CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Jason Sanchez delivering his closing argument
San Bernardino, CA - A California state court jury awarded $3 million on Thursday to a deaf motorcyclist injured in a crash with a big rig truck, and the proceedings were webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
The San Bernardino County jury deliberated for roughly a day-and-a-half in a trial that began on April 28th. Plaintiff Gregory O’Connell, 33, sued trucking company C.R. England following the 2018 crash, when the truck boxed in O’Connell’s motorcycle while making a right turn from the left lane of traffic.
The company admitted liability for the accident, leaving jurors tasked solely with determining the amount of damages O’Connell deserved for his injuries, which included a leg fracture requiring multiple surgeries, a punctured lung, and the difficulty of not being able to initially communicate with his doctors.
O’Connell’s attorneys asked the jury to award $20 million, while C.R. England argued that $750,000 would be reasonable compensation for injuries from which they argue O’Connell had largely recovered.
The full trial, including all expert witness testimony, was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network. The full proceedings are available, along with hundreds of other trials featuring top plaintiff and defense attorneys from across the United States, with a monthly or annual subscription to CVN’s online trial video library.
After the trial attorney Bob Simon of Simon Law Group, who represented O’Connell along with co-counsel Jason Sanchez, told CVN that C.R. England initially offered $500,000 to settle the case, later increasing the offer to $1.6 million just before trial. He said recovered costs and prejudgment interest could eventually push the judgment past $4.2 million.
Simon noted that C.R. England is partially self-insured with additional coverage provided by Chubb.
While the jury’s verdict fell short of what Simon’s team requested, he cited O’Connell’s authenticity on the witness stand as a key factor in securing a multi-million award in a conservative jurisdiction like San Bernardino.
“You can win these cases anywhere and learn how to speak to your audience,” Simon stressed.
"The case was centered around our client,” Simon said. “He is a fantastic human. They loved him and believed him.”
He also said the verdict spoke to the high respect shown to the deaf community.
Simon had kind words for his opposing counsel, Dana Fox of Lewis Brisbois, calling Fox “the best of the best.”
Fox told CVN that the facts of the case made it easy to credibly argue to the jury that O’Connell largely recovered from his injuries.
CVN screenshot of defense attorney Dana Fox delivering his closing argument
“The evidence established that while it was a very significant injury that he had an excellent recovery,” Fox said, noting that surveillance video taken of O’Connell working at Home Depot shown to the jury over plaintiffs objections helped support that position.
“It was extremely impactful, and the jurors told us that,” Fox said.
Fox encouraged younger defense attorneys not to avoid “bad facts” in cases like these. In this trial, Fox said the “bad fact” was the initial severity of O’Connell’s injuries.
“You just lean into it. Don’t deny it. Acknowledge it,” Fox said. “You have to maintain your credibility as a trial lawyer, and if you take a stupid position they’re going to stop listening to you.”
Fox had similarly kind words for Bob Simon, calling him an “excellent trial lawyer” and emphasizing to younger attorneys the benefits of disagreeing with opposing counsel without being disagreeable.
“Don’t be difficult for the sake of being difficult,” Fox said. “Your client doesn’t benefit from it, jurors hate it, and you just get high blood pressure from it.”
The trial took place before Judge Brian McCarville.
O’Connell was also represented by Greg Jackson, Jenellle Davis and Kieran Dougherty, and the plaintiffs team worked with trial consultant Harry Plotkin to select the jury.
The case is captioned Gregory Kyle O’Connell v. Kendrick Dwight Course, C.R. England Inc., case number CIVDS1909564, in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Bernardino County.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org