The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas recently granted a Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony filed by Vernon Hartline on behalf of Volkswagen Group of America and Ducati North America. The case is a products liability case arising out of an accident involving a 2004 Ducati Monster 620 motorcycle in Houston, Texas. Ducati NA argued that the plaintiff’s expert, Byron Bloch, was unqualified and that his opinions were unreliable and not based on a sufficient scientific foundation. The court agreed, finding that the expert’s report was “speculative, conclusory, and fails to consider or disprove alternative causes.” The court granted an exclusionary order for the expert’s entire testimony. You can read the entire Exclusion Order here.
Hartline Barger LLP partner Jeff Patterson will present at the 2019 ABA/TIPS Emerging Issues in Motor Vehicle Product Liability Litigation Conference in San Diego, CA on April 4th. Considered the premiere national CLE on motor vehicle litigation, this American Bar Association-hosted program features leading figures from the industry, in-house counsel, and trial lawyers covering the issues that are on the cutting edge of what is happening in both the industry and the courtroom. Jeff, who has once again been selected to speak at this annual event, will present this year on the topic of jury research.
With over 60 mock trials under his belt, Jeff has considerable experience with all aspects of jury research & consulting. His presentation, “Lessons Learned in Jury Research,” will offer insight into the evolution of selecting and talking to juries. This talk will also consider the challenges faced by “post-truth” jurors, a trial lawyer’s view on using jury consultants and shadow juries, and missteps to avoid in mock trials. He is set to speak on the main stage on April 4th at 2:30 PM.
The Best Lawyers in America©, the oldest lawyer-rating publication in the U.S., has selected eight Hartline Barger LLP attorneys for inclusion in their 2019 edition. Furthermore, the firm’s Corpus Christi office received Best Lawyers‘ “Top-Listed” award for Personal Injury Defense Litigation. This special designation is granted to the firm with the most Best Lawyers listed in a particular metroplex.
Hartline Barger congratulates its listed Best Lawyers in America:
- Darrell L. Barger – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants; Litigation – Trusts and Estates.
- Vernon Hartline, Jr. – Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
- Kyle H. Dreyer – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants
- Jeffrey S. Patterson – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
- Ann Hennis – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
- Michael G. Terry – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Richard W. Crews – Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
- Peter C. Blomquist – Commercial Litigation
On February 19, 2015, Brian Rawson, and Roy McKay of Hartline Barger LLP obtained a complete summary judgment on behalf of The Mansions of Rockwall apartment complex and its management company, Western Rim Property Services, in a premises liability lawsuit in Tarrant County, Texas.
Plaintiff Spurgeon Sturdevant resided at The Mansions of Rockwall with his girlfriend and her son. On or about June 11, 2011, Mr. Sturdevant exited his apartment after dark to have a discussion with his girlfriend’s son. Mr. Sturdevant walked from his apartment to the pool area of the complex, which is located on a raised, hilly area. To reach the pool area, Mr. Strudevant had to walk up a series of partially railed walkways and stairs. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, he detoured off of the walkway onto the grass. Strudevant turned left while talking and allegedly stepped past the retaining wall without realizing he had reached it. This caused Mr. Sturdevant to fall 6-8 feet to the ground below. Sturdevant allegedly fractured bones in his left foot in this fall. Mr. Sturdevant underwent surgery on his foot at Parkland Hospital following his fall.
Sturdevant argued that the complex was negligent because it provided inadequate lighting and failed to provide railings along the entire walkway to prevent individuals from encountering the retaining wall. Mr. Rawson and Mr. McKay obtained admissions from Mr. Sturdevant that he had visited the pool area before and knew of the retaining wall before the fall. Sturdevant also admitted that he was simply not paying attention to where he was going when he fell. Mr. Rawson and Mr. McKay also obtained evidence from the complex’s former manager establishing that the complex had never before had any incidents related to the retaining wall.
Mr. Rawson and Mr. McKay moved for summary judgment on two primary grounds. The evidence affirmatively established The Mansions did not have knowledge of any alleged dangerous condition related to the walkway and retaining wall before the incident. Additionally, the walkway and retaining wall fully complied with applicable building codes and were not “dangerous conditions” under Texas law.
Plaintiff Sturdevant responded with the submission of an Affidavit from an expert in code compliance, who opined that the complex did not fully comply with applicable codes. Plaintiff also argued that the steps taken to secure the area, including the partial enclosure of the walkways with railings, showed Defendants’ knowledge of a dangerous condition. Mr. Rawson and Mr. McKay responded to Sturdevant’s evidence by urging the exclusion of Plaintiff’s expert because the expert failed to provide any support for his opinions—they were mere ipse dixit.
The trial judge agreed with Mr. Rawson and Mr. McKay’s arguments and granted a complete summary judgment, dismissing all claims with prejudice.
On November 15, 2017, Hartline Barger LLP partner Brian Rawson attorney Jeff Martin successfully represented a landlord in a breach of contract, conversion, and the Texas Theft Liability Act trial in Dallas County, Texas. Brian’s client, 2319 Walnut LLC, alleged that on August 25, 2015, Defendant Joe’s Pizza & Pasta entered into an enforceable contract with Plaintiff to lease a commercial property. 2319 Walnut LLC performed its duties under the lease, but Defendant materially breached the lease by failing to pay rent, vacating the property, and stealing a substantial amount of kitchen equipment owned by Landlord from the leased premises. Brian obtained a verdict in favor of the 2319 Walnut LLC and was awarded $153,123.15.
Hartline Barger partners Darrell Barger, Brian Rawson, and Stephanie Roark obtained a complete defense verdict on behalf of a publicly traded hospitality company in a Dram Shop and negligent undertaking trial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andy Austin in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. Mr. Barger is a partner in the firm’s Corpus Christi and Houston offices, and Mr. Rawson and Mrs. Roark are partners in the Dallas office.