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Daily Business Review: Litigation Department of the Year: Podhurst Orseck
Posted on October 13, 2020
Podhurst Lawyers Group Photo
Attorneys at the Miami litigation boutique negotiated a $57 million settlement with Volkswagen over suspension systems and won a $5 million against an engine maker in a small plane crash that killed the pilot.

The Miami litigation boutique serves as lead counsel in the case for 120,000 vehicle owners alleging Volkswagen’s defective suspension system was to blame for vehicles running through tires quickly in models build from 2009 to 2017. A $57 million preliminary settlement was drafted with the firm’s Peter Prieto, Matthew Weinshall and Alissa Del Riego representing the plaintiffs class.

Volkswagen denies the validity of the claims, but the settlement includes a compensation formula for tire replacement and past tire rotations as well as certificates for up to two future tire rotations until the odometers hit 110,000 miles.

In another of the firm’s transportation specialties, Ricardo Martinez-Cid and Lea Bucciero secured a $5 million verdict for a pilot’s death in the crash of a Cessna plane powered by an allegedly defective engine made by Continental Motors.

Martinez-Cid and Bucciero blamed the crash on a degraded engine part that was intended to curb vibration when parts spin in opposite directions. On cross-examination, a defense expert conceded the vibration dampener did not meet Federal Aviation Administration functionality requirements.

The jury rejected a defense request to spread the blame to the pilot and a company that performed the latest maintenance work on the plane. The plaintiffs team also won $25,000 in sanctions against Continental for withholding thousands of documents during discovery.

The firm also added a $7.5 million settlement with PNC Bank to extend a line of settlements dating back almost a decade in cases alleging excessive overdraft fees.

The 17-attorney law firm traces its emphasis on aviation and class action litigation to the 1972 crash of an Eastern Air Lines jet in the Everglades. Since then, the firm has represented victims in more than 125 air crashes.

Managing partner Steven Marks is co-lead plaintiffs counsel in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that led Boeing Co. to ground its 737 Max 8 aircraft, and he represents 34 victims’ families in the earlier Lion Air Max 8 crash.

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