Jake Courtney, Esq.

Profile

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 at Girardi & Keese, where 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.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

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

LEGAL EXPERIENCE

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.

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS

  • 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 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

HONORS AND AWARDS

  • 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

EDUCATION

  • 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

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • 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

AVIATION

  • 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.

BUSINESS TORTS

  • 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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CIVIL RIGHTS – POLICE MISCONDUCT

  • 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 ACTIONS

  • 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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EMPLOYMENT

  • 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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ENVIRONMENTAL MASS TORT

  • 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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INSURANCE BAD FAITH

  • 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

  • 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.

MASS TORT

  • 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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MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

  • 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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PERSONAL INJURY & WRONGFUL DEATH

  • 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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PRODUCT LIABILITY

  • 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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