COST MESA, Calif., July 28, 2009 – Lisa Neal, a partner in the Trial Department of Rutan & Tucker, LLP, California’s largest full-service law firm based in Orange County, successfully led a team to victory in a personal injury case involving a Community College District client. Assisting were Rutan attorneys Stephanie Chambers and Chelsea Epps. The plaintiff in the case, who tripped and fell over a wheel stop on the campus of one of the District’s colleges, contended that it represented a dangerous condition. She claimed that she had sustained major injuries resulting in neck surgery, and demanded more than $700,000, though her medical bills totaled approximately $200,000. In mediation, the plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $715,000, with the District’s last offer at $7,500. At trial, the Court split the case into a liability phase and a damages phase in order to prevent the large medical bills from influencing the jury’s consideration of the liability issues. “We contended that although representatives of the District were very sorry about what happened to the plaintiff, at the end of the day it was not the District’s fault that she tripped and fell,” said Neal. After deliberating for about one hour, the jury came back with a unanimous verdict in favor of the District, finding that the plaintiff did not meet her burden of proving that there was a dangerous condition on public property. After the verdict, Neal spoke with two of the jurors who said that while the jury thought the area at issue was potentially hazardous, they did not believe it posed a “substantial risk of injury to people exercising due care,” which is required to be proven under Government Code section 835. -more- Rutan wins jury trial for Community College District Page 2 of 2 The plaintiff also failed to prove that the District was aware of the condition and had an opportunity to make the necessary repairs. “The jurors said that they did not feel our client had notice of the dangerous condition, because the evidence indicated that no one ever complained about it, and it did not occur to anyone in the campus safety or maintenance departments that this area was hazardous,” said Neal. “I’d like to congratulate Lisa on a job well done. She did an excellent job presenting our case and clarifying issues that may not have been clearly understood by the jurors,” said a workers’ compensation specialist with the District.