Tort cases against public entities in California are considered some of the most difficult to pursue. Many plaintiffs’ firms are wary of them, and for good reason. Public entities enjoy statutory immunities not afforded to private defendants. Additionally, the plaintiffs’ lawyer is asking jurors, who are also tax payers, to award funds that have a direct impact on those tax payers.
Notwithstanding all those barriers to success, GJEL partner Luke Ellis followed his eight figure record-breaking jury verdict case against the County of Contra Costa last year with an equally stunning result in a case against Alameda Contra Costa Transit Agency. Ellis concluded an astounding $20+ million settlement on the eve of the trial, making it the largest settlement ever paid by a public bus company in California.
Managing partner Andy Gillin says, “I am very proud of Luke and our entire trial team. In both of these cases we started out with police reports that indicated no fault whatsoever by the public entity. Through a combination of instinct, tenacity and years of hard work, the truth ultimately came out.”
These extraordinary verdicts and settlements are just two of the most recent in a 30-year string of verdicts and settlements beyond all expectations. Gillin is often referred to as the man to call for catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. He credits his partners rather than himself.
“I’m the person who gets the first call about the case, but the credit goes to my partners,” says Gillin. “They are the ones who bring these cases to a conclusion. As a managing partner, I am extremely fortunate to have worked with such a talented, compassionate and hardworking group of individuals for all these years.”
One thing that plaintiffs’ lawyers know that clients often don’t know is that a firm’s resources are as important as the attorney’s legal abilities and past results. Gillin and his lawyers have the skills and resources to take on the biggest insurance companies and corporations in the United States. GJEL has the resources to fund a case of any size and complexity.
This combination of big results, big resources and big hearts has culminated in GJEL being recognized for extraordinary work, both individually and as a firm. Referrals routinely come from federal and state court judges, as well as from fellow lawyers.
In addition to doing first class work, GJEL attorneys truly care about their clients. “When we take on a client we do everything we can for them, not just their case,” says Gillin. “For instance, right now I’m handling a catastrophic injury case for a woman whose home was about to be foreclosed on. We are actively preventing that foreclosure and keeping her in her home while we pursue her personal injury case.” Gillin adds, “The skills I learned from my mentors at Legal Services for the Poor have proved invaluable.”
All of the GJEL partners began their careers in public service work. Gillin began his career at Berkeley Neighborhood Legal Services. Championing the downtrodden led him to personal injury work. “Every client was a real person with a real problem,” says Gillin. “Representing people who couldn’t otherwise afford good legal help taught me about making a human connection.”
The lawyers at GJEL limit the number of cases they take so they can put their full effort and intensity into each case.
Partner Jim Larsen says, “Andy is a very hard worker. He cares about every single client and making sure we do right by them and for them. He just leaves nothing undone in any case.”
“I am very fortunate to work for such deserving clients, and to work with everyone here,” says Gillin. “It is a remarkable team. We are committed to the clients and we give every case everything we have. This is truly an astounding group of people to work with. I look forward to walking in the door every morning.”