In February after a six week trial, Ric Gass and Brian Cahill brought in a complete defense verdict on behalf of Custom Fibreglass and its insurers. The case was tried in Las Vegas (Clark County), recognized by various organizations as a difficult jurisdiction for defendants. Ric and Brian were supported in trial by member John Franke and paralegal Tracy Merges.
The plaintiff, Salima Hassanali, was in the second year of her residency in internal medicine. She had exited her car in the parking lot of the hospital where she was a resident when the tonneau cover of a nearby pickup truck was blown loose and struck her in the neck immediately paralyzing her. Her quadriplegia resolved after surgery to right sided hemiplegia after surgery on her spine. She underwent substantial hospitalization and rehabilitation and claimed in trial $8.5 million in past and future medicals and economic losses. She had also claimed a multimillion dollar earnings capacity loss claiming she would have become an interventional cardiologist but Brian Cahill successfully argued for dismissal of that claim during trial.
Gass and Cahill were designated as lead trial counsel just two months before trial, taking over the lead trial roles at the request of the excess carrier, RSUI. At that time 135 witnesses had been listed for trial. Eventually 42 witnesses testified. Ric Gass principally handled the liability witnesses and evidence and Brian Cahill handled the damages claims, witnesses and evidence although both examined some witnesses in the other’s principal area. They were co-lead trial counsel and also coordinated the defense with counsel for the co-defendant dealer and installer of the tonneau cover.
The plaintiff claimed that the product was defective in not having any instructions or warnings attached to the cover to instruct the owner to attach all of the four attachment points. The cover was on a 7 year old truck with 146,000 miles on it and the owner at the time of the occurrence acknowledged he was familiar with how to detach and reattach the cover.
The trial was covered by Courtroom View Network.
“Going back to Plato, we have accepted the notion that if we tried hard enough we can make decisions solely on reason,” Weber said.
But, as it turns out, that’s not how the human mind works. Click here to read more.
The State Bar of Wisconsin recently named Gass Weber Mullins as the 2014 Pro Bono Organization of the Year. The State Bar agreed with the nomination from the State Public Defender’s office that “Gass Weber Mullins’ readiness to quietly, yet steadily, take on the unglamorous cases—to the tune of many hundreds of volunteer hours—has impressed the Wisconsin State Public Defender as worthy of recognition.” In 2014 alone, 10 of the firm’s 12 attorneys performed pro bono services in both civil and criminal cases, totaling over 500 hours of work. The State Bar’s Legal Assistance Committee presented the award to firm members David Turek, Beth Hanan, and Michael Brennan at the 2015 Wisconsin Equal Justice Conference held March 6, 2015 in Milwaukee.
Ric Gass offers a candid glimpse into the world of a top trial lawyer in the 2014 edition of Wisconsin Super Lawyers Magazine. Click below to read the full Q&A:
Chambers and Partners is one of the world’s leading guides to lawyers and law firms. The 2014 rankings were just released, and Gass Weber Mullins again did very well.
Ralph Weber represented Fairbank Farms in a jury trial in Portland, Maine. The case arose out of the 2009 N.E. outbreak in which 30 people were infected by E. coli O157:H7. The 8-person Federal Court jury found unanimously that defendant Greater Omaha Packing Co. sold contaminated beef trim that sickened the 5-year-old plaintiff. Thus, Fairbank Farms was entitled to full indemnity from GOPAC.
This month’s issue of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine features two articles written by Gass Weber Mullins lawyers. Beth Hanan, who focuses on appellate work, identifies nine of the most significant decisions from the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2013-13 term. Read her article here. For the federal court take, Michael Brennan’s article offers detailed analysis of eight significant Wisconsin federal court decisions interpreting Wisconsin law.
Brennan and Hanan also share some personal insights in Wisconsin Lawyer’s Meet Our Contributors section, here.
Watch this video of Beth Hanan discussing the high court’s recent term, workload and several of the highlighted cases.
Chambers & Partners, an internationally renowned research and ranking firm, has once again identified Gass Weber Mullins as one of Wisconsin’s preeminent litigation firms in the Chambers 2013 law firm guide.
Attorneys Ric Gass and Mike Brennan of Gass Weber Mullins recently returned from a six-week trial in the historic Newark courtroom where the movie Presumed Innocent was filmed. The wrongful death lawsuit brought against Newark Public Schools arose from an assault and triple-murder carried out by members of one of America’s most notorious street gangs, MS-13 (“Mara Salvatrucha”).
The victims – four college students – were brutally attacked after entering a schoolyard through a gate that had been inadvertently left unlocked. The plaintiffs asserted that a series of property defects, including the unlocked gate and Newark’s high crime rate, rendered the schoolyard in a “dangerous condition.”
Gass and Brennan, on behalf of their client, countered that the criminal attackers’ actions, not those of the school district, were the proximate cause of plaintiffs’ injuries.
The complex litigation involved more than 100 potential witnesses, including detectives, EMTs, neighbors, and school district supervisory personnel. Numerous experts also testified on a range of topics including premise security, gang violence, psychiatric and medical conditions, and damages.
Over the next six weeks the plaintiffs’ demand kept dropping until just before closing arguments when plaintiffs accepted the offer made by GWM’s client at the opening of trial, plus a payment (substantially exceeding that offered by GWM’s client) by the co-defendant State of New Jersey, which had taken over the Newark Public Schools in the mid-1990′s.
It was a good start to what looks to be a busy year for Gass. This was the first of five catastrophic injury cases his team is scheduled to try this year. Gass has not lost a case in eight years.
In a national case of first impression, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court decision that lawyers’ use of a competitor’s name as a search term in sponsored link advertising does not violate Wisconsin’s right of privacy statute. The Court affirmed a summary judgment dismissal of the complaint brought against the Cannon & Dunphy law firm, represented by J. Ric Gass of Gass Weber Mullins.
Commented Gass, “We applaud the court’s decision, which effectively brings attorney advertising into the modern era. The decision is win-win-win; a win for our client’s ability to effectively compete in an open marketplace; a win for the legal profession in terms of its ability to communicate with prospective clients; and a win for consumers of legal services, who now are better able to make an informed decision about their choice of lawyer.” For further discussion on this case, please see here.
Clients turn to Mr. Gass for the handling of major risk litigation of all kinds, including intellectual property. Mr. Gass has been elected to the status of Fellow by his peers in the trial bar in numerous legal honorary societies such as The American College of Trial Lawyers and has served as president to numerous national legal organizations.
Gass Weber Mullins was just named one of the top 10 boutique law firms in the country by The National Law Journal. The firm includes former in-house corporate counsel, nationally renowned litigators and highly regarded former trial judges. The firm handles a broad range of civil litigation including commercial disputes, product liability, catastrophic injuries, bad faith, construction lawsuits, food safety and life, health and disability litigation, as well as appellate work.