Panish Shea & Boyle LLP partner Rahul Ravipudi has been awarded Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and accepted the award Saturday evening in Beverly Hills at the organization’s 69th Annual Installation & Awards Dinner. The Charlie O’Reilly Memorial Award – Trial Lawyer of the Year award is the highest honor given by CAALA to just one person, out of nearly 3,000 lawyers, who has achieved a tremendous jury result coupled with giving back to the legal community, the organization and consumers in general. More than 1,000 guests including family, friends and colleagues filled the main ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel as CAALA 2017 award honorees including Mr. Ravipudi, Rising Star recipient Christopher Montes de Oca, Trial Judge of the Year recipient Honorable John Pacheco, and Appellate Justice of the Year award recipient Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye accepted their awards.
Mr. Ravipudi was presented with the Trial Lawyer of the Year award by CAALA’s 2018 Second Vice President Genie Harrison, and gave a heartfelt speech recognizing those who have mentored and supported him throughout his 18 year legal career, including his wife Smitha, and firm partners Brian Panish, Adam Shea and Kevin Boyle. “I’m honored to work with you as partners and thankful to call you my friends,” he said. Mr. Ravipudi is recognized by CAALA for his work resulting in a landmark $160,500,000 jury verdict obtained in April 2017 for a man who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a vicious beating by security personnel. Throughout the two-month trial, defendants disputed liability and damages, which were particularly complex. However, Mr. Ravipudi and his trial team prevailed at trial. The jury deliberated for less than five hours before returning a verdict for Plaintiff on every theory of liability and also made a finding that punitive damages were warranted. The parties reached a confidential settlement while the jury was deliberating on the amount of the punitive damages to award.
In May 2017, Mr. Ravipudi also obtained a $23,500,000 settlement on behalf of the family of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, a 19-year-old non-verbal autistic student who tragically died aboard a Whittier school bus after the driver left him behind to engage in a sexual tryst with a coworker. Paul’s death has been a catalyst for significant changes in California law with Governor Jerry Brown signing the “Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law” in September 2016, requiring all school buses in the state of California to be equipped with a child safety alarm system that must be deactivated by the bus driver before departing the bus. The new law also requires bus drivers to receive training in child-safety check procedures and will go into effect on or before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
Founded in 1949, CAALA is the nation’s largest local association of plaintiff trial attorneys. Mr. Ravipudi joined CAALA in 2000 and became a member of the Board of Governors in 2014. He speaks frequently at CAALA programs and has served as a co-chair of the Association’s annual convention and as an issue editor of CAALA’s Advocate magazine.