Trial Partner Dana Fox Secures Jury Verdict & Settlement in Multimillion-Dollar Hotel Catastrophic Injury Case

Los Angeles, Calif. (June 4, 2021) - Los Angeles Partner and Co-Chair of Lewis Brisbois’ General Liability Practice Dana Alden Fox recently secured a defense verdict on behalf of the hotel chain Howard Johnson in a high exposure catastrophic injury case.

In this matter, which was covered gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network (CVN) and summarized in its article, "Hotel Avoids Damages in $68M Lawsuit Over Child’s Near-Drowning in Hot Tub, Prompting Settlement," and reported in the Law360 article, "Hotel Settles $68M Brain Damage Suit During Deliberations," a six-year-old suffered brain damage after passing out in a hot tub at a Disneyland-area hotel. Following the incident, the child spent 54 days in the hospital, suffering brain damage that will make her a "forever child" who requires constant care.

The child's family filed suit against the hotel, and the matter was ultimately tried over the course of five weeks. Following the trial, the parties reached a confidential “high/low” agreement just before the jury reached a verdict, resulting in a settlement after the jury's decision was read into the record. The verdict cleared the hotel of liability, with the jury determining that the hotel's negligence did not contribute to the accident.

In discussing the trial's outcome, Mr. Fox told CVN, “By everyone’s agreement this was a tragic accident.” He added, “That said and recognized, I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the trial and the jury’s verdict." Mr. Fox commended the jury for “basing their decision on the evidence and the law, and not based on the undeniable sympathy that everyone would feel for this child.” He explained that the jury was likely swayed by the child's brain scans, which defense experts testified lacked the tell-tale signs of hyperthermia and lack of oxygen, which would be expected in a drowning incident of this type. In describing the scans, Mr. Fox noted, “The jury could see them, and they were easy to look at and understand what was there and what wasn’t there."

Mr. Fox also described to CVN the challenges posed by pandemic-related restrictions during the trial, including social distancing and mask requirements. “How do you position yourself and communicate to everyone at the same time under these circumstances,” he asked. “I don’t have a magic answer for that, but it’s something all lawyers should be thinking about.”

In a statement regarding the settlement, Mr. Fox told Law360, "The agreement reached did not alter or vitiate the jury's unanimous finding of no liability. And while the amount is confidential, it is far less than the amount of future care claimed by the plaintiffs' experts and well below what plaintiffs' counsel asked the jury to award."

Mr. Fox is one of the most heralded trial attorneys in California, consistently obtaining results not thought possible for his clients, including multiple defense jury verdicts in prominent cases. As a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and with the elevated rank of Advocate within the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Mr. Fox routinely defends the most difficult, high exposure cases in the Golden State.

For more information on this case, contact Mr. Fox directly. Visit our National Trial Practice page to learn more about our trial capabilities. 

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