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Closing Argument For Premises Liability Cases - Advocate

 
 

Arash Homampour’s Advocate Article

Arash recently wrote a well received article about closing arguments for premises liability cases for Advocate Magazine . Click on the image to download and read the article.


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Arash Homampour | Dual Passions

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Lawyer By Day, D.J. By Night

The Los Angeles & San Francisco Daily Journal recently published an article on Arash Homampour. It highlights his success as the founder of The Homampour Law Firm and how he obtained a $59.3 million award in a trial against Sunbeam. 

The article brings to light another passion in his life, music. He loves to deejay, mix his own tech house tracks and take listeners on an inspirational journey. 

To read the article click here.

Image : Daily Journal


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To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$5,000,000 Auto Versus Pedestrian | Personal Injury And Wrongful Death

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$5,000,000

In May 2018 Attorneys Arash Homampour and Scott Boyer  successfully obtained a $5 million dollar settlement on behalf of two minor children for the wrongful death of their mother.

In a very difficult liability case, plaintiff minors and their mother were pedestrians crossing the street mid-block to get to their home when they were struck by the defendant driving a work truck. The minors suffered minor injuries which they recovered from but their mother died as a result of the collision. The defense contended that our clients and their mother crossed a very busy street mid-block and outside of a marked crosswalk and failed to yield to oncoming traffic in violation of multiple Vehicle Code sections and were thus exclusively at fault for the incident. The defense also claimed that the driver would not have been able to see our clients in the roadway in time to avoid the collision because it was night time and our clients were wearing dark clothing. The police had determined that even knowing the exact positioning of the pedestrians in the roadway, the defendant driver would not have been able to avoid the collision and cited the decedent as the cause of the collision.

Undeterred by the police findings and difficult facts on liability, through dogged investigation and using the most advanced human factors and accident reconstruction methods,  the Homampour team was able to locate and obtain testimony from favorable witnesses and then show that the defendant driver had accelerated when passing a vehicle which had stopped in the roadway to allow the pedestrians to cross the street and the driver would have had sufficient time to see and stop for the pedestrians had he not been traveling at an unsafe speed and failed to exercise due care. 

Although the Homampour team was able to secure a sizeable settlement for our clients to fund their future education and needs, it will never replace the loss of their loving mother.

Image Credit: Unsplash


If you'd like to receive more articles like this, sign up for the Homampour Attorney's Email. We publish articles written by Arash and his team of attorneys that deliver real insight into different areas of the law.

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$14,500,000 Insurance Bad Faith

$14,500,000 Insurance Bad Faith

Many attorneys talk about insurance bad faith but few have actually successfully litigated bad faith cases through trial and appeal. The Homampour Law Firm has and is considered one of the go to firms for bad faith issues and cases.

We buy insurance to have piece of mind. While we hope that disaster never strikes, life happens and as humans we are bound to make mistakes. Auto insurance is designed to protect us in the event of a mistake or a lawsuit. Insurance companies like Allstate collect our hard earned premiums with our expectation that Allstate will use its enormous resources to protect us in the event of an accident or mistake. This case is a sad but all too common example of how insurance companies can act unreasonably but ultimately be held accountable  - in this case held accountable by the Homampour Law Firm.  Read more...

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

Recent Amendments Clarify Voir Dire Conduct in Civil Matters

Voir Dire

Voir dire literally means “to speak the truth.”1 The modernFrench translation of voir dire is “to see and say”; therefore, voir dire is to see prospective jurors and hear what they have to say in response to questions about their prospective service as a juror.2 In the modern jury system, voir dire is the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury. It is the process by which attorneys select, or perhaps more appropriately reject, potential jurors on a case. Allowing attorneys sufficient time to conduct voir dire is essential to ensuring a fair and impartial jury because it is the only opportunity attorneys have to question jurors about potential bias.

Historically, as trial judges on civil cases became concerned about the amount of time spent on voir dire, attorneys on both sides of the aisle, as well as the judiciary, became concerned about arbitrary (or unreasonable) time limits being imposed on voir dire.3 When arbitrary or unreasonable time limits were imposed, the trial attorney’s ability to identify biased jurors arguably became just as arbitrary.4 In response, the legislature recently amended Section 225.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, making it clear that unreasonable and inflexible time limitations shall not be imposed on voir dire in civil cases.5 The amendments further clarify that trial counsel shall be permitted supplemental time for questioning potential jurors when certain factors are triggered, counsel shall be allowed to make a brief opening statement before voir dire, and requests to use juror questionnaires shall not be arbitrarily refused.

