Lance P. was working for a company doing roadside improvements in the winding hills above the Carmel highlands in Monterey County. An armored transport vehicle came around a sharp turn in the road at a high rate of speed. The driver lost control, careened across the double yellow lines, and struck Lance, who was working on the side of the road.
Mr. Murphy was retained to bring a lawsuit against the armored car company. In the interim, the injured construction worker received substantial workerâ€™s compensation benefits.
Through aggressive pretrial work, Mr. Murphy determined the driver of the armored vehicle was in fact unlicensed, was speeding, and that his company might be exposed to a risk of punitive damages. Armed with this information, the case settled for $1,100,000.00. As part of the settlement, Mr. Murphy was required to resolve the $85,000.00 lien for the workerâ€™s compensation benefits advanced to the worker by his employer.
Mr. Murphy offered $26,000.00 to settle the $85,000.00 lien. The offer was refused. Mr. Murphy was required to substitute in as attorney of record for the very same armored transport company which had just paid the $1,100,000.00 settlement, to defend that company in the lawsuit by the employer over the amount of the lien.
The case went to trial in Salinas, California in the Superior Court for the County of Monterey. When the trial began, the Judge told the jury Mr. Murphy had previously sued the armored car company and was now representing them. Mr. Murphy moved for a mistrial; the court realized its error and granted the mistrial. A second jury was then assembled.
The case was tried on the issue of liability. A liability finding of 10% would have eliminated the lien. A jury determined that Plaintiffâ€™s employer was 100% at fault for the accident and the armored car company, which had settled for $1,100,000.00, was not at fault. As a result, Mr. Murphyâ€™s client did not have to repay the $85,000.00 lien; Lance went on to recover an additional $250,000.00 in benefits from the employer. Mr. Murphy then assisted him in obtaining permanent disability status through the employerâ€™s pension system. Mr. Murphyâ€™s client retired at an early age at the conclusion of the case.