Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California and Nevada
DEFENSE COMMENT MAGAZINE
Trials & Tribulations Submission Form
Date of Submission: 10/31/18
Contact Person for Submission: Bobby Dale Sims, Jr.
Trial Counsel Name(s) & Law Firm:
Plaintiff’s Counsel: Therese Y. Cannata & Mark P. Fickes – Cannata O’Toole Fickes & Olson
Defense Counsel: Bobby Dale Sims, Jr. – Sims, Lawrence & Arruti;
and Scott M. Hutchison, Law Office of Matthew G. Salazar
County/District and Trial Judge Name: Butte County –Presiding Judge Tamara Mosbarger
Case Name (Optional): Bessolo v. R&R Horn, Inc.
Description of Trial:
Claim: It was alleged that a General Engineering Contractor destabilized
property resulting in an active landslide. The Contractor was hired by
Butte County to remove unpermitted culverts and provide erosion controls
after plaintiff installed unpermitted culverts in a seasonal creek.
The location of the site was next to Butte Creek and the plaintiff’s
work allegedly endangered Chinook salmon spawning beds near Chico,
Plaintiff’s complaint plead one cause of action for Private Nuisance.
Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the contractor either created the condition
that caused the landslide or did not ascertain that the condition existed
and warn the landowner.
We argued, with the help of expert, Tom Blackburn of Blackburn
Consulting, that there was no landslide. Mr. Blackburn was well
received by the Jury and explained that the conditions were a
combination of settling and erosion.
Prior to trial, the lowest demand was $985,000 and the highest
offer was a CCP § 998 for $50,001. During closing, plaintiff’s
counsel asked the Jury to award between $900,000 and $1.6 million.
Mr. Sims requested a defense verdict. Alternatively, he asked that
if the Jury found fault that they apportion most of the liability to others.
The Jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating for