Protecting The Vulnerable

Both scripture and the law hold a special place for the most vulnerable among us. Matthew 25:40, reads, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” The law which we rely upon in court every day provides particular protections for “unusually susceptible” plaintiffs. Punitive damages are appropriate where the plaintiff was “financially weak or vulnerable and the defendant knew that the plaintiff was financially weak for vulnerable and took advantage of him or her.”

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

And so, I am particularly proud of two cases in which we fought hard for very vulnerable human beings. In one case, a husband and father, Shaun Reyna, sought treatment for his alcohol and benzodiazepine addictions from a corporate “rehabilitation” center: A Better Tomorrow Treatment Centers. ABTTC, as it is called, has a simple business model: Get anyone and everyone in and don’t let them leave. Despite the fact that it provides no medical care, ABTCC convinces every addict that needs help that ABTCC can take care of them. For Shaun Reyna, that fraud proved deadly. Upon arrival at the “facility” (simply a rented house), Shaun went into severe withdrawals. He began to hallucinate. ABTCC employees recognized he needed actual medical care. Shaun wanted to leave. However, the “crisis team” ordered him to remain at the house, alone in a room. They didn’t want to lose the money. By himself and with a razor, Shaun took his own life.

We brought suit on behalf of his surviving wife and two adult children. ABTCC defended the case in “scorched earth” litigation. Officers and employees “took the Fifth” and refused to testify. Despite providing zero medical care, ABTCC argued that California’s medical malpractice damage caps applied. Its lawyers stalled and delayed and argued the case should be thrown out. After all, Shaun was just an addict that had committed suicide. Why should ABTCC be to blame? Finally, and after years of litigation, the Reyna’s had their day in court. Trial began in Murietta, California. And at the conclusion, the jury awarded the Reyna family $7,000,000 in compensatory damages.

Shaun Reyna, just trying to beat his demons and regain his life, was vulnerable. Any person battling addiction is especially vulnerable. Lacking control and desperate for answers, they just need honest help. Our work on the case taught us that the recovery business can be a very dirty one. While some companies and people do it right, many do not, including ABTCC. We already represent other families with similar stories. I know our case for the Reyna’s has already helped clean up what can be a dirty business. I am very proud of the work we have done for the vulnerable in these cases.

In another recent case, we represented Dawn Kali. Diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer, she was vulnerable and scared. She turned to Robert Young, a best-selling author and self-professed cancer expert for help. Young held himself out as a doctor and claimed that by paying him lots of money for bizarre treatments like baking soda IV’s, Dawn would be cured of cancer in no time. “Dr.” Young told Dawn to forego traditional treatment and chemotherapy. It would kill her, he warned.
Like many others, Dawn was duped. She paid Young much of her life savings because she was scared and desperate for a cure. Sadly, she only got worse. Because she had not received proper medical care, her cancer has now progressed to Stage IV. Doctors have told her she will die. She is sad and feels ashamed for letting her kids down. We agreed to represent her. We wanted to send a message to those that prey on the vulnerable. Cancer patients, in particular, are some of the most vulnerable among us. After trial, a San Diego jury agreed, and awarded Dawn $105 million in damages. Many told us they wanted to give us more. As importantly, the jury told Dawn that she did nothing wrong. She is particularly grateful for that.

I’m very proud of that result as well. I’m proud of all the work that we do to protect the most vulnerable among us. Our “Children’s Rights” group, for example, protects kids from bullying and abuse. Our personal injury lawyers help people and families through the toughest times of their lives. Whenever we can help the vulnerable, we do. We feel like it’s part of our responsibility. That part of our work gives all of us particular satisfaction.

Thank you for reading my story.