Success Stories - Attorney Kevin R. Crisp

Defense of Automatic Door Manufacturer

Shabazian v. Doe Automatic Door Manufacturer (Los Angeles, CA)

An 83-year-old plaintiff was hit by a mat-controlled swinging door at a drug store in Palmdale, CA.  She had various shoulder surgeries, resulting in a ‘phantom shoulder,’ which is a lack of bony connection between the shoulder and the arm.  Defendant made the door, and provided on-call repair.  The case was tried in Los Angeles’ notorious Central Civil West courthouse, affectionately referred to by the Plaintiff’s bar at the time as “the bank.”

This was an interesting trial.  One of defendant’s former employees blamed another for a servicing mistake that caused the accident.  Plaintiff was impeached by a relatively recent RICO conviction for her role in one of the largest slot machine scams in Las Vegas history.  (“Well, they say I was convicted!”)  Her son would open and rig slot machines and plaintiff would then wander in off the street and win the big jackpot.  Her daughter was impeached with a fraud conviction for check fraud.  The jury learned that the same door had previously hit another person and that Defendant had serviced the door shortly before the second accident.  The store owner claimed that he relied exclusively on Defendant “to keep my doors safe,” but was then severely impeached with records of safety recommendations he had ignored on other doors at the same location.

During the direct examination of Plaintiff’s expert, plaintiff asked Kevin to repair her squawking hearing aid, which he did.  She handed it to him with the hand she alleged could no longer use.

The court apparently had strong feelings about how this one should come out.  After closing argument and without mentioning it, the retired judge (sitting on assignment) pulled a jury instruction that Defendant had just made of central importance in closing.  He refused put on the record the reason for doing this to the Defendant, saying only “there is a case that says you are not supposed to give that one,” before abruptly leaving the bench.  The parties had stipulated to the instruction.

The lowest demand was $275,000.  Plaintiff declined an offer of $75,000.

It was a good sign when the judge threw the jury’s completed verdict form to his clerk for reading.  12-0 defense on strict liability and 11-1 on negligence.