JUDGE STRIKES DOWN $2.7 MILLION SUM IN SUIT AGAINST SCHOOLS; ATTORNEY'S BEHAVIOR RULED IMPROPER.Byline: Jesse Hiestand / Daily News Staff Writer
Simi Valley Simi Valley (sē`mē, sĭm`ē), city (1990 pop. 100,217), Ventura co., SW Calif. in an oil, fruit, and farm region; laid out 1887, inc. 1969. school officials breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after a Superior Court judge overturned a jury verdict awarding $2.7 million to a student who suffered brain damage after being hit by a car in a crosswalk near his school.
Simi Valley Superior Court Judge Joseph Hadden struck down the verdict on grounds that Jennifer Joyce's attorney, Ira Herzog, tainted taint
v. taint·ed, taint·ing, taints
1. To affect with or as if with a disease.
2. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.
3. the jury with appeals for sympathy, leading questions and other improper trial conduct, officials said.
``It's an important decision, a very important decision for us,'' said Karen Longobart, risk management director for the Simi Valley Unified School District A unified school district is a school district which includes both primary school (kindergarten through middle school or junior high) and high school (grades 9-12). In Illinois, these districts are called unit school districts. . ``If we had to pay that (judgment), it would have come out of our schools and that takes away from our children.''
The plaintiff's attorneys can appeal the judge's decision or seek a new trial. Herzog, who did not attend the hearing Wednesday, didn't return calls.
On June 9, a Simi Valley jury returned a verdict for $2.7 million in damages. Jennifer Joyce Jennifer Joyce (born 25 September 1980 in Vancouver) is a Canadian hammer thrower.
She finished seventh at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and won the silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. In addition she competed at the 2005 World Championships without reaching the final. was 13 years old when she was hit while walking to her junior high school, now called Santa Susana High School Santa Susana High School is the third high school located in Simi Valley. The school campus is a middle school that was converted. The school colors are: silver, black, white, and teal. The school mascot is the Troubador. They are a school of the arts. , eight years ago.
Her attorneys argued the school district negligently maintained an opening in a chain-link fence that encouraged students to use a crosswalk in the middle of a busy street. Instead, the attorneys suggested students should have been encouraged to cross at a nearby intersection that had a stoplight.
Jurors did not find the school district fully liable for the economic damages or the non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. The district therefore was liable for $1.9 million of the $2.7 million total.
The district does not carry insurance, Longobart said. It instead belongs to the Ventura County Self-Funding Authority, an agency that pools contributions from 23 county school districts to pay litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. costs and judgments.
Longobart said the potential judgment would have had a ``serious adverse impact'' on the district had it not been overturned.
Korman Dorsey Ellis, the district's attorney, argued his motion for a new trial motion for a new trial n. a request made by the loser for the case to be tried again on the basis that there were significant legal errors in the way the trial was conducted and/or the jury or the judge sitting without a jury obviously came to an incorrect result. in front of Hadden for 40 minutes Wednesday. He argued that the plaintiff's attorney blatantly appealed to the jury's sympathy by, for example, ignoring a court admonishment and referring to his client as ``brain damaged'' during closing arguments. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. court documents filed by Ellis, this statement appeared to evoke a ``visible and strong visceral visceral /vis·cer·al/ (vis´er-al) pertaining to a viscus.
Relating to, situated in, or affecting the viscera.
pertaining to a viscus. reaction'' from most jurors.
Ellis also complained that Herzog allegedly called him a liar in front of the jury and referred to the district as a wealthy one that should be treated ``as though they were General Motors or an insurance company.''
``The court found basically that the plaintiff's attorney's conduct was so outrageous that cumulatively it deprived the school district of a fair trial,'' Ellis said.