On Jan. 16, Gordon & Rees assistant managing partner Miles Scully, assisted by San Diego partner Todd Konold, won a defense verdict on behalf of clients Balch Petroleum Contractors and Builders and Roebbelen Contracting Inc. The plaintiffs in the case – one of the largest brain damage suits tried over the past year – had sought $10 million in damages.
In Jodi B. Gutierres, et al. v. Balch Petroleum, et al., a personal-injury suit, the plaintiffs – Gutierres and her husband – alleged Gutierres had worked for AT&T in a building with no windows when a backhoe was used outside the building near a ventilation intake vent. As a result, Gutierres allegedly sustained carbon monoxide poisoning. The plaintiffs alleged that subcontractor Balch, the backhoe operator, failed to follow written and oral instructions to cover the vent and the general contractor, Roebbelen, admitted to liability in a subsequent letter to Gutierres's employer.
Defendants Balch and Roebbelen denied the allegations.
The plaintiffs sued and sought damages for Gutierres’s brain injury and for loss of consortium. At trial, the plaintiffs' experts testified that Gutierres's brain damage is severe and permanent, and she can no longer work or care for herself.
After a six-week trial, the Fresno County Superior Court jury deliberated for less than two hours and rendered a verdict of no negligence.