COSTA MESA, Calif., July 13, 2011 – Lisa Neal, a partner with Rutan & Tucker, LLP, California’s largest full-service law firm based in Orange County, recently achieved a defense verdict and judgment in favor of her clients in a case of alleged child abduction wherein the plaintiff claimed more than $20 million in damages. Associate Chelsea Epps assisted in achieving the victory.
The month-long jury trial involved three individuals represented by Rutan who were sued in 2009 for allegedly conspiring and aiding and abetting in the abduction of plaintiff’s seven month-old son to India in 1990. Plaintiff also claimed one client helped conceal his son from him when the son visited the United States in 1998. The plaintiff in the case, who is the father of the abducted child, claimed emotional distress, wounded feelings, grief and pain and suffering from the loss of his child.
At trial, Neal was able to discredit the plaintiff’s claim for emotional damages by emphasizing that he had failed to return to India between 1990 and 2008 in hopes of seeing his child and by establishing that plaintiff’s motivation in filing the lawsuit was to obtain revenge against his ex-wife’s family and friends. Plaintiff’s true intent was proved by evidence that in 2008, Plaintiff’s son told him that he had received a full scholarship to attend Stanford University. Two days later, the plaintiff filed kidnapping charges against his ex-wife because he knew she would journey from India to California to help their son settle in at school. His ex-wife did make the trip and was promptly arrested at the airport. In order to avoid a trial, she ultimately pled guilty to willfully and maliciously abducting the son. Plaintiff then sought revenge against Rutan’s clients and sued them for emotional distress claiming that they were somehow involved in the abduction.
The Court permitted Neal to call an expert witness on emotional distress damages, allowing the defense to present the evidence that the plaintiff suffers from profound traits of narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder. Ultimately, the jury found that Rutan’s clients had no knowledge of the kidnapping plan and returned a jury verdict in favor of Rutan’s clients.
Also involved in the defense was firm partner Rob Marcereau, associates Hengameh Safaei, Tim Spivey and Kaydi Domin, summer associate Natalie Samarjian, and staff members Cynthia Tennell, Nancy Bush, Suzanne Smart, and Victoria Craig.
“We are pleased that Lisa, Chelsea and the team scored such an outstanding victory in this complicated case,” said Mark Frazier, head of the firm’s Trial Section.
About Rutan & Tucker LLP
Rutan & Tucker is California's largest full-service law firm headquartered in Orange County, California with offices in Costa Mesa and Palo Alto. Primary practice areas include corporate and securities law, business and real estate litigation, labor and employment law, intellectual property, real estate, government and regulatory law, land use law, bankruptcy, condemnation and property valuation, environmental law, and taxation and estate planning. Detailed information about the firm is available at www.rutan.com.