John K. (“Jake”) Courtney, Esq. is one of the most successful and well-regarded trial lawyers and civil litigators in the country. After an accomplished 32-year career as a prominent trial attorney, during which he tried over 40 jury and bench trials to verdict and handled numerous high-value arbitrations and multi-million dollar settlements, he stepped down from the practice of law in 2020 to serve as a full-time mediator at ADR Services, Inc.

Having resolved countless cases as a litigator, Mr. Courtney brings a broad perspective to his work to help parties approach matters from every angle, assessing realistic options and the full costs and tradeoffs of litigation and trial. His down-to-earth demeanor, legal acumen, and comprehensive understanding of the unique concerns of disputants have earned him national recognition for helping to craft creative, customized solutions to complex disputes.

Among his professional memberships, Mr. Courtney has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) since 2003, where he held numerous leadership roles and served as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Chapter, Cal-ABOTA, and National ABOTA. In addition, he has been accoladed several times as one of the nation’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers and as a Southern California Super Lawyer.


  • Personal Injury
  • Mass Torts
  • Business Torts
  • Class Actions
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Wrongful Death
  • Product Liability
  • Insurance Bad Faith


Girardi | Keese, 1988-2020

Mr. Courtney clerked at Girardi, Keese and Crane following his first year of law school and joined the firm as an attorney after passing the bar in 1988.  As the firm grew from 6 to 36 lawyers, Mr. Courtney hired and mentored the new lawyers while maintaining a diverse array of cases. In the 1990s, the firm rebranded as Girardi | Keese.  In addition to trying both bench and jury trials, Mr. Courtney settled in excess of 1,000 matters through mediations and arbitrations. His practice was known for its diversity, ranging from injury claims stemming from defective products and automobile accidents to complex civil litigation, primarily in the areas of Mass Torts, Class Actions, Insurance Bad Faith, and Aviation.


  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), 2003-Present
    • Los Angeles Chapter, Civility Chair, 2015-2016
    • Los Angeles Chapter, Vice President, 2017
    • Los Angeles Chapter, President, 2018
    • Los Angeles Chapter Executive Board, 2010-2016
    • Elected to National ABOTA, Board Member, 2015-2018
    • Cal-ABOTA Board Member, 2017-2019
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL), 2020-Present
  • International Society of Barristers, 2017-Present
  • Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), Associate, 1993-Present
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 2008-Present
  • American Association for Justice, 2008-Present


  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers, American Association for Justice, 2008-2011, 2013
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100, 2015, 2016
  • America’s Top 100 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Southern California Super Lawyer, 2007-2016
  • Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 2008-2013


  • Loyola Law School, J.D., 1988
  • Loyola Marymount University, B.A. cum laude, 1985
    Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society, Pi Alpha Theta, Pi Gamma Mu


  • California, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1988
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 1988
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, 1988

Representative Cases


  • Small commercial flight originating in Saipan crashes on takeoff resulting in fatalities and serious bodily injuries to all passengers. One year later, a second plane operated by the small carrier crashed with additional fatalities. Both cases involved piloting errors and faulty maintenance of the fleet.
  • Single engine private charter crashes on Catalina Island killing the pilot and two passengers. Plane had been chartered through a concierge at a luxury hotel.
  • Boeing 737 crash carrying 101 passengers into the ocean in Bali. 46 passengers are injured.
  • Airbus A320 crashes in southern France in route from Spain to Germany as a direct result of the pilot’s intentional acts killing all 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
  • Private plane loses power and the pilot/owner attempts an emergency landing on a military base helipad. All three people on board survive with catastrophic injuries. NTSB reports maintenance issues with the plane.


    • Dispute concerning the value of the sale of family run landscaping contracting business to a multinational company. Partnership dispute between three brothers resolved to allow sale to proceed.
    • Litigation over the right to the James Bond movie franchise
    • Multiple claims over the IP rights of studio pictures.
    • Case involving the NCAA unlawfully restraining athletes from the licensing of their names and images in televised game and videogames.
    • Suit against a major studio over the exclusive rights to develop a superhero franchise.
    • Dispute between two rental car companies over the value of airport on-site locations versus off site locations.

