Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Pro Per Lawyer Faulted by Court of Appeal for Hopeless Brief
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A discharged attorney who was awarded nothing in his action for fees was told yesterday by this district’s Court of Appeal that his bid for reversal was pointless in light of the inadequacy of his brief.
The attorney, Kevin Gerry of Beverly Hills, represented a client, Charles Williams, for 18 months in a disability discrimination case before being fired. His successor counsel, Glenn A. Murphy of Westlake Village, succeeded in obtaining judgments, in separate trials, against two defendants.
One defendant filed an action in interpleader, and Gerry was awarded $27,000. The other defendant, HEI Long Beach, LLC, sent a check for about $12,000 to Murphy, who kept the money.
The former client sued Gerry for malpractice and fraud; Gerry cross-complained against Williams, HEI, and Murphy.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern directed a verdict against both Gerry and Williams.
Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst said, in a brief opinion:
“To prevail on appeal, appellant must show that there was substantial evidence presented at the trial on his cross-complaint to support a verdict in his favor. But appellant has not identified any evidence presented at trial. There is no reporter’s transcript of the trial. And the judgment makes no reference to any testimony, witnesses, evidence or argument presented at trial. The judgment merely identifies the parties and their counsel, explains that a jury was empaneled and that the parties presented their cases in chief, and states that the court grants the motions for directed verdict on the complaint and cross-complaint….Because appellant has failed to meet his burden of affirmatively demonstrating error by the trial court, our analysis ends here.”
The case is Gerry v. Murphy, B253747.
Basis for Appeal
The opinion did not disclose the basis upon which Kerry had sought reversal. That information was provided yesterday by Murphy.
He explained that Gerry was arguing that his victory in Santa Barbara Superior Court, in the interpleader action, was res judicata as to his entitlement to fees from HEI.
Murphy contended that after he secured a victory against HEI, “Mr. Williams told Gerry he had prevailed and Gerry should go in to seek his attorney fees from the court.”
“Gerry never made a motion for his attorney fees. Instead, he did nothing.”
The discrimination action, he noted, was based on the Hilton Hotel in Long Beach denying accommodations to Williams, “a paraplegic with a service dog.”
Trevor Group Defender
Gerry was the attorney who represented, and publicly defended the conduct of, the Trevor Law Group which sued thousands of small businesses under Business & Professions Code §17200 for the apparent purpose of coercing settlements. He insisted their conduct was not unethical and merely constituted zealous advocacy, benefitting the public by forcing compliance with legal regulations.
The State Bar in 2003 placed the firm’s three members—Damian S. Trevor, Allan C. Hendrickson and Shane Chang Han—on involuntary inactive status based on the danger they posed to the public, and sought their disbarment.
All three resigned that year, with charges pending.
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