NTL member Adam Levitt part of class action against Polaris

A nationwide class action lawsuit has been filed against off-road vehicle manufacturer and distributors Polaris Industries, Inc. and Polaris Sales Inc. The lawsuit alleges Polaris has sold multiple models in its Ranger and RZR lines that suffer from a design defect that creates a significant and unreasonable risk of the vehicles overheating and catching fire. This defect has resulted in more than 250 fires, more than 30 severe injuries and at least three deaths. The Plaintiffs are represented by W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the Consumer Fraud Section at Beasley Allen Law Firm, and National Trial Lawyers member Adam Levitt, a partner of DiCello Levitt and Casey.

“Since at least 2011, Polaris has prioritized performance, style and cost savings over safety and in so doing produced over 400,000 recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs) that can overheat and catch fire,” Miles said. “Polaris has yet to offer owners an effective fix, so we filed to help bring about that change. “

Levitt adds, “Polaris has continued selling Ranger and RZR off-road vehicles with ProStar engines, despite knowing that they suffer from an acute risk of catching fire. Our lawsuit hopes to force Polaris to seriously confront this issue and to start putting its customers’ safety above corporate profits.”

Class vehicles include the 2011-2014 RZR XP 900 series, 2012-2018 RZR 570 series, 2014-2018 RZR XP 1000 series, 2015-2018 RZR 900 and S 900 series, 2016-2018 RZR XP Turbo series, 2016-2018 General 1000 series, 2014-2018 Ranger XP 900 series, 2017-2018 Ranger XP 1000, 2014-2018 Ranger Crew XP 900, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 series, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 Crew series, and 2017-2018 Ranger 500.

According to the complaint, the class vehicles contain a design defect in which the vehicles’ high-powered “ProStar” engine is located directly behind the occupant compartment, without proper ventilation and heat shielding. Because it is located within inches of combustible plastic body panels and close to vehicle occupants, it poses a high risk of fire and injury to passengers.

The complaint is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.


NTL member Brian McCormack gets $3.5M for rape victim

National Trial Lawyers member Brian McCormack of Callahan & Blaine secured a $3.5 million verdict on behalf of a California woman who was raped after her assailant got a key to her hotel room from the front desk.

On April 19, 2014, the plaintiff, a 28-year-old clerk at BevMo!, went to visit her boyfriend, who was staying at a Holiday Inn hotel in Frazier Park. While she was asleep in her boyfriend’s hotel room, Jonathan Padilla, a co-worker of the boyfriend who was also staying at the hotel, impersonated the boyfriend to obtain a key from the front desk clerk, Lori Anne Scharon. Padilla then used the key to enter the boyfriend’s room while the visiting girlfriend was asleep. The girlfriend awoke as Padilla raped her, and Padilla fled back to his own room. Police later arrested Padilla at the hotel. Padilla pleaded guilty to rape and was sentenced to six years in prison. The 28-year-old girlfriend sued Padilla; Sharon; and the believed operators of the Holiday Inn hotel, Holiday Inn Express Frazier Park, Holiday Hospitality Franchising Inc., Holiday Hospitality Franchising LLC, Hospitality Inc., Intercontinental Hotels Group Resources Inc., and MRSS Hospitality Inc. Several franchisors obtained summary judgment on the case against them, and Padilla, who was appearing in pro per, was dismissed from the case during trial. Thus, the matter continued against Scharon and her employer, MRSS Hospitality Inc. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that the hotel’s staff provided Padilla with the key to the plaintiff’s boyfriend’s hotel room without obtaining proper identification. The plaintiff’s liability expert opined that Scharon’s provision of the room key to Padilla was a violation of the standard of care and of hotel policy. Counsel for Scharon and MRSS Hospitality claimed that Padilla’s criminal conduct was not foreseeable and that the plaintiff and her boyfriend did not engage the secondary locks available to them in the room.

The plaintiff was raped, but she did not seek medical treatment on the night of the incident. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and subsequently underwent psychiatric treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy. The plaintiff claimed that she will suffer the effects of the incident for the rest of her life and that she can no longer feel comfortable sleeping at or visiting hotels. She also claimed she became fearful and introverted as a result of the incident. The plaintiff’s father testified that his daughter’s personality had entirely changed since the incident. The plaintiff’s psychiatric expert opined that the plaintiff suffers from PTSD and that she will suffer PTSD and emotional distress for the rest of her life, as she was “triggered” by men who looked like Padilla, by hotels, and by sleeping. There were no special damages requested at trial. The defense’s psychiatric expert concurred that the plaintiff suffers from PTSD, but opined that the plaintiff should recover with a full course of cognitive behavioral therapy. Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff did not comply with the psychiatrist’s recommendations regarding medication and that she did not complete therapy. Counsel further argued that the plaintiff’s alleged damages were excessive.