Similar amendments have recently been made to the statutes governing voir dire in criminal proceedings. The focus of this article, however, is on the amendments regarding voir dire in civil trials and methods for civil practitioners to utilize the amendments in conducting voir dire.

Right To An Unbiased Jury

The importance of having sufficient time to conduct voir dire is rooted in the constitutional right to an unbiased jury. Over 100 years ago, the California Supreme Court recognized that the “right to unbiased and unprejudiced jurors is an inseparable and inalienable part of the right to a trial by jury guaranteed by the constitution.”6

The California Supreme Court noted that, “‘[w]ithout an adequate voir dire the trial judge’s responsibility to remove prospective jurors who will not be able impartially to follow the court’s instructions and evaluate the evidence cannot be fulfilled. [Citation.] Similarly, lack of adequate voir dire impairs the defendant’s right to exercise peremptory challenges where provided by statute or rule….’”7

As the U.S. Supreme Court has also stated: "Voir dire examination serves to protect that right by exposing possible biases, both known and unknown, on the part of potential jurors. Demonstrated bias in the responses to questions on voir dire may result in a juror being excused for cause; hints of bias not sufficient to warrant challenge for cause may assist parties in exercising their peremptory challenges. The necessity of truthful answers by prospective jurors if this process is to serve its purpose is obvious."8

The California Constitution guarantees parties a trial by an impartial jury as “an inviolate right.”9 California law requires jurors to be able to fulfill their role with “entire impartiality.”10 The impartiality of the jury is an “essential attribute” of the historic right to a jury trial, without which the substantial right to a jury trial is violated. “We therefore conclude that the real essential attributes of the so-called common-law jury trial were at all times ‘number, impartiality and unanimity.’”11

As incorporated into the statutory language, the purposes of voir dire are, among other things: 1) to select a fair and impartial jury and 2) to assist counsel in the intelligent exercise of both peremptory challenges and challenges for cause.12 In utilizing voir dire for these purposes, counsel must be allowed a “liberal and probing examination to discover bias and prejudice with the circumstances of each case.”13 “Counsel should at least be allowed to inquire into matters concerning which…the population at large is commonly known to harbor strong feelings that may…significantly skew deliberations.”14

Only by allowing thorough voir dire can a party intelligently assess whether to challenge a juror for cause. Challenges for cause can be made based upon: “(A) General disqualification— that the juror is disqualified from serving in the action on trial; (B) Implied bias—as, when the existence of facts as ascertained, in judgment of law disqualifies the juror; (C) Actual bias—the existence of a state of mind on the part of the juror in reference to the case, or to any of the parties, which will prevent the juror from acting with entire impartiality, and without prejudice to the substantial rights of any party.”15

Rules And Standards

Under Section 225.5 and Rule 3.1540 of the California Rules of Court, the trial judge in a civil case begins voir dire with an initial examination. After the completion of the trial judge’s examination, counsel for both parties have the right to conduct questioning.

Rule 3.1540 provides: “Examination of prospective jurors in civil cases” states that, “(b) In examining prospective jurors in civil cases, the judge should consider the policies and recommendations in standard 3.25 of the Standards of Judicial Administration.”16 Standard 3.25 is a rather lengthy direction to the trial judge that “the examination of potential jurors should include the following areas of inquiry and any other matters affecting their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case.”17

Standard 3.25(a)(1) provides, in relevant part, that: "The examination of prospective jurors in a civil case…should include all questions necessary to ensure the selection of a fair and impartial jury…. During any supplemental examination conducted by counsel for the parties, the trial judge should permit liberal and probing examination calculated to discover possible bias or prejudice with regard to the circumstances of the particular case." Standard 3.25(a)(2) provides, in relevant part, that: "In exercising his or her sound discretion as to the form and subject matter of voir dire questions, the trial judge should consider, among other criteria: (1) any unique or complex elements, legal or factual, in the case, and (2) the individual responses or conduct of jurors that may evince attitudes inconsistent with suitability to serve as a fair and impartial juror in the particular case."18

