News Articles

The majority of Kevin’s clients do not want to see their names in the media and Kevin strongly shares this sentiment. Nevertheless, when a case of public interest arises, Kevin carefully works with news professionals to deliver his client’s perspective accurately and discreetly.
 


 
BROADSPIRE SUBROGATION CASE
Daily Journal Verdicts and Settlements, June 29, 2012
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SETTLEMENT: $365,000

CASE/NUMBER: Broadspire, Mika Laupola v. Ancon Marine Services / YC063471

COURT/DATE: Los Angeles Superior Torrance / April 3, 2012

JUDGE: Hon. Dudley W. Gray, II.

ATTORNEYS: Plaintiff- Richard L. Bisetti (Magana, Cathcart & McCarthy, Los Angeles) for Mika Laupola; Kevin P. McVerry (Kevin P. McVerry, Attorney at Law, Camarillo) for Broadspire.
Defendant- David M. Phillips (Pollard, Mavredakis, Cranert, Crawford & Stevens, Pasadena).

FACTS: Mika Laupola worked for JV Industrial Cos. He went to ExxonMobil refinery as part of his job, and while walking to a tool shed on a road “within the refinery, his back was clipped by the side view mirror of a pickup truck operated by another subcontractor working on the premises. The subcontractor was an employee of Ancon Marine Services. Laupola was knocked to the ground and suffered injuries as a result thereof.

Laupola treated under JVs workers compensation carrier, Broadspire, which then sued Ancon to recoup its lien. Laupola sued Ancon for his personal injuries alleging it was vicariously liable for its employee’s negligence.

PLAlNTIFF’S CONTENTION: Plaintiff contended that he was wearing double ear protection at the time of the accident, and could not hear Defendant’s vehicle. Plaintiff contended that defendant employee was negligent in the operation of his vehicle.

DEFENDANTS’ CONTENTIONS: Defendants contended that plaintiff should have heard the approaching vehicle. Defendants further contended that Plaintiff failed to take evasive action to avoid being clipped by the side view mirror.

INJURIES: Laupola suffered injuries to his neck, back, and left knee. An MRI revealed internal derangement and both lateral and medial meniscal tears. He also claimed soft-tissue injuries to his neck and back, and he followed it up with physical therapy. He subsequently underwent an arthroscopy and partial medial meniscectomy on his left knee, followed by more physical therapy. Laupola continued to experience residual pain and discomfort in his left knee, neck, and back. He has not returned to work since and had maximized out his workers’ compensation benefits.

DAMAGES: Laupola sought damages for medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Broadspire sought $105,456.56 for the workers’ compensation lien.

RESULT: The parties negotiated a $365,000 global settlement. Laupola received $270,089.10 while Broadspire received $94,910.90.

INSURER: Zurich North America insured Ancon Marine Services.

 


 

APPELLATE COURT VICTORY

Pearson v. Superior Court
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Following the settlement of a personal injury case on behalf of Bryce Pearson, a minor, he tragically died. The insurance carrier reneged on the settlement and the Superior Court agreed with the carrier.

Kevin filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus (granted in less than 3% of the petitions filed) and the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision granted the petition and ordered the Superior Court to enforce the settlement. This established new California law in a published opinion. (202 Cal. App. 4th 1333, 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 56, 2012 DJDAR 1033).
 


 

Verdicts and SettlementsSTORMY WEATHER: A SECOND WIND
By Bobbi Murray
Verdicts & Settlements, August 20, 1999
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With an argument centered on weather conditions and swamps coolers, Kevin Patrick McVerry reduced a $3.1 million federal court verdict to a single dollar.

The first day it was ten or so boxes, the next day more than 15, and the rest arrived at Thousand Oaks’ Graves Roberson & Bourassa on the third day.

Nothing quite says lengthy litigation like 40-plus boxes of discovery, exhibits, depositions and photos being trucked through a law firm’s front door — all shipped by Riverside’s Best, Best, and Krieger, the previous defense counsel.

But it wasn’t just what was in the boxes, accumulated since 1990, that enabled defense attorney Kevin Patrick McVerry to reduce a $3.1 million damage award to a single dollar. It was the seemingly bulletproof argument he constructed, which convinced a Los Angeles federal jury that a Desert Hot Springs mobile home park would never have been profitable, due to the area’s location and weather conditions.

