Top Plaintiff's Verdict by Dollar

The Largest and Most Significant Verdict in California in 2020

Ryan D. Saba, '97 (JD,) and Robert Karwin, '97 (JD).

SAN DIEGO (February 24, 2021) – USD School of Law alumni, Ryan D. Saba ’97 (JD) of Rosen Saba, LLP in Beverly Hills and Robert Karwin ’97 (JD) of The Law Office of Robert P. Karwin in Menifee sued the city of Hemet on behalf of a high school teen who was struck by a truck and injured while crossing a crosswalk. The case resulted in one of the last trial verdicts completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered in-person proceedings and jury trials. The jury rendered a verdict of $25.6 million for the teen on February 2. Saba and Karwin credit their experience as trial partners on their USD School of Law mock trial team under the leadership of Professor Richard “Corky” Wharton ’73 (JD) with developing the litigation skills necessary to make their landmark verdict possible.

As Saba shared with the Daily Journal in their February 3, 2021 issue, “This was a heartbreaking case. . . Our client was 16 years old when he was run down in a crosswalk on his way to school.”  His co-counsel, Robert Karwin praises their investigative team with the record setting win. “Our support staff did an amazing job wading through city council minutes and construction documents to find what we needed to disarm governmental immunity.”  Adding that the difference in this case came down to the jury. “I don’t think we could have gotten the result we did trying this case virtually.  It really required a level of attention from the jury that I think would be hard to achieve without them in the courtroom.” 

Saba and Kerwin focused their theory of the case on the principle that the city of Hemet knew the crosswalk was dangerous and the crosswalk should not have been there at all. Knocking on doors ended up being the key to the case. The USD alumni found some of the best witnesses on their own, by talking to nearby residents of the community.  Witnesses complained about the dangers surrounding the crosswalk, they notified the city; they testified about screeching tires and witnessed near misses. Ultimately, the jury found the city of Hemet to be 80% at fault, resulting in a settlement whereby the plaintiff would be able to receive the care and treatment he will need—moving forward. 

The $25.6 million dollar verdict is the largest award for the State of California for the 2020 calendar year. The verdict may end up being one of the largest in the nation; the trial team of Saba and Karwin will be notified later in March 2021 about the national standing of the case’s jury award. In any case, there is no arguing with the fact that USD School of Law is an excellent training ground for litigators to hone their skills and learn the art of civil trial advocacy. 

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world.  The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates.  The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 36th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 22nd nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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