Chad Hemmat: $2 million verdict against law firm in "toothless cooties" case

Chad Hemmat.jpg
Chad Hemmat.
A Denver jury has awarded a verdict of more than $2 million, including $1.5 million in punitive damages, to a former client of Anderson, Hemmat & Levine in what amounts to a legal malpractice case against the prominent personal-injury law firm. Daniell Goff claimed that the firm's lawyers pressured her to settle her car-accident case for far less than it was worth and that Chad Hemmat, one of the firm's founding partners, referred to her as a "toothless cootie" in an e-mail to another attorney.

Monday's verdict came after a week-long trial, during which Goff attorney Patric LeHouillier attempted to portray AHL as a "settlement mill" that proclaims its dedication to "Justice for Victims" in numerous commercials and billboards but devotes little attorney time to meeting the needs of its injured clients. AHL's attorneys countered that the firm worked hard on behalf of Goff and her husband, who were injured in a 2008 auto accident, and that the couple fully agreed to a negotiated settlement with the other motorist's insurance company.

Goff's share of the settlement came to $92,000, but much of that was spent on medical bills, expenses and the law firm's one-third contingency fee. She contends that Hemmat's firm failed to uncover an umbrella policy that could have provided greater compensation and dissuaded her from taking the accident case to trial. The jury decided that her actual damages in the action against AHL amounted to $674,000 -- and then assessed another $1.5 million in punitive damages against the firm.

Hemmat says his firm will appeal the verdict. "This isn't anywhere near over," he says. "We feel the jury was led to confusion by information where context wasn't permitted by the court. We do feel partially vindicated, that the jury acknowledged that we by no means committed any sort of fraud."

AHL's attorneys had strongly objected to showing the jury private e-mails exchanged between Hemmat and another of the firm's attorneys on the day of the settlement conference, in which Hemmat described the Goffs (whom he'd not yet met in person) as "toothless cooties" -- and the defendant in the case as a robot. Hemmat maintains that the sarcastic dialogue was attempting to convey how the parties might be perceived by an Arapahoe County jury if the accident case went to trial and was not indicative of any contempt for his clients, or any effort to pressure them into a settlement.

"It's hard to get folks on a jury to understand that when we're trying to make an assessment, it can be crass and crude amongst us," he explains. "It's not meant to hurt anybody. It was purely concerns we had about the presentation of our client and the defendant.... Those were unfortunate words, but they were never part of the care and counseling of this client."

Goff attorney LeHouillier declined to comment on the case. Hemmat notes he had an ethical obligation to supply the e-mails to the other side and hired a "special IT guy" to find them. He expects that the punitive damages will be reduced to correspond with the actual damages and that Judge Edward Bronfin's decision to admit the e-mails into evidence, despite their "inflammatory" nature, will be an issue on appeal.

"I wish I hadn't said those words," Hemmat says. "But the judge has an obligation to call balls and strikes correctly."

More from our Business archive: "Ex-client sues lawyer Chad Hemmat over 'toothless cooties' case."

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12 comments
ZzipIt
ZzipIt

Forget about how many cases they settle and how much money they rake in.  Chad Hemmat is a poor human being.  I have worked with him personally, and I know how he runs a business.  To him, personal injury isn't a practice; it's a ruthless game of power and prestige.  (Is it really necessary to have more billboards with your face on it than Starbucks stores?)  Not only does he have a lack of respect for his clients, he treats his support staff as disposable people.  As a client, you will know that his support staff is a revolving door.  It's not about the quality of people or the quality of work, it's about how cheap can he hire an attractive, young lady to do his dirty work.  His support staff stay after hours, overworked and under-appreciated.  Can someone please find out how many people he has hired and fired since 2010?  Since I worked with him for part of this time frame, I'm willing to guess he has hired/fired 8 people.  He can't even treat his own team with respect, let alone his clients.     

 

Rumor has it that he has had an affair with at least 1 of his paralegal's.  I cannot confirm that rumor, but I can say that I have heard him throw around absurdly crude jokes to his staff.  What does he say when his office door is closed?  Perhaps someone has one of those conversations on tape?  This isn't an discussion of 'free speech.'  This is a discussion of being a respectful human being, an ethical attorney to his clients and providing "Justice for Victims."  

 

 Chad has all of his teeth and he has the money to repair the teeth of all of his "toothless" clients.  But don't expect to get any compassion from him.  I am happy to see that his true colors are published in the local newspaper.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I was sold out by an attorney & she had the benefit of DPD

assisting her by bullying  me into taking the embarrassingly small ,

1st settlement offer !.....

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

GOOD FOR HER !!!

Let this be a lesson to ALL you

manipulating , lying , self-centered ,

DOUCHE BAGS who have made law the 'ruins'

as we know it to be in this day and age....

Thanks for the conclusion to this fascinating case !

SuzanneA123
SuzanneA123

Seriously?! After reading these two stories, this woman didn't deserve this windfall. If you read between the lines, she had some serious issues that would get her zilch at trial. In this economy, this jury's verdict is outrageous. This attorney can call me anything he wants in an email and I won the lottery? Sign me up!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Perhaps this Attorney Patric LeHouillier can go after all the GROSS MALPRACTICE perpetrated by the Medical Marijuana Lawyers as they recklessly counseled their clients in the operation of Continuous Criminal Enterprises ... most of whom FAILED and were financially destroyed by following the bogus unethical advice of their paid lawyers.

 

 

SuzanneA123
SuzanneA123

@Juan_Leg Which lying douche bag are you referring to? The lying woman who wasn't even injured in her car accident who got 2 million dollars? THAT is the downfall of our justice system. I bet she's friends with the lady who got millions from McDonald's for spilling coffee on herself. And you'd better be careful because apparently we don't have free speech in America. Wonder how much you can get for someone calling you a douche bag?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SuzanneA123 Go jump in front of an RTD bus and see how much you get.

 

... or lay down on the light-rail tracks.

woefatcat
woefatcat

 @SuzanneA123  @Juan_Leg I understand your hatred for the courts but why do people always throw in a rant about "Free Speech?"  When it is obvious that you half barely a grasp of what it means.  I read nowhere in this article where it states that the government has restricted someones first amendment rights. A lawyer being shitty to his client and that statement being used against him whilst he is being sued by his client for shitty services does not equate to the denial of his "free speech." He had the right to call her a toothless cootie and along with that right is the right for his client to sue him for being a shitty lawyer.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SuzanneA123  So why do you hate the U$ Jury System?

 

Why do you think you know more about the FACTS of a case you can't even NAME than the 12 (twelve) UNANIMOUS JURORS who actually sat through the trials you pretend to whine about?

 

 

SuzanneA123
SuzanneA123

@DonkeyHotay I don't hate the US jury system I just read the two articles here and it is pretty obvious what the case was about. Just my opinion, which I think I'm entitled to.

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