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    • Municipality police shoot an unarmed African American man on the beach in response to a call of two Hispanic males with shotguns near the location. The victim was holding a radio and turned when he heard a voice say “drop the weapon”. He was shot in his back and on the side of his body.
    • Police respond to a call where the caller, a military veteran who suffers from PTSD, claims he might hurt himself. After 5 hours of negotiations a sniper from the department shoots and kills the caller when his car moved a few feet forward.
    • A police officer molested a youth on ride-along program.


    • Class Action settlement involving aggressive door to door sales of water purification systems that violated the buyers right to rescind the contract pursuant to California’s Home Solicitation Sales Act.
    • Multiple wage and hour violation cases.
    • Multiple Class claims involving “Server Banking” where large chain restaurants illegally based the risk of walk outs (Dine And Dash) on to their waitstaff. Included PAGA claims.
    • Class Action representing buyers of home water softening equipment attached to their homes in violation of their three day right to rescind the purchase.
    • Whistleblower claims involving Charter schools overstating student enrollment to obtain additional funding. PAGA claim.
    • Class of renters who were systematically denied the return of security deposits based on race.

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    • Handled a matter involving police officers sexually assaulting cadet officers.
    • Handled a matter involving a personal assistant rape by a successful musician.
    • Handled a sexual harassment matter involving touching and lewd comments in a law firm.
    • Retaliation/whistleblower case. Plaintiff terminated following memo exposing dangerous work environment in a factory setting.
    • Termination of an employee following a failure to grant accommodation for an employee with a physical impairment.
    • Retaliation case involving punishment for filing charges to the NLRB.
    • Cases involving the non-payment or underpayment of minimum wage.
    • Constructive discharge case involving a Big Box retail store.
    • Failure to pay overtime at a trucking loading dock.
    • Claims for wage and hour, overtime and mandatory meal and rest breaks.
    • Wrongful termination and discrimination based on age and gender.

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    • Water contamination from a munitions facility caused by illegal dumping causes cancers downstream to local residence. Chemicals involved include benzene, TCE and perchlorates.
    • Water contamination in central California involving Chromium 6, used to cool a facility’s production, results in cancer cluster in the community.
    • Airborne exposure following an explosion at a refinery in northern California results in bodily injury to neighbors who are exposed to elevated levels of toxic fumes.
    • Military use of uranium results in retinal blastoma cancer near a facility. All victims are newborns who lost sight in one or both eyes.
    • Refinery fire in Southern California results in airborne admission causing both physical harm and loss of use of property.
    • Largest methane gas leak in US history causes the evacuation of nearby neighbors. Claims include personal injury and the loss of use of real property.
    • Refinery allows seepage of benzene into the ground on property that is sold to a developer who fails to disclose harm to home purchasers.

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    • Trip and fall at a big box store in Redlands CA. A tree root caused an elevation change in the sidewalk that provided egress and ingress to the store's main entrance. Plaintiff suffered fractures to both ankles when she trip and fell off the sidewalk and into the parking lot.
    • Carrier withheld payments following the discovery of a sinkhole caused by the expansion of a subway system under a commercial street. Claimed loss of lost profits on a Commercial Policy.
    • Numerous claims over damages to homes following the Northridge earthquake. Most claims involved the use of temporary adjusters who were under-valuating the losses of structural damage.
    • Disputes over the numerous claims following the Malibu fire and subsequent mudslides.
    • Coverage cases involving the a pipeline explosion in northern California.
    • Dispute over the cause and value of a sunken yacht off the coast of San Diego.
    • Dispute over the value of stolen art and jewelry from a Bel Air mansion.
    • Carrier denied coverage following arson investigation at a family run bakery.

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    • Legal malpractice action for failure to disclose a conflict of interest in a will dispute.
    • Legal malpractice action for failure to bring the matter to trial within the 5 Year Statute. Underlying action motorcycle products case.
    • Legal malpractice action for failure to properly name and serve necessary parties within a three year mandatory requirement.
    • Legal malpractice claim for failure to timely disclose experts pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure. Underlying case involved construction defect claims dismissed on Motion for Summary Judgment.
    • Legal Malpractice action involving the failure to timely file a complaint on a clear liability auto v auto claim.


