JSH Reporter Fall 2014 - Page 20

TRIALCOURTDECISIONS 020 CASES OF NOTE TRIAL COURT DECISIONS Fernandez v. City of Phoenix September 15, 2014 Maricopa County Superior Court Don Myles, Michele Molinario and Gaya Shanmuganatha Don Myles, Michele Molinario, and Gaya Shanmuganatha, attorneys with Jones, Skelton & Hochuli in Arizona, recently obtained a win for the City of Phoenix at the Maricopa County Superior Court of Arizona. Plaintiffs, assignees of former Phoenix police officer Richard Chrisman, brought a declaratory action against the City of Phoenix to enforce an $8.5 Million dollar Morris type agreement. Defendant Phoenix moved for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the statute of limitations, res judicata, collateral estoppel or judicial estoppel, and that the Phoenix City Codes either bars Plaintiff’s claims or limits their damages to the costs of defense in the underlying Federal Court case. The Court agreed with Defendant Phoenix’s that its obligations to Mr. Chrisman, and therefore Plaintiffs, cannot extend beyond the limits set by the Phoenix City Codes. The Court, therefore, granted Phoenix’s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment and held that, if the jury finds that Phoenix wrongly denied Mr. Chrisman indemnity, Plaintiffs’ are only entitled to recover reimbursement for reasonable fees and expenses and not the $8.5 Million dollar settlement. Oscar Aguilar v. Werner Enterprises, Inc. October 25, 2013 U.S. District Court, District of Arizona Phil Stanfield and Jeremy Johnson Phil Stanfield and Jeremy Johnson obtained one of Arizona’s Top Defense Verdicts of 2013, which was featured in Arizona Attorney’s Magazine in June 2014. Phil Stanfield and Jeremy Johnson obtained a defense verdict on behalf of Werner Enterprises in a highly-contested wwrongful death case in federal court. The decedent’s Honda Accord suffered a front-passenger tire failure at approximately 8:00 PM on eastbound Interstate 10 in Phoenix, Arizona. She brought the car to a stop in the #3 travel lane of the freeway, then engaged the park brake and called her husband to inform him of the car problems. Werner’s tractor trailer collided into the stopped car about a minute and a half after the car came to a rest, resulting in the woman’s death. At trial, Mr. Stanfield presented evidence showing that the decedent drove on the flat tire for a minimum of one full mile before bringing the car to a stop. He also argued that the decedent’s failure to drive the car off the highway (where there was available shoulder along the road and she had passed at least one freeway exit), was the true cause of the accident. Plaintiff’s counsel argued the tractor-trailer driver was at fault due to lack of attention and failure to avoid a stranded motorist. In closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for a compensatory damage award of $20 million or more. The jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating for approximately three hours.