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January 2013

Gordon & Rees LA/Orange County Team Wins Appeal and Costs for Longtime Client

In December 2012, Los Angeles partner Steve Ronk and senior counsel Anthony Bellone, along with Appellate Practice Group member and Orange County partner Stephanie Alexander, won a case in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, for a large private security firm that is a longtime Gordon & Rees client.

The plaintiff, a Los Angeles civil rights attorney, sued the security firm claiming that its employee, a court security officer, assaulted her when she was detained while attempting to clear a security checkpoint at the Los Angeles federal courthouse’s main entrance in 2007. In addition to alleging assault, the plaintiff alleged claims for false imprisonment, negligent hiring and supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of California Civil Code §§51.7, 52.1, and 52.3.

Ronk and Bellone tried the case to a jury in June 2010 and won a defense verdict. Prior to the trial they successfully disposed of all claims in summary adjudication proceedings except the claims alleging assault, negligence and statutory violations. At trial, they won a directed verdict in favor of the employer as to the negligence claim and a jury verdict in favor of the employee as to the assault claim and the statutory violations. The plaintiff appealed and alleged, among other things, error in granting the directed verdict on the negligence claims, instructional error, and judicial bias.

In Alexander’s appellate brief, Gordon & Rees demonstrated that the directed verdict on the negligence claim was correct given the evidence admitted at trial. Gordon & Rees further demonstrated that the plaintiff invited the error she claimed regarding the jury instruction, resulting in a waiver of the issue on appeal. Gordon & Rees also demonstrated that the trial judge’s conduct was not improper and not prejudicial.

After oral argument conducted by Alexander, the court of appeal affirmed the judgment and awarded costs to Gordon & Rees’s client.

Stephen E. Ronk