      • Plaintiff a minor fractured her leg and ankle when a rusted bollard fell on her in the parking lot of her parent's apartment.
      • Medical device company encourages off-label use of a pain management system, designed for abdominal surgeries, in orthopedic cases resulting in decaying of cartilage in shoulders and knees.
      • Plaintiffs were a group of homeowners in the Coachella valley whose homes were flooded following the second “100 year storm” in less then one year. Claims asserted included the failure of the city to maintain the drainage system after the first storm.
      • Plaintiffs were a group of renters who all sustained personal injuries from exposure to mold in large apartment complex in Orange County.
      • Mass tort bus crash involving a senior citizen group en route to Laughlin, Nevada. Case involved allocation issues amongst the victims.
      • Cancer drug causes necrosis of jaw bone in patients. Failure to warn.
      • Talc manufacturer fails to warn users of powder that it can cause uterine cancer.
      • Tobacco litigation in the State of Florida.
      • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) cases involving NFL players.
      • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) cases involving NHL players.
      • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) cases involving NCAA Football players.
      • Opioid cases representing municipalities and counties.
      • Hernia mesh cases involving recalled product where the memory recoil ring failed resulting in internal bleeding requiring revision surgery.

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      • Plaintiff suffered internal injuries when a surgeon severed his Common Bile duct during a gallbladder removal. Injuries and damages included a repair surgery.
      • Cataracts surgery medical negligence case involving issues of lack of informed consent and battery.
      • Stent placed in the patients wrong eye resulting in the need to perform 3 additional procedures.
      • Following a osteonecrosis procedure plaintiff suffered a complication involving CRPS. Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome.
      • Plaintiff, a 56 year old warehouse manager had a surgery requiring a laminoplasty. During the surgery his dural sac was punctured and possibly a vein. He lost 4.5 liters of blood and had permanent injuries in the loss of use of his non-dominant arm.
      • Blindness following a failure to diagnosis and treat glaucoma.
      • Blindness following eye surgery.
      • Aneurysm following a failure to monitor deep vein thrombosis.
      • Surgical errors regarding orthopedic care.
      • Surgical errors involving a failure to repair harm caused intraoperatively.
      • Failure to diagnose and treat cancer.
      • Failure to promptly identify hear trauma in an ER allowing a brain bled to progress causing paralysis.
      • Improperly filled prescriptions resulting in the wrongful death of the patient.
      • Failure to diagnosis and treat congenital heart condition in a minor.
      • Obstetrics cases.
      • Cardiac cases.
      • Orthopedic cases involving spinal fusions, shoulders, knees, ankles and hips.

