2007 Award Winners

Assembly Member John Laird
Legislator of the Year
Since being elected to the Assembly in 2002, John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) has consistently stood out as an extraordinary leader. In addition to serving as an eloquent and intelligent voice for consumers on the Judiciary Committee, he has chaired the Budget Committee since 2004. In that role, he has fought for budgetary fairness under very difficult circumstances. This year he championed the lien rights of Medi-Cal recipients and played an instrumental role in ensuring that lien language was included in state budget legislation. He has also displayed exceptional leadership on environmental issues as a member of the Natural Resources Committee. In all of his many roles, Assembly Member John Laird’s quick intelligence, shrewd strategic abilities, and graceful sense of humor have earned him incredible respect from his colleagues, making him a natural choice as Consumer Attorneys of California’s 2007 Assembly Member of the Year.

Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata
Legislator of the Year
Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) has been a lifelong advocate for the underdog. After teaching for 14 years, he was elected twice to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors before going to Sacramento. In the Senate, he has been unanimously elected President pro Tempore three times by his colleagues. He has been a stalwart and strategic supporter of the civil justice system and he recognizes the terrible injustice of MICRA. He also has worked for fair lien rights for injured Medi-Cal recipients. In his long and successful career, Senator Perata has been a leader in the fight to ban assault weapons, authored global warming legislation, and fought for legislation to require HMOs to pay for mental health care treatment. His legacy of working to ensure justice for Californians makes him Consumer Attorneys of California’s 2007 Senator of the Year.

Tom Adams
Consumer Advocate of the Year
Tom Adams is the Board Chair of the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV). Under Mr. Adams leadership, the CLCV has developed into the leading political action arm of California’s environmental movement. CLCV’s mission, protecting the environmental quality of the state by increasing public awareness of the environmental performance of all elected officials, working to elect environmentally responsible candidates, and holding them accountable to the environmental agenda once elected, complements the mission of CAOC. CAOC and CLCV have worked hand in hand to elect candidates who will work to protect consumers. The California Alliance, a partnership of the CLCV, CNA, and CAOC, is one of the leading political forces in California. Mr. Adams’ experience as a lawyer brings a unique perspective to our common goals and Californians are fortunate to have such a well-respected and effective advocate for the environment and for civil justice. Congratulations to Mr. Adams for being the 2007 Consumer Advocate of the Year.

Thomas T. Anderson
Robert E. Cartwright, Sr. Award
This award honors excellence and dedication to teaching trial advocacy in California’s courtrooms and among the public. Mr. Anderson was unquestioned as a recipient of the 2007 award based on his extensive experience, his long resume of organizational participation, and his unwavering faith and humanity when faced with adversity. He has represented consumer attorneys via his participation with the Western Trial Lawyers Association, International Society of Barristers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers, National Board of Trial Advocacy, Inner Circle of Advocates, and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and has served on the Boards of ABOTA, CAOC, and AAJ. He is a published author, an award winner, and an active member of several Christian organizations. Mr. Anderson has lectured to various groups including attorneys on evidence supporting the deity of Christ. His ideals are consistent with helping clients get a fair shake and he has helped grow CAOC from its infancy. He has continued providing support and education to newer lawyers through his popular seminars, the most recent of which took place last year.

Bruce A. Broillet
Marvin E. Lewis Award
This award honors guidance, loyalty, and dedication and no person is more deserving than Mr. Broillet. His approach to the law has earned him national recognition and respect among his peers in the legal community. His achievements include representing the County of Los Angeles against Big Tobacco and negotiating one of California’s largest pretrial settlements for an injury victim. He has received numerous accolades including being named in Woodward & White as one of “The Best Lawyers in America,” in California Lawyer Magazine as one of “California’s Most Respected Lawyers,” and in the Los Angeles Daily Journal as the “100 Most Influential Attorneys in California.” He is a CAOC past president who continues guiding others in the profession through his well-attended MCLE courses. He is a true champion of the civil justice system and is an honest inspiration.

