Klinedinst Attorneys Secure Defense Verdict After Major Injury at Music Festival in Indio, CA

Klinedinst shareholders Kevin J. Gramling and Ernest L. Weiss won a contentious injury trial alleging their security company client was at fault for injuries suffered when a 450 pound gate came crashing down at a music festival. The two experienced trial attorneys presented strong counter-arguments to the jury, which found overwhelmingly that their client was not responsible for the gate failure. Klinedinst appellate specialist Robert M. Shaughnessy then helped the team on the post-trial work, resulting in a full settlement and reimbursement of $60,000 in costs for the client.

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – Klinedinst attorneys Kevin J. Gramling and Ernest L. Weiss secured a defense verdict for their security company client in a seven-figure personal injury case in Riverside Superior Court. As the verdict was being appealed, appellate attorney Robert M. Shaughnessy was brought in to help with post-trial responses for the client, who ultimately recovered $60,000 in costs from the plaintiff.

In Pelton v.Empire Polo Club,et al., the 55-year-old plaintiff was working as a security guard at the Empire Polo Club in Indio during the setup for the Desert Trip Music Festival in October of 2016. The Plaintiff suffered major injuries when a 450-pound sliding iron gate fell on her while she was closing the gate. The gate had been installed by a contractor two days before the gate fell. 

Pelton filed suit in Riverside Superior Court, faulting security company employees for riding the 450-pound gate while opening and closing the gate. She also argued that they were slamming and banging the gate against the gate stops. In her lawsuit, Plaintiff argued that these actions caused the gate to come off its track and fall, causing a fractured vertebrae and eight broken ribs.

Mr. Gramling and Mr. Weiss were brought in to represent one of the four defendants named in the lawsuit. As the litigation was working its way up to trial, Plaintiff settled with three co-defendants for a total of $450,000. She then set her sights on Klinedinst’s client, serving a CCP 998 offer to the last remaining defendant for $1.25 million. Right before trial began, her final demand was for $1 million, which was also rejected.

As the jury trial got underway, Gramling demonstrated to the court that the security company client was not negligent, and that the contractor that installed the gate was primarily at fault for the gate falling. Gramling also pointed to lack of proper inspection by the property owner as a cause for liability, and that security company employees could not have caused the major failure of the gate. 

After the six-day trial, jurors deliberated for just one day. By a poll of 9-3, they ruled in favor of the defense, finding that the security company was not responsible for the gate falling or the injuries to the plaintiff.

After the defense verdict, Klinedinst’s appellate team was brought in as Plaintiff made a motion for a new trial, as well as a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV). Plaintiff argued that the trial court improperly allowed for the introduction of expert opinion at trial. Plaintiff claimed the trial court violated the holding in Kennemur v. State of California (1982) 133 Cal.App.3d 907, when it did so. The motions raised factual and legal arguments that were likely to be the subject of an appeal. The motion for new trial and JNOV were denied.  

Klinedinst’s Rob Shaughnessy was brought in to draft the opposition papers. Shaughnessy, a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, helped ensure that all of the client’s best factual and legal arguments were presented in the trial court, and that there was no waiver of any argument Klinedinst’s attorneys may want to make if there was an appeal. 

Mr. Gramling argued for costs pursuant to his client’s CCP 998 and the client was awarded over $90,000 in costs. While that appeal was pending, the matter settled with the plaintiff paying $60,000 in costs in exchange for full resolution of the matter. 

“After a successful defense verdict, our client was in an incredibly strong position by the time the appeals process began,” added Mr. Gramling, a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). “The matter ended up in settling in large part based on the strength of our client’s position on appeal, and they were incredibly pleased with the result.”

Klinedinst congratulates Mr. Gramling and Mr. Weiss on their successful defense verdict in Pelton v. Empire Polo Club. et al. (Riverside Superior Court, Case RIC1705618). The firm also congratulates Mr. Shaughnessy on his excellent appellate work in the case.

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About Klinedinst

Klinedinst is the go-to firm for clients looking for litigation, trial experience, transactional representation, and legal counsel.  The firm’s offices in Los AngelesSacramentoSan DiegoIrvine, and Seattle service the entire West Coast. What sets Klinedinst apart is the relationship our attorneys foster with each and every client. Klinedinst lawyers are indispensable strategic partners to business leaders, helping to achieve business objectives and create proactive solutions to resolve the many legal challenges that businesses are confronted with every day.  Whether vigorously advocating for business clients in court, or guiding business transactions and negotiations, Klinedinst is the trusted legal advisor to have by your side.