In an earlier trial, Silver Sage’s attorney, Newport Neach sole practitioner Wiiliam Davis, argues that the city council blocked the project because of bias against the families expected to occupy the development. In 1994, a Los Angeles federal jury found that the city council’s actions violated the Federal Fair Housing Act and allegedly caused Silver Sage, a housing developer, to lose millions. The jury awarded Silver Sage $3.1 million in damages.

But after the first verdict, U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall ruled that the award should be reduced to $400,000, or else the case could be retried on the issue of damages. The plaintiff’s chose a retrial.

With the city already having been found in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, McVerry’s foremost task in the retrial was to convince the jury that the Silver Sage development never would have been profitable, because no one would want to live in an remote area subject to flash floods and heavy humidity. His argument turned on issues of wind, rain and swamp coolers.

“What do you think of when you think of Palm Springs?” McVerry asks rhetorically. “Dry desert heat, right?”

Wrong.

Those familiar with Los Angeles weather reports predicting thunderstorms over the mountains and deserts know there’s often humid heat in Desert Hot Springs, which is why, McVerry argued, it would be tough to keep the occupancy rate high enough to make a profit. The developers planned to use evaporative coolers on the mobile homes, which works fine in dry heat but only serve to churn moist, muggy air without cooling it.

“The plaintiffs would testify that it was largely a dry heat area,” McVerry explained. “Then I’d put on people who used the word ‘monsoonal’ to describe the weather. So the air-conditioned issue was key. No air conditioning made the housing much less desirable.”

This argument gets a derisive response from Silver Sage lawyer Davis, who describes the defense’s arguments as “a bunch of crap made up later.” He sites a previously issued city finding that objected to the housing because it would involve too any residents for the town’s infrastructure.

“This was malarkey. Look at the finding: It says that it will be filled with families — but when it came to damages, they said that no one would rent,” Davis says. “Believe me, they didn’t turn this deal down because we had the wrong air conditioning. It was because we had the wrong people — people of color.”

McVerry went beyond air conditioning to highlight other livability issues, including the lack of sidewalks and street lights on the road outside the development, and a play area set partially in the Morongo Wash, which is most often dry, although occasionally subject to flash floods.

There was also the development’s remote location, almost two miles outside of town. That was one of the reasons, testified John Cristi, the Desert Hot Springs city planner, the council had second thoughts about the project.

Then there’s the wind.

“You ever see those windmills out there in the Morongo Pass near Palm Springs? The reason they’re out there is that there’s a lot of wind. Forty miles per hour, 50 miles per hour, even 70 miles per hour is not unusual,” McVerry says, moving a index finger along the pass on an aerial photo of the Coachella Valley. “100 miles per hour is unusual, but that occurs.”A Second Wind

The developers’ profit projections were based on a 95 percent occupancy rate over 55 years, a rate they would never maintain, McVerry asserted. To demonstrate that to the jury, one of his expert witnesses led them through the math. The witness estimated how many families would be available to move into the project, then broke out the number of families who would meet the income criteria. He concluded that the park would never be full enough to turn a profit.

One of Davis’s witnesses was Christopher J. Leisner, an accountant with BDO Seidman, who testified about the development’s potential profits. In his cross examination, McVerry asked Leisner what the development’s profits would be if the occupancy rate was 85 percent. Leisner testified that he had not made that computation.

Then McVerry asked Leisner if he had ever seen a 55-year-old mobile home. McVerry says he wanted the jurors to think about how the homes would hold up, especially with the amount the plaintiffs budgeted for maintenance.

Davis dismissed McVerry’s contention. “The idea that they would lose money for 55 years is ridiculous,” he says, pointing to the long lists of families waiting for low-income housing. “It would have been full the first day and it would have been full after that,” he continued.

McVerry’s other challenge lay in defusing potential racial issues that the first verdict raised. The matter was further fueled by testimony about alleged remarks of former city council member Cole Eyraud, now deceased.

At both trials Glen Crowson, Desert Hot Springs’ former manager, testified that he overheard Eyraud say that if the project went forward, “There’s going to be nothing but high density, and we’re going to have a lot of little Mexican kids and black kids running around there.”

“That was a big chunk of the plaintiff’s case,” says McVerry, adding that he found at least five witnesses who knew Eyraud, and testified that they never heard him say anything remotely like Crowson’s testimony. According to Davis, none of McVerry’s witnesses were at the closed hearing where Eyraud allegedly made the remark.

McVerry tried to further defuse the racial issues by telling the jury that Desert Hot Springs has at least nine low-income housing projects.