The jury apportioned 40 percent liability to Padilla, and 60 percent liability to Scharon and her employer, MRSS Hospitality, via vicarious liability. It also determined that the plaintiff’s damages totaled $3.5 million. After apportionment, a judgment was entered against to Scharon/MRSS Hospitality in the amount of $2.1 million.

The trial lasted ten days, and it took the five man, seven woman jury two days to reach a unanimous verdict.

NTL member Michelle Simpson Tuegel representing Nassar victims

Attorneys Mo Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz and National Trial Lawyers member Michelle Simpson Tuegel of Hunt & Tuegel in Waco, Texas announced they are among the group of attorneys representing survivors of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar in lawsuits against Michigan State University which resulted in a global settlement in principle totaling $500 million dollars.

The settlement applies to only Michigan State University and MSU individuals sued in the litigation. It does not address claims against USA gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee, Bela and Martha Karolyi, Twistars, John Geddert, or any other parties.

Attorney Mo Aziz said, “This historic settlement came about through the courage of over 300 hundred young women who stood up and spoke out, including our clients. We are honored to represent them.” Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said, “We are hopeful that the legacy of this settlement will be something that not only brings healing to our clients, but also changes the culture in such a way that little girls and young women will not have to face the threat of sexual assault in sports and in our schools. The safety of our female athletes in this country should be a priority over their performance.”

NTL member Brent Goudarzi obtains $26M award

National Trial Lawyers member Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young, LLP in Gilmer, Texas reached a $26 million settlement for a client who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in a traffic accident. According to Goudarzi, Jonathan Cunningham, a foreman for Troy Construction, was operating a Chevrolet pickup truck, transporting another Troy Construction employee to a job site. Mr. Cunningham failed to stop at a red light and entered an intersection, traveling 36 mph. In the intersection, he struck a 1993 Nissan pickup operated by 30-year-old house painter, Jose Lara Sanchez. Mr. Lara’s pickup truck was pushed against a light pole and he was ejected.

Mr. Lara was transported by ambulance to a local emergency room, with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3 and from there, airlifted to a second hospital for more comprehensive evaluation and care. CT scan revealed a fracture of the right temporal bone and right-sided epidural hematoma, with underlying subarachnoid hemorrhage. Mr. Lara underwent an emergent right triple craniotomy. Two days later, Mr. Lara underwent endovascular repair of a traumatic transection of the descending thoracic aorta. For the next three weeks, Mr. Lara was weaned off sedation and managed for rib fractures, scapula fracture, left acetabular fracture, bilateral pulmonary contusions and pneumonia. He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility, where he went aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapies for five months before being discharged home to his family. Mr. Lara continued to receive physical and speech therapies through outpatient rehabilitation. Altogether, he incurred $1.3 million in medical expenses.

While the plaintiffs alleged the need for lifetime medical care and the inability to return to any level of employment, the defendants alleged that a short course of appropriate outpatient therapy at an accredited rehabilitation facility would provide Mr. Lara with independence, including the potential to return to driving and return to working. This allegation was supported by surveillance video conducted over the course of multiple days, which showed Mr. Lara walking unassisted and unsupervised outside of his home, engaging in family outings, communicating with neighbors and even assisting with automotive maintenance.

The defendants also claimed contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Lara for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt, which caused his ejection and the right temporal bone fracture, hematoma and hemorrhage and most, if not all, of his residual physical symptoms, which were primarily left-sided (and controlled by the right side of the brain). Had Mr. Lara not been ejected, defendants alleged, he would have sustained no brain injury.


NTL member Michael Hupy wins Salvation Army award

On February 1, 2018, Safe & Sound and LISC Milwaukee hosted the 69th Annual Crime Prevention Awards Luncheon at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee. Attorney and National Trial Lawyers member Michael Hupy was in attendance and received the Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program Outstanding Individual Award, the Salvation Army of Milwaukee County was the Community Action sponsor of the event. The Crime Prevention Awards recognize private citizens and law enforcement professionals who, through their special contributions to crime prevention, make the local community a better place to live and to work. The co-hosted event emphasized the power of positive impact and exists to ensure that people’s efforts don’t go unnoticed.

