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How TLD Law Secured the Last Jury Verdict before Coronavirus Shuttered the Courts

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By Daniel A. Cooper, Esq. and Roy Jimenez, Esq.

Overview

On March 13, 2020, at a little before 2:30 p.m., we secured what we can only assume was the last jury verdict before the Courts temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Our case was a business breach of contract dispute between two doctors.  This reminds us how important jury trials are to our ability to have a “normal” life.   Without them, justice goes unserved.

The Case

We had the honor of representing the Plaintiff, an orthopedic surgeon whose two-person partnership crumbled when she caught her partner skimming orthopedic revenue off the top from a medical services contract that was supposed to be fully deposited back into the practice.   We were able to prove that the agreement had always been to operate as a 50-50 partnership with all revenue to be deposited into the practice, expenses paid and then the remaining profits shared equally.    The Defendant physician honored this agreement for many years by depositing all revenue back into the practice, but then unilaterally started depositing a portion and figured he could guestimate what he needed to put back in to make the numbers work.  This went on for almost 5 years, until a new billing system for the practice tipped off our client that something was off.

At that point the Defendant started keeping 100% of the revenue from his medical services contract leaving our client to scramble to pay overhead and keep the business above water.   Defendant’s defense focused on throwing everything they could at the wall and hoping something would stick.  From arguing that there was no contract, to suggesting that our client did not contribute equally or that she abandoned the practice, made for a challenging case since there were so many issues to respond to.

The Verdict

Daniel Cooper sat second chair as our managing partner, Roy Jimenez, kept the jury’s focus on a straight line, pointing out the red herrings that Defendant kept throwing and empowering the jury to reach their own conclusion. Daniel pitched in and questioned two of the practice’s employees to explain how our client was an equal contributor in time and effort.   It took one afternoon and one morning for the jury to reach their essentially unanimous verdict.   They found there was indeed a contract, that Defendant breached it along with the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and his fiduciary duties to our client.   Defendant’s cross-complaint was denied in its entirety.    The jury awarded our client $535,000 in lost profits, $300,000 for the loss in value of her ½ of the business and $222,167 in interest on the lost profits for a total verdict of $1,057,737.00.   There was one juror who dissented, who I came to find out wanted to award more to our client for the loss of her ½ value of the business.    More importantly, this verdict vindicated our client’s  good faith, dedication and efforts to the practice.    Justice was served.

The Takeaway

That we were able to achieve justice and obtain money damages for a medical doctor in Long Beach on a complicated business case was a true testament to our client and her ability to tell her story truthfully and maintain her credibility while her reputation was being attacked. We made statements to the jury that we could back up which I believe maintained our credibility with the jury when it came time to deliberate.     Jury trials are exhausting, but are incredibly rewarding and humbling because of the trust and faith that your client puts in you when they ask you to step into their shoes and tell their story.

While civil jury trials remain on hold, we continue to prepare and litigate cases for trial so that when the time is right, we are ready to obtain justice for the next TLD Law client.

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