“That’s like saying we’ve got all the black people we need,” Davis returns. “It’s not something you can argue in fairness or the law.”

But Dowell Meyers, a University of Southern California professor of urban planning and demography, testified that Desert Hot Springs — a blue-collar town whose residents supply its wealthier neighbors in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage with housekeepers, gardeners and hotel workers — has a higher proportion of low-income housing than all of Riverside county.

The jury, which included two African American men and one Asian woman, was apparently satisfied that there was no malicious intent on the part of Desert Hot Springs. After deliberating for less than a day, the jury returned with a verdict reducing the original $3.1 million award to $1 — the city had violated the Federal Fair Housing Act, so at least nominal damages were due. The judge ruled that Desert Hot Springs owed Davis $57,000 in attorney fees.

“Maybe she figures that if you’ve waited eight years to get paid, you’re entitled to something, “Davis guesses, adding that he estimates his costs for the case are approximately $2 million. He added that the $57,000 attorney-fee award will cover copying costs.

A motion for another retrial was heard on July 19, although no decision has yet to come down; both counsel are fairly certain it will go their way.

“I’m again hopeful and confident that she’ll deny the motion,” says McVerry.

According to Davis, “the judge indicated that she was leaning toward a retrial.”

If a retrial is granted, Davis will again argue on behalf of the plaintiffs. He says his firm is committed to fighting housing discrimination cases, “as a deterrent to keep cities from disservice against minorities.”

McVerry, whose firm got the case after Desert Hot Springs conducted a “beauty contest” search, feels that he proved the city is not operating with discriminatory malice. He calls the action his first “bet-the-city case.”

“Three million dollars to the city of Desert Hot Springs is an incredible amount of money,” McVerry says. “The city of L.A. could lose that kind of money — they wouldn’t like it, they wouldn’t enjoy it — but Desert Hot Springs was looking at municipal insolvency.”

 


 

SEASIDE MANNER
By Diane Taylor
Verdicts & Settlements, August 20, 1999
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After spending weekdays advising clients, Kevin Patrick McVerry devoted his weekends to helping people as a lifeguard at Los Angeles County beaches.

Although Kevin Patrick McVerry relishes his recent courtroom victory on behalf of the City of Desert Hot Springs, where he was able to convince the jury to award only $1 against his client, his most gratifying accomplishments have nothing to do with the legal profession. Rather, McVerry is part of a unique group of full-time professionals who find that their weekend jobs as ocean lifeguards are often more rewarding than their chosen vocations.

McVerry, twice named an All-American swimmer by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has worked as an ocean lifeguard since 1973, when he was a student at California State University, Northridge. Since that time McVerry has spent most of his weekends and a few summers lifeguarding, both at Santa Monica Beach and Zuma Beach in Malibu.

“Lifeguarding is remarkably different from the work that I do,” says McVerry. “At the end of most days in the office I’ve moved a lot of paper — drafted motions, letters, discovery — but I can’t say that I’ve concluded anything.

“However, at the end of a day lifeguarding, I can say that today, I made three rescues, reunited two kids with their families, patched up an injury or even just tended to a cut on a finger,” he continues. “I find that extremely satisfying.”

Not that McVerry doesn’t enjoy lawyering. After 22 years of practicing in both the civil and criminal arena, McVerry, 46, says pursuing a legal career has “worked well for me.”

Law school, however, was not an inevitable choice.

As a child McVerry had absolutely no affinity for the legal profession, but a chance encounter later precipitated his decision to become an attorney. At 15, he met plaintiff’s lawyer Joseph G. Hurley at the Boys’ Club of North Hollywood. Hurley, then a partner at Hurley, Grassini & Wrinkle and later the vice-president of the State Bar of California, approached McVerry and some of the other boys and asked them if they wanted to become lawyers. McVerry’s negative response did not deter Hurley, who recruited him and a group of other boys to work as summer law clerks.

At the personal injury firm, McVerry was assigned typical tasks, such as updating legal reference books, filing and picking up records. However, Hurley also discussed his cases with the clerks and brought them to court, as well as to meetings with experts.

“I remember going our one day with Hurley and meeting with a handwriting expert who had worked on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case,” says McVerry. “When I think about it now, I can’t believe it. But at the time, it seemed natural that he would take me to these places and the people would give me their time. I look at it now and realize how really fortunate I was to have someone like that.”