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      • Plaintiff's mother died weeks following a complex liver biopsy that resulted in internal bleeding. The parties each had experts on the standard of care and causation in this specific procedure. The core issues included the alleged failure to assess the decedent prior to her discharge. Settled at mediation.
      • Plaintiff suffered a TBI and a fractured ankle when she was being moved to get an ultrasound performed. Liability and the nature and extent of the TBI were challenged by the defendant.
      • Trip and fall at a construction site in the hallway outside plaintiff's unit. Injuries included a fractured hip. As a result of her injuries plaintiff required 24 in home care.
      • Unsafe left turn resulted in a broadside collision in Kern County. Injuries included a fracture to the distal radius of the plaintiff's dominant hand requiring a surgical repair. Other injuries included spinal injuries.
      • Decedent a 90 year old male was killed while walking his dog after striking his head following an encounter with a car backing out of a driveway.
      • Plaintiff suffered a TBI when a disco ball fell on her head at a nightclub. Nature and extent of the TBI and cervical neck injuries are in dispute.
      • Pedestrian was struck by a car exiting a parking space in a large parking structure. Plaintiff suffered a TBI, and a fractured femur.
      • Plaintiff alleged a special relationship was developed between plaintiff and a police officer who found him asleep in his car parked in a residential area. The dispute centered on whether of not the officer told the plaintiff to leave the area. He did leave and within the hour crashed sustaining permanent injuries.
      • Plaintiff suffered an ankle fracture attempting to enter a residential property. He left foot slipped when she stepped on a concrete spall.
      • Roof leak at a big box store resulted in puddling on the sales floor. Plaintiff slipped suffering orthopedic injuries to her knees and spine.
      • Bike v. auto case on a suburban street. Defendant turned left into a driveway crossing a bike lane. Defendant argued for comparative fault to the cyclist who failed to brake or take evasive action.
      • Accident following a pallet falling of a commercial truck. Following a car taking evasive action a second accident occurred. Injuries included a traumatically elevated strernoclavical joint and chondromalacia of the patella.
      • Interstate Highway high speed collision in the state of New Mexico. Injuries included a fractured pelvis, cervical and lumbar herniations.
      • Unsafe left turn resulted in a collision with possible comparative fault to the plaintiff based on speed approaching the intersection. Injuries included a spinal fusion, epidurals and an unsuccessful laminotomy with neural decompression
      • Security guard in a parking lot booth suffered injuries when a window pane fell on her head and back. Plaintiff claimed a TBI.
      • Admitted liability accident injuries included a sternum fracture and type IV Paraesophagal hernia that required surgical repair.
      • UIM case. Underlying auto case settled with the driver and filed a demand for arbitration against his carrier. Injuries include a TBI, cervical and lumber complaints.
      • Plaintiff was injured in a head on collision with another vehicle stopped in the plaintiff's lane of travel. The defendant was passing a utility truck in his lane of travel when the impact occurred.
      • Plaintiff suffer two broken shoulder during an adjustment on a Pilates machine. Issues involved assumption of the risk and comparative fault.
      • An auto dealership employee in the course and scope of his employment struck a bike rider on the sidewalk as he was exiting the dealership. Injuries included a distal fibula fracture, a shoulder injury and cervical and lumbar back injuries.
      • Trip and fall over a pallet of water bottles in a big box warehouse store. Injuries included a broken ankle and lumbar spine complaints
      • Plaintiff suffered a TBI after striking his head on tartan covered pole vault box on his university's campus. Issues involved waiver, comparative fault, and assumption of the risk. The nature and extent of the injury was also hotly contested.
      • Plaintiff was taking out her trash cans where she tripped on a 2 inch height differential created during a street improvement project in front of her home. Injuries included a foot fracture.
      • Plaintiff's son died after leaving a sober living home. Death was an overdose of Fentanyl. Plaintiff contended Defendant failed to transport her son to a hospital following an on-site use of the drug.
      • Wrongful death case following a 6 week stay in hospital. prior to his passing plaintiff's father developed stage 4 sacral wounds
      • Elder abuse claims involving a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE). Plaintiff's contend that their mother contracted scabies that developed into a secondary bacterial infection, leading to sepsis and her demise a short time later. Defendant felt the cause of her death was her failure to thrive.
      • Truck accident on the 405 Freeway. Rear impact admitted liability case. First impact pushed the truck forward into a larger box truck. Med over $400,000 from a lumbar fusion.
      • Slip and fall in a restroom at a big box store. Disputed liability case on the condition of the floor and nature of the substance. Plaintiff contended she suffered a cervical injury and will be having a fusion in the future
      • Settled an Ophthalmologic medical malpractice case resulting in the plaintiff losing sight in one eye.
      • Butte County collision involving a commercial truck running a stop sign on rural country road. Injuries claimed included a torn rotator cuff and labral tear requiring surgical repair.
      • Shasta County trucking accident on I-5. Trailer of jack-knifed semi came over the center median k-rail and landed on another semi coming in the opposite direction. Injuries included major injuries to the driver's hand requiring surgery, neck and back injuries with epidurals and trigger point injections
      • Plaintiff suffered injuries to both her cervical spine and shoulders in an admitted liability trucking accident. Defendant contested causation of her bilateral breast implant exchange.
      • Plaintiff claimed emotional damage and physical injuries following an encounter with bed bugs at a major chain hotel during a large convention.
      • Trip and fall on a platform created to provide outside seating during covid. Plaintiff suffered a fracture to her humerus requiring multiple surgeries.
      • UIM claim following injury to a gig driver. Injuries included a surgical back and torn rotator cuff.
      • Northern California trip and fall in a the city of Los Altos. Plaintiff was walking with her husband at night in a residential area with no sidewalks. The property owner had installed rubber mats in the gutter to smooth out the transition from the street to the driveway. Injuries included a complex fracture to her dominant hand requiring plating.
      • High speed collision on an interstate in northern California. Plaintiff's car pushed off the roadway and tumbled down an embankment. Injuries included both lumber and cervical fusions.
      • Plaintiff fell entering her leased residence in northern California. The dispute arose over the condition of the walkway and whether or not it was a proper route of to enter the property. Injuries included a fractured patella.
      • Pedestrian struck while crossing in an intersection. Injuries to back, neck and broken foot.
      • Admitted liability slip and fall at a fast food chain. Spilled cooking oil in the area outside the restroom caused the fall. Plaintiff who had a history of two back surgeries had additional surgeries including the installation of a cord stimulator.
      • A minor girl aged 5 fell off her trike in a common area of a large apartment building. the impact cause a large laceration to her upper arm requiring surgical repair.
      • Wrongful death auto collision between a sedan and a Peterbilt truck. The sedan rear-ended the semi that was making an unsafe maneuver into the car’s lane. Decedent was a young single male survived by his two parents.
      • Settled disputed liability claim with minimal property damage rear-end collision. At issue was the reasonableness and causation of plaintiff’s back surgery. Plaintiff had a history of 4 prior back surgeries 20 years earlier.
      • Wrongful death case against major amusement park. Decedent ingested an undercooked hamburger and died within 72 hours of e. coli.
      • Road Design case against the state for improper maintaining a state highway resulting in flooding that led to a fatal single car accident.
      • Auto v. Pedestrian claim. Runner struck by driver running a stop sign resulting in a severed patella tendon.
      • Elder abuse at a assisted living facility. Staff failed to recognize and obtain treatment for elderly resident resulting in wrongful death claim.
      • Auto v. Auto claim on Sunset Blvd. Fatality occurred when a speeding sports car crossed over the center line and hit plaintiff’s car head on.
      • Plaintiff rendered a quadriplegic in the back seat of a taxi on the Strip in Las Vegas when the cab was struck by a drunk driver crossing the center median.
      • Road Design case involving the failure to maintain a large tree abutting the roadway. Tree fell in a storm triggering a multi-car accident with injuries.
      • Landlord tenant dispute over habitability as a result of water intrusion. Plaintiff alleged personal injuries.
      • Slip and fall case. Plaintiff was a LPGA professional whose career was cut short following a fall at a coffee shop resulting in a back surgery.
      • Trip and fall case. Plaintiff was a doctor who sustained an ankle fracture at a private golf club. The defect had been identified but not repaired providing notice to the defendant.
      • Auto v. Pedestrian. Plaintiff was stuck by a speeding vehicle while rescuing a dog on the center divider. Injuries required a spinal fusion
      • Fatal car crash against a tavern for knowingly serving alcohol to an intoxicated minor.
      • Loading dock accident. Plaintiff alleged he was pinned between the semi and the loading dock when the driver was instructed to back up prior to the dock being cleared. Plaintiff was rendered paralyzed from the waist down and suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
      • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cases following a fall at a boutique hotel where a shower curtain rod came off the wall with minimal force applied.
      • Shooting case in Nevada involving several thousand victims and 59 deaths. Claims against the hotel where the shooter was located for violating the Inn Keeper Statute. Other legal issues included the Homeland Security Act and issues of the liability of the concert promoter.
      • Uber and Lyft cases involving violence by the driver against the passenger as well as injury claims for negligent driving.
      • Auto case involving significant life care plan for quadriplegic minor.
      • Long haul truck driver killed when struck head on by another Semi. Decedent had ten children in ten different states and issues and involved mediating the allocation of the policy limits.
      • Claims against a Security company for negligent hiring after an employee was arrested and charged for burglarizing a home where he had installed the security system.

