The transplant scandal at the University of California at Irvine is turning into a cash cow for Greene, Broillet & Wheeler LLP.


The Los Angeles-based law firm recently filed its tenth lawsuit against the University's Division of Transplantation, whose liver transplantation program was shuttered in November after it was reported that it turned down healthy donor livers despite a long waiting list.


The 10-attorney plaintiff's firm specializes in product liability, personal injury and business litigation. The powerhouse firm boasts a 98 percent success rate in cases it has tried. It's also won product liability cases against General Motors Corp. and Continental Tire North America.


The latest suit, representing seven families, is seeking an open-ended jury award and does not seek specific damages. Attorney Mark Quigley said the biggest problem at the university was the lack of surgeons who could perform the specialized procedure. "They were all waiting for organ transplantation. But they weren't told that no doctor was there that could do the surgery," he said.


Susan Mancilla, a university spokeswoman, acknowledged the program was troubled and said a committee has been established to look into the problems.


When the program was shut down following a federal study, the 100 patients remaining on the transplant list were diverted to other hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center.


Game On
The on-again, off-again legal tussle between the family behind In-N-Out Burgers Inc. and longtime company executive Richard Boyd is back on. The burger company answered with its own suit against Boyd last week, alleging fraud and embezzlement.


Boyd's suit, originally filed Dec. 7, was dismissed two days later at Boyd's request and the parties reportedly sought a settlement. Apparently the proceedings broke down because Boyd re-filed his suit Jan. 5.


Boyd is co-trustee of three trusts holding the majority of the company's shares, which will shift over the next 12 years to co-founder Esther Snyder's granddaughter and sole heir, Lynsi Martinez, eventually giving her control of the company. Boyd alleges that Martinez, 23, is trying to speed the succession. He has repeatedly been asked to leave the company and resign as trustee.


In the latest lawsuit, In-N-Out charges that Boyd, on their payroll as head of construction and the real estate departments, used the company's construction materials and crews at his own property and charged the work back to them. The burger company also accuses Boyd of farming out projects to favored construction companies without getting bids and thus overpaying for services.


Settlements
Thomas V. Girardi of Girardi & Keese, has added a feather to his cap. On January 5, the big-name trial lawyer, representing California rate-payers, reached a settlement valued at $1.9 billion with San Diego-based Sempra Energy. Attorneys' fees in the case are expected to hit as high as 20 percent, or up to $380 million. The settlement stems from price gouging allegations during the state's energy crisis. Among Girardi's other big wins are those against Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Unocal Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co .Morris Polich & Purdy LLP lawyers are celebrating a $35 million settlement reached in their case against Andris Pukke, founder of AmeriDebt Inc and Dedicated Consumer Counseling Inc. The settlement was reached Jan. 9, the day before trial was scheduled to begin. The class action suit alleged that Pukke personally received tens of millions of dollars by funneling money through ostensibly non-profit entities. Los Angeles-based Morris Polich started in construction law and has since expanded its defense work into pharmaceuticals and medical devices.


Comings and Goings
Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan LLP has named five partners to its Los Angeles office. The partners are Daniel Fiore, an entertainment & media law specialist; Jonathan Gluck, a healthcare specialist in the business litigation department; Kevin Martin, a securities specialist in the business litigation department; Pauline Massh, an insurance specialist; and Mark Saulino, a tax specialist in the transactional department. One of L.A.'s 25 largest law firms, Alschuler Grossman has 100 attorneys .Arnold & Porter LLP has elected a new partner in its L.A. office: Sean Morris practices intellectual property/technology and environmental law ADR Services Inc. announced the addition of Michael J. Roberts. Roberts has been an attorney and mediator for 35 years and specializes in business, construction, employment, real estate, and insurance. He has worked in 4,000 cases in Southern California, involving settlements in excess of $800 million.


*Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or at eyork@labusinessjournal.com .

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