As winner of the Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program Outstanding Individual Award, Attorney Hupy has proven his longtime dedication and love for his community, as a worker in many areas of crime prevention. To seek justice and awareness for gun violence and pedestrian safety in the community, Attorney Hupy has personally offered monetary rewards to assist police with their search for perpetrators. In 2016, he gave a $25,000 reward to the person who helped police solve the death of 5-year-old Laylah Petersen. He has pending rewards of $25,000 and $50,000 to help solve a shooting involving a 7-year-old boy sleeping in his bedroom and a 9-year-old who was killed from a bullet flying into her house, respectively.

“Your remarkable commitment to ending childhood violence is making a tremendous impact in your community. The Milwaukee area is lucky to have you as a longtime advocate,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin in a letter.

Attorney Hupy has received many awards and accolades over the years, including winning the Shepherd Express “Top Local Activist,” being named a COA parent of the year and several law-related accomplishments. He is also on the committee for “MilWALKee Walks,” a pedestrian-focused organization. He has personally urged police officers to be more diligent when it comes to ticketing drivers for not yielding to pedestrians. The firm runs “Yield to Pedestrians” public service announcements in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

NTL member Todd Korb honored as ‘Leader in the Law’

The Wisconsin Law Journal held its annual “Leaders in the Law” event at the Pfister Hotel on February 15, 2018. National Trial Lawyers member Todd Korb, partner at Hupy and Abraham, S.C., was among the 25 lawyers who were honored this year. Attorneys James Shilobrit, Thomas Perlberg, Timothy Schelwat and Evan Claditis also attended.

Each year, The Wisconsin Law Journal receives a large number of applications and has the task of placing them into 25 slots. Leaders in the Law celebrates exemplary figures in the legal community for what they have done for their clients and the profession. These honorees have a responsibility to remain benchmarks for their peers, so they can continue to raise the standards in the legal community.

Attorney Korb was selected for a number of reasons, among those being a superb trial lawyer with a high level of skill. Attorney Korb has received millions of dollars in settlements for his clients, since joining the firm in 2007.

In addition, Attorney Korb has received other accomplishments, including the handling of one of Hupy and Abraham’s most famous trial, Curtis Harris’ police brutality case. The case left Harris a quadriplegic and settled for $3 million.

NTL member Brian McCormack honored

Top California litigator Brian J. McCormack of Callahan & Blaine has been named 2017 TOP GUN Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (OCTLA).

The OCTLA recognizes and honors Orange County trial attorneys every year for their exceptional trial skills over the past 12 months. These attorneys not only show courage and commitment to their clients, but also demonstrate truly exceptional skill, ability, preparation, and professionalism to obtain outstanding results on behalf of their clients.

McCormack’s practice focuses on high-stakes, complex civil and business litigation, traumatic brain and spine injury, personal injury, wrongful death and product liability litigation.  His history of outstanding results has earned him a reputation for excellence among both clients and peers.

McCormack has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America, Top Attorneys in Southern California, Top 50 Attorneys in Orange County and Super Lawyers.  He graduated from Penn State University and received his J.D. from Western State University College of Law.  He is a member of the American Association for Justice, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and the OCTLA.

Founded in 1984, Callahan & Blaine has been achieving record-breaking verdicts and settlements for over 33 years in all areas of complex litigation.  The firm is led by its managing partner Daniel J. Callahan, who is known and respected as one of the top trial lawyers in the United States.

The highly sophisticated litigators and trial attorneys of Callahan & Blaine specialize in complex business and insurance litigation and catastrophic personal injury matters.  Moreover, each of Callahan & Blaine’s 28 lawyers has at least 10 years’ experience and many of them have over 20 years’ experience. Visit www.Callahan-Law.com for more information.

California attorney wins $1.6M for bed bugs in apartment

Attorney Brian Virag, Esq. of MY BED BUG LAWYER INC. just obtained a $1.6 million dollar verdict on behalf of a family of four that was exposed to bed bugs at an apartment located at 10131 Buford Ave. Inglewood, CA, 90304. This is the largest jury verdict for a single family in the History of the United States.

