A LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP
CIVIL LITIGATION AND TRIALS
TENANT-LANDLORD HABITABILITY CASES
HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION CASES
MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE
REAL ESTATE LITIGATION
Masserman & Ducey, LLP is a Trial and Civil Litigation Firm that provides excellent and quality legal services for businesses and individuals with valid legal needs and specializes in several different areas of practice.
In addition to our full array of Trial and Civil Litigation services, Masserman & Ducey offers pre-litigation solutions to client problems, guiding efforts toward early dispute resolution in an effort to avoid unnecessary expenses of litigation.
The exceptional quality of legal services we have afforded our clients over the years has sustained our ability to maintain long-term client relationships.
At Masserman & Ducey, we are confident that our combination of communication skills, team approach, and philosophy of ethics and excellence in the legal representation we provide our clients will be designed to suit your own legitimate legal needs.
RECENT TRIAL RESULTS
Below are summaries of recent trial results for defendants we represented.
The plaintiff was a tenant and former owner of a property in Culver City owned by our client as trustee of her family’s Trust. Our client also managed the property in her individual capacity. The elderly plaintiff, with the support of her family, brought five causes of action that included breach of the implied warranty of habitability, intentional infliction of emotional distress based on our client’s notices to the tenant that she and her family were violating COVID-19 restrictions, and violations of Civil Code § 1942.4 which, if successful, would have permitted plaintiff to recover reimbursement of her rent paid for the property. After a five-day jury trial that included successful cross-examination of a City of Culver City Code Enforcement inspector favorable to plaintiff’s position, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict for our client. Read more>>
Several property damage lawsuits have arisen out of the “Bond Fire” that began at our clients’ property on Bond Way in Silverado Canyon on or about December 2, 2020. A majority of the plaintiffs have agreed to limit their claimed damages based on our clients’ available insurance policy limits. However, one of the plaintiffs who sustained property damage approximately 9-10 miles from the origin of the fire pressed to proceed to a bench trial on his property damage claims well in excess of that amount. In a four-day bench trial in the Orange County Superior Court, we received a defense decision from the Court since plaintiff could not meet his burden of proof that any conduct on the part of our clients was a substantial factor in causing the wildfire, or plaintiff’s property damage claim. The decision has been appealed by the plaintiff.
Plaintiff owned a neighboring property to that of our client in Oak Park, California. Plaintiff filed suit in the Ventura County Superior Court alleging causes of action arising out of damages to the parties’ common property wall and to plaintiff’s home said to be caused by tree root incursion by Podycarpus trees located on our client’s property. Relying on testimony from our expert arborist and geotechnical engineering expert, we received a defense decision after a five-day bench trial. In a case that normally would have involved the payment of joint amounts from both parties since the damage was to a common area wall, the Court held that the damage to plaintiff’s side of the wall was de minimis, there was no damage to plaintiff’s property, and thus plaintiff was not entitled to damages. We filed a substantial memorandum of costs for our client for recovery of all of her costs including expert witness costs, which is unopposed.
The 21-year-old decedent’s mother filed suit against our client, who owned a property where her daughter died of a heroin overdose. In two consolidated cases, plaintiff also sued three of her daughter’s health care providers, a drug treatment center, a drug interventionist and a celebrity who, like our client, allowed plaintiff’s daughter to stay at her home. The trial proceeded in Pasadena Superior Court against our client, the other homeowner and the interventionist. Plaintiff sought $24 million in damages at trial. After a 19-day jury trial and three days of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of our client and the celebrity homeowner, and a majority defense verdict in favor of the interventionist. The jury verdict was upheld on appeal.
Our client was a manufacturer and seller of lighting equipment used in amateur photography, which was sued by a competing company for a declaration of invalidity of our client’s patent on a lamp holder used as part of a photography lighting kit. Our client filed a cross-claim for patent infringement. In late 2017, we were brought in as trial counsel for the protracted litigation in Federal Court. After a 5-day trial and 2 days of deliberations, the jury unanimously found that our client did not infringe plaintiff’s patent and found in favor of our client on its cross-complaint. The jury found that the plaintiff manufacturer infringed our client’s patent and there was willful infringement, awarding our client the full amount of its damages sought for lost profits in the sum of $138,363.00. On our post-trial motion for treble damages, the Court granted the motion and awarded $415,089.00 in treble damages. On our post-trial motion for attorney's fees, the Court granted the motion and awarded attorney's fees in the sum of $496,123.90. As part of the judgment, the Court also granted our cost bill, pre-judgment interest, and post-judgment interest, bringing the total judgment in favor of our client to over $1 million. The competitor did not appeal the judgment.