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      • Hoverboard battery caused a home fire. Losses included both real and personal property evaluation. In addition three family members suffered personal injuries from smoke inhalation.
      • Faulty ladder collapses. Legal dispute on design defect. Injuries included both orthopedic and a traumatic brain injury.
      • City uses a recessed lighting scheme on the entrance to a theater creating an attractive nuisance to a young boy resulting in third degree burns.
      • Tire delamination case resulting in loss of control of a vehicle causing death to the driver after striking a tree. Case also featured claims of road design.
      • Manufacturing defect of a pneumatic nail gun resulting in a mis-fire. Nail lodged into the temporal lobe of the plaintiff causing paralysis and a TBI.
      • Sudden acceleration design defect case resulting in traumatic injuries.
      • An improperly loaded flat-bed Semi loses braking on a steep hill. The truck load is dumped on plaintiff who is suffers from permanent and lasting injuries.
      • Ford Explorer roll over resulting in two deaths of ejected minors. Tread separation contributed to the accident.
      • Electrocution cases at a mine. Laborer lost one arm and one leg after the power transformer he was assigned to clean had not been properly shut down. Case also involved a failure to warn theory.
      • Elevator falls 6 stories at an apartment building causing catastrophic harm to the sole occupant. Case also involved causation issues on liver failure resulting from prescribed pain medication.

