The Great Trials Podcast

Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal A. Trujillo & Danay Gonzalez│Bowe Cleveland v. Taft Union High School District, et al.│$3.8 Million Verdict

April 14, 2020

This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey interview Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal A. Trujillo & Danay Gonzalez of Rodriguez & Associates Trial Lawyers (https://www.rodriguezlaw.net/).

 

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Case Details:

 

Rodriguez & Associates trial lawyers Daniel Rodriguez, Chantal A. Trujillo, and Danay Gonzalez explain how they became the first trial team to present a school shooting-related civil claim to a jury. On January 10, 2013, Bowe Cleveland was shot by a fellow student, who was repeatedly reported to Taft Union High School administrators for making violent threats, having a "hit list" and drawing scenes of killings. Administrators failed to update their threat assessment plan and implement intervention tactics. As a result, Bowe was shot in his science classroom and suffered multiple punctures in his right lung, massive blood loss, and fractured ribs, requiring over 30 surgical procedures. To this day, Bowe's chest is full of shotgun pellets, and he struggles with PTSD. A Bakersfield, California jury found eight individuals, including the school's assistant principal, negligent and partially responsible for Bowe's injuries, returning a verdict of $3.8 million.

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Guest Bios:

 

Daniel Rodriguez

 

Daniel Rodriguez has a background that is a little bit different than the typical lawyer.  Daniel grew up in a migrant farm-worker family. He and his family were constantly on the move.  He lived and worked in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and California. Daniel and his five siblings attended between three and five different schools each year up until college.

 

In addition to working in the fields, Daniel later held a variety of jobs going through college and law school.  To name a few, Daniel worked as a dishwasher, worked for PG&E in their mapping department, worked as a salesperson for Sears, Roebuck & Co., sold encyclopedias door to door, and pumped gas at a full-service gas station.  Another job that Daniel held was working as a roustabout and mechanic in the oilfields for Atlantic Richfield Co. in Kern County. All of these jobs helped mold Daniel’s perspective on life. Namely, that there’s no substitute for putting in the hard work.

 

Daniel’s career as a lawyer is also a little bit different than the typical plaintiff’s lawyer.  The vast majority of plaintiff’s lawyers hardly ever go to trial. Most of them may take a case to trial once every five years or so.  Daniel tried his first jury trial within one month of getting his license to practice law. Daniel’s skill as a personal injury lawyer in Bakersfield has not gone unnoticed.  Daniel is proud of the fact that he was selected to teach at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. This trial advocacy school is widely considered to be the best in the country.  What does jury trial experience and trial skills mean to the client? That Daniel will obtain top and full value for the client’s case because insurance companies respect and fear a skilled and experienced trial lawyer.

 

Daniel’s professional dedication to the Kern County community has earned him nationwide recognition. He’s been selected to the California Super Lawyers list (by Super Lawyers®) every year since 2009. In 2015, he was named Best Lawyer in Bakersfield by the Best of Bakersfield Reader’s Choice Awards. He is also a member of The National Trial Lawyers, an invitation-only group composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the United States. He’s been a guest on Hot 94.1’s “The Romeo Show”, Univision, and interviewed in major news outlets.

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Danay Gonzalez

 

Danay was born in Bakersfield and raised in Lamont, California. In this small town, her family owned a jewelry store where Danay grew up learning the value of community. There, she learned how to work hard and interact with customers. While they loved their home in Lamont, Danay’s family moved to Bakersfield to pursue new opportunities when she was in the eighth grade. She went on to graduate from Ridgeview High School, where she enjoyed being in choir and theatre, reading and writing in her English classes, and debating politics with her fellow students in AP courses.

 

After high school, Danay attended UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2013 (Once a Bruin, always a Bruin!). While she loved living in Los Angeles and experiencing a different life with new horizons in the city, she always knew that she wanted to come home and be a positive influence in her community.

 

Growing up in Lamont, she saw that many of her classmates were afraid to speak up for themselves at the risk of being deported or getting their families in trouble. She saw them living in fear, and she knew that it wasn’t right. She saw the way that the people of her community looked up to Daniel Rodriguez, not only for being a successful member of the Hispanic community but also for the way that he fought for the rights of her friends and neighbors. Because of his influence, she knew she wanted to become a lawyer and stand up for people’s rights like he does. Coming from a family where her grandparents couldn’t read, write, or speak English, Danay is passionate about giving a voice to the people who need it most.

 

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Chantal A. Trujillo

 

As a Bakersfield native, Chantal graduated from Centennial High School in 2004 (Go Golden Hawks!). Chantal then attended CSU Bakersfield for 2 years until transferring to the University of Texas where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She further pursued her education at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, TX, earning her Juris Doctor in 2011.

 

After venturing to the Lone Star state, Chantal found herself back in Bakersfield, where she was born and raised. In late 2011, she joined the team at Rodriguez & Associates, where she has gained a home away from home. She is well-known for late nights at the office, consistently putting in the extra hours to achieve positive results in all of her cases. During Chantal’s time at the firm, she has handled numerous personal injury and wrongful death cases, some of which have gone to jury trial and produced great verdicts.

 

Working in this field has shaped Chantal tremendously into the kind of lawyer you forget is a lawyer because of how much of herself she pours into her cases. She truly breaks the mold by taking the time to understand and meet her clients’ requests and concerns throughout the civil litigation process.

 

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Free Resources:

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 1

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 2