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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Judge’s Order: No Trolling for Water-Drinking Contest Facts

Harvey Levine, a name synonymous with high-profile trials, has another big case on his hands this month.

Levine, the attorney behind a $5.5 million settlement for former San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley, who was shot by an off-duty Coronado police officer in 2006, is one of two lawyers representing the family of a Sacramento woman who died trying to win a Nintendo Wii. The woman participated in a radio contest that required contestants to drink water and refrain from bathroom breaks.

The plaintiffs, who include the woman’s husband and three children, have charged the radio station’s parent company, Entercom Communications, with wrongful death and are seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

Pretrial motions began last week in Strange v. Entercom, and opening arguments were scheduled for Sept. 17. It will be the last trial before the Hon. Lloyd A. Phillips Jr. enters retirement.

Unique to the case is the judge’s order that jurors refrain from conducting their own Internet research about the circumstances of the case. Such practices have been fueling mistrials across the country, such as a recent federal case in Florida involving drug charges.

Jeff Joseph, associate dean at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law who teaches trial practice, said that case law “couldn’t be clearer that it’s grounds for a new trial.”

However, he said, many jurors seek information because they’re left trying to come to a reasonable conclusion.

“What happens is they’re struggling to figure things out; they’re using every resource,” he said. “Maybe there needs to be a specific emphasis by the judge: ‘Don’t get on your BlackBerries.’ ”

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Merger Boosts Corporate Sector Services:

Garcia Calderon & Ruiz, a San Diego-based corporate and public law firm with headquarters downtown, has merged with Mastin Law Firm of Denver.

GCR said the acquisition of the firm will boost its education, government and corporate sector offerings.

“We’re very excited to expand our presence in Colorado and believe this acquisition establishes us as a key legal player in the Western region as we’re one of the only firms in Denver to offer services in all of these practice areas,” said managing partner Yuri Calder & #243;n.


Send law-related news items to Heather Chambers, hchambers@sdbj.com.

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