Standard 3.25(c) directs the trial judge to actually tell jurors that “the parties are entitled to have a fair, unbiased, and unprejudiced jury.” It includes various topics to be covered by the trial judge during voir dire, and the list is extensive. Examples include: the nature of the case, including alleged injuries or damages; whether the juror feels the type of case should be brought into court for determination by a jury; whether the juror or anyone with whom the juror has a significant relationship has ever sued in connection with a similar case; whether any of the parties, witnesses, or attorneys come from a particular national, racial, religious group (or may have a different lifestyle) that would affect the juror’s judgment; or the all-encompassing question of whether there is any other reason that might make the juror “doubtful they would be a completely fair and impartial juror in this case”.19 Each of these areas of inquiry is designed to elicit honest responses from potential jurors that may shed light on potential bias.

It frequently may take longer than five minutes per juror for an attorney to follow up on the topics covered by the judge. In fact, many of the topics produce answers by potential jurors that require extensive follow-up by an attorney, which is recognized by Section 222.5: “The fact that a topic has been included in the judge’s examination should not preclude additional non repetitive or non duplicative questioning in the same area by counsel.”20

It is critical to note that Standard 3.25 starts by directing the trial court to tell jurors that “the parties are entitled to have a fair, unbiased, and unprejudiced jury” and ends with the trial court’s asking if there is any reason “that might make them doubtful they would be a completely fair and impartial juror in this case.” As such, blanket time limits with little flexibility affected trial counsel’s ability to follow up on these topics and uncover potential bias.21

In fact, a new trial can be granted when a juror conceals during voir dire “a bias, belief or state of mind which prevents a juror from following the court’s instructions and acting in an impartial manner.”22 Also, the imposition of arbitrary time limits on voir dire can be argued to constitute an irregularity in the proceedings that may support a new trial.23

Section 222.5 Amendments

Section 222.5 was enacted in 1990 to include procedures governing the selection of a fair and impartial jury in civil trials.24 These procedures were designed to ensure that a party had sufficient opportunity to question the jury and prohibit unreasonable and arbitrary time limits for attorney voir dire.25 Even with recent amendments to Section 222.5, trial counsel in civil matters were still concerned that unreasonable and arbitrary time restrictions were being imposed on attorney examination during voir dire. These restrictions prompted California SB 658, which sought to amend section 222.5 and foreclose arbitrary time limits on attorney voir dire.

The author of the proposed statutory amendments noted: "The selection of an unbiased jury serves all parties and is crucial to maintaining the integrity of our courts. Currently, judges are setting blanket, arbitrary, and unreasonable time limits for voir dire. Judges use their discretion to set these limits even though CCP §222.5 specifically states not to set blanket time limits. SB 658 would address the issue of unreasonable and arbitrary restrictions on attorney examination of potential members of a jury. Liberal and probing voir dire is necessary to ensure that the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial is meaningful. The current statute was intended to prohibit these limitations, but its enforcement has eroded in the quarter century since its passage. Attorneys have reported that in some courts there are arbitrary limits of 20 or 30 minutes for voir dire in unlimited civil jurisdiction cases. Such limits contradict the original intent of the statute."26

Effective January 1, 2018, Section 222.5 has been amended to reflect the strong policy prohibiting restrictive time limits on voir dire in civil trials. In fact, the recent amendments make clear that unreasonable and inflexible time limitations shall not be imposed on voir dire. Even though the scope of attorney examination during voir dire is left to the sound discretion of the trial judge, the judge is required to consider the enumerated factors, which include the following: the amount of time requested by trial counsel; any unique or complex elements—legal or factual—in the case; length of the trial; number of parties; number of witnesses; and whether the case is designated as a complex or long cause. These considerations are meant to fashion the scope of voir dire towards the circumstances of the “unique case” that is before the court.27

The amendments to Section 222.5 also make clear that counsel shall be permitted supplemental time for questioning jurors when any of the following factors are shown: individual responses or conduct of jurors that may evince attitudes inconsistent with suitability to serve as a fair and impartial juror in the particular case, composition of the jury panel, and an unusual number of for cause challenges. For instance, unanticipated responses to the topics listed in Standard 3.25 may prompt the need for additional time to question prospective jurors.

