California State Jury Awards $4,331,885 to Craig Litch:
SBI’s owners, Steve Polak & Randy Petee, were the investigative team hired by the law firm Bienert, Miller & Katzman, PLC who represented the Plaintiff, Mr. Litch.
The article below can be found on Attorney Ariana-Seldman-Hawbecker’s LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ariana-seldman-hawbecker-1914506/
On Oct. 3, 2012, Craig Litch was badly burned while working at an offshore oil rig owned by DCOR, LLC and located just off the California coastline. At the time, Litch’s employer, DCI Electric, Inc., was a subcontractor hired in connection with maintenance work on the rig. Although Litch had been working on de-energized high voltage electrical cables, a DCOR employee activated the power line without warning the DCI crew. The influx of electricity triggered an arc-flash explosion where Litch was working, resulting in severe burns to his face and extremities.
On October 1, 2013, Craig Litch and his wife Ann Litch filed a complaint against DCOR, LLC in the California Superior Court for Ventura County. They asserted claims for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium. DCOR then filed third party complaints against DCI, West Coast Switchgear, Inc. and Tony Demaria Electric, Inc. Through a second amended third party complaint filed on Oct. 31, 2014, DCOR asserted claims against Tony Demaria and DCI for indemnification, fraud, apportionment of fault, declaratory relief, breach of contract, and negligence.
The matter proceeded to a jury trial held by Judge Kevin Denoce. According to a Feb. 23, 2017, press release from plaintiffs’ counsel, they argued that DCOR employees did not follow industry safety standards or its own company safety policies when it failed to alert workers and clear the area in preparation for re-energization of the oil rig. Plaintiffs’ counsel noted that DCOR’s defense team attempted to deflect responsibility for its role in causing Litch’s injuries onto the different subcontractor companies involved with the project. Further, the defense argued that while Litch sustained severe injuries, he made a full recovery shortly after the accident and could resume working.
On Aug. 12, 2016, after two days of deliberations, the jury found that DCOR was primarily at fault for plaintiffs’ injuries (10 percent fault was apportioned both to DCI and Tony Demaria). The jury awarded $4,331,885 to Craig Litch for loss of income, future medical, and pain and suffering. The jury also awarded Ann Litch $200,000 for loss of consortium.
Plaintiffs were represented by Thomas H. Bienert and Ariana Seldman Hawbecker of Bienert, Miller & Katzman, PLC in San Clemente, CA. DCOR was represented by Trevor D. Large and Shannon DeNatale Boyd of Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, LLP in Santa Barbara, CA, as well as James M. Baratta and Thomas J. Moran of Grant Genovese & Baratta, LLP in Irvine, CA. DCI Electric was represented by Phillip L. Hummel of the Law Offices of Phillip L. Hummel, IV in Orange, CA. Tony Demaria Electric was represented by Scott Mizen of Veatch Carlson, LLP of Los Angeles, CA.
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