Last Minute Trial Attorney Calls Impeachment Witness and Gambles to Win Fraud Case

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Douglas J. Pettibone an Orange County lawyer markets himself as a last minute trial attorney which is an attorney known to be called upon at the last minute to assist or replace other attorneys just before trial commences. Plaintiff Credit Association (CA) sued Jerry Hoffman (Hoffman), his business and family (Case No. 07CL01555). Hoffman was in the business of selling top end printers. In this case Hoffman sold a Hildleberg Speedmaster 52 with a purchase price of $400,000.00. Hoffman hired Pettibone at the last minute to replace his attorney.

Douglas J. Pettibone an Orange County lawyer markets himself as a last minute trial attorney which is an attorney known to be called upon at the last minute to assist or replace other attorneys just before trial commences.

Plaintiff Credit Association (CA) sued Jerry Hoffman (Hoffman), his business and family (Case No. 07CL01555). Hoffman was in the business of selling top end printers. In this case Hoffman sold a Hildleberg Speedmaster 52 with a purchase price of $400,000.00.

Hoffman hired Pettibone at the last minute to replace his attorney.

According to the lawsuit after the printer was delivered to CA it “stopped working”. CA sued Hoffman for the purchase price, lost business and punitive damages.

The case went to trial in the Orange County Superior Court before the Honorable Shella Fell, judge presiding.

“You can’t defend a case like this?” CA’s attorney said in their opening statement. “This is a slam dunk case of fraud. Hoffman and everyone involved are accountable.”

When CA finished their side of the case Pettibone requested permission to call a surprise witness.

“Calling a surprise witness is a gamble,” according to legal expert Rick Acker a practicing lawyer and author. Why are surprise witnesses so rare? According to Acker “before a case goes to trial, lawyers get to ask the other side for the identities of any witnesses to make sure neither side gets surprised. The judge will generally bar the witness from testifying. However, one of the few exceptions is impeachment. Impeachment is the process of calling into question the credibility of an individual who is testifying in a trial.”

The surprise witness was a passenger Pettibone found, who had been sitting in the delivery truck when the Heidleberg printer arrived at CA’s facility.

Over CA’S objection the court allowed the testimony.

Working through a Spanish translator Pettibone was able to get the witness to describe the fact that CA dropped the printer several times while unloading the printer with a forklift at their Sonoma facility.

Earlier in the trial CA’s president admitted that the proper procedure for unloading the Printer from the delivery truck was to use a bolt crane.

Before the end of the trial, Judge Sheilla Fell stepped in and found, “Based upon the testimony and evidence CA did not meet its burden of proof that the machine was delivered in a substandard condition. Therefore ordered that CA take nothing from Hoffman...And that Hoffman is awarded costs and fees.”

The contract between the parties contained an attorney fee provision which provided that the prevailing party is entitled to reimbursement of attorney fees and costs if successful. Court records show Pettibone made a post trial motion for attorney fees and costs and won all his clients costs back.

“Icing on the cake,” Pettibone said.

So in the end, the last minute lawyer paid off all the way up to the very last minute.

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Douglas Pettibone, Esq.
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