|VIDEO| Shane Read Details How This Arash Homampour Closing Keyed a $33.8M+ Verdict

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Mar 1, 2024 12:39:06 PM

Wrongful death damages trials often turn a magnifying glass toward key moments of a decedent’s life, both positive and negative, when asking a jury to weigh the value of that life's loss. And in the latest episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, nationally renowned trial consultant Shane Read analyzes how an Arash Homampour closing argument powerfully acknowledged the negative moments of one man’s life, while also emphasizing its value, with all its imperfections, setting up a blockbuster verdict. 

Jose Ruvalcaba died after being struck with a shovel during an altercation with Victorville, California city employees. The city acknowledged responsibility for the incident, setting up a 2022 damages trial in the case. Homampour, of The Homampour Law Firm and representing Ruvalcaba’s estate, pointed to evidence of the strong bond between the man and his children when arguing for significant damages. Meanwhile, the defense countered with evidence that Ruvalcaba had been a transient who struggled with drug addiction, arguing that this undercut his relationship with his children.

But in his closing, Homampour compared defense arguments of Ruvalcaba’s life to criticisms of Leonardo da Vinci’s classic Mona Lisa. The subject of that painting, Homampour said, had been criticized for having yellow skin, thin hair, a growth on her eye, and a receding hairline, among other issues. 

With all of those criticisms, “what makes it so beautiful? What makes it so spectacular?” Homampour asked.

“It’s the beauty in the imperfection,” Homampour said. “It’s the beauty of humans.”

Homampour said the same view could be applied to Ruvalcaba’s life. “We’ve been focusing a lot about how awesome Jose Ruvalcaba was, and the defense has focused on some of the things he wasn’t awesome at,” Homampour said. “That’s the nature of being human. That is the beauty of being human.”

Read says Homampour’s metaphor is a powerful one, upending a key defense argument. “[Homampour] had to deal with this idea of imperfection, and he turned it around and made this weakness into a strength by saying, hey, our strengths are in our imperfection, and that’s what makes us so valuable as human beings.”

Watch more of CVN's Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read

Read says Homampour’s closing rebuttal went even farther, addressing and flipping a key timeline of the defense. In its own closing, the defense showed a slide outlining Ruvalcaba’s life as a father, broken down into “Married Dad” up to 2013, “Fun Dad” from 2013 to 2016, and “Absent Dad” from 2017 to 2018. 

But in his closing rebuttal, Homampour asked jurors to look at the “real timeline,” and showed a competing slide of Ruvalcaba's life.

“Let’s be real, they’re saying he’s absent or bad dad for one year, from 2017 to 2018,” Homampour said. “And he’s a 'Dead Dad' from 2018 to 2055. And he’s dead because of them.”

Read says the rebuttal adeptly flipped the defense contention surrounding Ruvalcaba's struggles. “I think this slide that Arash Homampour uses is so powerful, from "Bad Dad" and then, what? He’s a 'Dead Dad,'" Read says. “It just shows how important and meaningful this man’s life was, other than the one year that the defense is focusing on.”

Read adds that Homampour’s presentation style magnifies the impact of the message. 

“Do you see how he’s speaking from his heart?” Read asks. “He is really connecting with the jury.

Read says Homampour’s closing helped deliver a $33.85 million verdict in the case. “By using this simple ‘Dead Dad’ time frame... coupled with the Mona Lisa [metaphor] to show how humans and their imperfection make us so valuable, is the reason he got such a large verdict.”

Read’s analysis is the latest in CVN’s ongoing series, Trial Technique Spotlight, with Shane Read. Read is a nationally recognized trial consultant and award-winning author who has helped thousands of lawyers transform their deposition, trial, and oral advocacy skills through in-house training programs, one-on-one coaching, and keynote speeches. And in each episode of Trial Technique Spotlight, he uses CVN’s courtroom video to detail the techniques the nation’s top attorneys use, and how to best use them in your own cases. 

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Topics: Trial Technique Spotlight