News & Events

Pettit Kohn Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict in Professional Liability Case

July 17, 2014

On April 25, 2014, Matt Smith and the professional liability team of Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz in San Diego, successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their client in a professional liability case. The plaintiffs alleged claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraudulent concealment, intentional misrepresentation, and conversion. After sixteen months of litigation and a three-week trial – lead trial attorney Matt prevailed on all counts in favor of his client, with the jury deliberating and returning a defense verdict in less than a day.

According to court documents, the Plaintiffs initially hired the client to help them recover their share of an inheritance that had been wrongfully withheld from them for years. In April of 2008, after months of hard-fought litigation (and over 1,500 hours of work), the client secured a very favorable, multi-million dollar settlement for the Plaintiffs and collected a contingency fee worth more than one million dollars. Several years later, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking a refund of the contingency fee.

At trial, Matt was able to prove that his client had fully complied with all of his ethical and professional responsibilities and that he was entitled to retain his well-earned contingency fee. This was a very hotly-contested case, involving serious allegations of wrong-doing against the client and the jury verdict represented complete vindication for Pettit Kohn’s client.

Pettit Kohn Secures Defense Verdict for Trek Bicycle Corporation in Product Liability Case

July 9, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Pettit Kohn Secures Defense Verdict for Trek Bicycle Corporation in Product Liability Case

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC, a prominent civil litigation firm headquartered in San Diego, obtained a defense verdict on behalf of Trek Bicycle Corporation. 

Santa Ana, CA, June 17, 2014: An Orange County jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Trek Bicycle Corporation in the product liability case Eric Richard Koff vs. Trek Bicycle Corporation (Case No. 30-2012 00602533). After 12 days of testimony and deliberation the jury found that Trek’s 16-spoke Bontrager Race X Lite Aero front wheel was soundly designed, and not defective as alleged by the plaintiff.

Bruce Brusavich, a well-known trial lawyer with more than 100 jury trials to his name, argued that Mr. Koff sustained serious personal injury due to defects in the design of the 16-spoke wheel purchased at a Trek Super Store in Vista, Calif. Plaintiff Eric Koff claimed that the front wheel of his bike “collapsed” during a ride in Newport Beach due to design defects, resulting in a pitch-over event, in which Mr. Koff suffered serious, multiple, comminuted LeFort III facial fractures, and other injuries. Mr. Koff’s counsel implored the jury to award $3.4 million dollars for general damages due to the seriousness of the injuries, residual vision impairment, and the alleged, residual cognitive deficit. Mr. Koff required total reconstructive surgery of the facial bones on the right side of his face, and three additional surgeries to reposition his eye, and to correct double vision problems.

Andrew Kohn and Lauren Bates, trial counsel from Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC, mounted the successful defense on behalf of Trek Bicycle Corporation. At trial, Mr. Kohn presented extensive evidence on behalf of Trek regarding the soundness of the design, the thorough and rigorous in-house testing conducted by Trek, and the fact that Trek’s Bontrager Race X Lite Aero wheels are hand-built to demanding specifications. Trek rebutted plaintiff’s claims by demonstrating that a used, identical wheel was ridden with one spoke removed for more than 60 miles at speeds up to 43 mph without incident. Trek also presented convincing physical evidence that Mr. Koff’s incident occurred when a foreign object lodged between the spokes and the front fork.

Informal interviews with jurors after the verdict revealed that the jury concluded that the design of the wheel was not the cause of Mr. Koff’s injuries.

“This was a great win for Trek, which builds great cycling products, many of them by hand, in Waterloo, Wis.,” said Mr. Kohn. “Not many American manufacturers can make that claim, and even fewer go to the lengths demonstrated by Trek in this case to painstakingly design, build and test their products prior to introduction into the marketplace. Taking a case like Mr. Koff’s to trial against an experienced and skilled trial attorney, and which regrettably involved serious injuries to a person like Mr. Koff, demonstrated the depth of Trek’s conviction and belief in their product. That the jury agreed with Trek’s view of the soundness of the product is satisfying vindication of Trek’s commitment to quality.”

About Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC

Founded in 2006, Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC is a law firm committed to providing outstanding trial counsel for its clientele. The firm’s attorneys commit themselves to incorporating the client’s business concerns, goals and objectives. Doing so has generated both extraordinarily positive client relationships, and routinely successful results in the courtroom. Pettit Kohn’s attorneys provide experienced counsel in matters including Appellate, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation & Trials, Employment & Labor counseling and litigation defense, Personal Injury, Product Liability, Real Estate, Restaurant & Hospitality, Retail, Transactional & Business Services, and Transportation issues. The firm clients include professionals, small to mid-size firms, and Fortune 100 companies. Pettit Kohn services clients from offices in located in San Diego – 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92130; (858) 755-8500, and Los Angeles – 9841 Airport Boulevard, Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90045; (310) 649-5772. For more information about Pettit Kohn please visit www.pettitkohn.com.

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View the online press release here.

Pettit Kohn Attorneys Grant Waterkotte, Kelly Douglas, and Andrew Smith Selected as 2014 Rising Stars

June 11, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Pettit Kohn Attorneys Grant Waterkotte, Kelly Douglas, and Andrew Smith Selected as 2014 Rising Stars

Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) June 11, 2014 – Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz, a civil litigation law firm with offices in Los Angeles and San Diego, is pleased to announce that three attorneys from the firm’s Los Angeles office have been selected for inclusion in the 2014 Southern California Rising Stars list; Grant Waterkotte (Transportation/Maritime), Kelly Douglas (Civil Litigation Defense), and Andrew Smith (PI General).

Southern California Rising Stars is an annual publication of Thomson Reuters, that recognizes top up-and-coming attorneys who are 40 years or younger, or have been in practice ten years or less. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. No more than 2.5% of lawyers in California are included on this list.

David Halm, Managing Shareholder of Pettit Kohn’s Los Angeles office, had this to say, “To receive a distinction like this from your peers is a great honor, for each of these attorneys individually and for the firm as well. It’s a testament to the dedication and commitment to quality service and counsel that they deliver to their clients every day.”

Grant D. Waterkotte is a Shareholder in the firm’s Transportation, Business Litigation, and Employment & Labor groups. He has received this honor each year since 2010. Grant represents a diverse group of clients in a variety of areas including transportation law, retail liability, personal injury defense, employment law, commercial litigation, and product liability.

Kelly M. Douglas is a Shareholder in the firm’s Business Litigation and Retail groups. This marks the third consecutive year that Kelly has been selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers Southern California Rising Stars list. Kelly has experience handling diverse civil litigation matters. Kelly’s practice focuses on the areas of premises liability, product liability, personal injury and business litigation.

Andrew O. Smith is Senior Counsel in the firm’s Business Litigation and Retail groups. He handles a wide-range of complex matters on behalf of small businesses to large size companies throughout Southern California. Andrew concentrates his legal practice in the areas of product liability, premises liability, and business disputes. This is the sixth time Andrew has been recognized for this honor.

About Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC

Founded in 2006, Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC is a law firm that knows how to achieve successful outcomes. The firm’s commitment to handle each case from the client’s perspective, incorporating the client’s goals and objectives has generated both extraordinarily positive client relationships and routinely successful results in the courtroom. Pettit Kohn’s practice areas include Appellate, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation & Trials, Employment & Labor counseling and litigation defense, Personal Injury, Product Liability, Real Estate, Restaurant & Hospitality, Retail, Transactional & Business Services, and Transportation. The firm’s list of clients includes professionals, small to mid-size firms, and Fortune 100 companies. Pettit Kohn is regionally located with offices in San Diego – 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92130; (858) 755-8500, and Los Angeles – 9841 Airport Boulevard, Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90045; (310) 649-5772. For more information about Pettit Kohn visit www.pettitkohn.com.

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Click here to view the PRWeb online version.

Article by David Halm: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be…

May 15, 2014

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 1- Semiconductor Manufacturer May Be Liable For Employee’s Future Child’s Birth Defects
May. 9, 2014

It seems there is just no end in sight to lawsuits against companies due to their employees’ exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. On January 27, 2014, a California appeals court decided that Applied Materials, Inc. (AMI) was not negligent for allegedly causing birth defects suffered by one of its employee’s children. The company had no legal duty to prevent an employee’s future child’s birth defects. However, the court concluded that the manufacturer can still be required to pay for the child’s damages under the “strict liability” legal theory.