Prior to the recent amendments to Section 222.5, a party could request that it be allowed to make a brief opening statement before voir dire. However, the statute was not clear as to whether allowing this mini-opening statement before voir dire was mandatory upon attorney request.28 Amended Section 222.5 states that, if requested by a party, a brief opening statement shall be allowed by counsel for each party prior to voir dire, thereby removing any doubt as to whether granting an attorney’s request for a mini-opening is mandatory or not. By presenting in a nonargumentative manner the liability and/or damage issues or unique circumstances the jury will be asked to decide, the mini-opening statement affords counsel an opportunity to more efficiently question jurors during voir dire.

Finally, as an additional tool to more efficiently question jurors within time allotments, amended Section 222.5 provides that a trial judge should not arbitrarily or unreasonably refuse to submit written questionnaires when requested by counsel. The contents of questionnaires must be approved by the court. As such, opposing counsel desiring to use a juror questionnaire are encouraged to work together in submitting mutually acceptable questions. The statutory amendments also make it clear that parties shall be given reasonable time to evaluate the questionnaire responses before oral questioning commences.

Uncovering Potential Bias

Because Section 222.5 mandates that counsel should be permitted to conduct a “liberal and probing examination calculated to discover bias or prejudice with regard to the circumstances of the particular case” and “in order to enable counsel to intelligently exercise both peremptory challenges and challenges for cause,” it is critical for counsel to identify the unique “circumstances of the particular case” that require more time to conduct a “liberal and probing examination.” One method to identify the unique circumstances that require more time is to identify the applicable CACI Instructions and ask for pre instruction.

In fact, it is prudent to ask the trial judge if the key jury instructions can be read and discussed with jurors. It is improper to ask “any question which, as its dominant purpose, attempts to precondition the prospective jurors to a particular result, indoctrinate the jury, or question the prospective jurors concerning the pleadings or the applicable law.” 29 But one of the directions in Standard 3.25(c) is that the trial judge will ensure jurors “will, without reservation, follow the court’s instructions and rulings on the law and will apply that law to the case.”30 A juror will need to know what the law is before the judge and counsel can make sure the jury will follow the applicable jury instructions.

On this issue, the California Supreme Court held that “a reasonable question about the potential juror’s willingness to apply a particular doctrine of law should be permitted when from the nature of the case the judge is satisfied that the doctrine is likely to be relevant at trial.”31 The supreme court reasoned that a juror’s blanket promise “to follow whatever instructions the judge may give” may not disclose an attitude or bias towards a specific law that has not been identified. For example, “although nearly everyone adheres to the proposition that the law should be obeyed, a substantial number of motorists, when confronted with the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit…demonstrate that attitudes expressed in the abstract are not always applied in, or on, the concrete.”32 The court ultimately held that the defendant could ask prospective jurors in a murder case in which the defense was self-defense: “Would you willingly follow an instruction to the effect that a person has a right to resist an aggressor by using necessary force and has no duty to retreat?”33

The supreme court also confirmed that a trial judge can preinstruct prospective jurors during voir dire on key instructions of law.34 Therefore, counsel should ask permission of the court to read key jury instructions and ask for sufficient time to question prospective jurors on whether they understand the instruction and will they follow the instruction if it is given by the court.

Another important issue which frequently takes a significant amount of time to discuss with prospective jurors is the topic of damages and, more specifically, a prospective juror’s ability to award damages. Although there is not a significant amount of relevant case authority on the topic, a leading treatise confirms that plaintiff’s attorneys are usually permitted to question prospective jurors as to their ability to return a large verdict if supported by the evidence.35 If counsel represents the plaintiff, he or she should inform the court before trial of the intention to discuss this topic with prospective jurors and the need for sufficient time to do so.

