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REAL LIFE SUPERMAN

When it Comes to Fighting for Victims of Justice, Eric Dubin is Fearless, Focused and Full of Heart

Eric Dubin is no stranger to the spotlight. As the man who finally proved that celebrity Robert Blake was indeed responsible for the death of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, Dubin permanently solidified his legacy as one of the nation's most relentless, and skillful, trial attorneys more than a decade ago. After winning the 2005 headline-grabbing $30 million jury verdict on behalf of the family of the victim, after the state failed to prove Blake was guilty of murder, Dubin went on to publish both the books The Star Chamber and Reasonable Doubt, which he co-authored with Larry King. With so much accomplished, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect Dubin to consider his work as a contributor to justice more than complete.
Yet anyone who knows Dubin, or worse, has had to go up against him in court, knows that the fame that followed such a public victory would still never quench his insatiable appetite for seeing justice served. On the contrary, delivering justice to injured victims only drives Dubin to avenge more wrongs committed against innocent victims, through no fault of their own.
"Winning big against Robert Blake opened up doors to bigger trials and cases and gave me an experience akin to climbing Mt. Everest alone, and with no oxygen. There were 70 witnesses, each who had a massive file, along with an equally difficult liability and damages argument. It was the biggest investigation in LAPD history; the files came to me from three District Attorneys in an 18-wheeler U-Haul," he recalls.
All the same, Dubin is emphatic when saying that he would absolutely do it again, as the personal rewards he reaps from providing justice are immeasurable. "Lifting that weight from my clients, and getting justice in a death or horrific injury trial for deserving people is a feeling that I absolutely live for," Dubin says with palpable sincerity.
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One only needs to look to the accomplishments Dubin has earned in just the last two years since he was first featured in Attorney Journal, to see that he doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk. Time and again Dubin puts his money where his mouth is, knowing that where there is a will, he will find a way to help provide comfort to his clients. To that end, suffice it to say Dubin continues to take on cases with seemingly impossible odds, all in his dogged pursuit of justice for those who have had their lives irrevocably altered as the result of another's wrongdoing or negligence.
Perhaps no case more clearly illustrates just how determined Dubin is to help victims than the mind-blowing 2015 $10.2 Million victory he obtained for the Barr Family in Orange County, and the implications that victory may have for victims of medical malpractice, and for the attorneys who represent them. "This monumental verdict is on appeal, but it has already been included in the 2016 California Jury Instructions Handbook, and would be a billion-dollar swing in the medical malpractice world if the appeals go favorably," Dubin says. "It does not get much better than that."

FEARLESS IN THE FACE OF IMPOSSIBLE ODDS
The potentially game-changing verdict arose out of Barr, et al v. Lonika's Home, Inc., et al, and began when Dubin was contacted by the parents of 15-year-old Kevin Barr, who died on February 7, 2012 at Mission Viejo assisted care facility Lonika Homes, Inc. At first blush, Dubin found himself facing a trifecta of seemingly insurmountable hurdles. "Elder abuse law applies only to victims aged 16 and older," says Dubin. Furthermore, with punitive damages prohibited in Wrongful Death, and the California cap at $250,000 per MICRA 4250, the likelihood that Dubin would be able to achieve real justice for the devastated parents of the boy was at best a long shot.
Still, the case struck Dubin. The victim, who suffered from cerebral palsy with seizure disorder, did not receive his antiseizure medication on the afternoon of February 6, 2012. By the time the caregiver responsible for him checked on the victim, he was unresponsive, yet she failed to call 911 for approximately one hour. She also failed to attempt CPR. In fact, the caregiver was found to be bathing other children when the paramedics finally arrived.
"The caregiver had no CPR certification, nor any emergency response training," Dubin says. All the same, Dubin was up against the brick wall limits of the decades old, and wildly unpopular MICRA limits. "I called everyone I could think of, to discuss ways of getting around the MICRA limits. I had started coming up with some pretty novel ideas, but everyone I talked to eventually said the same thing: MICRA, MICRA, MICRA."
Dubin refused to be deterred. Instead he began devising a strategy which had never before been used. He honed in on the facility's concealment of their post-death conduct. With this new idea forming, Dubin says he started picking the brains of friends and colleagues and received incredible—if cautiously optimistic—support from attorneys including Daniel Hodes, Kim Valentine, and Bryan Garcia.
Thus, in the face of exceedingly tough obstacles, Dubin suited up, accepted the obviously risky case, and admittedly spent a small fortune on the case, which included nine medical expert witnesses, who are frankly some of the best in the defense world. He didn't bat an eye. "There was clear wrongdoing, and a family lost their child. I was going to fight for them and I was going to win for them," he recalls.

FULLY FOCUSED ON THE FIGHT
Dubin is unapologetic when he states, "I'm a firm believer that the trial attorney has to be the one taking all of the depositions, and has to do the bulk of the work up. Winning is the result of preparation. You cannot know and win a case like this if you don't do the footwork on your own." As such, though he obviously brings in attorneys to assist him on a case-by-case basis, it is his unparalleled personal focus that takes the fear out of taking on extraordinarily challenging cases. "I love the fact that there are people I can call, and people I trust to help make sure that I get justice for my clients. But there is a huge advantage when you can pull up details on your own in terms of deposition page/ lines," he says of his "work-like-a-dog" pre-trial mentality. "It's simply not optional, that's my job."
Staying personally focused on the fight ahead is frankly the reason that Dubin is essentially fearless in trial, even when he's facing off against a tenured medical malpractice attorney, such as his opposing counsel in the Barr case. After all, by the time it reached trial Dubin says he had taken roughly 30 depositions in 40 days, spent hundreds and hundreds of hours fighting demurrers, arguing pre-trial motions, and committing to memory even the most minute of details. By the time he faced the jury, he had found solutions to the problems that at one time seemed insurmountable.