This was the court’s ruling in the case of Elsheref v. Applied Materials, Inc.2 Child’s father was an employee at AMI’s semiconductor facility from 2001 to 2008. AMI provides equipment, services and software to enable the manufacture of advanced semiconductor, flat panel display and solar photovoltaic products. Father’s job duties included working with tools containing mercury and ethylene glycol, among other chemicals, as well as tools emitting ionizing radiation. While father worked at AMI, his wife conceived child.

Mother and child sued AMI, claiming that child was born with multiple heart and other defects caused by father’s exposure to toxic chemicals and processes during his employment with AMI. Before the trial, AMI won a motion resulting in dismissal of the entire lawsuit. Mother and child appealed the trial court’s decision. Unfortunately for AMI, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment of dismissal.

The Court of Appeal agreed that AMI had no duty to the child and therefore could not be legally negligent for the child’s birth defects before the child was even conceived. One reason was that there was no “close” connection between AMI’s conduct and the child’s birth defects. AMI had previously treated father so he could be cleared to wear a respirator at work. The connection between that conduct and child’s injuries was too attenuated. The court also considered the “overwhelming need to keep liability within reasonable bounds” noting that one of the consequences to the community of such an extension of liability is the “cost of insuring against liability of unknown but potentially massive dimension. Ultimately, such costs are borne by the consumer.” The court also found that no special relationship existed between AMI and father to require warnings to father that certain workplace chemicals posed a danger to his unborn children. Also, AMI did not undertake any measures to protect father’s reproductive health or the health and safety of his future children.

However, the Court of Appeal reversed the dismissal judgment as to child’s strict products liability claim. This claim does not require proof of a legal duty to prevent injuries including child’s birth defects. Child simply has to prove that the chemicals and processes father was exposed to during his employment with AMI were toxic and caused child’s birth defects. The court therefore concluded that child could continue with his strict products liability claim.

The court stated in its opinion regarding child’s negligence claim: “we decline to expose employers to such potentially boundless liability”. However, allowing child to proceed with his strict products liability claim creates such exposure. Potential plaintiffs who can sue manufacturers include persons who do not even exist!

How then can manufacturers and other companies whose employees work with potentially dangerous substances and processes avoid or at least minimize negative financial consequences from these lawsuits? First, there are many defenses against strict products liability claims that can be presented in a lawsuit that if proved, can result in an outright victory for the manufacturer. For example, the manufacturer can prove that the employee who was exposed to allegedly toxic substances was a “sophisticated user” who knew of the potential risks and dangers and yet continued to work at the manufacturing facility where the exposure occurred. The manufacturer can demonstrate that it provided sufficient warnings to the employee and the employee read and understood such warnings. Manufacturers can take steps to prevent exposure to toxic substances by requiring employees to wear gloves, masks, respirators and other protective gear and to participate in mandatory training to avoid such exposure. Companies should always maintain insurance and enter into indemnity and defense agreements with suppliers that will provide coverage and defense against such claims. This is not an exhaustive list of steps that manufacturers and other companies can and should take to minimize the financial danger that could result from their employees’ and non-employees’ injuries. Companies should consult with their attorneys and other consultants to determine the best way to effectively and legally address these issues.

1Yogi Berra.
2Elsheref v. Applied Materials, Inc. Case No. H038333 (6th App. Dist. Jan. 27, 2014).

David Halm is a founding shareholder of Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC and Managing Shareholder of the firm’s Los Angeles office. He has participated in 20 trials and arbitrations. Mr. Halm represents manufacturers and other companies in the electronics industry in matters involving toxic exposure, contract disputes, unfair competition, employment issues, trade secrets, products liability and personal injury. Mr. Halm can be reached at (310) 417-1135/dhalm@pettitkohn.com or visit the firm website at www.pettitkohn.com.

This article can also be found on the California Manufacturers & Technology Association website here.

4/7 – 5/2 Pettit Kohn – Collecting Books for Children at Risk

April 10, 2014

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz is excited to collaborate once again with the San Diego County Bar Association’s Children at Risk Committee to host a book drive benefitting San Diego schools that do not have well-stocked libraries.

Drop off your new or gently used books (Kindergarten through Grade 12) now through May 2nd in our San Diego office located at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 300, San Diego, 92130.

Please feel free to share this information with your family and friends who may have books to donate; helping us reach our goal of collecting 200 books.

Feel free to contact Cathy Johnson or Lana Tiley at (858) 755-8500 for additional information or click here for a list of additional drop-off locations.

