A University of La Verne College of Law alumna who is two years into her career as an attorney helped win a $23.7 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in May.
Paula Jovell, Esq. ’14 of Liddy Law Firm in Pasadena described it as a David versus Goliath case where a woman and her son took on Los Angeles after the woman’s husband was killed at a dangerous intersection.
The victim, Northrup Grumman scientist Thomas Guilmette, died after a crash at the intersection of Cabrillo and Summerland avenues in San Pedro.
“Seeking justice for a family like the Guilmette’s was what I went to law school to do,” Jovell said.
Jovell and Donald Liddy of the same firm, and Thomas Johnston from Johnston & Hutchinson LLP, argued that the city made no changes to improve safety at the intersection despite receiving numerous complaints from residents and the Los Angeles Police Department. City officials during trial asserted the intersection was safe.
“All twelve jurors determined a dangerous condition existed and the city’s negligence created the dangerous condition,” Liddy Law Firm wrote in a statement.
The city added two stop signs at the intersection to help control speeding drivers and made other alterations to improve safety at the intersection.
Jovell said the case exemplifies how empowering her field can be.
Jovell, who emigrated from Argentina as a child and was a first-generation student, earned her law degree and a Master of Public Administration from the University of La Verne in the same year. Her honors included the Thomas & Miriam Kendall Foundation Scholarship, Pro Bono Recognition, California Civil Procedure Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI ) Award and the Justice and Immigration Clinic CALI Award.
She highlighted Professor of Law John Hultman as someone who taught her valuable lessons that have helped in her career.
“Professor Hultman not only taught me the law, but he also taught me that above all, when you genuinely care about your work and clients, and you work hard and never give up on yourself, you will accomplish great success both as an attorney and a fellow member of the community,” Jovell said.