Escalator mishap: federal judge wanted $21 million

A jury, however, sent away U.S. District Judge George P. Schiavelli away with nothing at all, ruling that the firm responsible for maintaining the escalators at the Encino Shopping Center was not to blame for the injuries the judge suffered in a 2005 mishap. After the verdict the plaintiff’s lawyer in the case, Browne Greene, charged the jury with partiality: “The bias against judges in today’s world is just palpable,” he said. (Robert J. Lopez, “Encino judge gets no award in escalator fall”, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 26; “Jury Unanimously Rejects Judge’s $21 Million Personal Injury Suit”, PRNewswire/Fox Business, from defense firm Murchison & Cumming, Feb. 25; Greene’s press release)(via Perlmutter/Schuelke). More on escalator suits at this link.


  • The plaintiff’s lawyer, Browne Greene, said the jury ruled against Schiavelli not because of the merits of his case, but because of his position on the federal bench. “The bias against judges in today’s world is just palpable,” he said Monday evening.

    Those that live by the gavel die by the gavel.

  • “The bias against judges in today’s world is just palpable…”

    Maybe it’s bias against lawyers, generally. But, is the plaintiff’s attorney suggesting that since his client didn’t win, they’re biased? That’s kind of a circular argument.

    “…Schiavelli is entitled to have his day in court, and we will be filing a motion for a new trial so that justice will be served once and for all.”

    He had his day in court and lost. Had he asked for something more reasonable and not, say $21M he wouldn’t have so offended the jurors.

    That’s a lot of money to ask for in most any personal injury case, and someone in his position probably makes more than most of the jurors hearing his case.

  • Maybe, as an attorney, I see things differently, but I’d expect one’s status as a judge to give them an incredible amount of credibility as a litigant.

  • Why should the Judge’s profession be relevant at all in the case? Does being a judge make one more or less liable to be injured by an escalator?

  • Speaking as a layman, I would say his status as a judge would improve his standing. And if I were on the jury, the statement that the repair company destroyed potentially relevant records would cast them in a very negative light. So, you really have to wonder what lead them to go against the judge.

  • Hard to know what happened, but it seems reasonably that this guy was injured and that it was not at all his fault.

    Perhaps some sympathy is in order. Sometimes juries irrationally find for defendants, and that’s wrong too.

  • Was the jury picked at random? Did not Mr. Greene participate in selecting the panel to ensure against a prejudiced jury? Can the judge ask for a new trial on the basis of inadequate representation?

  • An escalator is not a rocket sled. They move relatively slowly and they have handrails. I can visualize stubbing one’s toe or twisting an ankle, but I can not see flying down the steps. On the face of it, the jury did its duty properly. Good for them.