Interviewer: Do you have any good case studies or examples of cases you worked on where you got good results?
Nicholas Lowe: I had a client who was a stepdaughter of a very close friend. My friend remarried and this was a daughter from a previous marriage. I didn’t get along with her, I didn’t like her, I thought she was very unlikable and very unreasonable. She wanted a lot of money and wasn’t listening. During the case, I suggested she treat with a certain doctor and she went a couple of times and then quit treating. She no showed and she just dropped the ball. Later she went to a physical therapist and she complained that what they did didn’t help her and she went a few times and quit. She was referred for an MRI and she didn’t show up. They offered her an Epidural injection in her spine, she refused. At the end of the case, I had a lot of medical treatment that just didn’t sit together. So I hired one of the best doctors around and I had him examine her and it was funny.
The Spinal Surgeon Could Not Meet with the Attorney Prior to Trial
This spinal surgeon was extremely busy. He examined my client and I did not ask for a report, I could not settle the case and we went to trial. Going to trial, I had never talked to this consulting doctor, I didn’t know what his opinion was and I had called him. I’d set up meetings and he’d canceled because he had emergency surgeries. He’s a very good guy and a very good doctor but he didn’t have time for me when I needed him. We started trial and I told the jury in opening argument that I’d hired this doctor and I told the jury I am not going to put words in his mouth, I’m going to let him tell you what his opinion is because I had no idea what his opinion was. Several days into the trial, I called the doctor and he shows up 10 minutes before court. I take him in a little side room and said, “What’s the reader’s digest version of your opinion?” He said, “My opinion is she’s in that small percentage of people who just don’t get better. We don’t know why. I believe her, I don’t think she is surgical but I think she’s going to have chronic pain for the rest of her life”.
The Honest Opinion of the Surgeon Led the Jury to Decide in Favor of the Plaintiff
She was 24, 25 years old. So, I go into court and I lead him through his exam, I lead him up to his opinion and I said, “Doctor, can you tell us your opinion in this case?” I think everybody in the courtroom thought he was going to say, “I believe she’s surgical and she needs surgery”, but in fact he said, “She’s not surgical. She is just one of those small percentages, 10 per cent that don’t get better and we really don’t know why”. I then argued in closing argument that this was a chronic pain case, that you should give her X number of dollars per month the rest of her life to compensate her. The jury was not out very long and they came back to the penny with what I asked them to award. They loved this doctor, they loved the fact that he was honest, it would have been better for the plaintiff, more money if he had said she was surgical and needed $100,000 surgery in the future”. But that wasn’t his opinion and he didn’t say that and the jury believed him because of it. At the end, it was one of my best verdicts, it wasn’t one of my largest verdicts but it was one of my best verdicts for somebody who I thought was pretty unlikable and the jury loved.
Another Case Study Involving Adversity But Receiving a Favorable Outcome
Interviewer: Any more cases where the odds were really stacked against somebody but yet you still prevailed and got a good settlement?
Nicholas Lowe: I tried a case in downtown Los Angeles and it was a fire that occurred in a 2-storey apartment. There were two bedrooms upstairs and downstairs there was living room and a kitchen. One morning very early, there were four children and the mom and dad, the children were young, they got up, came downstairs and the father had left his lighter on the coffee table. One of the kids playing with the lighter lit some newspapers on fire and the fire spread and became out of control. The kids knew they had done something wrong but they were young so they ran upstairs and hid. Mom and dad at some point wake up and they hear noises outside, they opened the bedroom door and the whole downstairs was on fire.
The Father And Mother Were Able to Save 3 Children but the 4th was Lost in the Fire
The dad grabs two of the children, mom grabs two of the children and they run down the stairs and they have to go through the fire to exit the apartment. Dad makes it through with the two children, mom makes it part way and drops one of the kids. That kid is fearful of course and in the black smoke, you couldn’t see anything, there’s extreme heat, the kid crawls away from her and she can’t find him. So, she exits the building with only one child. Father is a hero, he rushes back in and tries to find the fourth kid but he can’t. Ultimately, he has to get out of the apartment. The child that they couldn’t find died, dad had severe burns, mom had severe burns and one of the children had severe burns.
The Settlement Offer was Zero Dollars Yet the Jury Awarded Over $5 Million in Damages
The case was against the apartment complex for not supplying a working smoke detector. The apartment complex claimed that the parents had disabled the smoke detector, that they hadn’t replaced the battery or completely disabled it. Our testimony was that the apartment complex had never maintained the smoke alarm. They had not cleaned it periodically and they had never replaced the batteries. We went to verdict, the offer on that case was zero dollars and the jury gave me slightly over $5 million. There were some health and safety code sections that we found that were very helpful to our side with regard to the placement of the smoke alarms in a room or in a house. How many should we had in the apartment and how often the battery should be changed?All of those came into evidence and we ended up winning that case.