The San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association threw a party Thursday evening and the U.S. Supreme Court rained on it.
The high court's decision Wednesday striking down California's ban on class action waivers was an undercurrent -- well, more like an over-current -- throughout SFTLA's annual Trial Lawyer of Year Gala at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.
"Since yesterday morning there's been a kind of grieving," said SFTLA president Jonathan Gertler in opening remarks. The court's conservative majority was "condoning systematic ripoffs" by letting corporations force consumers to waive class action rights, said Gertler, of Chavez & Gertler.
"They don't know what they're talking about," declared past president Nancy Hersh, of Hersh & Hersh, calling AT&T v. Concepcion "a horrible case."
But trial lawyers are nothing if not fighters, and on Thursday some used the unwelcome ruling to help fuel the celebration.
For his part, Baum, who's been practicing for 53 years, said the current court environment means trial lawyers must redouble their efforts "to fight the good fight."
Also honored Thursday night:
Craig Needham of San Jose's Needham, Kepner, Fish & Jones was named SFTLA's Distinguished Mediator of the Year.
Conal Doyle of Beverly Hills' Willoughby Doyle was presented the organization's Civil Justice Award, for his advocacy on behalf of a man whose poor medical care while in federal immigration custody contributed to the amputation of his penis and ultimately his death from cancer.
Richard Schoenberger and Douglas Saeltzer of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger were named SFTLA's Trial Lawyers of the Year, for winning a $12 million verdict on behalf of Emily Liou, a teenager severely injured in a 2006 traffic accident in Millbrae. Schoenberger and Saeltzer persuaded a San Mateo jury that by marking a crosswalk on El Camino Real, the state of California made the location more dangerous for pedestrians by creating a false sense of security.