Submitting A Brief Before Trial

Every good trial attorney is aware that a civil trial can be won or lost in voir dire. After spending years and thousands of dollars (and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars) on costs alone to get a case ready for trial, the critical process of voir dire should not be rushed. Fortunately, with enactment of the recent statutory amendments, it is hopeful from the legislative record that a proper balance between the court’s discretion in guiding proper questioning of prospective jurors in a civil trial and counsel’s ability to conduct thorough and meaningful voir dire can be achieved.36

As such, a brief submitted before trial is an effective way to outline the amendments and applicable principles. The brief can cite amended Section 225.5 and outline the issues in the case requiring the estimated time for voir dire. The brief can request that a mini-opening statement be allowed, as well as the use of jury questionnaires.

The Judicial Council publishes form questionnaires, which can be used in certain civil cases and also can be attached to the brief. Counsel should be prepared to discuss these issues with the court before


1 BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (10th ed. 2014).
2 People v. King 195 Cal. App. 3d 923, 932-933(1987).
3 A.B. 1403, Sen. Jud. Comm. (2011-12 Reg. Sess.), as amended Sept. 2, 2011, [hereinafter A.B. 1403] (“This amended version is the consensus result of a working group of plaintiff attorneys, defense attorneys, and judges….The new amendments clarify that trial courts cannot impose blanket, across-the-board time limits to voir dire an entire jury panel.”).
4 Id. 
5 CODE CIV. PROC. §225.5.
6 Lombardi v. California St. Cable R. Co., 124 Cal.311, 317 (1899).
7 In re Hitchings, 6 Cal. 4th 97, 110 (1993) (citation omitted).
8 McDonough Power Equipment, Inc. v. Greenwood, 464 U.S. 548, 554 (1984).
9 CAL. CONST. art. I, §16.
10 CODE CIV. PROC. §225(b)(1)(C).
11 People v. Richardson, 138 Cal. App. 404, 408-409 (1934).
12 CODE CIV. PROC. §222.5; Bly-Magee v. Budget Rent-a-Car Corp., 24 Cal. App. 4th 318, 324 (1994).
13 Bly-Magee, 24 Cal. App. at 324.
14 People v. Williams, 29 Cal. 3d 392, 406-408 (1981).
15 CODE CIV. PROC. §225.
16 CAL. R. OF CT. 3.1540.
17 STANDARDS RELATING TO EXAMINATION OF PROSPECTIVE JURORS IN CIVIL CASES §3.25.
18 Id.
19 Id.
20 CODE CIV. PROC. §222.5.
21 A.B. 1403, supra note 3 (“Not only is voir dire of two minutes or less per prospective juror inadequate to uncover potential bias, it is difficult, if not impossible, to preserve a record on appeal that a juror concealed bias.”).
22 Tapia v. Barker 160 Cal. App. 3d 761, 765 (1984).
23 CODE CIV. PROC. §657.
24 A.B. 3820 (Brown, ch.1232, Stat. 1990).
25 Id.
26 S.B. 658 (2017-18 Reg. Sess.), Sen. Rules Com., as amended May 9, 2017 [hereinafter S.B. 658, May 9]
27 S.B. 658 (2017-18 Reg. Sess.), Sen. Jud. Comm, April 24, 2017.
28 S.B. 658, May 9, supra note 25.
29 CODE CIV. PROC. §222.5.
30 STANDARDS RELATING TO EXAMINATION OF PROSPECTIVE JURORS IN CIVIL CASES §3.25(c).
31 People v. Williams 29 Cal. 3d 392, 410 (1981).
32 Id. at 410 n.14.
33 Id. at 398.
34 People v. Elliott 53 Cal. 4th 535, 559 (2012) (“The trial court correctly informed the jury about the rules governing circumstantial evidence and correctly informed the jury about the governing standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”).
35WEGNER, ET AL., CAL. PRAC. GUIDE CIVIL TRIALS AND EVIDENCE, §5:312 (2017). (“For example, in a case involving a $1 million damage claim, plaintiffs’ counsel may ask:– “Assuming liability is established in this case, would you be able to return a verdict for $1 million?”– “Would you require a higher standard of proof on liability in order to return such a verdict?”).
36 S.B. 658 (2017-18 Reg. Sess.), Sen. Jud. Comm., Unfinished Bus., as amended Aug. 22, 2017.

