“The strongest of all warriors are these – time and patience.” –Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
After six years of litigation and two jury trials against one of Southern California’s most successful and aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyers, Kelly Hockel & Klein, P.C. emerged victorious when a jury adopted Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC’s view of the case and returned a favorable verdict for its client.
Martinez v. Rite Aid Corporation began when the plaintiff filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2008 alleging wrongful termination, disability and age discrimination, and a host of other claims. The case initially went to trial in August of 2010; Jonathan Klein and Thomas Hockel tried the case together. After a contentious six-week trial, fueled by a palpably pro-plaintiff judge, the jury erroneously awarded more than $8 million in damages to the plaintiff. Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC appealed, and the appellate court reversed the damages award entirely and ordered a new trial on the issue of the amount of compensatory damages to be awarded to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff’s lawyer was undaunted by the reversal on appeal; in fact, he boasted in the media that his client would recover an even higher award in the new trial. Confident that he would prevail in the second trial as easily as he had in the first, the plaintiff’s lawyer refused to negotiate and rejected a pre-trial settlement offer of $1,000,000.
Thomas Hockel and Mark Iezza handled the second trial over three weeks in November and December of 2014. Implementing a carefully constructed strategy, Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC presented a reasoned damages case that insulated Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC’s client from plaintiff’s counsel’s rancor and overreaching. Through vigorous and well conceived cross-examination, Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC effectively neutralized plaintiff’s expert witnesses, whose testimony ended up aiding Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC in their defense of the action.
At the conclusion of the second trial, plaintiff’s counsel requested $18,000,000 in compensatory and general damages. After deliberating only a few hours, the jury unanimously adopted Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC’s damages recommendations and returned a favorable verdict in the amount of $321,000, just 3% of the amount of the 2010 award. Moreover, because the verdict was lower than defendant’s pre-trial offer, Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC’s client was entitled to recover some of its costs from plaintiff.
Although the long road was arduous, Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel PC persevered in its defense of the action and, with time and patience, secured a favorable verdict.