Slaying Goliath

Recently, we have found ourselves assisting more and more clients in civil litigation matters. Litigation is fun, exciting and, at times, frustrating, but it is also expensive for clients, which is why clients generally treat it as a last resort. It becomes even more expensive when the opposing side is represented by a large Los Angeles based law firm with no monetary budget and the freedom to defend the case however it deems fit. This is the exact situation one of our clients found itself in, but, at the end of the day, slaying the proverbial “Goliath” at the outset is very rewarding, even if the war has yet to come.

Our client owns a long-haul trucking company wherein it purchased six semi-tractor trucks from the Defendant, a truck dealer. Those trucks consistently broke down, ultimately leading to them being taken out of service forcing our client to purchase new trucks to replace them. This litigation has been going on for the better part of four years. We found ourselves battling one motion after another forcing our client to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the litigation. Only recently, however, did we amend the complaint to include the manufacturer of the trucks as a defendant. The manufacturer is a well-known national truck manufacturer who has been involved in prior lawsuits concerning the exact issues our client’s trucks were experiencing. The problem was, however, we were attempting to bring them into the case four years after we initially filed our complaint…a problem for most given the respective statute of limitations.

The manufacturer urged us to dismiss it as a defendant, but our client chose to stand strong and fight. It wasn’t long until we were faced with a demurrer (a challenge to the amended complaint). The manufacturer, amongst other things, argued that our client knew of its existence from the outset of litigation (four years prior) but failed to timely bring it in as a defendant until now and should, therefore, be barred from alleging any cause of action against it. After hours of research and multiple in-office conferences, we put the finishing touches on our opposition. We argued, that, although our client knew of the manufacturer’s existence it was not sufficiently aware of the facts and circumstances surrounding the manufacturer’s liability, therefore, the amendment should relate back to the filing of the initial complaint. Since the amendment related back, our client’s claims were not barred by the respective statute of limitations.

The manufacturer was confident in its position considering our client specifically referenced it in the original complaint and further attached the express warranty provided for the trucks explicitly listing the manufacturer. At the hearing, against vigorous opposition by the manufacturer’s attorney, the judge sided with our client citing several of our statutory and case law citations in his decision. Maintaining multiple causes of action against the manufacturer was a huge victory for our client and more than likely ensures liability against another deep pocket defendant. It goes to show you that you need not be a huge metropolitan law firm to succeed because with the proper work ethic and requisite knowledge, “Goliath” can always be slain!