Hurley also encouraged McVerry to attend his “law club,” an informal group of people who gathered to talk about law and how it influenced everyone’s daily lives. “To a great extent, Hurley was the reason I became a lawyer,” says McVerry. “It was wonderful to see how he helped people. They would come to him with life-affecting cases, and he would look at their problems and be able to set them straight.”

After working a couple of summers at Hurley, Grassini & Wrinkle, McVerry entered CSU Northridge. In 1974, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history. To this day, McVerry maintains an avid interest in history, especially the period of America history from 1940 to the present. At home, he keeps a library devoted largely to biography-oriented history books, which he reads during his spare time.

When it came time to elect a graduate program, McVerry followed Hurley’s example and enrolled in law school. He obtained his J.D. from Washington, D.C.’s Columbus School of Law, a division of the Catholic University of America, in 1977. The summer between his second and third years, McVerry continued to work at Hurley’s firm as a law clerk.

After graduating from law school, McVerry spent his first year as a lawyer clerking for U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk. “At the federal level I had the opportunity to observe the very best lawyers working the their highest levels, which was tremendous,” McVerry says. “Plus, Judge Hauk enjoyed interacting with the law clerks,. Instead of just having us write memos, he would always discuss each case with us, and we would explore the issues together. It was a great year.”

After completing his clerkship, McVerry moved to Blecher & Collins, a Los Angeles antitrust firm. He was there for only six months. “The attorneys at Blecher & Collins were wonderful people, but after working there for a short time, I realized that they had never tried a case. I knew then that I wasn’t going to stay there for long.”

In March 1979, McVerry moved to the Ventura County district attorney’s office. Within two weeks, McVerry was doing what he loved best — trying cases. As a deputy district attorney, McVerry tried DUI’s, assault and battery cases, burglaries and homicides. “I really enjoyed working at the district attorney’s office,” McVerry says. “There was a sense that we were all working on the side of truth, justice and the American way — or on behalf of what my partner calls the ‘white horse.’”

After three years, McVerry switched back to private practice by joining Cohen, England & Whitfield in Oxnard. He tried several cases against the firm while at the district attorney’s office and was very impressed with the lawyers’ skills. In addition to the firm’s criminal cases, McVerry handled some business litigation, construction defect and banking cases.

Three years later, McVerry moved once again, to Graves & Roberson in Thousand Oaks. Even though he liked working at Cohen England, he had only tried three to four cases in three years. “There was a lot of pretrial and prep work, but not a lot of trial work,” he says.

McVerry remained at the firm, now called Graves, Roberson & Bourassa, for 14 years. He made partner eight years ago and is one of three attorneys in the civil litigation department. The other attorneys at the firm specialize in workers’ compensation and retirement matters.

McVerry’s caseload at the firm includes product liability, premises liability, personal injury and Fair Housing Act matters. His biggest clients are corporations such as Johnson Controls, a manufacturing company; Astec, a road construction firm; and various municipalities, such as the city of Desert Hot Springs.

“I enjoy working at the firm, because I have the opportunity to try a lot of cases,” McVerry says. “And I like the low-key, friendly, casual atmosphere that the firm encourages.”

It’s not surprising that the firm is a good fit for McVerry since his own style of lawyering has been described as “mild-mannered” and “extremely civil.” In fact, it is his old mentor Hurley, now a sole practitioner, who characterized McVerry that way.

“Kevin is a genuinely nice man in a profession where many people are afraid to be nice,” Hurley says. “He realizes that the practice of law is more of an art than a science, and is able to diffuse the conditions of anxiety that are often present in trial work. Despite his mild manner, Kevin has some great internal strengths. If you ever need a law partner or a lawyer, you could find no one better than Kevin.

James C. Fedalen, a partner at Calabasas’ Sabo & Green, which represents the city of Desert Hot Springs in its litigation matters, echoes Hurley’s assessment. “Kevin is low-keyed, and yet he can be very intense in the courtroom,” he says. “He’s diligent, perceptive, very bright and has the ability to comprehend and utilize the facts of a case to his client’s best advantage. Above all, he’s a gentleman in the way that he practices and provides a great example of how attorneys should conduct themselves.

McVerry, who has been married for over 22 years to his wife Anna, has two daughters, Catherine, 17, and Margaret, 15. Both girls were adopted from Korea when they were 2 years old. On weekends, McVerry often takes them with him to the beach while he lifeguards, or his wife brings them later in the day. Afterward, the family usually dines together in Malibu, either at a restaurant or with a bucket of chicken on the beach.