Los Angeles Lawyer March 2018

“Originally published in Supplement to the Los Angeles Lawyer, March 2018
— Arash Homampour & Scott Boyer

Image Credit: Flickr


If you'd like to receive more articles like this, sign up for the Homampour Attorney's Email. We publish articles written by Arash and his team of attorneys that deliver real insight into different areas of the law.

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$10,000,000 Auto Versus Motorcycle | Wrongful Death

This tragic case involved a fatal vehicle vs. motorcycle left turn accident at the intersection of Exposition Blvd. and Bundy Dr. in West Los Angeles.

Investigating officers assigned fault with the 16 year old left turning driver. Our amazing co-counsel Karen Gajewski and Ed Baughan determined that left turns were to be prohibited at this intersection as a result of Metro Line construction. Even the officers missed that there were supposed to be 3 no left turn/u-turn signs with 2 elevated on the N/W and N/E light poles and 1 in the median. The sign in the median was missing.

Imagery used at trial to demonstrate signage being present and absent.

Imagery used at trial to demonstrate signage being present and absent.

We were brought in to bring a claim against the Construction Co and other entities responsible to make sure that median sign was present. These defendants contended that they did nothing wrong and that the accident was the exclusive fault of either the inexperienced 16-year-old driver who had been driving for 6 months (he admitted he knew it was a no left turn intersection, but turned anyway claiming the path was clear) and/or the decedent on the motorcycle (who defendants claimed was heavily impaired from marijuana use.)

The Homampour Law Firm handled this case through trial and convinced a jury that the construction company, Skanska-Rados Expo 2 Joint Venture, was responsible and that decedent did nothing wrong. The jury awarded $10 million in wrongful death general damages to Plaintiffs (the wife and mother of decedent) and apportioned 55% against the construction company.


If you'd like to receive more articles like this, sign up for the Homampour Attorney's Email. We publish articles written by Arash and his team of attorneys that deliver real insight into different areas of the law.

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$2,800,000 Auto Versus Truck | Wrongful Death

In April, 2017 Attorneys Arash Homampour and Armine Safarian settled an Auto versus Truck | Wrongful Death case for $2.8 million against the Defendant.

Facts

On Dec. 6, 2013, the Plaintiff and her husband were traveling southbound on US 93 when they attempted to pass a truck driven by the Defendant which was owned by the Defendant's employer. After entering the northbound lane, the Plaintiffs collided head on with another Plaintiff, who was traveling northbound on US 93. Two of the Plaintiffs sustained fatal injuries. The other Plaintiff sustained serious injuries.

Plaintiff's Contentions

Plaintiffs contended that the Defendant would not allow them to pass his truck and was playing a dangerous cat and mouse game with the Plaintiffs, who in turn became frightened and tried to pass his truck to get away from the Defendant. Plaintiffs contended that the Defendant, as a professional truck driver, knew that motorists would be afraid to travel near his truck, that he could pull over and let them pass and that the Plaintiffs were attempting to pass him for miles. Although he admitted that he witnessed the deadly head on collision to his left, the Defendant did not stay at the scene and did not preserve evidence relating to his driving contained in the truck's event data recorder. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant's employer was liable for the actions of the Defendant and that it failed to preserve evidence.

Defendant's Contentions

Defendants contended the Plaintiffs were the sole cause of the incident when they decided to illegally enter the northbound lane into oncoming traffic. Defendants claimed they were not involved in the incident because the Plaintiff vehicle never made contact with Defendants' truck.

Injuries

The surviving Plaintiff suffered a concussion that resolved, orthopedic injuries, emotional distress, and loss of consortium due to her husband's death. The Plaintiff's children suffered the loss of their father.

Result

The Homampour team were able to settle with the Defendants for $2.8 million. Although this allowed the Homampour team to secure a sizable figure for the Plaintiffs, it can not replace the loss of a husband and father.


If you'd like to receive more articles like this, sign up for the Homampour Attorney's Email. We publish articles written by Arash and his team of attorneys that deliver real insight into different areas of the law.

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

Arash Homampour - Trial Warrior

Arash Homampour - founder of Homampour Law Firm

Arash Homampour - founder of Homampour Law Firm

From his earliest days as a lawyer, Arash Homampour has thought big.

