Insight

High-Profile Litigation in 2021

Easton & Easton accepted a catastrophic brain injury case in 2017 that other firms rejected. Their perseverance will likely lead to a substantial multimillion-dollar resolution.

Substantial Settlement in 2020 Litigation
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Justin Smulison

November 18, 2021 06:58 AM

The lawyers of Easton & Easton embrace challenges.

“We often see opportunities where others see roadblocks and dead ends,” says Douglas Easton, a 50-year trial veteran and founding partner. “It takes a special insight and willingness to take risks to succeed in personal injury law, and we demonstrate those abilities with our results.”

Indeed, the firm has secured more than $100 million in the past five years alone for clients who have suffered injuries and tragedies for various reasons—from construction accidents and defective products to roadway collisions and medical malpractice. Highly regarded in Southern California for outstanding client service and litigation prowess, the firm has earned a Tier 1 ranking in Orange County for Personal Injury Litigation—Plaintiffs by U.S. News—Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” each of the past four years.

Much of the firm’s recognition stems from their success in taking on and winning difficult, high-value cases in Southern California. Prior to COVID-19, the Eastons acquired $20 million in a difficult premises liability matter where their client was injured by an indigent third-party on the defendant’s premises. After extensive litigation, the Eastons were able to show that the premises owners were ultimately at fault for the tragic accident, leading to the eight-figure result.

Recently, the firm has been litigating a catastrophic brain injury case on behalf of a Chapman University student that may mark one of the area’s most substantial post-COVID-19 results. Their client was a freshman in 2016 while attending a performance during a soft opening of the Musco Center for the Arts. She and her then-boyfriend became intoxicated, took drugs and then wandered onto the roof of the auditorium through an unlocked roof hatch. While exploring on the roof, an improperly installed door lock trapped them inside a small room. In an effort to escape the room, the client fell 50 feet and landed on her head and face—and miraculously survived.

“While several other top-tier law firms initially focused on the obvious comparative fault of our client in becoming intoxicated and causing this tragedy, leading them to pass on the case, our investigation dug deeper into the facts and found negligence by multiple other parties involved in the construction process,” says co-managing partner Matthew Easton.

“Mistakes began with the architecture plans, which inexplicably had the doors set up backwards, and then subsequent contractors installed the locks backwards in an absurd and dangerous manner that every witness has agreed defied common sense,” added co-managing partner Brian Easton, who leads the litigation. “Ultimately, our investigation uncovered a memo by a Chapman employee approximately three weeks before this tragic fall recognizing that the locks were backwards and dangerous, but no efforts were made to fix the locks before this accident.”

The firm has already beaten a request for summary judgment, which has put significant pressure on the various defendants, who are currently negotiating amongst themselves to determine their apportionment of fault. The Eastons believe the matter is close to another substantial multimillion-dollar settlement for the firm—but if not, they are anxious to present the case at trial in the coming months.

This case demonstrates how the firm’s lawyers combine their legal knowledge with their investigative nature and creativity. Even amid the many hurdles posed by external forces and the traditional pace of the litigation process, the firm’s dedication and versatility in and out of the courtroom has proven effective.

“When we take depositions, we begin to connect the dots to a negligent act or party,” says partner Travis Easton. “It has often made the difference between a dismissal and a seven- or eight-figure award. We are confident this will be one of the noteworthy results of 2021-2022.”


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