JORGENSEN & SALBERG client was at The Slidebar in Fullerton. Another patron struck our client in the face and fled the scene. The defendant was apprehended by the police down the street from the bar, and pled guilty to the assault and assaulting the police officers during the arrest. On March 4, 2013, the civil judge awarded $108,925 to the plaintiff following trial.
USE OF CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN CIVIL LAWSUIT:
Fortunately, JORGENSEN & SALBERG was able to use the criminal conviction in the civil lawsuit to save both time and expense. Because the standards of proof are much higher in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), as opposed to a civil case (preponderance of the evidence), civil lawyers often use the fact that a civil defendant pled guilty in the criminal case to prove liability in the civil case. Relying upon the conviction achieved by the DA’s office dramatically speeds up the trial, and saves the victim time off of work, litigation expenses and further inconvenience.
In this case, the court took judicial notice of the criminal conviction to establish liability. After liability was established, the court was able to quickly hear testimony substantiating claims for damages, and awarded the victim close to $109K for incidental medical expenses, lost wages for time off of work, pain, suffering and inconvenience.
RECOVERY OF ATTORNEYS FEES:
JORGENSEN & SALBERG also intends to seek recovery of its attorneys’ fees from the defendant. Even though attorneys’ fees are not typically recoverable in civil cases, a California law (Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.4) allows a victim of a crime to recover the attorneys’ fees he or she incurs in the civil action. The procedure for obtaining attorneys’ fees requires the fees to be awarded through a post-trial motion.