“My phrase was always like, ‘I’m Kobe Bryant, and you just don’t know it. Give me the ball and watch and see what happens,’” Homampour said.

Just in case you don’t get the point, he adds: “The ball would be a metaphor for a larger case.”

Homampour started his Sherman Oaks-based personal injury firm, The Homampour Law Firm PC, in 1993. He said he only handles high-value cases involving “really big issues and big damages.”

“The way we’re set up, it’s the most efficient use of our time and we make the biggest impact,” Homampour said. “We’re not a volume practice. We only handle a limited number of cases at one time.”

The firm, comprised of Homampour and six associates, pursues every case with the expectation it will go to trial.

“I’ve sat both behind and next to Arash in trial. One thing about his demeanor is that he’s relaxed, clearly in his element, but with razor sharp focus,” said the firm’s managing attorney, Farzad Yassini.

Nearly all of the firm’s cases come from other attorneys who “realize they are not experienced enough or they do not have the financial ability, or both, to litigate the case,” Homampour said.

“It’s like, if you’re a heart surgeon and you’re doing heart surgery and you’ve got this one specific type of heart surgery that only like five doctors can do ... you go to [one of those specialists]. That’s how we are,” he said.

Homampour said he he counts himself among a tiny cadre of elite trial lawyers that other lawyers turn to for help with big cases. This tiny group has the talent, the experience and the financial resources to get the best possible result, he said.

“Attorneys know that there are basically five of us. It’s like Nick Rowley, Arash Homampour, Brian Panish, Gary Dordick and Mike Alder,” he said.

“There are some others,” he added. “I’m not denigrating anyone else.”

In 2015, Homampour obtained a $59.3 million jury verdict on behalf of the survivors of Amy Shinedling, who was killed in a house fire started when a Sunbeam space heater’s auto shut-off mechanism failed to trigger.

“The family had left clothing within three feet of the heater, and that clothing started the fire, which ultimately killed the mom,” Homampour said.

Homampour said Sunbeam put a “safety device that only works in non-radiant heaters, in a radiant heater, and then marketed it [as having] an auto-safety shut-off on the box and in the manual."

Homampour said he so thoroughly researched the issue that by the time the case went to trial, he knew the hazards and safety problems involved with Sunbeams's heaters better than its top safety engineer.

"I got the national safety engineer to admit that they knew the safety device may not work, and that the consumer does not know that. And I got the actual product engineer responsible for the product to admit the consumer has an expectation that this heater would turn off in a fire," he said. Shinedling v. Sunbeam Products, Inc., 12-CV438 (C.D. Cal., filed March 27, 2012).

“That’s a perfect example of what we do,” said Homampour, whose favorite aspects of being in trial are “extracting the truth” and “passionate domination of the courtroom.”

“It’s a subtle one, sometimes people don’t even see it or feel it, but I feel like I’m in control. In a good way. I’m making a difference. Basically massaging facts and witnesses and documents and all that stuff, towards an end, just result,” he said.

Appellate attorney Jeffrey I. Ehrlich handled three appeals for Homampour last year and describes the attorney as “one of the few trial lawyers who often does his own appellate work, and enjoys it.”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another trial lawyer that is as emotionally invested in each case that he tries,” he said.

Homampour is able to see the big picture of how a case fits together in a way that very few lawyers can do, Ehrlich said.

“Everything he did indicated that he had a strategy that he thought out and for each move. It wasn’t that particular move he was making, but he saw it five moves ahead and saw how everything connected,” Ehrlich said.

Homampour got his start doing personal injury work for a lawyer he clerked for while attending Southwestern Law School.

“He retired and gave me about 30 very small personal injury cases involving dog bites or slip and falls. ... And, I found that I liked helping people, I liked making a difference, even on a small scale,” Homampour said.

But he was eager to move to bigger cases.

According to mediator and attorney Jeffrey L. Krivis, Homampour has got the “wherewithal to try any case that’s out there, but he’ll do the right thing for his client.”

In another case, Homampour represented Carlos Madrigal, a motorcyclist who was struck by an Allstate Insurance Co.-insured driver and rendered paraplegic.

Although the driver had $100,000 policy limit, Allstate offered Madrigal $34,000.

