Legislator of the Year
Assembly Member Mike Feuer
 
Consumer Attorneys of California is proud to select Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) as its Legislator of the Year. Feuer embodies what a great legislator ought to be: hard-working, supremely honest, highly ethical, even-tempered, and intelligent. Feuer, in his second term representing California’s 42nd Assembly District, has quickly distinguished himself. As Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Feuer is on the front line protecting consumers and the civil justice system from harmful legislation promoted by the insurance, banking and tobacco industries.  His sharp intellect and keen strategic sense have earned him the respect of his colleagues. As a result, he has been tapped to negotiate thorny issues involving the state budget and the courts. In this challenging legislative environment, Feuer skillfully shepherded key legislation through to enactment: AB 590, a landmark measure that would make California the first state in the nation to establish a model program providing a right to counsel for low-income people in critical civil cases; AB 91, a bipartisan public safety measure that will reduce drunk driving by requiring DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their cars; and AB 392, urgency legislation that will restore $1.6 million for local Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs during the next year. That bill will help protect elderly residents of nursing homes from abuse and neglect. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Feuer began his legal career as a clerk to California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin.  He went on to work in private practice and taught law and public policy at UCLA.  For eight years, he was executive director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which provides free legal services to more than 50,000 clients, most of them elderly and disabled in Los Angeles.  Feuer also has served on the Los Angeles City Council.  He is married to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer, and they have two children.

Consumer Advocates of the Year
Joanne Doroshow and Rosemary Shahan
 
CAOC’s Consumer Advocates of the Year are Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, and Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) in Sacramento and a member of the board of directors of the Consumer Federation of America, the nation's largest consumer organization. Both worked to retain the rights of victims of defective Chrysler and GM vehicles after the companies were reorganized in bankruptcy proceedings. When Chrysler came out of bankruptcy in June, it had protection that would have allowed the company to dismiss all liability claims for manufacturing defects of all vehicles the company had produced to that time, leaving drivers without recourse in the event of death or injury resulting from a product defect. Two months later, Chrysler agreed to accept future product liability claims on vehicles built before it exited bankruptcy, as well as warranty claims, lemon-law claims and safety recalls. Doroshow is an attorney who has been working on civil justice issues since 1986, when she directed a project on liability and the insurance industry for Ralph Nader. She has also worked in film and television, as associate producer for the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” and coordinating producer for the film “Sicko,” both directed by Michael Moore. Shahan has worked to advance consumer vehicle issues since 1979, with results including the first lemon laws, airbag requirements, seatbelt improvements and safety recalls.

Robert E. Cartwright, Sr., Award
Scott Sumner
 
Scott Sumner is the recipient of the Robert E. Cartwright, Sr., Award, given "in recognition of excellence in trial advocacy and dedication to teaching trial advocacy to fellow lawyers and to the public." Sumner is a past president of the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association and is a frequent MCLE lecturer for CAOC as well as local trial lawyers associations throughout California. He describes himself as "a reluctant expert on medical liens and the collateral source rule." As such he has written many articles on California’s collateral source rule and has helped draft and review related legislation for CAOC. Other fields of expertise include products liability, catastrophic personal injury and employment class actions. Sumner co-authored CAOC Amicus briefs on the collateral source doctrine for the cases Olsen v. Reid, Codner v. Wills and Howell v. Hamilton Meats. He also co-authored CAOC Amicus briefs in Olszewski v. Scripps Health and Parnell v. Adventist Health System/West.
 

Marvin E. Lewis Award
Don Galine
 
Don Galine has been selected for the Marvin E. Lewis Award, given "in recognition of continued guidance, loyalty and dedication, all of which have been an inspiration to fellow attorneys." Galine has specialized in personal injury and workers’ compensation law since 1978 and founded his own law firm in 1988. A past president of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association, Galine has won more than 200 verdicts or judgments for injured people in workers’ compensation cases. He has also served as membership and education chair for CAOC, and was seminar chair for what are now known as the Donald L. Galine Hawaii Seminar and the Donald L. Galine Tahoe Seminar. Galine is proud to have provided CAOC members with a range of educational programs, everything from "new lawyer programs" to advanced trial advocacy.
 

Edward I. Pollock Award
Don Ernst
 
Don Ernst is honored with the Edward I. Pollock Award, given "in recognition of many years of dedication, outstanding efforts and effectiveness on behalf of the causes and ideals." Ernst spearheaded the California Electronic Discovery Act that was signed into law this year. The act extends the Civil Discovery Act to the production of electronically stored information and, for the first time, provides basic standards for California judges to use in determining how to handle issues relating to electronic discovery. A partner in the San Luis Obispo firm of Ernst and Mattison, he founded the Central Coast Trial Lawyer Association and served as CAOC president in 2008. He has twice been named Central Coast Trial Lawyer of the Year for his work in litigation relating to personal injury, wrongful death, annuities and elder abuse, having successfully prosecuted cases against many major insurers. Ernst has also written many trial advocacy articles for CAOC and the State Bar, and he is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Consumer Attorney of the Year
Gary A. Dordick
The Law Offices of Gary A. Dordick
Albro L. Lundy III
Baker, Burton & Lundy
 
Schmidt v. State of California
 
 
Improving the Safety of California Highways
 
Clete Schmidt’s car was crushed, leaving him a quadriplegic dependent on a ventilator, after it crashed into a stone embankment near a rural T-intersection near Joshua Tree National Park. Schmidt did not have enough time to stop because he was unable to see the stop sign in time. Extensive work by his attorney, Albro Lundy, led Caltrans to make significant safety enhancements at similar intersections statewide. Lundy’s investigative team spent days searching Caltrans records before finding 30-year-old photographs that showed the approach to the intersection had “Botts dots,” providing a vibration warning to driver, that had since deteriorated. The investigators also learned a large “End of the Road” sign had once been at the site but had not been replaced. A Riverside Superior Court jury found Caltrans 90 percent responsible for Schmidt’s injuries. Schmidt’s crash was one of nine at that intersection over a two-year period. But in the 18 months after safety changes were made, there were no crashes there. Gary Dordick was brought on as co-counsel for the trial after Lundy was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor.

Street Fighter of the Year
Patrik Griego
Janssen, Malloy, Needham, Morrison, Reinholtsen & Crowley, LLP


Beals v. Sun Valley Floral Farms et al.

Winning Back Pay for Exploited Workers
 
Attorney Patrik Griego took – and won – a case that several lawyers had turned down because of the relatively small amount of money at stake in the claims and the difficulties of representing a client base where many were transient, did not speak English and were undocumented. About a thousand workers were unlawfully denied overtime pay because their employer, Sun Valley Floral Farms, declared they were not entitled to receive it because they were “harvesting” flowers.  But the workers’ actual task was bunching and wrapping tulips to be sent to retailers, which entitles them to overtime for any work performed over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. Many workers suspected they were entitled to overtime but were afraid to raise the issue because they feared deportation. Griego assured the workers their employer could not use their immigration status as a defense and earned an award that compensated workers for lost overtime pay over a four-year period.