The plaintiff was inspecting a trellis in the backyard of our client’s property when he fell from a ladder provided by our client, who was out of the country. The plaintiff claimed that the ladder was dangerous and defective causing his fall. The plaintiff sustained an open right ankle fracture and underwent surgery for fixation of the ankle leaving residual scarring. The plaintiff sought $550,000 at trial. After a 5-day trial the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict. The case, decided by the jury on April 26, 2018, was the first state court trial conducted in the Spring Street courthouse. Read more >>
The plaintiff was a United States Postal Service worker delivering mail to the defendant homeowner’s property, when a dog owned by the defendant tenant, the homeowner’s mother, burst out the front door and caused the plaintiff to fall. The plaintiff sustained a left wrist fracture and scaphulate ligament tear necessitating surgery, and orthopedic injuries. We prevailed on a motion for summary adjudication for the owner and trial proceeded between the plaintiff and the tenant/dog owner. The plaintiff requested $350,000 at trial. After a 6-day trial the jury returned a verdict of $30,000, and reduced the recovery to $16,800 by allocating negligence at 56% to the defendant and 44% to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff was a realtor who fell on wet paint on the sidewalk of a property owned by an investment company whose manager was also sued. We admitted liability for the entity and denied liability for the manager. The plaintiff sustained severe coccyx and low back injuries and underwent a back surgery and two rhizotomies. The plaintiff claimed $290,000 in medical expenses and sought $800,000 at trial. The Court granted our motion for nonsuit on behalf of the manager. After an 8-day trial the jury returned a verdict against the entity for $48,669, including $8,669 in economic damages and $40,000 in noneconomic damages.
The plaintiff lived next door to our client. She was injured when she stepped out of her vehicle in a commonly-owned driveway and fell when her cane went into a fence post hole on our client’s property. The plaintiff claimed orthopedic injuries and required a future right knee arthroscopy and partial lateral meniscectomy, requesting a jury award of $873,000, including future surgery and a life care plan. After an 8-day trial the jury awarded $20,835 in past medical expenses and $5,000 in past noneconomic damages, and found the plaintiff 75% negligent to arrive at a total verdict of $6,458.75.
RECENT PRE-TRIAL RESULTS
Some cases warrant termination before trial. Below are recent cases we have successfully gotten dismissed prior to trial.
Summary judgment granted in favor of our client who owned a property in which the tenant was seriously injured after a fall down the staircase of our client’s property.
Summary judgment granted in favor of our clients who owned a property whose tenants, unknown to our clients, had a dog at the property that escaped and attacked a neighbor injuring her.
Summary judgment granted in favor of our homeowner client when a guest slipped and fell on food spilled on the floor at a dinner in celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
Summary judgment granted in favor of our homeowner client when a worker picking up building supplies at the home was on the bed of his pick-up truck and fell when the owner allegedly closed the garage door on the worker.
Summary judgment granted in favor of our homeowner clients when a child died of “secondary drowning” after attending a children’s birthday pool party at the home.
Summary judgment granted in favor of an owner/landlord we represented when a tenant was assaulted and injured by another tenant on the premises. Judgment upheld on appeal.
Summary judgment granted in favor of an owner/landlord we represented when a tenant tripped and fell on a broken tile on the front steps to the home. Judgment upheld on appeal.
Motion for dismissal of an action in which multiple bankruptcy stays were in effect based on the plaintiff’s violation of Code of Civil Procedure § 583.310 requirement to bring a case to trial 5 years after the action is commenced.
Motion for terminating sanctions granted in favor of an owner/landlord we represented when two tenants sued for alleged harassment by the owner’s property manager and property damage arising out of a fire on the property.
OTHER RECENT RESULTS
Most cases warrant resolution. Below are examples of types of cases we have recently settled successfully
to our clients’ satisfaction.
Multiple settlements of breach of implied warranty of habitability lawsuits. Having handled well in excess of 100 of these cases, we believe we have become adept at evaluating those cases that warrant mediation or other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, those that should be settled for nuisance value, and those that should be tried based on their lack of merit.
Multiple settlements of premises liability cases for amounts that are appropriate to the actual value of the cases. These include cases in which tenants and invitees have slipped or tripped and fallen on driveways, interior and exterior staircases, swimming pool decks, interior floors, public sidewalks and parking lots, and building common areas. These also include cases involving catastrophic injuries and deaths.
Multiple successful settlements in motor vehicle negligence cases involving automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles at figures far below the value of the cases. These have involved alleged traumatic brain injuries and other serious catastrophic injuries.
Multiple settlements of cases involving neighbors cross-complaining against one another for land subsidence, tree cutting, breach of easement, and water and mold intrusion involving condominium and apartment units.