IN THE HEADLINES
►Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman: Timothy A. Loranger (aviation law; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; product liability litigation – plaintiffs, 2017) filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against American Airports Corporation Inc. on behalf of Michelle Gochie. Gochie’s husband was killed by a fire that ignited after his plane crashed at Compton Airport, but she “alleges that her late husband Richard Gochie’s wrongful death was caused by AAC’s negligence in failing to provide adequate Crash, Fire, and Rescue (CFR) services that may have saved Gochie’s life,” reports the Compton Herald. Her late husband was piloting an aircraft while trying to pick up an advertising banner on August 9, 2015, when he was unable to level out after snagging then releasing the banner. His plane turned nose down before crashing into the ground and bursting into flames.
► Law Offices of Carl Shusterman: Carl Shusterman (immigration law, 1995) is representing Mexican couple Maria and Eusebio Mendoza-Sanchez who were forced to purchase plane tickets back to Mexico by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Eusebio came to the United States in 1989 and Maria in 1992; he became a truck driver, and she worked as a nurse. Three of their four children will remain in Oakland as legal residents while their youngest child will return to Mexico with his parents.
► McNicholas & McNicholas: Patrick McNicholas (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2016) and his firm alongside Frantz Law Group have filed a class action lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of Francis Bechtel, Jacob Klein, Mary Watson, and a proposed group of 188,000 residents that had been ordered to evacuate their homes on February 12. They say that negligence by DWR and inadequate maintenance of the dam over the course of many years were to blame for the spillway evacuations.
► Berger Kahn: Sherman M. Spitz (litigation – insurance; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2016) was accepted into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in June. The organization is comprised of trial lawyers and judges who are dedicated to conserving civil jury trial and Seventh Amendment rights.
► Fisher Phillips: James J. McDonald, Jr., (employment law – management; labor law – management, 2007) was elected chair of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, which took place on July 1.
► Keller/Anderle: Kay Anderle (criminal defense: general practice; criminal defense: white-collar, 2011) received the 2016 Thomas A. Mesereau Cup, a national award, for her work in criminal defense law. The Litigation Counsel of America presents the award to its elite, invitation-only members who make up less than half of 1 percent of all U.S. lawyers.
Driver Imprisoned after DUI Crash Kills MMA Fighter’s Toddler
Hutton & Wilson: Richard A. Hutton (DUI/DWI defense, 2008) defended 72-year-old Donna Marie Higgins who drunkenly crashed her car into the stroller of 15-month-old Liam Mikael Kowal, toddler son of the Swedish-born MMA fighter Marcus Kowal, on September 3, 2016.
Liam was being pushed in a stroller by his 15-year-old aunt when Higgins crashed into them as she drove to a local store. He did not have a pulse when police arrived, and his aunt was also injured in the incident. His family took him off life support the following day after he was declared brain dead.
“What happened was a terrible accident,” Hutton said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “She’s deeply remorseful, has taken full responsibility for her actions, and is very sorry for the grief she caused everybody, in particular the parents.”
Higgins was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of vehicular manslaughter. Initially she was booked on suspicions of felony hit-and-run and drunk driving charges, but that changed after the boy died.
Kowal has since become an advocate against drunk driving since the crash, and he even assisted with a petition that urged legislators to toughen legal limit laws that typically allow for people with a blood alcohol content level less than .08 percent to drive.