“Ms. Bogus” tried her best for four long hours to get the $1.4 million verdict tossed, but came up short.
In hearings this week and last, defense attorney Debra Bogaards argued at length that a verbal slip by a judge tainted a personal injury verdict against her client, the California Academy of Sciences.
According to Bogaards, retired San Francisco Superior Court Judge Wallace Douglass, who was sitting by assignment, twice called her “Ms. Bogus” in front of the jury, one time interrupting direct examination to apologize to her for the first time he’d called her by the wrong name.
Bogaards, a partner at Bogaards Davis in San Francisco, said she believed the slip to be accidental, but argued that it “impugned” her credibility with jurors and helped to build bias against her client.
Plaintiffs lawyer Steve Brady of The Brady Law Group in San Rafael argued that the defense didn’t have transcripts to prove the slip even happened – although he himself called Bogaards “Ms. Bogus” once during arguments late Monday afternoon.
Brady represents Susanne Ice-Dunnigan, who hurt her back when she was rear-ended by an Academy employee in 2006. The May trial lasted nearly 11 days, with the jury awarding $1.1 million in non-economic damages. Bogaards says that number should be closer to $500,000.
The judge’s slip was one of Bogaards’ 14 grounds for a new trial – grounds she argued at length during two hearings spanning two days. Douglass disagreed, though, and declined to elaborate much on the basis for his ruling.
“Cumulatively,” he said, Bogaards’ 14 points didn’t amount to enough to toss the verdict.
Throughout the hearing and in comments afterward, Bogaards hinted at her intent to appeal.