Both Tom Girardi and David Lira were recently honored at the CAOC Annual Awards as Attorneys of the Year in 2017, for having "achieved a significant result in a case that assisted consumers or changed consumer law for the better in California." The CAOC has updated its website to show current recipients and past recipients, in an award that stretches back nearly two decades.
The case centered on a 1993 Mazda minivan and its lap-only seat belts. In that case (as we described in an earlier post), had the minivan been fully equipped with three-point seat belts on all seats, rather than partially equipped, it would have prevented Ms. Williamson's death.
Ms. Williamson was in one of two seats with lap-only seat belts. When the family suffered a head-on collision, the impact caused severe internal bleeding when Ms. Williamson's body folded over on itself, and she died from her injuries.
The other family members - belted in three-point harnesses - survived.
We settled this case after 14 years of litigation in March 2017.
About the Consumer Attorneys of California
The Consumer Attorneys of California goes back to April 1961. That same decade, in 1968, federal safety standards for motor vehicles went into effect. That's when obvious safety features like seat belts started to take off. (Though it probably wasn't obvious how effective seats belts were at saving lives prior to that time.)
As the CAOC explains on its website, the organization is California's only statewide professional association of lawyers who go to battle in the broad area of "consumer law." In this context, that loosely means representing plaintiffs - people injured in car crashes, patients injured by medical mistakes, people discriminated against at work, and so on.
The overall goal then, as it remains now, is a "unified plaintiffs' bar" that works to advocate on behalf of individual citizens' rights and to defeat and oppose legislative proposals that would weaken those rights - like the right to trial by jury, rather than forced arbitration.
As the CAOC puts it, "It is a history of preserving justice for all."