“By Allstate refusing to pay the $100,000, that opened up the policy of bad faith,” Homampour said, “our position was that, Allstate is now liable for whatever the verdict is.”

Allstate had the street shut down and hired stuntmen and cameramen to reenact the crash — arguing the accident was Madrigal’s fault.

Homampour used the reenactment to his advantage.

“They made this $500,000 graphic that turned out to help my case because it showed that, if the guy had looked in his right hand mirror, or his rearview mirror, he would have seen Madrigal the entire time, up until the time he turned and ran him over and turned him into a paraplegic,” he said. Madrigal v. Allstate Insurance Co., 14-CV04242 (C.D. Cal., led June 2, 2014).

“In every case we have that ‘a-ha moment’ where I take something they did, turn it around and show that, not only are they trying to deceive the jury, but the truth still is there and we’re ex- tracting it,” Homampour said.

Scott E. Boyer, an associate at the firm, said, “The great thing about the firm and working for Arash, is that there is truly a team effort to obtain the best results for our clients who have been injured and wronged.”

Personal injury attorney Gary A. Dordick describes Homampour as, “the most interesting man alive, or at least in the legal community.”

“Just like [that] commercial,” Dordick said, adding that, besides being one of the top trial lawyers in town, Homampour is a well-respected DJ.

Homampour said he believes it is critical to have a life balance.

“I love music, I make music, I DJ ... Music is like oxygen to me, if I didn’t have music I wouldn’t know what to do,” said Homampour, who has DJ’d at the Avalon Hollywood “at 1 or 2 a.m.”

“I could DJ earlier times, the thing is, I’m so detail oriented that I’m not going to do a set for a different crowd at 10 p.m. unless I’m like 100 percent prepared, because I have to do it perfectly,” he said, adding that it’s hard to find the time to prepare “in the context of somebody who has a very busy trial calendar.”

Tech house is his favorite subgenre, but he plays generic electronic dance music “because a lot of people need to have vocals,” and occasionally rap “because it’s LA and people like rap.”

A good trial lawyer has the ability to get to the heart of the matter and connect with people through storytelling, Homampour said.

“I don’t think my talent in that area is limited to trials,” said Homampour, who is writing a screenplay.

“I’ve seen so many interesting things occur in life that the screenplay is just an expression of me and trying to tell a compelling story that is interesting and fun and makes people think,” he said. “I want to try my hand in writing a story that is compelling for people.”

The same way he is compelling in trial.

“This is it. Trial law. I found the perfect, perfect career and I’m just ecstatic that I found this,” said Homampour, who even has a tattoo on his forearm that reads: “Trial Warrior.”

Originally published in Supplement to the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal, November 6, 2017
— Skylar Dubelko

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To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$8,000,000 Auto Versus State | Dangerous Public Property

$8,000,000 Auto Versus State | Dangerous Public Property

$8,000,000

In March, 2014 Attorney Arash Homampour settled an Auto versus State / Dangerous Public Property case for $8 million against the Defendant.

Incident

On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at approximately 3:20 a.m., Plaintiff, an accountant, was driving home from work and traveling on the Venice on-ramp to get onto the I-10 eastbound Santa Monica Freeway. Plaintiff's vehicle veered to the right for reasons unknown and went down a steep embankment where Plaintiff hit a tree and sustained life altering injuries...

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.

$2,000,000 Individual Versus Business | No Flotation Device

$2,000,000 Individual Versus Business | No Flotation Device

$2,000,000

In October, 2016 Attorneys Arash Homampour and Scott Boyer settled an Individual versus Business / No Flotation Device case for $2 million against the Defendant.

On Sept. 5, 2011, Plaintiff, and his wife, rented a canoe from Defendant to use at Shaver Lake in Fresno. While boating around the lake the canoe capsized and Plaintiff's wife drowned. Both Plaintiff and the Decedent had signed written waivers of liability, and had been offered, but rejected life vests before they used the canoe...

To talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers, call 323-658-8077. Or, if you prefer, send us an email by clicking on the red button below.

  • Initial consultations are free and we take cases on a contingency — which means there is no fee if there is no recovery.
  • Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Farsi and Armenian.
  • We also can handle complex cases via attorney referral.