IADC member Brian Del Gatto (Managing Partner-Arizona of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP) and Phoenix associates Taylor Allin and Catherine Barnard successfully defended a Canadian freight hauler and its driver (the driver and his co-driver wife had more than five million accident-free miles before this event) in a rear-end collision that occurred at 2:30 a.m. on a freeway in the greater Phoenix area.
The plaintiff’s vehicle, traveling in the fast lane at or below 11 mph at the time of the collision, exploded causing the 41-year-old plaintiff to die. After four years of litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Brian and his team, through motion practice, had all claims of independent negligence against the trucking company dismissed, in addition to the punitive damages against all clients. They also had the two plaintiff’s experts precluded as to opinions on causation, and succeeded in motions to allow us to introduce alcohol consumption (.03% BAC) and fatigue on the part of the deceased as factors in the accident.
During trial, motions were granted to preclude 4 of 13 plaintiffs’ family witnesses from testifying based on cumulative evidence. Plaintiffs presented a case based on sympathy, reptile theory, and spoliation of evidence. The team was able to defeat those claims with facts and expert opinions (with a focus on perception/reaction science) and a presentation based on superior preparation and client support.
The seven-day jury trial ended with a defense verdict after a short deliberation with no damages awarded and a finding of no negligence. The jury demand by the plaintiffs was $10 million.