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      • Plaintiff moved into an apartment during COVID and felt Constructively evicted when his neighbor in the next apartment had a series of rave like parties that went into the wee hours of the evening. The stress of the events caused him stress, anxiety and emotional harm. He sought a return of his rent, relocation costs and general damages.
      • 28 plaintiff occupying 7 apartments brought claims regarding habitability for violations of Civil Code section 1941 and 1941.1 as well as Health and Safety code section 17920.3. In addition claims for violation of Civil Code Section 1942.4 were made.


      “Mr. Courtney shows extraordinary skill in mediating cases. He is knowledgeable, approachable, and most importantly, trustworthy. I believe a successful mediation requires trust between the mediator, counsel, and the parties. Mr. Courtney will always have my trust. As a respected member of the community, I believe he has the trust of most attorneys. I look forward to working with him in the future.”

      “I had such a great experience with Mr. Courtney who was not only highly experienced but went above and beyond to make this settlement happen. I included his name in my list of proposed mediator to defense counsel recently in another matter. Thank you.”

      “Amazing. Great grasp of the facts and the disputed issues. Took on a case where it appeared the parties were so far apart that settlement was not probable. Extremely patient and persistent in eventually getting the parties to agree on a global settlement. Mr. Courtney was very effective with not only the attorneys, but also with the client. We look forward to utilizing his mediation abilities again soon.”

      “Jake Courtney was phenomenal. He did a great job. In my 20 years, he’s one of the top 5, I’ve mediated many 7 and 8 figure cases.”

      “I have been a member of the Bar for almost 40 years. Without question Mr. Courtney was one of the best mediators I have had the pleasure to work with in my entire career.”

      “First time using Jake. He was unbelievable. I really look forward to working with him again.”

      Jake was, by far, the best mediator I’ve ever used. He made himself available to answer AND resolve many questions at a moment’s notice.”

      Jake really understands the legal technicalities and the nuances of the damages of severe personal injury cases. He’s also universally respected on both sides of the bar. He has this great ability to analyze the plaintiff’s case, the defendants’ case, deal with complicated insurance issues, understand the difficulties in negotiating complicated cases, and he’s just very patient.”

      When Jake goes to the personal injury side and speaks to those parties, they know where he’s coming from. They know he has been there where they are, and I think they find it more compelling.”

      Jake was able to talk some sense into a very inflamed situation. It didn’t settle at the mediation, but it did very soon after, largely because Jake was able to talk the plaintiff’s attorney and the plaintiff down from their lofty position. He was texting everybody, and he made a deal happen. Sometimes with these complicated cases, you need that extra push from the mediator.”