Joseph W. Cotchett
Edward I. Pollock Award
Mr. Cotchett receives this award that recognizes years of dedication and effectiveness on behalf of the causes and ideals of consumer attorneys. Mr. Cotchett’s cases have helped protect California’s coastline, helped lay groundwork for present consumer laws, and protected the elderly in the publicized savings & loan debacles of the 1990s. Now focusing on financial fraud cases on behalf of shareholders and public pension funds, he has taken on Wall Street firms for their role in the Enron, Worldcom, and other major financial frauds. Mr. Cotchett has tried more than 100 cases to verdict. He is active in environmental matters, assisting veterans, and contributes to children’s causes through the Cotchett Foundation, which aids those in need of assistance.

Raymond P. Boucher
Consumer Attorney of the Year Award
Every year, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) recognizes one distinguished member lawyer who, in representing his/her clients on a daily basis, has overcome incredible odds to provide justice to victims, and has established precedent that will make a difference in the lives of Californians.
CAOC is proud to announce the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award was presented to Raymond Boucher for his exceptional work on the Los Angeles County Superior Court Clergy Cases. Additionally, Mr. Boucher achieved this settlement while serving as CAOC President.
Mr. Boucher won the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award for these landmark cases (Coordinated Proceedings: The Clergy Cases 1 ) on behalf of 508 plaintiffs against the Catholic Church for hiding sexually abusive priests. For hundreds of years, if not longer, the Catholic Church systematically allowed and covered up the rape of children by its clergy because civil justice systems around the world denied victims the opportunity to bring accountability to this institution. Many of the plaintiffs had been denied justice for more than 40 years. These cases were difficult and complex and began in 2002 when the state Legislature opened the courthouse doors to victims of clergy sexual abuse (by enacting California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.1). Each plaintiff had a separate case against distinct defendants, each with its own issues regarding First Amendment law, prior notice, extensive damages, and 40 years of multiple layers of insurance policies for numerous entities. Hundreds of depositions were taken, countless motions, and at least a dozen appeals were filed. The cases settled on the eve of trial because of the threat of civil jury justice and the awesome potential for further embarrassment of the church. These Los Angeles County Superior Court cases were globally recognized and this litigation and settlement have changed the Catholic Church forever. Raymond Boucher is a name partner at the law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson.

Lisa Maki
Street Fighter of the Year Award
New this year, CAOC introduced the Street Fighter of the Year Award, which exemplifies the everyday struggle of the small practitioner in California and highlights the efforts of one plaintiff’s lawyer who, through the practice of law, has helped to create a more just society regardless of profit or personal benefit. CAOC is proud to announce the Street Fighter of the Year Award was presented to Lisa Maki.
Ms. Maki won for her work in Dawn Traeger Brady v. Ingram Micro Inc., a disability discrimination case in Orange County Superior Court. The plaintiff was a supervisor who was sent home on administrative leave for allegedly being abusive to her subordinates. She was called in to discuss the allegations after a few weeks, but on the evening before she was to go in, she was rushed to the emergency room with heart palpitations and very high blood pressure. A few weeks later, a doctor released her to return to work with a note that required her to “avoid all stressful situations.” The employer refused to return her to work claiming it would be too stressful for her to discuss the investigation. The jury found the employer failed to engage in an interactive process to determine if it could reasonably accommodate her disability. The defendant offered to settle repeatedly telling Ms. Maki they would get the case thrown out because they had never lost on summary judgment. Summary judgment was denied.  The defendant then offered a larger settlement shortly before trial, and repeatedly told the plaintiff that she would lose at trial because they had never lost a trial. The settlement offer was withdrawn during trial and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff. Lisa Maki is an attorney/owner of Law Offices of Lisa L. Maki.

Consumer Attorney of the Year and Street Fighter of the Year award winners were announced on November 10, 2007 at the CAOC Annual Installation & Awards Dinner which took place in conjunction with the CAOC Annual Convention at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, Calif. Please visit http://www.caoc.com/07AwardFinalists  for further details and information on the finalists.