Sang Soon Lee, et al. vs. United Business Management Company, LLC.
Jury Trial April 4, 2012
Christopher Faenza and Sean Kim obtained a defense verdict on behalf of United Business Management Company, LLC, in a wrongful death action, in which plaintiffs sought over $4 million in damages.
Plaintiffs are the spouse and children of decedent Mr. Lee. On March 29, 2009, Mr. Lee fell from a building owned by United. At that time Mr. Lee was allegedly conducting an inspection of a skylight near the edge of the roof during the course and scope of his employment with Safeway Self Storage Co., Inc. Safeway is a tenant of the building.
Based thereon, plaintiffs asserted negligence as against defendant United. Plaintiffs contended that there should have been guardrails on top of the 2 foot parapet wall and that the floor on the roof had half-inch, or less, bumps. In addition, plaintiffs sought to use a Cal-OSHA violation issued to Safeway (the building tenant and employer of decedent) as the basis for negligence per se instruction as against United, the property owner.
In defense, Mr. Faenza and Mr. Kim contested liability contending that Mr. Lee intentionally took his own life based on ongoing financial issues. Mr. Lee suffered from ongoing financial problems that plagued both his personal life and his businesses. Moreover, decedent had no reason being on the roof of the building after closing his employer's office, and decedent rarely, if ever, went to the roof. In fact, defendant United never instructed decedent to go on the roof. Moreover, Mr. Faenza and Mr. Kim contended that the roof complied with applicable Building Code requirements and was, thus, safe.
During trial, Mr. Faenza successfully forced plaintiff's expert to admit that the roof of the building complied with applicable Building Code. In addition, a roofer for the building testified that the roof was safe and was previously resurfaced in September of 2008. Furthermore, while cross-examining plaintiffs' "star-witness", Mr. Faenza forced the witness to admit that he had a financial stake in the lawsuit because plaintiffs still owed him $30,000, and that he threatened to sue the owner of defendant for a different matter.
This case was tried in Los Angeles County, in Los Angeles, before the Honorable John Segal. The trial lasted for six days.
After approximately three hours of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of defendant United.