surgery were unrelated to this minor impact accident. The defendant’s offer before trial was $10,000.
Trial attorney, co-counsel, Ramirez v Santa Clara County Transit District, defense verdict. Following the opening of the Santa Clara Light Rail System, there were numerous accidents involving left turning vehicle colliding with light rail trains. This was the first case brought against the transit district alleging that the design of the system was unsafe in that left turning drivers were not adequately advised of trains approaching them from behind. Due to governmental design immunities granted by law, plaintiff was precluded from introducing evidence regarding design changes, such as train approaching signals, which would have prevented the subject accident and similar accidents which were occurring with great regularity. Although the case resulted in a defense verdict, the system was changed after the filing of this lawsuit and appropriate warnings signals were installed at all intersections where trains would approach left turning vehicles from behind.
Trial Counsel, Goodman v Mimco, Plaintiff’s jury verdict $132,000. Plaintiff, a construction worker, was getting up from a portable toilet on a job site when it was picked up off the ground by a forklift operator. Plaintiff sustained a low back strain as a result. The defendant’s offer prior to trial was $40,000. Due to the unusual facts of the case, the verdict received national attention in newspapers such as the Chicago Times, Washington Post, and local papers including the San Jose Mercury News.
Lane v Doe, confidential settlement for minor who received burns to his lower legs as a result of a house fire. Plaintiff, a two year old child who was being watched by his older brother, wandered off into the family’s garage and spilled some gasoline that was used by the family for their lawn mower. The gas fumes migrated to the water heater which was mounted directly on the garage floor causing an explosion. Suit was brought against the landlord owner of the home and the water heater manufacturer contending that the water heater was not properly installed at least twenty-four inches above the ground. The landlord denied that he installed the water heater and the manufacturer claimed that it gave adequate instructions regarding proper installation of such heaters. Prior to retention of Mr. Lewellyn the homeowner offered the plaintiff $50,000 to settle his case. After numerous depositions and pre-trial discovery of manufacturers’ documents establishing that the landlord was the original owner of the water heater, the case settled with a structure which will pay the minor over $400,000 by the time he reaches the age of thirty.
Trial Attorney, Gutierrez v Otis Harp Trucking, plaintiff’s jury verdict, $46,000. This trial demonstrates the police aren’t always right. The subject accident occurred in the fog at an intersection in Tracy, California. The CHP investigated the accident and found that the plaintiff was traveling too fast for the conditions and was the sole cause of the accident between his vehicle and a tractor trailer. The defense offered a nuisance value settlement in the sum of $5,000. The Stockton jury found that the defendant was 50% responsible for the subject accident resulting in this favorable verdict.
Attorney in Vahey v Reddick resulting in $500,000 settlement. Mr. Lewellyn’s, client was driving his vehicle on Highway 238 when an uninsured driver began driving erratically in front of him at 5:30 in the morning. As the client slowed for the vehicle in front of him, his truck was struck in the rear by a tractor trailer driven by the defendant Reddick. Reddick’s insurance carrier claimed that the cause of the accident was the erratic driving of the uninsured driver. As a result of the accident, the client sustained two herniated discs at C5-6 and C6-7 required surgical intervention.
Trial Attorney in Martinetti v City and County of San Francisco. Jury verdict in the amount of $202,000 rendered for a 21 year old college student whose feet were injured in an unusual cable car accident. Ms. Martinetti was a passenger on a cable car when another cable car broke loose from the roundhouse and rolled into the car in which Ms. Martinetti was a passenger. Both of her feet were struck by the runaway cable car causing her to suffer extensive and painful soft tissue injuries to both of her feet. She was left with significant residual problems which cause her feet to swell and ache after prolonged standing and walking or after participating in athletic activities. The City of San Francisco contended that she made a good recovery from her injuries. The City’s final offer of settlement before trial was $46,000.00.
Trial attorney in Ashcraft v City of Oakland. Plaintiff, Maxine Ashcraft, was jogging in the Montclair district of Oakland, when she tripped and fell on some old deteriorated sand bags. It was alleged that the sand bags were located on public property and constituted a dangerous condition. As a result of the fall, Ms. Ashcraft sustained a comminuted fracture of the wrist, which required surgery. Prior to trial, the City of Oakland offered a mere $5,000.00 to resolved the case. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $218,722.00.
Hulett v Campbell Residential Care Facility. This was a case of a 64 year old mother of 3 who had been a diagnosed schizophrenic. She required careful monitoring of her medications and was placed in the Campbell Residential Care facility. Due to poor staffing, insufficient training, and poor medical care, she did not receive proper doses of her anti-psychotic medications. She was left unattended with a pack of matches and committed suicide while in the facility. A case for elder abuse and neglect was brought against the facility and her treating psychiatrist. A confidential settlement resulted in a substantial recovery for the aggrieved family.