ON CALL TRIAL COUNSEL

Defense victory in California landslide trial

Defense victory in California landslide trial

Problem

Nine plaintiffs, property owners of various parcels around McKillop Road in Oakland, California, brought this action against several public entities, including the City of Oakland, East Bay Municipal Utility District, and our clients - Alameda County and the Alameda County Flood Control District, alleging that their property at the top of a slope was damaged as a result of a 2006 landslide. By the time trial began, however, there remained only two plaintiffs, whose properties were on the edge of the subject slide area, and our clients as the only defendants.

Plaintiffs contended that the slide was caused by erosion from Sausal Creek at the base of the slope, because of increased velocity in the creek and a buildup of ground water from our clients' box culvert and related improvements constructed in 1972.


Solution

Working with KC Ward and the On Call Trial Counsel team, our experts were able to demonstrate that: the area surrounding McKillop Road has been geologically unstable since before the 1930s and prior to the date the Flood Control District had been established; the landslide originated at the top of the slope, not at the base at the creek; and the area above the box culvert had no effect on the slide area.


Result

After a seven week trial, the result was a complete defense verdict. Defendants had offered $2.5 million. The jury took two hours to arrive at its verdict, demonstrating KC Ward’s ability to persuasively convey facts to a jury that focus on the strength of the evidence.

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