Eric Dubin
"I learned a long time ago from Gerry Spence to be honest, to be open, and to avoid appearing as if my case was flawless. I took that to heart. I certainly love watching great lawyers, and I've learned a lot about voice inflection, and creating vivid details through my storytelling, but I have never tried to mimic anyone's style. I am myself, and I expose the flaws in my case early on," he says. "In the Barr case, the treating doctor had said she was not surprised my client died, and had signed off on natural causes. In my opening, I said 'Yes! The treating physician did say she wasn't surprised that my client's son died. Yes! She said it and the defense is going to tell you she said it over and over again, so I'm telling you, she said it!" Dubin adds with a wry laugh. "I knew I could handle it with the evidence, but could not let a talented defense lawyer plant that seed first."
When the trial was finally complete, all of Dubin's hard work paid off. After only roughly 5 hours of deliberation, the jury delivered an award of $5.7 Million in actual damages. Less than a month later, an additional $4.5 Million in punitive damages was awarded to Dubin's clients. He had successfully argued the post-death argument to win both punitive damages for concealment, and also for wrongful death, normally precluded. The verdict was immediately snatched up for inclusion in the 2016 California Jury Instructions Handbook, and indisputably lays the groundwork for fellow attorneys to try their own hand at working around MICRA limits.
"You have to kill yourself on these cases to do your client right, but once you taste the power that true justice can bring people, the long and hard hours become enjoyable," Dubin says. "The fact that this case can be used to help other attorneys fight and win justice for their clients also feels pretty incredible," he adds candidly. "This has the potential to change everything in medical malpractice cases, and I'm very proud of that."

FULL OF HEART
The deep-seated compassion Dubin feels for clients such as the Barrs, is unquestionably the driving force propelling Dubin to fight as fiercely and relentlessly as he does and as he will continue to do in the future. "All of the great trial lawyers are on the side of justice, and I'm no different," he says. "People like Dan Callahan, Bob Simon, Greg Rizio are all out there getting amazing verdicts in the face of tragedy." Continuing, he says, "For me, being able to look my clients in the eye, even in trial and say 'I'm so sorry that this happened to you,' is at the heart of what I do. You can't help but put yourself in the shoes of the people you're fighting for. When I'm fighting for someone who lost their mother, I think of my mom. When I'm fighting for people who have lost their child, I think of my own children." Admitting his work is emotionally exhausting at times, Dubin also knows that it is precisely this emotional component which reinforces his resolve to continue fighting. "I have literally seen the pain and the stress leave my client's body when a jury verdict is read. Justice can bring closure and peace when everything works the way it should," he says simply. That said, it's no surprise that Dubin is working full steam ahead along with elite attorneys including Paul Kiesel and Greene, Broillet & Wheeler on the forthcoming 2017 massive lawsuit resulting from the devastating big rig crash in Orland in which 10 people (5 of them children) were killed and 40 were severely injured when a FedEx truck crossed the median and slammed into a bus full of children. As co-lead trial counsel, Dubin is ready for the fight. "What happened to these victims and their families is absolutely horrifying," he says. In the meantime, Dubin admits that although he would love to get back to teaching one day, and plans to write more books, that can all wait. "I love teaching and I love writing, and hope I will have time to enjoy all of that again in the future. I'm also excited to join Bob Simon, Arash Homampour and Bob Thompson at CAOC in San Francisco this month for a panel called "Real Talk About Trial Experiences." I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences with my colleagues, and learn so much from them." As for the immediate future, Dubin, who was recently presented with the 2016 Hero Of Hope Award by longtime friend Tom Mesereau, for his work with the N-Action Family Network, says he plans to continue to follow his heart. "There are so many things I still want to do, and I'll do them all. For now, I'm busy being a trial lawyer, and beyond proud to be fighting for people who deserve justice."

EXPERIENCE

» AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Top 20 Lawyer in California, Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer in America, National Trial Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyer in Orange County, OC Weekly Magazine
  • OC Metro Magazine Top Lawyers
  • Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine
  • Super Lawyer Rising Star, Los Angeles Magazine
  • Top 10 Verdict California, Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Top 100 VERDICT IN AMERICA Verdicts and Settlements
  • Top 10 Verdict in California, Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum Life Member
  • Hero of Hope Award 2016
  • Lawyer of the Year Los Angeles 2016
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel (Top 1%)
  • Top 25 Jury Verdict
  • Top 10 Jury Verdict State of California 2005
  • AVVO 10 Perfect Rating
  • Top 10 Client Satisfaction in America, Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys

» AFFILIATIONS

  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocate, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • William P. Gray INN of Court
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • CAOC Presidents Club Member
  • LATLC, Honorary Board Member
  • OCTLA
  • CAALA

Contact
Eric Dubin
Dubin Law Firm
19200 Von Karman Ave., Sixth Floor
Irvine, CA 92612
P: (949)-477-8040
edubin@dubinlaw.com
www.dubinlaw.com

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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