In Latin verdict means to “speak the truth,” the verdicts and settlements that Davis Kelin Law Firm have obtained on behalf of their clients speak the truth to defendants that choose to break the safety rules that protect all of us from harm and death. Our priority is to help our clients obtain the compensation they deserve for a defendant’s decisions, but significant verdicts and settlement do more than compensate our clients: they create change. Significant verdicts and settlements can have an impact that far outlasts a single case; they can change the company’s behavior and even change an entire industry’s behavior.
The Davis Kelin Law Firm has a proven track record of obtaining results for our clients. This is only a sampling of the types of cases we have handled; many of the significant settlements are confidential:
$12,000,000 Verdict (Settled for Confidential Amount), Premises liability: Lack of Security. Calkin v. Eagle’s Nest Condominiums and Roger Cox, et. al., No. D-101-CV-2012-00980.
Property management companies and multi-housing complexes are required to keep the common areas safe for their residents. When these companies choose not to enforce basic safety rules, they put all of their residents in danger. Prior to August 17, 2011, Eagle’s Nest Condominiums and its property management company, Roger Cox, choose to ignore their responsibilities, as set forth in New Mexico law and in their own rules and regulations, when they permitted a man who claimed to be “Vicente Escobedo” to reside at unit 130 at Eagle’s Nest. “Vicente Escobedo” was fake name used in a rental application that Eagle’s Nest and Roger Cox did not verify. Had they verified Mr. Escobedo’s application, they would have learned that he was using a fake name and social security number and he did not have a job. “Escobedo” made money by selling drugs. Eagle’s Nest and Roger Cox further chose not to respond to security and safety threats at Eagle’s Nest, including evidence of drug activity, which endangered the health, welfare and safety of the residents at Eagle’s Nest.
On August 17, 2011, as the result of Eagle’s Nest’s and Roger Cox’s choices and failures, a group of unknown assailants sought “money and drugs” from unit 130, where the man who claimed to be Vicente Escobedo lived. A fight erupted outside of Andrae Davis’ and Lorraine Calkin’s door at Eagle’s Nest, a gun was fired, the bullet travelled through Andrae’s and Lorraine’s door, striking Andrae in the chest. He lay dying on the floor of his apartment, in front of his fiancée and two children. The case was tried in Santa Fe and the jury found 6 million in compensatory damages and 6 million in punitive damages. The award was reduced to 10.2 million after comparative fault was applied and confidentially settled after the verdict.
Maximum Allowed by Law, Tort Claims Act, Failure to Perform Law Enforcement Duties: Pierce, et. al. v. City of Albuquerque, et. al.
Police officers in the State of New Mexico are required to investigate crimes and make arrests for those crimes. If they failed to do so in a reasonable manner, then they can be liable for their negligence. On December 3, 2007, Clifton Bloomfield and Jason Skaggs brutally murdered an Albuquerque elderly couple in their home in the northeast heights. At the time of the murders, Clifton Bloomfield was on probation for another violent crime he had committed in 2005. Accordingly, Bloomfield’s DNA was in the State of New Mexico’s DNA database. During the December, 2007 murder, Bloomfield left his DNA under the fingernail of one of his victims. The Albuquerque Police Department, however, blamed the murders on two innocent traveling salesmen. They put them into jail based on a false confession by one of the salesman. The undisputed evidence, however, showed it was impossible for either of the salesmen to have committed the murders. The result was the police stopped their investigation into the December murders and the true murders, Bloomfield and Skaggs, prowled the streets of Albuquerque looking for his next victims.
Bloomfield and Skaggs found his next victim 7 months later. In the early morning hours of June 28, 2008, Skaggs dropped off Bloomfield to murder Manuel James at the home where they believed he lived. Mr. James, however, had moved and Scott and Katherine Pierce, a newlywed couple, moved into to the home. Bloomfield entered the Pierce home in the dead of the night. As he did, the Pierce’s dogs began barking. Katherine Pierce awoke to the dogs barking and went to see what they needed. As Katherine Pierce turned back around after opening the back door, Bloomfield pointed a shotgun at her and directed her to get down on the floor. At about the same time, Scott Pierce came out to check on new wife. As he did, Bloomfield swung his gun around and shot Scott Pierce in the neck while his wife of only seven days, Katherine Pierce, watched in horror. Katherine Pierce ran to her husband’s aid, but, after some time, he eventually died as a result of the gunshot wound.
Katherine filed suit against the Albuquerque Police Department for failure to properly investigate the December 3, 2007 murders and the other crimes committed by Bloomfield during his probation. The case resolved before trial for the maximum amount allowed by law.
Confidential Settlement, Insurance Bad Faith and Repair Fraud: Small New Mexico Business
A core business asset of a small New Mexico towing company was a 1987 International Wrecker. The business insured the vehicle through a national insurance company. On April 5, 2009, an arsonist set fire to several vehicles including the ‘87 International Wrecker. The arsonist had set fire to several buildings and vehicles on Central Avenue. The fire was so intense in the cab of the International Wrecker that Albuquerque’s Fire Department had to engulf the wrecker’s cab with fluid. The wrecker was completely inoperable.
The next day, the business reported the loss to its insurance company. The business told the insurance company that it needed the wrecker back on the road quickly because it was the busy season. The national insurance company did not maintain any staff in New Mexico (despite selling lots of policies in New Mexico) and asked business owner to begin adjusting the claim by obtaining photos and estimates. The business obtained three estimates, and all came to the same conclusion: the ‘87 International Wrecker was a total loss and could not be repaired.
The insurance company did not like those estimates of the claim. Instead, it asked a regional trucking repair shop to inspect the vehicle and provide a repair estimate. The repair shop’s estimate was over $39,000 to repair the vehicle. Given that an International tractor of a similar type was only $6,000 to 11,000, the repair would have far exceeded the cost to replace the tractor and simply attach the Zak lift on to the truck. Under the insurance company’s policies and standards for the industry, the vehicle should have been totaled.
The insurance company, however, ignored the three estimates provided by the small business and the estimate provided the repair shop. The insurance company created its own estimate without ever inspecting the vehicle. The desk repair estimate was for just over $18,000 based on using a used cab from an auto salvage.
The result was the small business lost its commercial towing business. Because the insurance company put its interests ahead of its insured’s interests, we were able to resolve the case for a significant, confidential amount after litigation.