Thank you in advance for your support!

3/30/14: Women of Color in Law Spring Luncheon – Valerie Garcia Hong on Panel

March 21, 2014

Join Valerie Garcia Hong, professional liability attorney at Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz, as she along with her colleagues participate in The Women of Color in Law Spring Luncheon, scheduled for Sunday, March 30, 2014, 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, located at 9700 La Jolla, California 92037. Panelists include Judge Tamila Ipema, Judge of the Superior Court of California, Stacie Patterson, Criminal Defense Attorney, Sabina Clorfeine, In-House Counsel for Sempra, and Katy Goshtasbi will be the moderator for the panel.

The topic will be “Leadership: Lessons Learned.

The purpose of the luncheon is to give students and attorneys an opportunity to learn about the legal community and issues that face women in the legal community, inspire, support, network and socialize. Attendees are women college students, law students, attorneys and judges of color and those who support us. In addition to judges and attorneys, representatives of the San Diego County Bar Association, Lawyers’ Club and ethnic bar associations are invited to attend.

With the exception of law students, be prepared to pay cash at the door; exact change is appreciated. For students, the cost is $10.00. The child’s plate is $16.00. All others pay $30.00. Children are welcome to join us. We encourage all to attend. If you cannot afford to pay the designated amount but would like to attend, let us know. It is important to us that all interested in attending have the opportunity to do so.

On property, self-parking is free, and valet parking is $8.00. If you elect to self-park, there are shuttles from the parking lot to the ballroom.

RSVP no later than Thursday, March 27, 2014, to womenofcolorinlaw@gmail.com. Include the correct spelling of your name and email address, whether you receive emails from us and whether we have the email address at which you would like to receive information. When you RSVP, let us know if you require a vegan/vegetarian or child’s plate.

Special Note for Law students:
Provide the foregoing information but do not RSVP to womenofcolorinlaw@gmail.com. Rather, if you attend USD, RSVP to KianaKiel@sandiego.edu; and pay Kiyana Kiel in the Academic Success Resource Center; TJSL students RSVP to rreliford@tjsl.edu and pay Randy Reliford in Career Services; CWSL students RSVP to diversity@cwsl.edu and pay in Diversity Services.

Click here to view the flyer.

3/28-3/30: Pettit Kohn Proudly Supports NCSA’s Production of Peter Pan

March 14, 2014

Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz is pleased to support the 2014 production of Peter Pan, presented by the North County School of the Arts. Tickets are on sale now for performances running March 28th through March 30th at the Garfield Theater, 4120 Executive Drive, La Jolla 92037.

North County School of the Arts presents Peter Pan

North County School of the Arts is based in Encinitas, CA and serves the greater North County, San Diego area. This is where students of all ages, levels and abilities can stretch their wings, hone their skills and become comfortable in the world of theater arts.

For tickets contact: BrownPapertTickets.com or call (760) 487-8568.  For more information, please visit their website at www.ncsarts.org.

Jennifer Suberlak Joins the Pettit Kohn Team

March 4, 2014

Pettit Kohn is pleased to announce the addition of Jennifer Suberlak as an Associate to the firm’s San Diego office.  Jennifer obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law and her Bachelor of Art’s degree in Anthropology from the University of California Los Angeles, graduating summa cum laude. Jennifer’s primary focus at Pettit Kohn will be employment & labor matters.

Pettit Kohn Achieves Win on Motion for Summary Judgment

March 3, 2014

On January 24, 2014, Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz brought a successful Motion for Summary Judgment for one of its large retail clients in a personal injury action in San Diego, California. Plaintiff alleged that she suffered over $100,000 in damages as a result of injuries she sustained on Defendant’s premises. Plaintiff alleged that she could no longer work as a result of the permanent physical injuries. Pettit Kohn successfully moved to have the case dismissed, arguing its client did not have notice of the dangerous condition that caused Plaintiff’s injuries. Bron E. D’Angelo represented the client on Pettit Kohn’s behalf.

Pettit Kohn Names Jenna Leyton-Jones a Shareholder

February 28, 2014

February 2014 – Pettit Kohn Ingrassia & Lutz PC, is pleased to announce Employment Law and Appellate attorney Jenny Leyton-Jones, has been named a Shareholder, effective February 1, 2014.

View the full press release here.