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  Association Announces Consumer Attorney of the Year and Street Fighter of the Year Awards

California Chronicle
November 29, 2007

http://www.californiachronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=44199

Sacramento, Calif. Every year, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) recognizes one distinguished member lawyer who, in representing his/her clients on a daily basis, has overcome incredible odds to provide justice to victims, and has established precedent that will make a difference in the lives of Californians.

CAOC has announced that the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award was presented to Raymond Boucher for his exceptional work on the Los Angeles County Superior Court Clergy Cases. Additionally, Mr. Boucher achieved this settlement while serving as CAOC President.

Mr. Boucher won the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award for these landmark cases (Coordinated Proceedings: The Clergy Cases 1) on behalf of 508 plaintiffs against the Catholic Church for hiding sexually abusive priests. For hundreds of years, if not longer, the Catholic Church systematically allowed and covered up the rape of children by its clergy because civil justice systems around the world denied victims the opportunity to bring accountability to this institution. Many of the plaintiffs had been denied justice for more than 40 years. These cases were difficult and complex and began in 2002 when the state Legislature opened the courthouse doors to victims of clergy sexual abuse (by enacting California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.1). Each plaintiff had a separate case against distinct defendants, each with its own issues regarding First Amendment law, prior notice, extensive damages, and 40 years of multiple layers of insurance policies for numerous entities. Hundreds of depositions were taken, countless motions, and at least a dozen appeals were filed. The cases settled on the eve of trial because of the threat of civil jury justice and the awesome potential for further embarrassment of the church. These Los Angeles County Superior Court cases were globally recognized and this litigation and settlement have changed the Catholic Church forever. Raymond Boucher is a name partner at the law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson.

New this year, CAOC introduced the Street Fighter of the Year Award, which exemplifies the everyday struggle of the small practitioner in California and highlights the efforts of one plaintiff's lawyer who, through the practice of law, has helped to create a more just society regardless of profit or personal benefit. CAOC is proud to announce the Street Fighter of the Year Award was presented to Lisa Maki.

Ms. Maki won for her work in Dawn Traeger Brady v. Ingram Micro Inc., a disability discrimination case in Orange County Superior Court. The plaintiff was a supervisor who was sent home on administrative leave for allegedly being abusive to her subordinates. She was called in to discuss the allegations after a few weeks, but on the evening before she was to go in, she was rushed to the emergency room with heart palpitations and very high blood pressure. A few weeks later, a doctor released her to return to work with a note that required her to "avoid all stressful situations." The employer refused to return her to work claiming it would be too stressful for her to discuss the investigation. The jury found the employer failed to engage in an interactive process to determine if it could reasonably accommodate her disability. The defendant offered to settle repeatedly telling Ms. Maki they would get the case thrown out because they had never lost on summary judgment. Summary judgment was denied. The defendant then offered a larger settlement shortly before trial, and repeatedly told the plaintiff that she would lose at trial because they had never lost a trial. The settlement offer was withdrawn during trial and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff. Lisa Maki is an attorney/owner of Law Offices of Lisa L. Maki.

Winners of the Consumer Attorney of the Year and Street Fighter of the Year Awards were announced November 10, 2007 at the CAOC Annual Installation & Awards Dinner which took place in conjunction with the CAOC Annual Convention at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, Calif. Please visit http://www.caoc.com/07AwardFinalists for further details and information on the finalists.

 
 

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