When I was at the Trial Lawyers College I met Daniel Rodriguez – a mild mannered civil rights lawyer from Bakersfield CA. He showed me there that he was simply one of the greatest story tellers in the class and undoubtedly one of the great trial lawyers in the country. He has a home town style that quickly captivates those around him. 

He also just won the biggest verdict in California history for a drunk driving case – $31 million. 

So how did he do it? Here are a couple things that made his case so compelling: 

First – his clients had real damages. His primary client had brain damage and will need constant care for the rest of her life. So there were huge sums of money that will be needed to keep 19-year old Rosie Landros alive. Real damages make a real difference. So often we have potential cases where people are hurt, but seldom are they as severely hurt as the victim here.

Second – there was real liability. The driver of the other car had pled guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). When liability is established, the only question is how much the victim is entitled to for damages and there is no issue of contributory negligence. 

Third – THERE ARE NO LIMITS FOR NONECONOMIC DAMAGES IN CALIFORNIA – or Wyoming, or Montana, or Texas or a whole bunch of other states. So pain and suffering has real value in those states. In Idaho the insurance companies convinced our state legislature that juries award too much money for pain and suffering, so WE HAVE A $250,000 limit or cap on noneconomic loss. Our pain is not worth as much as the pain suffered in neighboring states. 

And those same legislators clamor for tort reform while taking money from those insurance companies and their lackies.  

Here’s an idea – let’s throw them all out of office and start over. Then we the people can restore to us the same rights we would have if we were injured in a neighboring state.

Want to read more about this case? Check out the newspaper account here. And congrats Daniel. From a class of pretty good lawyers at Trial Lawyers College, you again showed us that you are the King!