Plaintiffs Names: Lilliana Martinez (35), Jorge Maravilla (44), Jorge Maravilla JR, (8- minor) and Juanita Maravilla (6- minor)

Defendant: Amusement Six Apartments LLC

Case No.: BC550509

Date Complaint was filed: July 03, 2014

Verdict Reached: April 2, 2018

On or about September 2010 Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into a standard  Residential Rental Agreement for the apartment located at10131 Buford Ave. Inglewood, CA, 90304. Not long after moving in, plaintiffs experienced rashes, noticed a bed bug infestation and immediately complained to management and agents of Defendants, who did not effectively remediate the problem. Despite Plaintiffs’ persistent complaints about the infestations, Defendants responded ineffectively and the problems continued.The bed bugs were in the Plaintiff’s beds, furniture, and clothing. The bed bugs latched onto the Plaintiffs while they slept and sucked their blood until they were gorged.Plaintiffs suffered from numerous bites/rashes, which caused pain, discomfort, annoyance, sleeplessness, inconvenience, humiliation, anxiety,scarring and severe emotional distress. The youngest plaintiff was just months old when this was occurring.


Trial began on March 19, 2018 and concluded on April 2, 2018.


2017 Top Verdicts and Settlements

The Trial Lawyer’s listing of the top verdicts and settlements by members of The National Trial Lawyers for 2017 includes the acquittal of former NFL star Aaron Hernadez and a Johnson & Johnson talc case award of $417 million. Our list of the top verdicts and settlements for the previous year is available by clicking the link below.

2017 Top Verdicts and Settlements



2 NTL members settle tractor-trailer case for $45 million

National Trial Lawyers Top 100 member Stuart N. Ratzan, NTL Top 40 Under 40 member Stuart J. Weissman, and attorney Evan Gilean of Ratzan Law Group, P.A. of Miami reached a $45 million settlement in a wrongful death case involving a tractor-trailer.

After a four week trial in Broward County, Florida, it was revealed that a major highway construction company had no safe system or plan for getting heavy construction vehicles safely off of its median construction sites and onto Interstate 75.  The plaintiff alleged that, after months of complaints from the motoring public, along with an official “Verbal Warning” on May 20, 2015, from the Florida Department of Transportation regarding highway construction vehicles interfering and disrupting traffic, Ranger Construction Industries, Inc., on May 28, 2015, left a fully loaded, 80,000 pound tractor trailer alone in the median of I-75, unsupervised, without any instructions on how to exit the area, at approximately 11:30 p.m., with no lighting.  Ranger Construction allegedly provided the tractor trailer no safe way to exit the median construction site. Based on e-mails uncovered by the plaintiff’s legal team, which proved that rather than acting on the complaints and official FDOT warning, and rather than looking inward to determine how to fix its system and comply with the FDOT contract rules, Ranger Construction supervisors and managers simply blamed the truck drivers and the motoring public for the problems construction vehicles were having entering and exiting the medians. Ranger Construction allegedly did nothing to fix the danger it was imposing on the roadways.

At trial, the plaintiff argued that Ranger Construction Industries, Inc. not only put lives at risk of harm and death, but also violated the terms of its contract with the Florida Department of Transportation requiring Ranger to provide construction vehicles a safe means of exiting median construction sites on I-75.  Based on the circumstances, including the provisions of its contract, the plaintiff argued that the only safe way off of the I-75 median construction site that night was with a lane closure, proper supervision, lighting, and the assistance of Florida Highway Patrol. Instead, Ranger Construction and its supervisor allegedly chose to leave truck driver, Juan C. Calero, unsupervised in an area he had never been to before, in complete darkness.  Ranger loaded up the flatbed tractor trailer with a full load of concrete barrier wall and instructed truck driver Calero to drive approximately one mile south, to the Miramar Parkway Bridge, for unloading.

According to the plaintiff, Mr. Calero improperly and recklessly exited the median construction work zone.  Mr. Calero, facing northbound in the median, attempted to make a u-turn crossing all four southbound lanes of I-75 impeding oncoming traffic.  While Mr. Calero attempted this dangerous maneuver, Raymond Astaphan’s Mitsubishi struck the tractor trailer shearing off his roof and killing him on impact.  He had no time to react or avoid the tractor trailer.  Raymond was a 29-year-old medical student from the island of Dominica.  His passenger, Patrissia Rolle, suffered significant injures.  Also killed in the wreck was a 17-year-old driver of another vehicle.