OF SUCCESSFUL PRACTICE
HISTORY OF SPEARS LAW - SOME INTERESTING CASES
Mr. Spears' history is lengthy and successful. Here are some of his more interesting cases. Not all of them are significant, but the clients were pleased and over the years the cases have made entertaining conversation. Perhaps this showcase will encourage you to pursue your own legal rights. Remember that every case is different. The success of your case is wholly dependent on its own facts and circumstances and not on one of Mr. Spears' prior successes. Do not assume your case has merit just because a similarly sounding one is mentioned here.
The details of these cases are sparsely presented. Only general facts are being published. The reason for this is confidentiality. Most cases that settle (as opposed to going to trial) are subject to a non-disclosure agreement. That means that there are restrictions placed on both the attorneys and the parties which prohibit disclosure, sometimes of the terms of settlement, sometimes of the dispute, sometimes of both. Cases that go to trial are not generally subject to the same non-disclosure. However, attorneys have a duty to protect the confidentiality and secrets of their clients. Therefore, Mr. Spears does not publish significant information even of cases that go to trial.
JAPANESE AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURER.
Successful settlement against a major Japanese auto manufacturer for failure to honor express and implied warranties on its new cars.
Less than a year into practice Mr. Spears took on a Japanese automaker whose engines were failing after about 2 years. The automaker claimed that the language of the express warrranty did not apply to the defects and that there was no breach of any implied warranties. Not only did Mr. Spears win the case, recovering money for his clients, he also caused the automaker to re-write its warranty terms for future model year vehicles.
LEGAL PROTECTION, THE HORSE.
Thoroughbred horses are frequently sold at auction where there is little opportunity to examine them in advance. They are typically sold without warranty. The usual exception is that the horse is not a 'wobbler' (a horse that has breathing problems and cannot race). In the "Sport of Kings" the rules are not consumer friendly. Legal Protection, an aptly named 2 year old, turned out to be a wobbler. The condition was discovered within 24 hours once he was scoped by a vet. The seller and the auction house relied on terms of sale which stated the warranty expired as soon as the horse left the auction venue. They refused to cancel the sale.
This is one of Mr. Spears's favorite cases. The name of the horse seemed to cry out for legal resolution. The attitude of the opposition demanded the initiation of legal action. The seller was a Hollywood television celebrity who refused to accept any wrongdoing. The auction house asserted that the buyer was not sophisticated in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. Mr. Spears even had to bring an action to compel arbitration as the opposition would not arbitrate as required by their own terms of auction. The result was successful. The buyers got their money back. More importantly, the buyers kept Legal Protection and let him live out his life on a ranch. This was important to Mr. Spears because of his concern about the horse's future should it be returned to the seller.
RAPE AND THE COST OF NOT FOLLOWING YOUR ATTORNEY'S ADVICE.
This was a very sad case, because it involved a rape. An employee of a business doing repairs at a woman's home returned one evening and raped her. Liability of the employer was only arguable, but it would have been risky and expensive to litigate. The moral here is to follow your attorney's advice.
I advised my client, the business, to settle and reached a settlement for $75,000. My client then changed his mind, apparently following the advice of friends and colleagues. He refused to honor the settlement and the case was fought (and lost) with another attorney in my place. The result was a near million dollar award, costing my former client close to $900,000.00. This is an example of strategic lawyering that was rejected by the client. Sometimes you have to pay to protect your interests, particularly where there is a very sympathetic opposition, such as the victim of a brutal crime.
DIVORCE - SEPARATE PROPERTY CLAIM.
Major recovery in proving a bio-tech company was community property and not wife's separate property. Defending law firm was one of San Diego's top firms. Opposing lead counsel was one of San Diego's Super-Lawyers.
The issues in this divorce were not complex. But the 'pot of gold' at issue and the tenancity of the opposition made it contentious and drawn out. The primary divorce asset was a business with about $7,000,000.00 of net cash in its bank account. The wife wanted to keep the money and claimed the business was her separate property. The problem was she had been running the company as though it were her own for over twenty years, even prior to marriage. Everything appeared to be in her name alone. Mr. Spears was able to retrieve insurance policy records from twenty five years past showing both spouses were insured as the owners. He was also able to locate the very first contract the company entered into, again showing both spouses were the owners. After over two years of discovery and litigation the case ended with Mr. Spears' client getting his half. Most of our divorce clients have moderate incomes and assets and the cases do not last for years. But when it is neccesary to go the distance to protect divorce rights, Mr. Spears is prepared and able to do so.
Insurance case where an out-of state commercial insurance company had gone out of business after lying about its re-insurance, leaving hundreds of unpaid claims.
An out of state insurer was "enrolled in California" meaning that they could do business here but they were not regulated by California. They sold specialized liability policies to restaurants and bars only. They claimed the policies were underwritten (re-insured) by Lloyd's of London. They were not. This case was interesting because I had the opportunity to speak with Lloyd's of London management and learn how the Lloyd's association works. Learning that there was no re-insurance available, meaning my clients could not recover from the policies, I sought alternate recovery. I discovered a fiduciary bond with the State of California given as a condition of enrollment. I raced to the courthouse, as there were hundreds of potential claimants. The first one to attach the bond would win. My clients won.
A side note to this case is that I had to turn away business. All of my cases come from repeat clients or referrals. The defunct insurance carrier started to get a lot of Southern Californa press, particularly in Los Angeles where my three clients were located. Other restaurants and bars contaced me for representation, having been referred to me by their own attorneys. I could not accept them as clients because it would have been adverse to the interests of my three clients. I had determined the existence of the bond and that the amount was sufficient to make my three clients whole. If I added additional clients to the claim, then my original clients would get less money. As I said, it was truly a race to the courthouse.